J D Emmanuel Music
Reviews, Comments and Articles
2015 - Interview - Time Traveler : A Conversation With Musician J D Emmanuel
2009 - J D's Early Metaphysical Years, Youtube Video
2014 - J D Emmanuel – History of a Time Traveler - Dublab Special Audio Program
2013 - Interview - Control Magazine
2012 - Interview - Ricochet.cc
2011 - Audio Interview - Steve Marreyt, Ruiz Magazine, Belgium
New Texas Lifestyle Journal, 1981
Expanding Consciousness and Experiencing Altered States through Music
Some Basics of Meditation
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Excerpted from Transportive
Time traveling at the 12th annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, 09.08.11
. . . J.D. Emmanuel prefers to be thought of as a time traveler rather than as a musician (the self-designation is practically everywhere you look on his website). There is something undeniably transportive about listening to Emmanuel's expansive meditations for synthesizer and electronic keyboard. Clusters of notes gradually coalesce and dissolve around a dominant drone. Occasionally, he'll introduce field recordings of environmental sounds — birds, lapping waves, wind — into the mix, but these serve as compliments to the synthesized elements rather than as sonic footholds of the outside world (the point of Emmanuel's music isn't to hold on to anything, but to drift).
San Francisco Electronic Music Festival Artist Group
But, as is now so often the case, were it not for the Internet (another sort of time machine) far fewer listeners would be drifting along. The three LPs of ambient music that Emmanuel self-released in the early to mid '80s were long considered grails for private press collectors until a Belgian label did a limited re-release of Wizards, Emmanuel's second album from 1982, in 2007 (followed by its inevitable distribution on file-sharing networks). A compilation of electronic works from 1979-82 followed in 2009, and last year Important Records re-issued Wizards to a wider audience and much critical acclaim which lead Emmanuel to start playing concerts after a near three-decade hiatus.
His closing night set is undoubtedly one of the anticipated highlights of the 12th annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, whose location at the Brava Theater should provide a comfortable venue for time traveling without moving.
Emmanuel expressly admits that his own musical approach was greatly shaped by listening to Riley and Steve Reich in 1970. Riley, is in many ways, the Kevin Bacon of electronic music, and his name — along with Reich's and that of their New York minimalist associate LaMonte Young — make up a cannon unto themselves, leading to inevitable comparisons when discussing younger artists working in a similar vein.
J D Emmanuel is an electronic minimal pioneer who researches the relationship between music and the mind. He is perhaps best known for his seminal album Wizards (1982), one of the most acclaimed private press electronic music albums of all time, recently reissued on LP by Important Records (2010).
Houston Press Blogs, Feb. 9 2010
His works, including the recent retrospective Solid Dawn (2009), often create a dreamy musical journey through floating abstract synthscapes, hypnotic loops and multi-textured atmospheres punctuated by minimal pulses. As a student of the metaphysical nature of the Universe, his whole music catalog is “Electronic Meditation” building on mass meditation and mantric spiritual vehicles.
He is actively performing and touring again after a 25 years, including a 9-day European tour for KRAAK Concerts in May, 2011, and hasn’t missed a step.
Excerpted from Aftermath: An Analog Synth Lover's Paradise With Roomies!, Weird Weeds, J.D. Emmanuel and Stellar Om Source
. . . Up next was J.D. Emmanuel, something of a cult hero to the folks in hyper-nerdy analog keyboard circles. Emmanuel released several limited-run albums 30-plus years ago that are now revered in small pockets of North America and Northern Europe. Now living in the burgeoning metropolis of Shenandoah, Tex., Emmanuel (complete with his "Don't Mess With Texas" ballcap) wowed the crowd with five left-of-center, brooding, atmospheric synth offerings, all laden with heavily futuristic tendencies.
The Bunker Performance, Brooklyn, NY, June 15, 20012
This music resounded with the sort of bubbling, creeping tones appreciated by fans of The Knife, Fever Ray, Portishead, Giorgio Moroder and Joy Electric, and it was readily apparent from the bowed heads in the room that the crowd was definitely absorbing the quality and rarity of the event . . .
