Pulse Emitter, “Swirlings”

The venerable Pulse Emitter makes his first foray into 90s-style nature documentary soundtrack music, painting esoteric sound-portraits of jungles and oceans with a synthesized tonal palette that would sound futuristic to Carl Sagan, but sounds warm and familiar to younger scholars who grew up on Bill Nye. The soft mellotron-flute patterns hearken back to the golden age of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, while breaking new ground with dynamics and harmony that only an internet-saturated mind could process.

“Fairy Tree” evokes underwater jungles and extraterrestrial conch shell clarion calls, tapping into his mystical side that fit so well with the Constellation Tatsu canon in 2014. A gentle tide of bubbling rhythms ebbs and flows against a bed of bells and chimes, before a lilting lullaby of harps and birdsong carries you off into dreamscape. Rather than remaining comfortably in the Enya-esque realms of kindergarten naptime music, Pulse Emitter always veers into complex harmonic spaces that challenge and even disturb the listener with uncertainty and horror.

Not one to miss a chance for contrasts, our guided meditation follows from the fairy tree to “Space Frost,” an echoing, icy cavern of dissonance and forbidding, open-ended chord extensions. Elsewhere, “Cloud Refuge” drags your bones across the ocean floor, spraying your stardust across the stratosphere, draining your emotional baggage through each sweaty poor in a sonic eucalyptus sauna of floating drones.

One of the first things taught in mindfulness meditation is that stopping the mind from wandering is impossible. A brain is just a brain. Rather, practitioners are encouraged to take a step back in abstraction and take note of their wanderings, embracing them with compassion and acceptance. “Instead of wrestling with or engaging with those thoughts as much, practice observing without needing to react. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back over and over again without judgement or expectation.” Sounds good, right?

Swirlings is the soundtrack to observing and accepting the intermittent fidgeting and scattering of your mind. Much in the same way, one might consider documentaries in the Planet Earth and Nova series as mindful observations of our huge wide world in all its splendid chaos. A lion roars, a golden eagle dives for the haunches of an unsuspecting mountain goat, a walrus mourns a melting glacier. All is swirling, all is pulsing and departing and returning.

Speaking of returning, someone should tell Pulse Emitter to bring t-shirts back to the merch store. I’m a size XL. Thanks much!