By Alex Popp
Standing in a crowd of 100 people, the floor beneath my feet is sticky from spilt beer. The air is smoky and hot, and as the lights begin to dim a shiver of excitement rushes through the assembled mass of people jammed into the Georgia Theatre. Douglas Appling, A.K.A “Emancipator”, strides gracefully on stage followed closely by his violinist Ilya Goldberg, and after acknowledging the crowds fervor with short waves the two young musicians take their positions and begin.
The ambient soundscape they create reminds me of elevator music and scenes of an Irish countryside. Goldberg’s violin dances skillfully around the guiding bass of the opening song, and as the last notes of “Greenland” fade away to silence, the crowd erupts with chaotic noise. It is only 12:11am, and I am already blown away.
The screens behind Emancipator are shaped like double mountains. On the screens are displayed patterns that cycle between mechanical shapes (lights, gears, etc.) and patterns that resemble nature, (natural colors, magma, waves, etc.)
Emancipator’s deep ambient sound is at odds with rap samples and heavy bass that almost deafens the listener. But songs are back together into a cohesive piece by the haunting melodic voice repeating the words, “when I go, when I go, when I go.”
By 12:45 a.m the Georgia Theatre is completely packed. The visuals are morphing slowly into magma filled tetrahedrons in tetrahedrons, as the music reaches a climax of cacophony so immense it will surely be heard for blocks.
By 1:30 a.m the entire Georgia Theatre reeks of pot and tobacco smoke, Emancipator is cutting between melodic music and smoking violin solos. The visuals are starting to look like forest landscapes distorted into kaleidoscope patterns, moved almost as if by some occult hand. Trees and mountains on the screens keep changing into multi-colored tetrahedrons.
Emancipator first came into the spotlight in 2006, when Appling self-released his debut album “Soon It Will Be Cold Enough,” and selling thousands of copies in the first 6 months.
This show will be stop number eighteen on Emancipator’s winter tour. People that missed this show will have a chance to see him again over the summer and at a number of venues and festivals across the country.