J.D. Emmanuel - Solid Dawn: Electronic Works 1979-1982 [Kvist Records. - 2009]The very title of this album got me all a-flutter. Electronic music from the analog era! Tape hiss, Mellotrons, Moogs and Echoplex delays! And all those thrills without even me having pulled off the shrinkwrap.
Even better, the thrills didn’t turn into a letdown once I got the package open. What we have here is electronic music much in the vein of Brian Eno in his most sedate Music for Films moods, created with some fairly simple equipment—a Crumal Traveler 1 organ and an Echoplex, and later on more advanced hardware (the Sequential Circuits Pro 1 synth, a Yamaha SK-20 keyboard). If we’ve learned anything by now, though, it’s not the equipment but the person behind it—look what Suicide started with nothing more than a broken Farfisa and a barely-working drum machine.
Emmanuel’s music shifts through a number of styles, all hewing closely to his original idiom but still identifiably different. There’s Terry Riley-like delayed-organ patterns (“Movement into Lightspeed”, “Sunrise over Galveston Bay”, the mammoth 22-minute “Changeling”), throbbing sequences reminiscent of Klaus Schulze (“7 Note Trance”,”Grandioso”), enveloping drone work (“Through the Inner Planes”, “March of the Colossus”), and some more eclectic, personal experimentation (“Whirlwind”). I liked them all, and I can’t recommend this record enough to anyone with discs filed under Eno, Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Tangerine Dream, et al. Consider Emmanuel their long-lost cousin, now back in the family fold.Serdar Yegulalp