| Artist: Emulsion|
CD Title: Death of the Author
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Emulsion's Death of the Author is a 5-track EP centered around ethereal analog synth atmospherics, processed speech samples, and analog percussion samples and rhythmic elements. At times reminiscent of Sam Rosenthal's Before the Buildings Fell or analog synth-based works by old-school ambient artists like Brian Eno with hints of Aphex Twin, Emulsion does a remarkable job of using warm analog sounds, droning elements, melodic elements, and dissonance to create an emotional and sonically interesting album while avoiding the cold and mechanical nature that sometimes plagues other analog-based ambient works.
The album kicks of with an unexceptional cover of The Cure's "Pornography" that imitates the reversed broadcast samples found in the original but shuns The Cure's mood and darkness in favor of ambient backgrounds and almost Rammstein-esque low-pitched spoken vocals by Ahab Rex that don't really compliment the track (and appear to contain a few very minor lyric changes, not for the better I'm afraid). Oddly enough, the interesting ambient elements and great use of radio samples and reversed loops would have made for a decent original opening instrumental were it not for the addition of the spoken-word vocals that turn it into a disappointing cover.
The following 4 tracks are all instrumental pieces with the exception of various processed spoken word and radio/TV broadcast samples. "Is Lust" is notable for its pounding electronic drums, analog synth string atmospheres, layered electronic bleeps, and moments of screeching, distorted high-pitched electronics. The moody "Undone", perhaps my favorite track on the EP, starts out with great, moody swirling keyboards and industrial percussive sample stabs reminiscent of something from the original score to The Crow before being overcome by layers of melodic analog synth and lo-fi female vocal samples. "Sonido Negro" is a moody, haunting track consisting of layered analog atmospherics, what sounds like rainstick or fire samples, and various pitch shifted and reverb-drenched vocal samples. The closing track, "Every Machine Makes a Mistake", is based around slow, steady percussion with pulsating, vibrato-laden analog atmospherics and processed vocal samples in the background, eventually leading to a final buildup and ambience that seems to be something of an intentional atmospheric/sonic motif recalling the EP's opening track.
Overall, Death of the Author is a fairly exceptional ambient CD with something of an old-school analog-based approach. If you can forgive the somewhat unsatisfying opening cover of "Pornography", you'll find a release that is both emotionally and artistically compelling. Sometimes haunting and melancholy, at other times more up-tempo and bordering on ambient industrial, Death of the Author is definitely worth checking out.
Emulsion website: www.emulsionmusic.com
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