Story by: Jacki (Moon) Horne
Photos by: Mario Villeda (mariovilledaphotograhy.com)
In the midst of festival season, it’s hard to get excited about anything that doesn’t involve a tent and multiple stages, until the novelty of the entire four-piece Emancipator Ensemble finally made it to Austin, Texas earlier this month. At last, the quartet performed a much-anticipated live band set at Emo's. The four-piece brought its fusion of electronic elements and live instruments to immerse the crowd in its soothing, downtempo sound.
The most moving part about the Emancipator Ensemble experience was the band’s ability to engage and connect with the entire audience on an emotional level through their soul-searching music. Between opener “Lionheart” and encore “Soon it will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires,” the band played a full night of joyful organic-meets-electronic music that could melt the most jaded of hearts. The guys also thrilled the audience when they played new original “Keys.”
The full ensemble is an interesting concept that texturizes the live performance into a more climactic experience, while adding depth to the electronically produced tracks. The instruments transform the inherently emotion-filled, ambient songs into their own individual cinematic masterpieces within the set. While looking around the crowd I witnessed several people with tears of joy in their eyes and giant smiles on their faces.
The Emancipator Ensemble experience began several years ago with the vision of Doug Appling. The young producer began crafting downtempo tracks with addictive melodies under the alias of Emancipator, in which he swiftly became notorious for performing at deeply moving sold-out shows and sunrise festival sets across the nation. Appling soon added the impassioned talent of violinist IIya Goldberg to create a more textured live experience.
While the duo’s organic blend was captivating, the complete ensemble magic was incepted when the talents of drummer Colby Buckler and bassist Mub Fractal were added; it was then the all-encompassing cinematic experience, that I witnessed this month, came to exist. The fusion of live instruments and electronic elements is appearing more frequently, and Emancipator Ensemble is a trailblazer with an entire live band.
The ensemble’s combined talents seamlessly came together to create a soul rejuvenating live experience that left the crowd with chills, tears of joy, and cheeks that hurt from smiling.
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