Texan sound-explorer J.D. Emmanuel was critically and commercially undercover for a long time before awareness flourished a few years ago. This triple LP set should seal the deal, containing 14 early works of spiritual electronic synthesis. Electronic Minimal Music is released by Black Sweat Records.
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- Electronic Minimal Music by J.D. Emmanuel
9/10 Robin Staff review, 11 May 2016
I’m glad the music world eventually decided to make J.D. Emmanuel a thing. Like a quiet, reliable friend with prescient things to say (and occasionally a new age curveball), his music provides nice calm for his varying listener to grow into. This one’s called ‘Minimal Electronic Music’; can we talk about how delightful a phrase that is? Yes, we can: it is. The record compiles the minute and unfussy productions Emmanuel was making at the turn of the ‘70s, right through to the mid ‘80s, and provides its fair share of hushed chords and kindly falling synth waterfalls.
At times Emmanuel’s music can be simple but full-bodied, flowing with the repetitive churn of a Steve Reich piece; at others they move like dust, meeting the room with a near-invisible unobtrusiveness. “Movement Into Lightspeed” will keep you in bed for a minute longer. Four tracks in we get a twenty-two minute drone filibuster that gently rises and falls like Stars of the Lid with some gloopy kosmische additives -- eventually ripples emerge, a melody mumbling to itself for as long as it can hold the conversation.
Maybe Emmanuel’s music didn’t get its initial kudos because it sounds so self-perpetuated: the builds are so gradual and the additives so subliminal that you sometimes feel like the music is merely gathering around him, like Thomas Brinkmann settling on his favourite tones. “Whirlwind” is eight minutes of electronics bubbling to the surface; it’s as if Emmanuel’s merely adjusting the heat to a simmer. Look at that front cover though: he’s hard at work on those keys. He made the quiet for us to enjoy.
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