Let’s Emerge is the new album from Pye Corner Audio, the silicon chip alter-ego of Martin Jenkins who is joined on this release for the Sonic Cathedrals label by Ride guitarist Andy Bell. Jenkins says “this is a departure to sunnier climes, but a departure nonetheless. It’s something that I’d been thinking about for a while. I try to tailor my work slightly differently for the various labels that I work with, and this seems to fit nicely with Sonic Cathedral’s ethos.”
The album was recorded while Jenkins living in a smaller flat with a stripped down studio set-up. And necessity being the mother of invention meant that he was able to fully explore the more limited range of the instruments. Martin Jenkins had met Andy Bell at Sonic Cathedral’s 15th birthday party where they had agreed to work together in one-way or another, and he features on ‘De-Hibernate’, ‘Lyracal’, ‘Haze Loops’, ‘Saturation Point’ and ‘Warmth Of The Sun’.
Those are the facts of the album but the truth of Let’s Emerge is that it is both monumental and elemental, described by Jenkins as “bathed in sunlight and acid-bright psychedelia”. It is richly layered and complex and doesn’t give up all its secrets straight away. The restraint combined with the underlying repetition allows every nuance to be a beacon, a set of bright stars that flare up and then blink out during the tracks. The integration of heavily treated guitar with wisps of vocal lines on tracks like ‘De-Hibernate’ is seamless. There are swelling primordial clouds and the crackling of electric candyfloss on ‘Does It Go Dark?’, the rotating neon jellyfish tank of ‘Haze Loops’ and then ‘Let’s Emerge’ parts One and Two which seem to form an arc from an Ibizan sunrise to a tropical sunset. ‘Saturation Point’ starts like waking from hyper-sleep only to see the distant flare of ‘attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion’ and, like another part of solar space opera, ‘Sun Stroke’ has the feel of the Silver Surfer settling down on his board catching solar rays from an emerging star. ‘Luminescence’ bubbles away like sunlight viewed from underwater before breaking the surface and sending spray skyward like a breaching whale. And finally there’s ‘Warmth Of The Sun’ which is fuelled by cascading arpeggios that feel like a conversation between electronic cicadas and atomic fireflies.
The use of colour in the music is echoed by designer Marc Jones’ vivid cover which is the bright crust which hints at the earth’s core underneath. I imagine Let’s Emerge would be a dream for anyone with synaesthesia as tracks swirl around giving off rich golds, canary yellows, vibrant butterscotch mixed with tiger stripe orange and electric marmalade. Some tracks evoke a fire that’s burning backwards from smouldering embers to roaring flames and others evoke the brightness of molten metal. From the bleeps and bloops of electronic pioneers like Delia Derbyshire or Wendy Carlos, through to Vangelis’s lush arrangements and Kraftwerk’s dazzling metronome-with-a-soul, Pye Corner Audio are demonstrating here that they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. Let’s Emerge shows an incredible empathy with the mechanics of sound and whether I have given it my full attention or had it on as zen background music, I have been utterly captivated by what I don’t doubt it will be one of my top ten albums of the year.
Review by Paul F Cook