Emmett Elvin is name you’ll probably recognize. He’s best known for his work with Chrome Hoof, Guapo, and Knifeworld. He doesn’t just play the keyboards, but he can also play Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Recorders, and he can do vocals. He has two albums including one of which it has a collection of material he assembled in his home studio from 1998 to 2005 entitled, Emmettronica. This year, he’s released his third studio album on the Bad Elephant Music label entitled, Assault on the Tyranny of Reason.
He brought along some helping hands including Sarah Anderson (Chrome Hoof) on Violin and Viola, Anna Tam (Mediaeval Baebes) on Cello, Chloe Herington (Knifeworld) on Bassoon, and Alex Thomas (Chrome Hoof) on Drums to name a few. Including guest artists Kavus Torabi on Guitar and the mastering/mixing done by Mark Cawthra. When I first listened to Assault on the Tyranny of Reason, I can hear combinations between Rock In Opposition, Electronic, Folk, and Experimental music.
From the moment you hear Dozy Phantoms, Emmett takes us through this Salvador Dali-sque painting background carnival filled with the cross between the Residents and King Crimson’s THRAK-era before Kavus himself channels his guitar between Devo’s Bob Mothersbaugh, Carlos Alomar, and Adrian Belew to create this haywire yet chaotic effect on his guitar. With the orientations of Chamber Music and Minimalism traditional sounds, he creates these textures that can give chills and goosebumps that can be unexpected.
Heartburster starts off at first with an eerie cavernous composition featuring string and cello sections that feels something straight out of a Tim Burton film for the first 2 minutes and 46 seconds before it signals for liftoff and into space as the transporting rhythmic guitars come into place while the ambient/atmospheric AllWeAreIsLove is a love letter to the Berlin Trilogy of David Bowie’s Low period.
Emmett Elvin is not Leopold Stokowski, but he wants the team to follow him like a conductor and see where the pieces of the puzzle would land and they match it up well to know they got the tempo and beats in the correct order. It’s exampled on Dysnomia-Full Moon. I get the feeling that Elvin along with Anna and Sarah helping on the strings followed by Chloe along with Phillip’s Church Organ, its this cross between Camille Saint-Saens and Alban Berg with a dodcaphonic melody.
The Plankton Suite you can close your eyes and imagine the elements of Canterbury and Zeuhl music combined into one as if Egg and Magma had worked together to create this intense introduction conducted by Terry Riley. It them moves into the midsection with some Twilight Zone-sque mysterious background before the chaotic burst of the dooming Rhodes come barging in and then ending with a nightmarish lullaby scenario.
I was blown away from the moment I put my headphones on for the Assault on the Tyranny of Reason. I’ll admit, it’s not an easy album to listen to, but I always have a love of Tonal and Minimal Music from the 20th Century. And of course the Rock In Opposition movement with an Experimental twist. Emmett shows he’s more than just a keyboardist from Chrome Hoof, Guapo, and Knifeworld, but it shows he can do other things and make it sinister, raw, powerful, and shows it right into the listener's ear.
He combines all these ideas and compositions and put them all together in a Smoothie shake by adding a dosage of wasabi and tabasco sauce to create something that is enigmatic and with industrial strength you can close your eyes and imagine the whole album being performed at a theater for a ballet that will take people by surprise. I can’t wait to hear more from Emmett Elvin and what he will have in store next.