Emmett Elvin - Assault On The Tyranny Of Reason album review

Guapo and Knifeworld keyboard king Emmett Elvin’s masterpiece in miniature

Emmett Elvin - Assault On The Tyranny Of Reason album cover

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In addition to providing bespoke keyboards for heavyweights like Guapo and Knifeworld, Emmett Elvin continues a rather fine solo career with this follow-up to his 2014 debut, Bloody Marvels. As a writer and arranger, Elvin takes a miniaturist approach that packs taut compositions with enticing textures and pointed detail with string, brass and woodwind players borrowed from his other musical outlets. As a result, the combined set of mostly four-minute instrumental pieces, and the occasional song, add up to an album devoid of any padding or waffle.

The blunt trauma of The Democracy They Deserve alternates between savagely dark, cutting chords and an ascending tip-toe melody before finally bleeding out into an eerie, fairy-tale vista. Earlier, AllWeAreIsLove evoked the sunlit uplands of Steve Reich’s burbling minimalism. While celebrating this brevity, some sections do feel curtailed. Mars Is So Yesterday stops on the verge of revealing yet more beguiling themes. The Plankton Suite similarly stands on the threshold of greater things but ultimately goes no further. Nevertheless, Elvin’s fluent command of dynamics and drama ensure an enthralling album.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.