Downtempo artists Emancipator (Doug Appling) and 9 Theory (Gabe Lehner) have teamed up for a rhapsodic, head-nodding new EP titled ‘Cheeba Gold’, released March 22 on Emancipator’s Loci Records imprint.
The lead single “Chameleon” is a three-part journey that captures the spirit of the entire EP, mainly due to the song containing different chapters that are all based on the same groove. “The title might have something to do with the idea of shapeshifting surface forms as well as a nod to that magnificently mysterious old-world lizard,” says Appling.
Lehner adds, “Somehow while all three sections sound nothing like each other, they all fit together as one song perfectly. This kind of became a theme of the EP, having 2-3 completely different sections with the same track.”
‘Cheeba Gold’, which takes its name from a brand of hot sauce and came together in four days, is the first collaboration between the two artists who originally met in 2011.“Gabe and I share a lot of musical common ground in the realm of instrumental beats. We have similar influences and intuition so it was easy to develop the sound.” says Appling.
Drawing inspiration from genres as diverse as hip-hop, jazz, indie-rock, electronica, and classical music as well as from global cultures, Emancipator and 9 Theory have crafted four beatific tracks that merge their individual styles into a mesmerizing hybrid that blurs sonic boundaries and cultural borders. “Chameleon” opens the EP with blunted rhythms and exotic vocal loops. “Zula” – named after a kalimba – features intricate and melodic guitars. “Cuica” starts out gently and builds to a lush crescendo. Emotive vocals and shuffling beats anchor the sweeping closing track, “Bombilla,” which takes its name from the straw used to sip yerba mate.
The EP features layers of bass, drums, acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele, piano, Rhodes, a Prophet 12, and a Septavox. “I remember making a comment at one point about how this stuff wasn’t sounding quite like 9 Theory or Emancipator music,” Lehner says. “Doug came back with the perfect quote to sum it up, saying, ‘it’s like a Venn diagram.’”
Audiences will have a chance to experience Appling and Lehner’s meeting of the minds and the resulting new music live when Emancipator and 9 Theory head out on the Loci Records Showcase tour in March and April with label mates Marley Carroll, Edamame, Frameworks, and Lapa.