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CD: E m m a - Blue Gardens | reviews, news & interviews

CD: E.m.m.a. - Blue Gardens

CD: E.m.m.a. - Blue Gardens

An uncanny trip through UK bass

Blue Gardens: may contain other colours

“Formulaic” is all too frequently used pejoratively in reviews – but from minuets to minimalism, Bo Diddley to drum'n'bass, finding a formula that works and sticking to it has produced some of the finest music in human history. Liverpool-born producer E.m.m.a. might not yet be in the history-changing category, but she's certainly found a simple and distinctive recipe and her explorations of its possibilities are currently extremely fruitful.

In essence, E.m.m.a. takes the rugged grooves of UK pirate radio, and adds an extra layer of melody and harmony which connects them back into the much longer history of synthesizer music as well as into a broader, vaguer realm of the imagination. Her synth timbres touch on sci-fi kitsch, Kraftwerk, early video games, the experimental home-listening techno of the 1990s, while the melodies they play have a suspended, dissipating quality, as if caught from a dream just at the point of waking.

Her beats, too, have an uncanny quality, generally touching on several points in UK soundsystem history – garage, rave, grime, the 2008-10 urban house sound of “UK funky”, the more undefinable sounds of “post-dubstep” – sounding familiar but not quite placeable in time. Despite the oddness of this, and despite its clear scholarliness in its sourcing of underground sounds, it's a welcoming album, one which should be heard well beyond the usual circle of bass music fans. A haunting dream but one well worth getting caught up in.

The melodies they play have a suspended, dissipating quality, as if caught from a dream just at the point of waking

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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