With the current electronic music scene a desolate wasteland, it becomes easy to forget the diversity it once held. Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Autechre all managed to push boundaries and challenge perceptions. Though Sunfilter can hardly be accused of shifting the musical landscape, it does make an excellent case for the future of forward-thinking electronic music.
Emanate manages to capture many tonal concepts of the aforementioned IDM pioneers. While it lacks the frenetic drum and bass of “Vic Acid,” Sunfilter’s latest finds itself in a thoughtful, meditative place. “Belly Button Logic” dances hypnotically and circular atop shifting drum patterns. This is a repeated theme throughout the album — building atop of repetition to create new structures.
Sunfilter places a heavy focus on pop progressions, but utilizes them to present complex ideas. Additionally, there’s a welcome, relaxed feel to the production. It really works to the album’s benefit, given the occasionally physically disorienting moments on tracks like “The Vertical Gardens.”
That said, there are some minor issues. Overall, it does feel as though the second half of the album is stronger than the first half. With a heavier focus on ambient, bass-heavy sounds, Emanate is allowed to explore individual ideas much more thoroughly — the high point being the album’s monolithic title track that clocks in at eight minutes long.
Still, Emanate holds its own against the established powerhouses, proving that there’s still plenty of room for new voices within experimental electronic music.
By Aaron J. Marko