Song of the Day: Matt Emery – Empire

Written by Adam Rothbarth

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Empire” by Matt Emery from the 2017 album Empire on Injazero Records.

Matt Emery – Empire (MP3)

UK composer Matt Emery’s music has been heard everywhere from online GoPro ads to trailers for plays by Anton Chekhov, and with good reason — his wistful, whispering tunes bear the weight of tremendous emotional depth and lifetimes of experience. Emery’s debut album, Empire — released on September 15th through blooming independent classical/avant-garde label Injazero Records — is a cinematic, focused affair full of converging strings, cascading pianos, and ambient cracks and creaks.

Blossoming in slow motion, this Song of the Day explores the intersection of consonance and dissonance in space. Listen as Emery’s balanced piano lines are slowly invaded by percussive ticks, gloriously oaky cello (played by Fraser Bowles), and blanketing upper strings (from violinist/violist Will Harvey). These interactions show off Emery’s mastery of flowing tension, one that navigates the waves of conflict and resolution like an elegant cyclist through crowded streets.

Both isolated and expansive, the music of Matt Emery is the product of a contemporary sensibility that follows in the rich, modern classical style of composers like Max Richter and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Empire enjoyed a sold-out release party at London’s esteemed St Pancras Old Church, but Emery has no further live dates at the moment. Keep an eye on his Facebook for updates, and check out a video below for another album track “L For Luna”.

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