During trying times where music is keeping us together, Mountain of Memory by Emancipator will blissfully set your soul free.
Today we have the release of the sixth studio album from Douglas Appling, better known as Emancipator. Appling is a master of natural, emotional, mid- and downtempo tunes, and Mountain of Memory is absolutely true to form. Where some artists must evolve their music to the changing times, Emancipator fans will be pleased to see that he has no need to change. Being tied to nature rather than culture means that his musical evolution is a peacefully slow journey.
I previously wrote about the release of two singles from the album, “Labyrinth” and “Himalayan” – the first was only two months ago. At the time of “Labyrinth” and the new album announcement, things were, well, normal. The single was released, the album date announced, and a tour was planned. A month later, the world as we know it began to change and I was longing for more Emancipator vibes to help ground me. Today we are all more or less isolated, adjusting to a new world order for the foreseeable future, and many of us are using music to remain grounded.
Today we have one of the best examples of emotionally grounding music I’ve heard in quite a long time.
Mountain of Memory will be on repeat rotation in my home today and throughout the weekend. Emancipator is already my go-to for background mood music. In fact, my smart home routine that turns on the lights and adjusts the temperature when I’m coming home also includes “play Emancipator radio on Sonos” so these chill vibes follow me everywhere in my home. Yet as relaxing and grounding as these sounds may be, I love that I can also move to the groove when I need some physical release as well.
Buy or Stream Mountain of Memory on your favorite platform now and read more about the album below.
Stream Emancipator – Mountain of Memory on Spotify:
Mountain of Memory’s 14 free-flowing tracks effortlessly encapsulate his musical history without feeling forced.
While I often look for albums that take me on a journey or tell me a story that includes peaks and valleys, the beauty of Mountain of Memory is its smooth flow without too many spikes. Don’t get me wrong, He mixes in plenty of mid-tempo dance grooves, solid boom bap beats and calm, reflective tempos; all of which are true to a steady theme.
Instead of peaks and valleys, the transitions on the album are more about the incredibly diverse range of instruments Appling calls upon throughout. Just a few examples are electric and acoustic guitar, classical violin, Persian dilruba, cimbaloms, finger snaps, symphonic strings, bubbling water, Latin and African hand drumming, music boxes, Baroque flutes and opera singers. Wow!
And if the list of instruments above isn’t impressive, keep in mind that those are only the guest stars!
Propping up those guest stars are the main sound actors Appling relies upon throughout his career. He produces using electric pianos, ethereal synthesizer washes, processed and almost inaudible vocals, soothing ambient textures and pulsing electronic bass tones. It all makes for incredibly rich and luscious music that, while complex in its fundamentals, is so beautifully easy and appealing to listen to all day long. I have to guess that he is a world traveler because his inspiration from a wide range of international cultures and musical genres is something that culminates in a refreshingly authentic brand of electronic music.
I find it hard to talk about how each track plays on its own because I really love to listen to the flow and transitions as a longer and more complete story.
That said, one Mountain of Memory standout to me is “Snakes And Ladders” which takes me to exotic land far away with sounds from instruments that feel familiar to me, yet are so obviously from a place other than my own here in NYC. Long time fans will also greatly enjoy “Alligator” as the opening track. It seems so familiar, almost as if we’ve actually heard it before. Yet in reality, it is a warm and jovial cousin to previously released Emancipator sounds.
“Pollo Sneeps” is a short track that is also an exercise in nuance. Listen closely for subtle undertones that are barely audible yet what makes the song flow so smoothly. “Blue Dream” is an example of gentle blended vocals that sound more ethereal than human. And the previously covered “Himalayan” is a perfect way to close out the album. It gently takes us back down the mountain we climbed as the album builds; back to whatever is your familiar place called home.
Mountain of Memory – Tracklist:
- Pollo Sneeps
- Blue Dream
- Iron Ox
- Snakes And Ladders
- She Gone To The River