Excerpted from the promo material for that show
JD Emmanuel is a minimal synth wizard from Texas who started releasing music on his own North Star Productions in the early 1980s. Some of the music he released during this period ("Trance-Formations I: Ancient Minimal Meditations" and "Wizards") rate amongst our all time favorite synth albums. Frustrated by a lack of recognition and success, he gave up releasing music in 1987, and was rarely heard from for about two decades. In the late 2000s, there was a renewed interest in his music, and his tapes and albums started changing hands for hundreds of dollars in second hand markets. This led to some reissues and shows, and now JD is finally getting some of the recognition he deserves after all these years. Believe it or not, tonight marks his debut New York performance, and we couldn't be more honored to host it. In addition to his solo set, JD will be performing a special duo with Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Visit JD's website (you will thank us):
Some of our favorite JD Emmanuel YouTube videos
Aguirre Records published AMM on LP in August, 2010.
Re-issue of the AMM tape recorded between 1981 and 1985 by JD Emmanuel, a new age composer who has received a lot of praise from people like Lieven Martens and John Olsen.
These recordings signify Emmanuel's praise to the course of the day. Starting off slowly, with morning synth meanderings, walking through midday, running in the evening and closing the day with midnight meditation.
"Somewhere hidden in the deepest part of the Self is that special place, where One can go within to the most ancient part of one's Self and connect with the origin of Self. Ancien Minimal Meditations reaches into that special place of creation of the Self and its Oneness with the Creator of All."
Morning Worship (5:26)
Midday Attunement (12:33)
Evening Devotional (7:12)
Midnight Meditation (10:27)
Recorded using three Sequential Circuits Pro-One synthesizers and a Yamaha SK-20 Poly-Synthesizer.
Limited to 400 copies
Full color thick cardboard sleeve
160 gr. vinyl
100% Analogue sound
Mastered by JD Emmanuel
Ant gave this 5/5.
Liminal Minimals – September 2011
I was heavily disappointed when this LP didn’t arrive with our last score from the Aguirre label. Having been really well into his Wizards LP reissue on Important Records and then grabbing a cheeky download of ‘Rain Forest Music’ this is/was the next piece in the puzzle of this obscure new age synth practitioner. Originally released on cassette on his North Star Productions label in 1986 and now lovingly issued on heavy duty vinyl. Four super meditative pieces are on offer.
Simple in their execution but no less powerful, all created on three Sequential Circuits Pro-One synthesisers along with a Yamaha SK-20. Those subtle playful melodies that he does so well are present here and should go down a treat with those that have been after a copy of this lost gem. Highly recommended.
If the title of this album title invokes a shudder, wait until you see the website (Time Traveler J D Emmanuel Presents His Electronic Music and Guided Deep Relaxation and Meditation. Yikes). Matt has discussed the aversion to new age music, and its current unstated influence, on this site previously, but with J.D. Emmanuel the issue is right up front, even more so on 1986?s Trance-Formations 1 (a 1986 cassette here reissued on LP) than on his celebrated Wizards LP.
But leave any preconceptions there: for Trance-Formations is far from a soporific ambient experience, but instead a fascinating piece of experimental electronic music. Deep synthesizer pulsations, their roots in minimalism as much as kosmische, coalesce to provide the backdrop for Emmanuel’s melody lines: from within blurred, soft-focus shapes emerge Alice Coltrane-like expositions. By the time it reaches the locked groove throb of final track “Midnight Meditation”, I’m a convert, entranced even. If people are to draw from New Age music, then let them draw from this, please, this. (SM)
Fact Magazine, August, 2010.
Important Records have issued a new vinyl edition of J.D. Emmanuel’s 1982 synthesizer classic, Wizards.
Douglas Mcgowan, Film Maker/Writer, scroll down to his Thursday, December 8, 2005, posting.
James Daniel Emmanuel cited Terry Riley’s organ works and German kosmische music as his main inspirations, but his warm, melodic and highly expressive take on electronic minimalism doesn’t really sound like anyone but him. There's a strong whiff of New Age to proceedings, but none of the self-indulgence or cheese generally associated with that genre.
