Don’t let the first clarion-call notes on Formantine scare you. It’s just Emmalee Crane establishing her territory–in this case, the realm of organic drones culled from horns, oboes, and clarinets, worked into new forms by electronics and set side-by-side along neo-classical overtones and soft post-rock forms. After those first couple of sounds on “Crasher,” Crane tempers the drones and evolves Formantine through a vareity of identities. “Gight Vaulting” is a rolling tide of atmospheric swells, its sense of drama heightened and haunted by vocal samples. “In Sense and Sign” has a similar feel, less the samples, a classic drone-based piece with big, arcing waveforms rising and falling in easy rhythms. “We Came from Monsters” and “I Never Expect You to Stay” tap into the post-rock side and showcase Crane’s excellent piano work. Both pieces have a heartbroken quality to them–“Monsters” feeling angrier as heavy chords are thrown down against the drones before slumping with resignation and exhaustion against the wall; “I Never Expect…” has more of that forehead-against-the-window, stare-into-the-rain melancholy, the tinge of something heartfelt, unsaid and unresolved. “Inerosion” takes Crane’s deep-breath drones and bolsters them with big distorted guitar chords that slide across the sound. All the elements–breathy drones, soft piano and samples–are neatly pulled together for the last/title track.
Formantine packs a lot into its short 44-minute ride, and is consistently enjoyable, track to track. Crane’s diverse approach keeps things moving and interesting, and she’s skilled enough to pull off her changes without a bump. Expect to give this one a lot of repeat listens.
Available from Emmalee Crane’s web site.