Pulse Emitter – Equinox (2014)


After quite the delay, for which I apologise, some coverage on a new record out of the Constellation Tatsu label, Equinox by Pulse Emitter.

Gilded with the same psychedelic, mis-matched, vaguely Dadaist artwork as many of his label mates, Equinox falls under the same banner of slow-turning, synth led Ambient, but rather than embrace the more modern stylings we saw from artists like Panabrite we see an album deeply sunk into a 1980’s reminiscence. Opener “Autumn Again” sees the track unfurl in slow waves of repetitive and oscillating synth riffs, tumbling over one another on the fringe of syncopation for the vast majority of the track, piercing notes playfully providing assistance to the golden streams of sunlight in the warm backing drone. A slight lull towards the end sees a peaceful moment as we stop for a moment to take stock of this beautiful scene, the brown and red leaves tumbling out of the sky.

“Autumn Again”‘s slowly transgressive melodies eventually fall away to reveal “Gilded Light”, an overall quieter and more introspective affair following the rather jovial instrumentation of the opener. The lush backing drones are still present, albeit somewhat reduced, whilst the fore is more dominated by the slow thrums and sparkles of a patchwork quilt of low-key, slow synth. Something about the sound here is somehow more deliberate and precise than before, each sound carefully placed like a stepping stone in the river of synth sunlight, each tinkle a glint and reflection on its surface, the rolling and carefree drones the variable flow of the current.

But that more upbeat atmosphere is returned in the briefest track of the album (at a meagre 6 minutes) “A Cyclone of Leaves”. It’s actually possibly my favourite piece of the album, with its fascinatingly dense textures and weird, thick synths. Obviously it never peaks to the ferocity of its namesake, it has a certain style to adhere to, but it is probably the condensed and rapid the album ever gets , its brighter notes caught amidst a storm of oppressive thrums; the weightless leaves caught in the wind vs the piles of soggy leaves accumulating in the nooks. Followup “Light From Distant Stars” is also surprisingly active in its presentation, living up to its title as it pootles along on masses of delicate, shimmering injections of light synth, relentless and unstoppable in their display. As the track progresses I’m reminded strongly of Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence, one of my favourite Ambient records of which I’m sure much of this album has been modelled, as low, infrequent and more grounded synth throbs rise from the surface, the same way they do in Steve’s admittedly more downtempo “Reflections in Suspension”. It’s a beautiful and restless track that reaches its pinnacle right when it cuts itself off.

Closer “Night Gardens” is here to finish the album off for us now, and clocking in at almost 17 minutes it apparently wants to do it in some style. While not exactly far removed from the same melodies we heard in the opener, there’s also something of an almost Vangelis, Blade Runner-esque sound rising up in the backfield at times, alongside the tumbling plinks of endless xylophonic notes. At firs they are infrequent introductions into the mix, little soaring additions to give it some scale, but slowly the piece evolves and they take a more prominent role and give it some added grandeur as they slowly cycle into view. It’s the slow, almost imperceptible evolution not dissimilar to your eyes adjusting to the darkness, uncovering an increasing amount of detail in the expansive darkness of these shorter days and longer nights. But it is the closing 2 minutes or so that are the highlight as the textures seem to part just a fraction to let these bold, curtain closing notes sink deeply through its matrix.

If you have a penchant for synthesisers then this album will definitely be for you, since I hardly believe any part of this album wasn’t constructed from their kitsch 80’s tones; whether its the tinkling, shimmering highs or the expansive, dull thrums of the underlying drone currents, everything sounds electronic, and yet there’s something also deeply organic and rather touching about its construction that breathes life and creates vistas from these texturally complex and barely progressive movements of sound. Many of its finest moments arrive at the end of the tracks also, once they’ve achieved sufficient, delicate momentum, so if you can brave their 10 minute spans you’ll be richly rewarded. I like it a lot.