Emulsion: Blue Sky Objective
Lens Records

Emulsion's 8-bit sound is proudly front and center from the opening moment of Blue Sky Objective, but what most distinguishes the full-length by native New Yorker and now Chicago resident Nathan Koch is his gift for bright, tangy melodies. Every requisite elements of the classic electro-IDM style is here—bouncy, lo-fi beats, symphonic synths, handclaps, bleepy arcade noises—yet Koch maintains interest with an expansive stylistic range (the subtlest hint of funk animates the bright wonderland “Tweeism,” for example). At times, one wonders if Emulsion might not be a separate Solvent guise, so similar are their styles (“All Robots On Sale!” is textbook Solvent, while song titles like “Balloons and Centipedes” certainly recall the Canadian artist too); interestingly, as a teenager Koch (like Jason Amm) absorbed the dark electronic sounds of Coil and Skinny Puppy, influences that subtly emerge during Blue Sky Objective's darker moments (“Without”). Still, a slightly grimier ambiance (“King of 1998”) hardly lessens the material's accessibility or negates its sunlit sensibility. Some songs (“Smeared Bus Window”) are so simple in construction and arrangement they verge on skeletal yet possess an innocent charm nonetheless. Like other similarly-oriented practitioners (Solvent, Lowfish, Casino Versus Japan, and Ulrich Schnauss), Koch's Emulsion style implicitly champions melody and song structure over self-indulgent experimentalism. Though a short album by CD standards (38 minutes) with many of its thirteen songs vanishing quickly (“Ukidama,” “A Personal Message”), Blue Sky Objective is the perfect length for showcasing Emulsion's Technicolor sound.

June 2006