Emancipator – Soon It Will Be Cold Enough

emancipator - soon it will be cold enough

It’s hard to believe this album was originally sold on CDRs by Douglas Appling, who would hand deliver them to the post office every week. It took two years until Nujabes noticed it and later rereleased it on his own Hydeout Productions, but I’m struggling to think of a better mentor for Emancipator’s particular brand of downtempo ambience: piano and guitar find harmony together, the string arrangements fit perfectly where utilized, the soundscapes evoke images of winter and movement, but the album’s real strength is in its expert use of empty space, in momentary pauses and quiet that serve the music and remind us that the good times are good because of the bad times. For this review I used the Hydeout rerelease, which omits two songs from the self-released version (Maps and Father King), and has a slightly different track order. Soon It Will Be Cold Enough opens with soft keys and pads over cymbals and guitar on Lionheart, the violin is introduced and so is the momentary pause that features throughout the album, it’s a beautiful song and does a great job of setting the right expectations for the album. Wolf Drawn finds guitar and piano married in harmony, a woman’s voice adds humanity to the instrumentals as a guitar strumming gets lost in the music, there’s a calm halfway through as if a fork appeared in the road and the percussion led the way. Thao Nguyen wrote and sings “when I go, I will stay long gone,” on When I Go. “Oh he drove all his days just to hold one against her and then he rode to her house in the dead of winter.” The acoustic guitar fits right in, it almost sounds like escape until she sings again “why not me?” The Darkest Evening of the Year departs from the soft country theme to a more industrial sounding place, originally the last song on the album, it’s in the middle for the version most will hear. There’s an implication of darkness and night over echoing kicks and grinding synth, distorted guitar and machine noises tell us we maybe took a wrong turn before Eve begins with a woman’s voice again and heavy drumming, it’s the uncertain sound of a clearing sky after a storm, there’s an optimism in this music in spite of the erratic percussion and it’s enhanced by the industrial, inhuman sound of the last song, the rearrangement definitely works. First Snow uses an odd sample (the 37th Volume of Journal of Social Hygiene) but it works with the theme of the album, “everything that’s alive grows from a tiny seed.” The piano melodies are beautiful, the percussion carries the rhythm forward while the bass keeps it grounded, the break opens the door for the spoken words “when the baby grows up to be an old man, and dies, they bury his body in the ground, but his soul goes to heaven,” but my favorite line is at the end: “aw I’m bundled, I got on like two jackets on … I need a mask too, ’cause it’s cold, real cold.” Soon It Will Be Cold Enough ends with Anthem which sounds almost stripped down in the beginning, this one has to find its pieces as the piano, violin, bass, find their way home again, the arrangement is flawless, even the faint sound of a storm near the end, it’s going to be a long winter but I can’t wait to come back.

3.5/5

2006 / 53:00

Replay: Absolutely.

Added to Playlist:
Lionheart: Ambience & Chill
When I Go: Ambience & Chill
First Snow: Ambience & Chill
Good Knight: Ambience & Chill
Soon It Will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires: Ambience & Chill
Anthem: Ambience & Chill

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