“I have had the incredible opportunity to create and share music across all genres with you all, but for the last project this year I wanted to do something different,” shares Emmit Fenn in his final Instagram post of 2018. The Berkeley, California, native has made a career out of crafting meticulous and cinematic soundscapes adorned by his enveloping vocals. His latest and final project of the year, Before We Begin, sees Fenn departing into newfound territory to bring to life a project that is absolutely breathtaking.
Following Fenn’s debut EP Prologue and preceding his long-awaited debut album, expected to be released sometime this year, Before We Begin marks a detour in the Berkeley native’s empathic electronic career. And it is a detour we are delighted to explore. The ambient instrumental project, which is largely centered around Fenn’s haunting piano arrangement and the viola work of Julien Altmann, is akin to venturing off into a previously unnoticed path in your daily commute. To make your way through Before We Begin is to give yourself over to Fenn’s many unexpected twists and turns and penchant for conjuring up grand musical expanses.
Opening on “Wind” and closing with the “The End,” Fenn illustrates his distinctive talent for weaving sobering, emotive reflection in his work, all without the need for spoken word or sung verse. It is a unique gift that underscores what is one of 2018’s best collection of instrumental work. And even when Fenn does delve into more produced elements, he still manages to imbue his soundscapes with a sense of the unexpected.
“XOXO,” Before We Begin’s standout track is a hypnotic eight-minute deep dive into the production-oriented mind of Fenn. The mesmerizing track invokes notions of post-dubstep while retaining the gentle approach that defines Before We Begin as a serene sonic meditation. It is a recluse’s club hit. What Before We Begin proves more than anything is Fenn’s promise. It is a promise that will surely carry him through any creative pursuit, whether that be expansive works of electronica or composing splendid scores that instill every mundane moment with a sense of profound wonder.
Listen to Before We Begin below: