Sea Of Tranquility

The Web Source for Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal & Jazz-Fusion
  Search   in       
Main Menu

Emslie, Alan: Obnubilate

Thirteen years is a long time in anyone’s book - and so it is for Alan Emslie, the Scottish percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and composer returning with his Obnubilate album after a layoff stretching to a Baker’s Dozen of years. Much has changed since 2005’s Dark Matter, the expansive prog that Emslie so expertly crafted into an enigmatic and memorable album not much in evidence on a collection that trades blows with the synth masters, while clearly having a tapping foot in the dance scene. And yet for all that much has changed, so much stays the same, because Emslie is first and foremost a man of rhythm and time, and just as his previous work did, much of this latest venture is structured and precise without being staid. All of which is quickly contradicted by the knowledge that 99% of this latest solo outing from the Edinburgh man was captured on the first take and layered to its final incarnation while resisting the temptation to alter what was initially laid down. And it’s great testament to the talent behind it all that until I read that information, the thought that these recordings may be ‘imperfect’ never once crossed my mind.

Two shorter pieces set the tone, the moody atmospherics gently making way for the cling-ping bells and chimes - and what sounds like dolphin clicks - of “Patterns”, which quickly illustrates the sense of time that infuses this collection. “Sweet Dreams” follows with tightly percussive themes building across a groove that digs in deep and a repetitive edge that builds and shimmers as a chanted vocal makes an appearance; the sung accompaniments a theme of the album, where the voice is seen as part of the musical choir rather than its leader.

The three part but four minutes of “Moon” alters the mood, the opening encounter an introduction that prepares for blast off. The middle movement is a dramatic musical recounting of a space craft launching that quickly descends into a first contact gone wrong. Allowing the closing and more organic Vangelis like piece to add a threatening crescendo.

From there things take a turn into the dance beats and repeated notes of “Duchess De Bourgogne” and while there is a synth melody that tells its ‘story’ as this track unfolds, I have to say that on a personal level I found the swooshing hi-hat and thumping bottom beats to grate on the nerves a little. That disconnect also appears for me on “The Projectionist (Listen Loud Raw Mix)” where the relentlessness of the howled vocals, screaming guitar and pummelled drums is given far too long to stay true to its beliefs. Although the interluding xylophone of “Farewell” that appears in between this pair is rather splendid.

Leaving the twenty-five minute ambient sprawl of the album’s title track to close things out in lengthy, but magnificent guise. How connected it is to what has come before on this album I’m not sure but that in no way diminishes what is a captivating slice of atmospheric emotions.

I’ve really enjoyed the previous works from Alan Emslie and while this latest release from the drummer may have initially been a surprise, it has begun to grow on me. Personally I’d suggest the whole experience could have been a little more succinct in places and my own dislike of overtly repetitive sections does make a couple of these tracks more of a struggle than they might be for others. That, however, doesn’t in any way lessen what is a crafted and expertly presented set of songs.

Track Listing
1. Dark Triangles
2. Planned Obsolescence
3. Patterns
4. Sweet Dreams
5. Moon1 - Hope
6. Moon 2 - Aristarchus
7. Moon 3 - Secrets
8. Duchess De Bourgogne
9. Farewell
10. The Projectionist (Listen Loud Raw Mix)
11. Obnubilate

Added: January 26th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Alan Emslie @ bandcamp
Hits: 742
Language: english

[ Printer Friendly Page Printer Friendly Page ]
[ Send to a Friend Send to a Friend ]


[ Back to the Reviews Index | Post Comment ]

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
For information regarding where to send CD promos and advertising, please see our FAQ page.
If you have questions or comments, please Contact Us.
Please see our Policies Page for Site Usage, Privacy, and Copyright Policies.

All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all other content Sea of Tranquility

SoT is Hosted by