Crux by Emmalee Crane is one of those ethereal atmospheric albums that you’d think would have a welcome home alongside masters like Windy & Carl on Kranky Records, but they find themselves on a small but budding San Francisco label The Streetlight Farm. Crux matches the power of Kranky’s drone-worthy artists, from the aforementioned to the excellence of Greg Davis and Gregg Kowalsky. And in that manner alone, Crux is an absolute success.
But given a deeper listen, Crux stands out in its lack of indie snobbery and honest wholeheartedness. This is an album of Crane’s own concoction, built upon passion and love and emotion. “You Seem To Reason” and “Illustry” have that similar minimalist quality; a pleasant drone, not a shoegaze-era romp through louds and softs. The focus is harmony, and despite roots buried in early electronica it’s quite futuristic actually.
Along these lines, and what makes Crux such a great and stand-alone album, is Crane’s ability to mesh her passions of early electronic music, namely that of the minimalist stance, with her love of classical music. Yes, Crux may feature all sorts of electronic instruments, some of which Crane has altered to her suiting, but it’s also packed with more traditional instruments, from oboe and clarinet, to french horn and trumpet.
“The Rise Of The Grasshopper” is perhaps where Crane shines brightest, if only because it includes just a slightly greater fluctuation in volume than elsewhere on Crux. However, when it comes down to it, Crux may be divided into “songs” and “tracks”, but it should be viewed in a broader sense — as a whole. After all, that’s what makes the drone album work, and Crane has mastered that ability.
The Streetlight Farm [CD, 2009]
1. Stair Asterism
2. You Seem To Reason
3. Three Nine Six Twelve
4. Alms End
6. The Rise Of The Grasshopper
7. I Break At Your Touch
8. Silver Blue In Solomon