The original ’82 edition of Wizards is virtually impossible to find, and the 2007 edition that came courtesy of Dreamtime Taped Sounds was only issued in very limited quantities. Important’s new pressing of the LP, which boasts superior sound quality, is itself limited to 500 copies.
Together with Chris Carter’s The Spaces Between, this is one of the year’s most important and timely reissues, a key antecedent to the contemporary work of Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds et al. You can check out one of it’s tracks below, gratis.
If you have been wondering what all the fuss about "private press new age" is, go here to find out. Your mind shall be subtly blown...
The Fader Magazine #52, scan to page 28, by Chris Richards, Executive Editor at the time, The FADER, 71 West 23rd Street, Floor 13, New York, NY 10010
David Keenan/Volcanic Tongue - Europe, August, 2007
Sure, I own a t-shirt with emblazoned with Gilbert Arenas' face, but my new favorite wizard is a spiritual electronic music guru from Houston, Texas. His name is JD Emmanuel, and his superlative self-(re)-leased 1982 album Wizards still bristles with ancient intensity and futuristic wonder. Influenced by Emmanuel's "extensive background in spiritual and metaphysical stuydies" and a love for Reich, Riley and Glass, these blissful analog synth jams should instantlyappeal to fans of Eno, Cluster and the music from "Legend of Zelda." An there's plenty electric relaxation available from Emmanuel's website. Go for the "Wizards" download (samples only), stay for the free meditation advice.
The Sorcery of JD Emmanuel
View the actual review page.
Much-anticipated reissue of this obscure 1982 private-press minimalist synth/trance masterpiece, more talked about than actually heard and a secret influence on much recent underground activity, from Wolf Eyes through The Skaters. Indeed John Olson was the first person I ever heard talking it up, describing it as sounding like “Corwood jamming Alpha Centauri” and that still feels like as good an approximation of the weirdly personal Kosmiche universe that Emmanuel floats through on this amazing side as you’re likely to get.
From Boomkat Monthly Roundup, August, 2007
There are keyboard lines so pure that they sound like they are etched into the air via beams of dazzling light, the kind of celestial melodies and hosanna hymns most commonly associated with the heavy devotional cloak of mid-period Popol Vuh, occult drones that sound endlessly deep and a very personal cosmology that balances cracked ‘real people’ mysto-universe musings with everything that the term New Age might’ve been, had it been primarily practiced by future-bending loners in private Sirius-channelling lodges situated at the cardinal points of the earth.
Something so completely lonesome about this that every time you spin it in the early hours it feels as if the very world has stopped spinning. All in all a major re-issue and the one that’ll start you off chasing down alla those weird late 70s/early 80s synth/new age privates. Comes in a wrap around silkcreened sleeve version of the original packaging. Highly recommended.
Chances are you won't have heard of J D Emmanuel before. This record in particular was a private pressing released back in 1982 and owned by a select few punters who quite clearly did their research. In recent years the record's reputation has spread, with rumours circulating that it was a transcendent blend of Terry Riley, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Popul Vuh and early Kraftwerk - but finding it was about as easy as looking for a connection between Wolf Eyes and The Spice Girls.
Blastitude - SEPT 19 2007 (TWENTIETH DAY OF QUEST), scroll down page to find review
Then, without fanfare, the album re-appeared as a limited edition on the Belgian 'Dreamtime Taped Sounds' and we knew as soon as we got our grubby mitts on a copy that this was something that simply had to be heard to be believed, that would stun just about everyone we know with its almost meditative electronic explorations. I'm sure many of you remember Delia Derbyshire's amazing 'Electrosonic' LP (that lasted about two weeks...) and this album gives us the same kind of chills, it's just THAT sound, it's impossible to put your finger on but even more impossible to re-create. With the amount of retro-electronic music coming out at the moment you'd think someone would have nailed it, but no, it's still these records that emerged at the time, that came from people genuinely excited by the technology and the possibilities this technology could inform that really hit you where you need to be hit.
