0004 Various Artists (12.49)
NOW IN STOCK!
Opening tracks by Pueblo Bonito
and Red Leb and the closers by Farfield and Gel Sol prove startlingly
reminiscent of the sound and spirit of the previous incarnation, as if
em:t artists are not made but rather born, sharing the same musical DNA.
A predilection for sinewy electronic lines and synth pads that would have
been appropriate to any mid-nineties chill room, propelled by a discreet,
post-House rhythmic base, predominates.
The only name this reviewer recognized among the debutants was that of Fognode, who created an excellent solo album a few years back, Beat Hollow. Here, Fognode offers a ten-minute opus entitled "Thin Faces", consisting of a number of movements and shifts in temperment, at times nicely at odds with the otherwise calming textures of the rest of the album´s seventy-two minutes.
Despite its roots in rave culture (originally, em:t was an offshoot of House label Time), the overall impression is not one of cloying nostalgia but rather of a vital genre continuing to thrive and unfold before our ears. It is a very good thing indeed that em:t is back.
The year 2004. Exactly 10 years after the year the legendary Em:t ambient series saw the light. And what kind of light ? The light of being one of the world's most reknown ambient labels. 1994 was perhaps one of the years where the creative output of ambient musicians was at its highest levels. The Em:t label released in that year none less than 4 albums. Now 10 years later, we're pleased to see and especially hear, the newest Em:t 0004 release. Like its predessor, the Em:t 0003 album of last year, this is again a compilation of some of the finest ambient artists, some of which already had releases in the nineties Em:t series. First I'd like to present a full tracklisting and then we'll go a little bit deeper into the details of the music:
1 Pueblo Bonito : Is it ?
Some quick first impressions. First of all, listening to the Em:t 0004 album in this year 2004 is a growing experience. The compilations grows as one listens more to it. The surprising thing is that the overall feeling of the music is that is goes back to the typical early nineties traditional ambient patterns. Where the nineties Em:t series clearly offered distinct and more experimental ambient sounds, the new 0004 compilation seems to go back more to these very nineties typical roots. In typical Em:t tradition, the quality guarantees serious and long chill sessions.
Highlights are Andy Hughes and "Antillia", a delicate and subtle pearl of fine spacey sounds embedded in a slow, soft and smooth beat pattern. High Skies also offers a superb dreamy track with "Burning Buildings". The sounds seemingly like underwater bells woven in an evocative, somewhat psychedelic synths landscape sure guarantees a great trip. It gets almost scary with the excellent "Thin Faces" by Fognode. Dim the lights (if you already didn't) and enjoy the over 10 minutes soundscape. A dry & slow beat pattern sets the pace in dark and claustrophobic synths and makes it easy to let you imagine yourself walking as a stranger somewhere in a dark city.
In the middle of the track, beats disappear and it is as if only a distant helicoptor sound can be heard. After a while, a different mood enters with somehow hard to define eclectic sounds. In short, Fognode gives us a hard to define track but an absolute masterpiece of creating atmospheres trough music. I have not heard any other Fognode track but I can guarantee I will definitely start hunting these down. But there is more, Farfield and "Lure of time", a delicate gem of fine and mature piano sounds on trippy beats or "Jiva" from Gel Sol, with a very contemporary spacey electronica sound. To wrap up, whether you are a completist who simply buys all Em:t releases or the occasional ambient enthousiast, don't wait to get a hold of the 0004 release. It might soon be too late and before you know, might become a hard to find item just like the old nineties Em:t releases now are!
a copy here
Records, PO BOX 152, PORTISHEAD, BRISTOL, BS20 7WD