CD Review

Emulsion – “Death of the Author”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Death of the AuthorI'm not quite sure what analysis to give this EP. On the one hand, Chicago's Emulsion creates a subversive, intriguing and pleasantly short journey on his five-track EP, Death of the Author. On the other hand, he has the tendency to drone. He explains his craft as thus: "Emulsion incorporates dark cinematic soundscapes, brutal rhythmic noise, and esoteric trip-hop to create a powerful emotional/intellectual mixture." His experimentalism is not as radical, nor as overpowering as other practitioners of this art, which is probably an asset. His liability, however, lies in his ho-hum conclusion.

Death opens with the wavy Pornography, a swaying synth groove dotted with the usual assortment of slushy, whispery voiceovers and tinkered flotsam of exterior noise samples. Most startling on this track is the line, "I must find the sickness, find the cure." This is most likely an abstract tale of an oversexed orgasm addict on a path towards hedonism, yet recognizing a dire need for rehabilitation. This is an interesting concept that works, as does the ensuing track, Is Lust, with its thrumming bass tempo and atmospheric synths complete with a mid-tempo march that is masturbatory and contemplative. One that resists climax yet is compelled to stroke itself lovingly. Undone has a strikingly comparative Siouxie melody with swirling deepness amidst its random synth mixes. Some of them sound like an off-kilter chamber music ensemble that sounds quirky yet affable.

By the time Sonido Negro came along, I found myself backing the track up and sitting on my drum kit making up a slow, double-kick beat to accompany the forlorn miasma of this bland track. The boring sludginess I put into my bass pedal was as leaden as the recording itself. Every Machine Makes a Mistake deserves kudos for a killer title, despite the doom-esque quality of the track that is grinding and hapless, a drudging finale maybe best suited for a dark cyber anime feature. Individually it might stand; on an EP, it's a mere hiccup.

Perhaps I missed the picture; after all, the title of this work is called Death of the Author. If that is the case, one might expect a death a bit more spectacular, given the build-up. It rings like a vintage Friday the 13th flick where we only care about the characters long enough to watch them fuck before they get snuffed in gratuitous fashion. This is not to say Emulsion should create a splatterific ending for his project, nor give it a grand sendoff like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins at the end of Lord of the Rings. It's hard to convey what I'm getting at, but the death we've experienced by Emulsion is as notable as the passing of the town drunk. Few people know about it, most could care less.

Even by breaking the individual tracks down do I still have trouble forming a concrete opinion. Is it bad? No. Is it good? Sometimes. Emulsion has the capacity to engage, as evidenced on Pornography and In Lust, but the tendency to drown in reserved despair towards the end of his project leaves a hollow feeling that, despite the title of the project, gives a signal that he could've done better.

Contact Information:
Post: 636 W. Diversey #185, Chicago, IL, 60614, USA