Using three Sequential Circuit Pro-1 synthesizers, a Crumar Organ and some delays (recording direct to tape) Emmanuel manages to conjure up deep, distorted faraway lands, astral plains and shimmering multi-coloured skies - the soft synthesizer tones dictating the journey perfectly. Whether with bubbling, almost sequenced-sounding synth bass, or with organ-like improvised phrases, Emmanuel never takes a wrong turn and this is an album that will rarely leave your turntable (trust me, it's been welded to mine since I got it).
The sensitivity and simplicity of the music is almost impossible to convey, suffice to say we think it's one of the best (and most unexpected) things we've heard this year so far, and followers of early electronic music, Kraftwerk and the Radiophonic Workshop need to get a hold of one right away. Stunning stuff, and incredibly limited - we only have a few so be quick if you want to secure yourself a copy. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.
Lotsa synth action going around in today’s weird underground and that’s understandable. It's a sound for the ages, so alien, cold, and futuristic, but also somehow very human, offering immediate translation of obscure brainwaves and the deepest mental landscapes into sound/music/art. Still a lot to accomplish there, but before you get all excited and record a rad new CDR release every time you turn the damn thing on, make sure you’ve checked out the source, like any of the awesome first seven Heldon albums or Terry Riley's monumental Persian Surgery Dervishes.
Population Doug Blogspot, October, 2007
There are probably a hundred more examples after those, and probably the deepest of them all is Wizards by J.D. Emmanuel, a beautiful and relaxing album of driving and pulsing synth and organ music, released in 1982 as a private press LP from Houston, Texas . . . Belgium label Dreamtime Taped Sounds has put out a new “25th anniversary” vinyl reissue. I kinda wish they would've left the eerie B&W cover photo of Emmanuel "dry" like it is on the originals, but it's actually a little creepier this way, and the vinyl itself sounds superb, the sonic treatment that these 37 minutes of "at-one-ment" deserve...
There's a reason why this album has been the object of nerdly desires for years, and the subject of a 2007 reissue. Wizards' 37 minutes contain some of the most delicate, captivating minimal electronic ideas ever put to tape. It is a song cycle containing five parts, each one based upon a cyclical synth pattern along with some form of melody. "Part II: Prayer" builds upon "Part I"'s simple repetition of notes with a more free-form use of sharp synth melody. These two tracks are similar in theme to much of Cluster's Zuckerzeit or parts of Low's second half. That is, it wanders along with other classic kosmiche nebula not missing a beat.
Conspiracy Records.com, August, 2007
The album's three remaining tracks are longer and even more cosmic in spirit. Actually, the more I listen to these longer pieces the less Terry Riley I hear. These parts are more raw than anything the American minimalists recorded, and actually remind me of Conrad Schnitzler's Rot and Blau albums and Klaus Schulz's best work. Emmanuel does an excellent job of humanizing the synth without sacrificing the idea that it is an electronically programmed device. At its best, Wizards can either assist in relaxation as an ambient soundtrack or be the vehicle to whatever conscious voyage you wish to take.
It goes without saying that 2007 is a great revival year for Mr. Emmanuel. Still alive and well and living in Texas, Daniel has recently updated his site and has been posting some rare pressings of his work on eBay. The demand for a vinyl reissue of Wizards twenty five years after its release is direct proof of his growing influence on modern spiritual music. He says that a cd reissue is in the works, so those of you without turntables who want a copy won't have to wait much longer. But for now, you must seek out the last remaining copies of the vinyl or play the samples he provides on his website. Either way, Wizards and all of Emmanuel's work is worth your time.
Reissue from this 1982 soothing synth album. This is a listeners experience of meditative trance that will beam you right through the first portal of dreaming. This is lucid magic.
From the article,
Five artists who have charted new electronic realms
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Wednesday August 5, 2009
Over the course of 40 years, the sun has risen and set and risen again within the music of J.D. Emmanuel. "I was talking to a buddy before Christmas," the man says on the phone from Houston, where he lives. "I realized that I started making music in August of 1979, and my last piece of music that I ever created was in August of 1999. I don't know why there is a 20-year cycle."
