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Pulse Emitter’s Meditative Music series captures an artist’s dedication to evolution through years of traversing a myriad of textural and contemplative terrains. Active in the ambient, drone, and noise scenes of Portland, OR since the early 2000s, Pulse Emitter (the project of Daryl Groetsch) has grown fathoms since the project’s inception, from Groetsch’s humble homemade synthesizer, to his embrace of the worlds of possibility digital instruments and processing could unfold. Originally self-released in four annual installments from 2007-2010, with a fifth installment recorded in 2015, Meditative Music is a series whose arc is as informed as much by the meditative intent of each piece as it is indicative of Pulse Emitter’s ability to explore and cultivate sounds with unmatched subtlety.
A classically trained musician, Groetsch began experimenting with electronic music in the late 1990’s, just before moving to Portland. Inspired by the Music From the Hearts of Space radio program, and the Berlin School of electronic music, Groetsch moved from building his modular synthesizer and creating noisy dronescapes to incorporating melodic, sequencer driven arrangements, to layered vintage analog synthesizers, to implementing acoustic world instruments and digital iPad technology. These shifts in process and instrumentation are emblematic of Pulse Emitter’s progression as a project, discovering new ways to develop expansive tapestries of sound.
Where much of Pulse Emitter’s material incorporates more biting, abrasive, and immediate sounds, the Meditative Music series found Groetsch setting parameters of himself that served more as inspiration than inhibition. By creating music for specific purposes Groetsch was able to elaborate on the journey of each movement without losing focus on the specific feel of the piece. Volume 1 retains a sense of neutrality, evoking a gentle-yet-determined air, well suited for his partner’s massage practice. The emulated babbling brook of Volume 2 captures the relaxing essence of a hike through natural landscapes, where Volume 4’s unobtrusive pillars of drone beckon one’s thoughts towards slumber.
With each volume of Meditative Music, Pulse Emitter embarks on an adventure through unique realms, incorporating swaths of warm synth tones that ooze like magma, glowing until it solidifies and weathers away with time. The slow progressions that make up these pieces are akin to watching a time lapse that resembles slow motion: every gesture is clearly felt and purposefully plotted, exhaling in a welcoming wash that blossoms into new passages. In composing such slow moving, extended pieces, the deliberateness inherent to Groetsch’s compositional mapping required exceptionally patient ears to construct, yet allows the hour long pieces to impose any demands upon the listener. Parallel to the paradoxes of many meditative practices, these pieces are at once passive and active, engaging with every one of these movements with enough space to also sweep past the senses.