Published on 26th September 2016
Emmett Elvin – Assault on the Tyranny of Reason
Many weeks ago on Mr Elvin’s Facebook page he was delivering cut up missives as status updates, such as “Tryptamine vandals in shattered clogs haunt the Derricks now. Here-a-dog, there-a-dog, their vaunted sunpower flees. The ghost of Polycarp, slackjawed, brings rice”, which naturally, given the strange inner workings of Emmett’s fizzing collection of overactive synapses, I could only assume were proposed wacky track titles. I wrote “We all await the results of the latest alchemy from the Mad Professor in his War Room with glee and a smidgeon of trepidation…”. Was the definition of my anticipation correct? Read on, McDuff, as Emmett’s new wax cylinder has just bounced off my virtual doormat and skinned my virtual shin, as I somehow suspected it might, the pesky blighter.
You see, me and Mr Elvin had been exchanging words for some time in the lead up to THAT VOTE. Let’s just say we agreed to disagree; Emmett up there in his loftily idealistic artistic garret, espying conspiracies in every nook and cranny, me stuck down here scrabbling around in the dirt and dust of the fast disappearing age of reason. Which leads me neatly on to the title of this new beast of an album, which I must admit made me smile. I am that tyrant and I WILL be reasonable, or I’ll have to send Satre round to spice up your discourse.
Just as well the music on this unquantifiable slab of left-field musical mischief is another bloody marvel,
and that titles such as The Democracy They Deserve while hinting at some political mischief making will remain cryptic, as this track in common with the majority of this album is instrumental. Where lyrics do appear the erudite Mr Elvin leaves a fair amount open to interpretation, although the dark portent in Dozy Phantoms is inescapable. Much like the music on this genuinely progressive record, nothing stays as it seems for long, or to be more precise, new shapes evolve before ones ears in unexpected ways that delight this particular musical frontiersman.
A few notes…
Emmett plays keyboards in Knifeworld and Guapo and elements of those eclectic yet utterly different groups inevitably filter through Prof. Elvin’s chemistry set into this assault on the aural synapses – in a thoroughly good way you understand!
A cascade of piano notes escapes as we “Watch us tumble down time’s dark stairs” in opening track proper, the effervescent Boiling, the first of three tracks that may be described as songs as they contain Emmett’s inimitable growl delivering his semi-cryptic missives. What sounds like a choir of slide guitars conveys a headlong rush into Emmettworld, and we are off on another delightfully strange trip.
The instrumentation is full and varied, tracks such as Dysnomia – Full Moon being delightfully filmic, and The Curate’s Eggnog is a full-on chamber rock merry dance.
Elsewhere, Heartbuster ventures into Phillip Glass territory, all ascending scales and tension, with a fine and squelchy guitar flurry providing the concluding cherry on top. Dozy Phantoms woozily staggers along, Emmett emoting in the manner of an unbuttoned and seriously loose Howard Devoto fronting an alien band of idiot savant Magazine fans who only saw the sheet music for the first time five minutes ago.
Album closer Sphere of the Deceiver, which is described as a bonus track on my review download, runs the gamut of sci-fi spacewalk music, taking a detour into impressionistic ambient jazz with some outstanding blowing on the flugelhorn from Daniel Friend.
…enough of that, you can listen to it all on the Bandcamp stream anyway before making the inevitable decision to buy one of the most imaginative albums you will hear in this year of particularly high quality releases.
There is an awful lot to absorb on Assault on the Tyranny of Reason and it is clear that Emmett Elvin has a burgeoning and restless imagination and the ability to transpose that into highly individualstic music. In a music world where varying degrees of facsimile are the orders of the day, this album is a breath of fresh air, albeit air with a tantalisingly different odour. Also, Emmett’s “day job” as a graphic artist has been put to good use on the wonderful cover art. Dang, this loon is talented!
As is always the case, heavy manners in the real world always produces the best art, and Assault on the Tyranny of Reason reflects the current headless lurch into dystopia right back atchya in a thoroughly unclichéd manner, occasionally conveying an undercurrent of real uneasiness, but always being Emminently listenable. As Emmet says, “If you’ve enjoyed the ride I hope you can join me as we go further out to sea next time round.” Yes, Siree! “Don’t puncture the mummy.” I’ll try my best…
I could have skipped all that and simply said “Buy this now, it’s fab!”
01. Morning March of Unreason (0:36)
02. Boiling (3:48)
03. Dysnomia – Full Moon (3:00)
04. Heartburster (6:00)
05. Mars Is So Yesterday (5:12)
06. Burma Wednesday (2:14)
07. The Democracy They Deserve (3:12)
08. AllWeAreIsLove (3:45)
09. The Plankton Suite (4:22)
10. Dozy Phantoms (3:34)
11. The Curate’s Eggnog (3:02)
12. Assault on the Tyranny of Reason (5:02)
13. Sphere of the Deceiver (bonus track) (6:47)
Total time – 50:36
Emmett Elvin – Electric & Acoustic 6 & 12-string Guitars, Keyboards, Bass, Percussion, Recorders
Alex Thomas – Drums
Sarah Anderson – Violin, Viola
Anna Tam – Cello
Beverley Crome – French, Tenor & Baritone Borns
Daniel Friend – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Chloe Herington – Bassoon
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Year Of Release: 2016