ARTIST: Pulse Emitter
To be released on LP on Hausu Mountain, 1/17/2020.
Portland-based composer Daryl Groetsch’s output under the name Pulse Emitter forms a catalog of nearly one hundred physical releases since the early ‘00s. The full scope of his wide-ranging experiments in synthesis and electronic arrangement encompasses everything from expansive new age drift exercises, to purely textural noise sculpting, to the strain of post-Berlin School cybernetic prog composition that characterized newer albums like Through The Portal (Phinery, 2016) and Digital Rainforest (Beer on the Rug, 2015). Swirlings, his first full-length LP on Hausu Mountain, follows a split release with Brett Naucke (HAUSMO53, 2017), and albums on labels like NNA, Immune, and Constellation Tatsu. Swirlings finds Pulse Emitter tempering his more recent melodic streak with a host of time-distorting compositional strategies from the ambient and drone traditions, yielding a hybridized vision of his music that spans distinct eras and styles of his output. Taken in the context of his cosmic song titles and long-standing incorporation of sci-fi themes and imagery, the album bears the outward signs of the ambient record that seeks to evoke the experience of deep space travel, or observing a lush garden of alien flora from the deck of a starship. Groetsch ornaments his gorgeous harmonic whirlpools and majestic spreads of smeared drones with layers of crystalline melody and flourishes of granular processing. His pieces stretch through minimal expanses in which individual pads and bass notes sketch out a churning rhythmic grid before blooming into mosaics of interlaced arpeggios and lead voices. Pulse Emitter approaches electronic composition from the perspective of a master craftsman, harnessing a fine-tuned sense of narrative development and a penchant for juxtaposing contrasting synth voices from far-flung corners of his arsenal of softsynths, app-based programs, and hardware instruments. While he conjures time-lapse vistas of galaxies and nebulas in our mind’s eye, the sophistication of his arrangements and the universal beauty of his harmonies pushes the lens inward on the self, resulting in a journey that is as personal and internal as it is celestial.
Swirlings represents a culmination of diverse modes of creation that Pulse Emitter has developed over the course of his recent releases. As on 2018’s Xenharmonic Passages, Groetsch moves beyond traditional tonalities and western scales to incorporate elements of microtonality into his percolating black hole soundscapes. As on his five volume series called Meditative Music, he hones in on 6 to 7-minute drifting pieces that balance a sense of delicate stasis with great depth of detail and movement. The lead lines present on Swirlings continue Pulse Emitter’s fascination with emulated instrumental tones characteristic of ‘80s synth composition, as more chintzy or brittle voices collide with patches of ultra high-fidelity synthetic pointillism. Far from the realm of plug-and-press-play ambient computer music, his hands-on input on his system of machines can compress time into pockets of acute structural turbulence, or lock into streams of slow equilibrium where one can trace his live manipulation of single voices or textural parameters. With Swirlings, Pulse Emitter taps into the benevolence and natural curiosity at the heart of his practice. After decades guiding us down a network of distinct paths through the cosmos, Groetsch has become the wise traveler that we turn to transfix and entertain us, to kindle a spark of warmth in the cold void of space.