Now, in August 2009, adventurous listeners can bask in the slo-mo beauty and consistent warmth of Solid Dawn: Electronic Works 1979-1982 (Kvist), a collection of Emmanuel tracks accompanied by gorgeous sunrise and sunset photos, another one of his specialties. Over the course of a few decades, customer service workshop gigs kept Emmanuel on the road and in the air — he estimates he has logged 1.5 million miles. "If I was seated by a window, I'd take out my camera and see if I could find something fun," he says, with characteristic lack of pretense. "I was very fortunate to see a lot of beautiful things from six, seven, (laughs) eight miles high."
And we are fortunate that he took pictures, and even more lucky that he's created the sonic equivalent of natural wonders — songs like Solid Dawn's "Sunrise Over Galveston Bay," a water-swept and windblown chime dream that makes reference to Emmanuel's childhood surroundings in its title. Personal and universal wonder is at the core of Emmenuel's meditative outlook. "For whatever reason, when I was a little kid, around eight or nine, I discovered how fun it was to put myself into an altered or dream state," he remembers. "I would go into my grandmother's bedroom, close the curtains to make the room as dark as possible, turn on the air conditioner and just lay down. I'd take these one hour naps that were just delightful — little trips."
The second sunrise of Emmenuel's musical career began when his second LP and favorite recording, 1982's Wizards, was reissued a few years ago. It's already out of print and rare once again, but Solid Dawn offers more than a glimmer of its powerfully elemental and yet understated pull, a magnetism that has influenced the sound of recent artists such as White Rainbow. The ingredients can be reduced to instrumental gear: a Crumar Traveler 1 organ, an Echoplex, a Pro-One and Yamaha K-20 synthesizers, and a Tascam 40-4 reel deck. They can be traced to influences ranging from "Gomper" off the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request (Decca, 1967) to Roedelius and Tangerine Dream tracks heard on a radio show by Houston radio DJ Margie Glaser. But ultimately, the source is Emmanuel. His music has a unique sense of being. It's also warmer than German electronic music of the era. Must be that Texas sun. (Johnny Ray Huston, San Francisco Bay Guardian)
april 2009 release ; long-awaited collection of obscure and unreleased pieces by texan electronic musician & composer daniel “j.d.” emmanuel, known far & wide through his early-80s self-released “wizards” & “rain forest music” lps, repped as the missing link between terry riley’s 60s / 70s time-lag accumulator improvs and the 70s / 80s home-studio electronic music / new age revolution ...
this disc is rife with great material, much it on par with “wizards’” filtered-out emanations ... personally i’m drawn towards the two sequencer based tracks “7 note trance” (listen to the sound-sample ; odd-time gets me every time) & the 22-minute “changeling” (“persian surgery dervishes” recast with a slight motorik-chug) - but the more laminal pieces have a nice desert-sunrise feel to them that’s ultra-inviting, and the more out moments such as “whirlwind” (9 minutes of rising bleep) are just icing on the cake ...
john tamm-buckle and michael ferrer have done a great job w/ the edition ; the disc housed in a gatefold cd sleeve, with four individual sheets offering some relevant iconography and notes from the composer himself ... highly recommended !!!
The reissue of JD Emmanuel's 1982 private-press obscurity Wizards in 2007 sent underground heads scrambling for copies, and for those lucky enough to have gotten their hands on one, or those who have heard those tracks and wish they had, Solid Dawn will doubtlessly be an essential acquisition. Emmanuel occupies an amazing/mystifying zone somewhere between Terry Riley's time-lag flights, new age, '70's kosmische (a la Popul Vuh, Tangerine Dream, etc.), and Texas.
Meditations Online Store, Japan
This is a sprawling collection of newly resurrected pieces recorded between 1979 and 1982 and previously released in meager cassette editions. Emmanuel works with a couple of synths and digital delays and tends to go at them with both hands so he can set a mesmerizing pulse/rhythm and soar free at the same time. This is certainly music in the minimal vein -- more than once it sounds straight out of "A Rainbow in Curved Air" -- but there's an outsider/psychedelic feel to it all that sets it entirely apart.
