Emancipator
Safe In The Steep Cliffs


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
February 17th, 2010 | 51 replies | 21,467 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A consistently impressive album from a surprisingly unknown artist. One of 2010's best so far.

My first encounter with Emancipator came when a friend showed me a mashup he stumbled upon while doing research for a mashup party that we were going to DJ. It was certainly not a mashup meant for the party, but we immediately thought it one of the better mashups we encountered during our investigation of the mashup world. The mashup combined Sigur Ros’s “Untitled 1” and Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones, Pt. 2” and was entitled “Shook.” On paper, this does not seem like an ambitious mashup. In fact, the floating, beatless “Untitled 1” seems like the worst choice for background music for Mobb Deep’s rapping. To remedy this problem, Emancipator put his own influence into the mashup, cutting up the synths and Jonsi’s vocals to create a more rhythmic instrumental. Then, he put a beat behind the surgery performed on the Sigur Ros original. Going further than making “Untitled 1” fit into a hip-hop aesthetic, Emancipator put saxophone squeaks, vibraphone, and other subtle countermelodies into the mix. To a listener who has never heard “Untitled 1”, the blend of Emancipator’s instrumentals and Sigur Ros’s instrumental is probably indistinguishable, and this ability to blend different elements into already beautiful “Untitled 1” forms the true beauty of Emancipator’s mashup.

Unfortunately, this is the only mashup we found of Emancipator’s. He is, instead, a trip-hop artist composing original music. Safe in the Steep Cliffs is his second release, the follow-up to 2006’s Soon It Will Be Cold Enough, an unnoticed trip-hop gem. Those who did notice praised it highly and eagerly anticipated his next release. Safe in the Steep Cliffs does not disappoint, even with the immensely high expectations that Soon It Will Be Cold Enough placed upon the young artist. He achieves this by imbuing his signature sound with new instruments--banjo, mandolin, and horns--just as organically as his typical blend of beats and guitars featured on Soon It Will Be Cold Enough.

The result is a perfection of the organic sound that trip-hop artists such as RJD2 have tried with limited success. “Shook” hinted at Emancipator’s ability to combine different sounds smoothly, but Safe in the Steep Cliffs completes the process consistently. “Old Devil” opens with tremolo strings, which fade out into a plucked guitar pattern with a strong bass and beat behind it. Suddenly, banjo enters, the strings return, and all of the different components trade the melody. On top of the trading of melody like an old-time ensemble, Emancipator creates subtle breakbeat breakdowns mid-song without disrupting the tight groove he has already constructed.

The one flaw from Soon It Will Be Cold Enough--a fatal flaw--was that some songs had no distinguishable qualities. With Emancipator’s new range of sounds, this is no longer the case. For example, “Rattlesnakes” has a distinctly southwest American flavor due to the main guitar riff and Native American flute floating in and out of the texture. “Jet Stream” has a funkier groove than the rest of the album with Latin percussion, tasteful rim clicks, and a syncopated bass line. “All Through the Night” might be the most chilled song on the album, with a peaceful plucked guitar pattern, Rhodes piano, and a calm, unimposing beat forming the backdrop.

The list of discernible sounds goes on through the entire 14-track album. If the album lacks anything, it lacks moments of true climactic power, but even the idea of a loud, busy climax contradicts Emancipator’s flow and style. Despite the layers upon layers of sound, Safe in the Steep Cliffs is decidedly chilled and flowing. Still, if Emancipator is to grow in any way, it would be with more contrasting dynamics. Because of this scarcity, the brilliance of his different layers and varying sounds may go unnoticed. Nevertheless, the smoothness of Emancipator’s production is extremely impressive, and he may be the best unsung trip-hop artist around right now, beating heavyweights RJD2 and Four Tet at their own game with not one, but fourteen fell swoops.



Recent reviews by this author
Das Racist RelaxLil Wayne Tha Carter IV
The Weeknd ThursdayJay-Z and Kanye West Watch the Throne
Shabazz Palaces Black UpFleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
user ratings (175)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Piglet
February 17th 2010



4652 Comments


intriguing.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
February 17th 2010



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

been trying to listen to the entire past two weeks... just cant get behind it.

that said, you should check the new bonobo record tyler. it's probably as good or better than this record. i have the promo/ can rip it if you want.

BenedictVII
February 17th 2010



369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There are some sweet songs from soon it will be cold enough. I didn't know he was coming out with new stuff. I need to get this.

Kiran
Emeritus
February 17th 2010



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is great

i heard about this guy a while ago for that baller mobb deep vs sigur ros mix he did

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
February 17th 2010



862 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah this is pretty chill

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 17th 2010



3743 Comments


heard about this, will get

Zettel
February 17th 2010



582 Comments


I will have to check this out. Good review.

Eskate87
February 17th 2010



959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

a great artist and a great record. might be my favorite of 2010 so far. digz

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2010



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

chill, but seems to me somehow too polished, like electronic experiments created in garageband or something. It offers little reason for me to listen to it repeatedly. What is here is impressive, but the sheen of it all turns me off. Sorry, Tyler =(

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

adrianman
February 17th 2010



59 Comments


i liked the first record, i might just listen up

poweroftheweez
February 17th 2010



1290 Comments


anybody else see a big cat laying on its side when they looked at the album art?
this sounds right up my alley, will check out

Shrapnel94
February 17th 2010



2213 Comments


I have Soon It Will Be Cold Enough and its awesome. How is this compared to it?

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
February 17th 2010



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for reading the second paragraph.

iamSeraph
February 17th 2010



857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

incredibly good review.
nice read dude.
and thanks for the music, emancipator is awesome.(and "shook" is, too) ;)

Digging: Everley - The Tyger and the Lamb

Pessimist
February 17th 2010



191 Comments


I liked his previous album, might give this a shot.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
February 17th 2010



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This kind of makes me think, "Hippietronica"

deadinholywood
February 17th 2010



238 Comments


Oh this is very nice, it's my type of chill.

sexualsoybean
February 18th 2010



911 Comments


Triple post

sexualsoybean
February 18th 2010



911 Comments


Well mashup in my mashup opinion I mashup think mashup you should mashup expand on mashup MASHUP MASHUPMASHUPMASHUP

sexualsoybean
February 18th 2010



911 Comments


UGGGGH



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy