The music of Emancipator (Doug Appling) has always been a balance between structure and improvisation — so much so that ad-libs during live performances often get permanently worked into the fabric of his songs. His latest full-length, Baralku, is a balance of seamless instrumentation (thanks to Emancipator's classical training) with moody, visceral electronic experimentation.
Mixing disparate elements without one sound or style holding rank over others is something many artists strive for, but they often come up short. Appling pulls it off here, brewing downtempo spiked with jazz, folk, and world elements, providing a lush soundscape that feels entirely natural. Single "Ghost Pong" is something to marvel at, with soulful muted vocal snippets and mournful violins slowly pulling themselves across a downtempo base. Further into the album, "Rappahannock" boasts a laid-back beat that plays host to plucks of banjo and smacks of acoustic guitar that share space with horns, strings, organ and flute.
Emancipator's Baralku is an inspired take on orchestral downtempo, and more than nuanced enough to hold your attention. (Loci Records)