Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The First Review-- Ember Music, Vol. 1

(Caveat: one of the artists on this album is my partner. Not telling which, though.) 

This first release by nonprofit label Ember Music is the rare find among multi-artist compilations that plays like a cohesive album rather than the disjointed offerings of its individuals. From the pensive introduction ("Huntitled III" by musician Murat Esmer) to the dark, haunted coda by New Englander MobiusB, the listener is led seamlessly through tracks that manage to differ vastly from one to the next without sacrificing unity. The album plays not only as a whole, but as an intelligent and detailed statement. We are taken on a dark, occasionally gloomy, but always thoughtful tour through this collection.

Highlights from each track include:

Murat Esmer's expressive field recordings beckon the listener in with hypnotic footsteps and a pervasive piano.

Carl Sagan's Ghost continues where Esmer ends off by pulling the listener through a dreamy collection of watery synths and strings.

"Neigh" from Known Rebel picks up in tempo and mood, drawing a common thread while introducing rhythmic elements.

Sole vocalist Akisma manages to bring a strong, moody performance to an otherwise unvoiced album in "Comfortable Ignorance", marking a turnpoint in the narrative.

Kurt Lorenz continues the thread by combining a driving beat and intricately textured synth layers on "Filament".

Mr. Sandbags combines pulsing rhythmic elements with ambience in "Defect Pattern".

Saffron Slumber transitions away from any harshness by arranging a transcendent, floating composition of a rare timbre in "Glade" which somehow manages to remain unique while recalling the common elements of the album.

The track "Views from a Slow Moving Train" by Savaran advances the journey with an eerie, alienating resonance.

Nordmach regrounds the listener with soft harmonies and melancholy distortions of daily life in "Krista".

TraisKin expounds on the themes brought forth, maintaining an unsettled atmosphere and reintroducing considerable darkness in "Alice: Longitude 180".

Slaphappy Mortician helps the listener towards the inevitable denouement, descending into a deep bass in the track entitled (fittingly) "Nothing Left to Say."

MobiusB's "Ouraborus" aptly completes the album by combining dark synths and a bracing guitar, (and, delightfully, a tuba!).

All in all: the album is an exciting debut from its promising artists, and should not be overlooked. If you're in the mood for poppy and cheerful music, come back another day. But, if you like moody, ambient electronica that brilliantly displays evocative field recordings, this may be for you. 

Available on iTunes at $9.99, CD Baby for $6.99, or on Ember's Website for $6.99. 

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