I suspect when Doug Appling is recording in the studio, he never hears the phrase, “Once more, with feeling.” Everything in this album, from a warbly synth to soaring violins to the knashing drums of several drum n bass breakdowns, it’s all steeped in careful concern. If earnest had a sound, that wound would be Emancipator. Which is a lot different than Ernest’s sound.
I’m not sure how else to describe this, but past Emancipator releases felt transitory, somewhere to stop for a bit before moving on. ‘Baralku’ feels different, more like a destination. There isn’t a particular note or chord progression or overall programming sequence that creates that, at least I don’t think there is, but that’s the feeling I’ve gotten over the course of my listening these past couple weeks. It’s an interesting conclusion, especially considering the blurb sent out with the album’s release today:
‘Baralku’ is a mythological spirit island in the Milky Way upon which departed souls build fires to let their loved ones know they arrived safely in the afterlife. I was moved by the imagery of this concept as it relates to my life and the creative process. Music takes me to places, and each song is a spirit island on which its soul lives infinitely. To release a song is both a death and a birth at the same time. The sounds contained in each song have reached the end of their life process. The once shapeshifting collage of expression has been crystallized into a final form, no longer kinetic. Yet it exists in a state of permanent potential energy, waiting to be accessed in the form of music, just as the memory of a departed soul will always have the power to move us. – Doug Appling
So it’s a destination after all, a lush and serene destination in the stars, which is funny, as I typically wind up staring into my navel when listening to Doug’s compositions. I also felt a slight twinge of deja vu here and there in the record, and it wasn’t until I remembered that I caught Emancipator at Oregon Eclipse that I realized I’d heard some of these songs already in his early morning set on the day of the eclipse.
In ‘Baralku,’ you’ll find the original sounds that got you into Emancipator in the first place, hearkening back to ‘Dusk to Dawn’ and ‘Safe in the Steep Cliffs,’ but you’ll also find new sounds in the form of the aforementioned drum n bass as well as jazz infusion, eastern European melodies, and a plethora of new surprises. For the former, take a listen to Goodness and Time for Space, featuring the comfortable familiarity of Ilya Goldberg’s violin work, and for the latter, Abracadabra and Mako.
These tracks should translate seamlessly into the Emancipator Ensemble’s live performances, which you can catch in Asia through the end of the year, and stateside starting at the end of January 2018. Check out the full list of dates below and head to emancipatormusic.com (or just click the tour poster below) for tickets and details.
Stream the album via Bandcamp below or through your favorite streaming service here