Smokey Emery, “04”

Zack Wilks

Ambient is one of those genres that’s hard to pen down. We’ve talked about it at the Impose office–what the best way to write about ambient music might be. Does it require finding an endless arsenal of synonyms for “atmospheric” and “mesmerizing”? Or does it transcend language and become a purely experiential style of music? (Not say other genres aren’t about the experience of listening; it’s just that ambient presents a particular set of obstacles to language, a byproduct of its customarily repetitive and anti-structural nature).

The music of Smokey Emery presents this familiar issue. The main project of Houston-born Daniel Hipólito, Smokey Emery is the culmination of Hipólito’s nomadic lifestyle, an aural record of the places he travels. The music he constructs purely subjective, though it doesn’t pretend to be anything else; snippets of found sound and orchestral instruments are amalgamated and striated, a simultaneous combination and reconfiguration of Hipólito’s very specific experience traveling across the American countryside.

“04”, taken from HOLODECK’s reissue of 2011’s Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III: Qui Mal y Pense, is Smokey Emery fully realized in this regard. Swirling synths and repetitive cello chords construct an ambient dirge of sorts, dying out as the sounds of wind and planes flying by slowly enter the mix. The track accurately reflects and refracts the feeling of walking a desert road at dusk, wandering aimlessly yet using the road as a guide of sorts. That may sound melodramatic for an ambient track, but the ten minute sprawl that “04” encompasses warrants such language, slaloming into a cerebral space that upsets notions of how time and place can function in music.

HOLODECK will release Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. III: Qui Mal y Pense on July 15.

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