Photographer: Jens-Uwe Beyer.
Best known for his long-running ambient techno/synth-pop project Popnoname, Jens-Uwe Beyer is a regular contributor to Kompakt's lauded Pop Ambient compilation series, as well as the co-founder of Cologne-based label/collective Magazine. The Emissary is his first proper solo album under his own name (not counting his 80-minute 2012 single "Red Book"), and it arrives on Kompakt's Pop Ambient artist album sub-label. Similar to much of the material released by Magazine, the album moves beyond the accessible, song-oriented tech-house of Popnoname, exploring more abstract, Krautrock-influenced pastures. Opener "St.Pop" centers around a flickering, buzzing analog synth tone which seems to be wrestling its way out of a box, creating an unnerving, claustrophobic (yet still dreamy) mood. Other tracks, especially the minimalist throb of "Moonshine Tangerine," recall the dark, trippy experimentation of Conrad Schnitzler. "Water Dancer" is a blurry tapestry of drifting guitars and rushing water sounds. The album's eerie title track is haunted by ghostly vocals and distant rumblings. "The Life Of" is the closest the album comes to sounding calm and soothing, combining flute-like tones and soft, pulsating beats with wet effects. "Trip the Light Fantastic" provides the album with a dramatic, bracing finale, moving toward a blinding light in glacially slow motion. The Emissary is a spirited, otherworldly sound expedition which surprisingly treads into sinister territory, but maintains grace and beauty. ~ Paul Simpson