Divine Supplication


Nobilis Humilis

East Tennessee

Perfect Matrimony

I Bowed

Divine Supplication (feat. Maja S. K. Ratkje)

S’on Me Regarde

Avoiding Friction

Bell, Book, Candle

Falling Away

A Not-Quite Locked Door


Divine Supplication, Derek Piotr’s new release, is a deeply intimate work wrought from a series of personal tragedies. Yet while this opening description might elicit expectations of bleak navel gazing, the record is among Piotr’s warmest collections of songs to date. Despite its composition beginning in such an uncertain and fearful place, the completed pieces would ultimately come to be defined by the excitement of collaboration: Divine Supplication is Derek Piotr’s party album.

Largely jettisoning introspection, seeking rather to heal through exploration and connection, Piotr has crafted an eclectic record whose lasting impressions are those of joy and play. Frequently surprising but never forcefully jarring, the choices made in terms of both collaborators and track sequencing serve to highlight the diversity of Piotr’s aesthetic concerns – now, yes, but also across his musical journey to this point. There are traces of the frivolity of Forest People Pop, the vocal distortions of Grunt, the emotional gravity of Avia, the folk de/reconstructions of Making and Then Unmaking and The Devil Knows How; here complementing and offsetting one another in new and unexpected ways.

Divine Supplication is anything but a nostalgic retreading of worn paths, however. Instead, Piotr found himself inspired by and directly sampling songs that had soothed him during his most difficult year: Ryan Sambol’s “Big Text”, Nathan Salsburg’s “Landwerk I”, and My Brightest Diamond’s “That Point When”. The latter is completely reconstructed in the album’s title track, with Piotr taking the stems and reinventing its structure entirely, letting Maja Ratkje’s vocals soar within the new framework. This is just one instance of Piotr welcoming others – friends, muses – into his sonic world. A re-recording of his own sixteen-year-old voice, then (2007) singing straight into an iMac mic over GarageBand MIDI with Auto-Tune, delivers one of these contributions on “Perfect Matrimony”. Fennesz and Reuben Walton add their distinctive flourishes to the updated piece, the first song Piotr ever wrote as a solo artist.

Piotr’s detours into archival folk music have inflected his subsequent electronic experiments with a refreshing intricacy and beauty. Two interludes – “Nobilis Humilis” and “S’on Me Regarde” – are 13th Century pieces played on recorder and brass, fleshed out by percussion from Bradford Reed, bass synth from Scott Solter and hand-built lyre from Rowan Gatherer. “I Bowed”, a mini torch song saluting the Appalachian mountains and the artist’s frailty before them, features Olivier Alary’s original Ensemble patch from 2000 (most famously used to remix Björk’s Vespertine). Alary himself shows up on the devastating “Falling Away”, processing Ivan Cheng’s clarinet into pained, formless stabs in Piotr’s ode to the parting of a long-time friend.

Again, though, this sadness is rarely allowed to linger, dissipating in the face of the sheer pleasure afforded by juxtaposition and collaboration. While the themes of “East Tennessee” were informed by heartbreak, the song provides one of the most ecstatically fun excursions on the album. Just try to suppress the wild grin provoked when the delicate preceding track bleeds into its glorious mess of pounding beats and gibbering vocals, none of which would seem out of place on a SVBKVLT compilation; those vocals, aptly, come from Gabber Modus Operandi MC Ican Harem. Further delight accompanies the surreality of “Avoiding Friction”, a skittering, spluttering, splintering jaunt, and “Bell, Book, Candle”, whose retromanic synths implode as the composition slowly consumes itself.

The closing piece, “A Not-Quite Locked Door”, was co-written with Lately Kind of Yeah and features Brian Chippendale on drums. Finally, Piotr permits himself a space for meditative yearning, the song’s dehydrated shoegaze evoking the exasperation of dreams and emotions lying just beyond reach. Given the celebratory, emancipatory response to devastating self-doubt and personal loss that has shaped the album preceding it, this last mournful moment feels wholly earned.

-Dr. Michael Waugh, Newcastle University 


released May 10, 2024

Mastered by Rashad Becker at clunk
Top by Aryanna Edwards
Photography by Greg Lewis
Rendering by Jessie-Jamz Ozaeta
Post and watercolor by Brian Hawkins
Logo by Kushagra Gupta
Back cover set by Lena Weber, using Wim Mono

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