EMACS “Night Blooming Planet” C72 (Felix Onyx)

“Night Blooming Planet” was recorded in Norway during the dead of winter, and you know what that means: virtually no daytime, if any at all. So “Night Blooming Planet,” then, is a reflection of emacs, aka composer/producer Elise Macmillan, during those long hours of darkness. Holed up in whatever sort of shelter you hole up in in the midst of the harshest Scandinavian weather, emacs cranked out some epic digital magic, showcasing not only her ability to thrive in adverse conditions but also the surprising amount of life and energy found beneath and among the dense snowdrifts.

The first two tracks take up almost twenty minutes of tape, their glitchy yet melodic atmosphere as playful as a couple of sea otter pups wrestling and sliding over the ice. Polyrhythmic density accentuates the feeling of playfulness, as everything’s constantly in motion, as if to stave off freezing. Hard left turn to “A Cube a Shape,” where emacs’s haunting vocals and violin take center stage before the rhythms kick back in. It’s almost a nine-minute pop song, if “pop” meant sleepy Björk fronting a chamber orchestra. These elements reappear and combine with regularity, building upon themselves and forming fragile and delicate ice sculptures, except formed by sound instead of frozen water.

The crystalline and skeletal frameworks find their strength in the cold and the darkness, in the moments when no one is looking and they are free to grow and “bloom” at their own pace. They glow and shimmer under the full moon, paeans to the white night so lit with moonlight that you can see almost as well as you can in the daytime, which, again, isn’t all that dissimilar from nighttime in mid-January. What emacs sees under the stars is transmitted into and translated through her music, a glistening menagerie of fractal sound.