Trip-hop visionary Emancipator to grace Pearl Street

By Sarah Robertson

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As part of his fall tour spanning across the United States and Europe, Doug Appling, known to audiences as Emancipator, will be playing a show at the Pearl Street Ballroom in Northampton this Thursday, Sept. 26.

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Gathering international attention since his 2006 debut, “Soon It Will Be Cold Enough,” Appling has reached fans as far as Japan with his style of symphonic electronic trip-hop music. His style includes seamless buildups and breakdowns rich with chords and a dizzying variety of sounds including mandolin, choir music and sound effects. Appling, whose sound has been described as organic, takes much of his inspiration from nature and life experiences. The theme of nature is prevalent in his 2010 album “Safe in the Steep Cliffs,” with standout tracks such as “Greenland” and “Black Lake.”

Emancipator’s latest album, “Dusk to Dawn,” was released in January of this year and has lived up to what fans have grown to expect from the young artist. The album breathes new life into the instrumental genre with  innovative hip-hop beats and endless layers that refuse to compromise as background music. The top tracks include “Minor Cause” and “Natural Cause,” both featuring collaborator Ilya Goldberg on the violin to create a warm, yet eerie tone. Goldberg is one of several composers featured in the album and will be on tour with Appling throughout his tour.

In a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone Japan, Appling discussed his inspiration and early successes in the music industry. Growing up in Virginia, Appling began playing the violin at age four and has since learned the mandolin, banjo and viola.

What really piqued his musical interests, however, was the discovery of the software Acid Pro, which allowed Appling to remix and loop music to fit his exact taste. Throughout college he dabbled in the software, creating his own mixes and playing small college venues at his school, William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

When asked about inspiration for his music, Appling responded, “I get inspired by musical ideas, like a melody or a beat that pops into my head, and then I build a song around it. My music is very cinematic. My songs have rising and falling action as if they accompany an imaginary story. But I’m only focused on the music. The plot is left up to the listener.” He also stresses the organic qualities of his music, and says many of his track titles reflect these ideas.

When Appling was 19 years old, he released his first full-length album, which gained immediate international acclaim. “Soon It Will Be Cold Enough” became incredibly popular in Japan, where it sold over 5,000 copies in less than six months. Riding off the success of his first album, Appling was able to secure a sponsorship with Puma, gain a powerful international fan base, and went as far as having a song from the album featured in the Beijing Olympics.

Not only is Appling a musical prodigy, but also a self-made producer. His latest LP “Dusk to Dawn” was released independently this year under his own label Loci Records, which he launched in 2012. Already, he has signed a fellow trip-hop artist, Tor, who released his first album “Drum Therapy” last year.

With his new label and powerful fan base, Emancipator has made significant contributions to this rising genre. The trip-hop genre originated in the early 90s in the UK as highly experimental electronic music with its roots in ambient, as well as hip-hop music.

Thursday’s show will take place at the Pearl Street Ballroom at 9 p.m. in Northampton. Tickets are available for $15 in advance, or $18 at the door.

 

Sarah Robertson can be reached at [email protected]