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(78:40, Emkog Records)
TRACK LISTING – PERFORMERS: 1. The Solitude of Miranda – Deluge Grander 7:18 2. Birds Flying Into Buildings – Birds and Buildings 9:13 3. Art of the Earth – All Over Everywhere 4:16 4. Yucatan 65 – Birds and Buildings 5:00 5. Nine Against Ten – Cerebus Effect 6:38 6. Miracle Pigeon – Birds and Buildings 2:31 7. Aggrandizement – Deluge Grannder 12:50 8. Gratitude – All Over Everywhere 10.41 9. A Big Blob of Demos of Forthcoming Music – Various Artists 20:13
Prolusion. Based in Maryland, USA, Emkog Records is a small independent label set up by Dan Britton, and at least at this stage limited to functioning as the releasing label of the various musical endeavours he's involved with personally. So far the label has issued CDs with three of his projects: Deluge Grander, Birds And Buildings and All Over Everywhere. As Cerebus Effects has been included on this sampler one may suspect that any future material from that band may be linked to this label as well. In addition, Britton is working on a fifth project, Elevator Machine Room, with a CD tentatively planned to be ready by 2011 or 2012.
Analysis. The material I have encountered featuring Dan Britton's involvement has so far been of an excellent quality. He's a fine producer, composer and musician, and appears to be something of a perfectionist under ideal circumstances. And one who appears to care a lot about giving those interested in his endeavors good value for money too, as this label sampler offers ample proof of. Just about half of the material consists of either strictly unreleased material or alternate versions of previously released efforts, which does make this a compilation disc made with a bit more thought than your average production of the kind. Deluge Grander is represented with an alternate version of The Solitude of Miranda and an excerpt (clocking in at almost 13 minutes, mind you) of Aggrandizement, the former a tour de force of symphonic art rock, incorporating folk and classical influences in a tight, multilayered, constantly evolving energetic creation; the latter a slower, darker and grandiose construction that is a tad harder to fathom – excellent track, but not quite as impressive as the former. Birds And Buildings' scope is exemplified by three works: Birds Flying into Buildings with its circulating, repetitive and quite dramatic excursion into a realm with a variety of fusion as the main contents, but with symphonic art rock flavorings. Yucatan 65 is more of a folk-oriented effort, gentle in nature and fleshed out with symphonic textures as it evolves. And, lastly, Miracle Pigeon is a much harder hitting construction, staccato and dramatic with a driving bass guitar as the key feature, with ample room for brass bursts in this elegant mix of fusion, hard prog and symphonic art rock. Britton's latest project All Over Everywhere is given two tracks to highlight its particular take on the art rock universe, of which one is the amazing epic length effort Gratitude. As this disc was recently reviewed at the website, I'd refer readers to look that description up for further details on that act. The one band so far not issued by Emkog, Cerebus Effect, are showcased through the piece Nine Against Ten, a majestic, repetitive circulating affair featuring tightly interwoven instrumental escapades, guitar riff constructions with metal tendencies and with many minor details fusion fans most likely will recognize, including plenty of jazz-tinged instrumental solo runs. The final 20 minutes of the disc are used to present various ideas, themes and motifs Britton has planned to use within a 5-year timespan with three of his band projects: early versions and demo ones, the former of good release quality standard and the latter not quite at that level. All of them are almost seamlessly incorporated into one massive effort, where the symphonic art rock tendencies dominate, as tight and interwoven as you'd expect, with details and nuances aplenty to find, explore and enjoy.
Conclusion. "Emkog" should be used as a textbook example of how a label should approach the concept of making a sampler disc. Assemble some of the best compositions from your artists' rooster, include unreleased versions of at least some of those tracks, and see to it that existing fans of the artists represented or the label in question get good value for the money spent to buy it. A disc well worth obtaining if you want to become familiar with the label and one that should be worthwhile acquiring also for those familiar with the artists represented on it.
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