Lords of drift and discovery - Page 2

Five artists who have charted new electronic realms
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It's a testament to his preternaturally prescient aesthetic that his decades-old comments about "building acoustic spaces" and "treating sound in an architectural way" could have been pulled from any number of recent interviews with drone-metal act Sunn O))).

Becker's tireless curiosity continues to yield interdisciplinary projects that look and listen to the future. As the current director of the Orwellian-sounding "cultural intelligence providers" Institute for New Culture Technologies and the World-Information Institute, he has less time for sound-based performances. But the remastering and reissuing of his early, quietly pioneering musical work ensures that Monoton will keep setting the world ablaze, one listener at a time. (Matt Sussman)

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J.D. EMMANUEL Over the course of 40 years, the sun has risen and set and risen again within the music of J.D. Emmanuel. "I was talking to a buddy before Christmas," the man says on the phone from Houston, where he lives. "I realized that I started making music in August of 1979, and my last piece of music that I ever created was in August of 1999. I don't know why there is a 20-year cycle."

Now, in August 2009, adventurous listeners can bask in the slo-mo beauty and consistent warmth of Solid Dawn: Electronic Works 1979-1982 (Kvist), a collection of Emmanuel tracks accompanied by gorgeous sunrise and sunset photos, another one of his specialties. Over the course of a few decades, customer service workshop gigs kept Emmanuel on the road and in the air — he estimates he has logged 1.5 million miles. "If I was seated by a window, I'd take out my camera and see if I could find something fun," he says, with characteristic lack of pretense. "I was very fortunate to see a lot of beautiful things from six, seven, (laughs) eight miles high."

And we are fortunate that he took pictures, and even more lucky that he's created the sonic equivalent of natural wonders — songs like Solid Dawn's "Sunrise Over Galveston Bay," a water-swept and windblown chime dream that makes reference to Emmanuel's childhood surroundings in its title. Personal and universal wonder is at the core of Emmenuel's meditative outlook. "For whatever reason, when I was a little kid, around eight or nine, I discovered how fun it was to put myself into an altered or dream state," he remembers. "I would go into my grandmother's bedroom, close the curtains to make the room as dark as possible, turn on the air conditioner and just lay down. I'd take these one hour naps that were just delightful — little trips."

The second sunrise of Emmenuel's musical career began when his second LP and favorite recording, 1982's Wizards, was reissued a few years ago. It's already out of print and rare once again, but Solid Dawn offers more than a glimmer of its powerfully elemental and yet understated pull, a magnetism that has influenced the sound of recent artists such as White Rainbow. The ingredients can be reduced to instrumental gear: a Crumar Traveler 1 organ, an Echoplex, a Pro-One and Yamaha K-20 synthesizers, and a Tascam 40-4 reel deck. They can be traced to influences ranging from "Gomper" off the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request (Decca, 1967) to Roedelius and Tangerine Dream tracks heard on a radio show by Houston radio DJ Margie Glaser. But ultimately, the source is Emmanuel. His music has a unique sense of being. It's also warmer than German electronic music of the era. Must be that Texas sun.

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