Indeed, this should greatly appeal to anyone with a taste for "outsider" sounds in general. Numerous releases over the past few years have combined this kind of synthesized potency and rare-archival/out of nowhere/loner appeal -- the Edmond de Deyster series on Ultra Eczema, that Ursula Bogner record -- but as those have kept the darker, more blip-oriented end of the spectrum in vogue, Solid Dawn is a straight shot of light, a pulsing, soaring, often ecstatic music. A major collection for sure. [AOK]
was first introduced to jd emmanuel’s work two years ago through the re-release of his “wizards” lp, hailed as “a transcendent blend of terry riley, the bbc radiophonic workshop, popul vuh and early kraftwerk”. the bottom line for me is that it sounded damn good, in the way that a couple of records i buy every year do - it remains in rotation on the bedroom turntable. without going into too much depth, a conversation about the aforementioned lp led to contact with mr. emmanuel and the tracks that make up solid dawn, a compilation of tracks written between 1979-1982 and originally released in very limited quantities on cassette. these are not dusty old tracks dug up from someone’s basement, they are sparkling new tracks resurrected from the recesses of forgottenness.
Ambient Music Guide: 2014, Best New Releases
Inter-Dimensional Time Traveling
This rich slice of analog psychedelia finds J D Emmanuel's late career renaissance in full bloom, decades after his successes in early American new age music. That we're hearing this Texan musician at all nowadays is in no small part due to the passion of his fans; JD's talents may have been lost to the ages had it not been for the efforts of a new generation of private label new age music enthusiasts and collectors. With the encouragement of one of them in particular - music historian and collector Douglas Mcgowan - JD started re-releasing his back catalogue and then returned to recording and performing again in the late 2000's.
Inter-Dimensional Time Traveling is drone music of sorts, insomuch as it's based on improvisations around single chords. He still favours analog synths - the crucial foundation of his sound - which on this occasion are a Mono Evolver keyboard and a Prophet '08, supplemented by several digital delay units. The album's gently throbbing, oscillating creations glide on richly textured major or minor chords with trippy melodies that spiral in and out of the mix. It's tremendous float music, and a perfect example of psychedelic ambient that hypnotises and calms. From the man himself: "My music style is to first create a foundation using cyclic, poly rhythmic music, then build several layers of improvised leads and rhythms that allows you to transcend time and space." Dig that? Then dive in and enjoy one of 2014's best trips beyond.
Buy Inter-Dimensional Time Traveling at jdemmanuel.bandcamp.com.
Peaceful Kingdom Concert 1982
Just got this great new tape from Justin Wright's Sonic Meditations imprint by Belgium's J.D. Emmanuel. You probably remember a few years back when one of Lieven Martens's labels reissued Emmanuel's Wizards LP which has probably influenced everyone whose worked in the recent synthesizer nu-age.
I was just a touch apprehensive that this was a concert recording, recorded in a Texas park no less, only because I worried about the sound quality. However, this thing must have been recorded direct because it sounds fantastic, as if Emmanuel had recorded it at home or in a studio. You get the live feel, the cassette consists of 4 improvised pieces, but there's no lo-fi barriers in between you and the sounds. Just like sonic meditations such as these should be.
Not only does the tape sound good, this is some top shelf material. I personally prefer this tape to Wizards, which had great stuff on it no doubt. Peaceful Kingdom Concert 1982, also apparently titled Trance-Lation Into Space, has a hypnotic energy about it that is impossible to ignore. You feel buoyant and submerged at the same time, just drifting through water or space or time. Emmanuel's synthetic textures and twirling yarns mold such an immersive atmosphere, it's easy to get lost in it. As the cover art brings to mind, the effect isn't too dissimilar from those dreamy poppies in The Wizard of Oz.
I probably don't have anything particularly insightful to say about this other than it's damn good and well worth tracking down for anyone who loves to indulge in analog hypnosis.
For the gearheads: Emmanuel used a Yamaha SK-20, 3 Sequential Circuits Pro-Ones and a DeltaLab DL-2 Digital Delay on this recording