The unique sound of EMPORIUM was brought together in January 1998 when work commenced on their first album of home recordings A FINE FINE LINE. There story so far, leading up to the 2012 release of ‘FROM ANOTHER PLANET – THE BEST OF EMPORIUM‘ evidences a long road of hard work, dedication and some well deserved accolades along the way.
Formed in Edinburgh originally as a 3-piece, Emporium chose to remain studio based for much of the next 4 years, performing just a short series of gigs in the summer of ‘ 98. Around this time the song SLEEPING DOGS was receiving acclaim from radio in Scotland and indeed reached the year-end top 10 songs on BBC SCOTLAND’s BEAT PATROL show. They also had a 5-star review in GUITARIST magazine for the HAPPY HIGH e.p.
Over the next 18 months many songs from their debut collection were given airplay including ELEVATE which was a collaboration with FREDDIE PHILLIPS, best known for his work on the 1960’s TRUMPTON-shire t.v programmes.
By the new millennium Emporium had notched up 17 radio played songs, including ZOMBIE on STEVE WRIGHT’s show (BBC WORLD SERVICE) and HAPPY HIGH on THE EVENING SESSION (BBC RADIO ONE).
A second batch of songs was completed in 2000, including their first nationally distributed single E-MAIL EDDIE, released on the band’s own WHIMSICAL RECORDS. This was also followed by the single LISA ON THE SCREEN which was air-played in Germany, UK, Holland, and America where it was also given a glowing review in Boston’s Music Business Monthly.
The release of HALLUCINATIONS (2002) brought further positive feedback from various media, and scored ALBUM OF THE MONTH on POPSCENE (Netherlands) and PLANETE INDIE (Belgium) , where it was also ranked 3rd best album of the year from the 11 nominated albums.
Emporium were awarded a Scottish Arts Council Grant towards the recording of the album SILVER BRAINWAVES (2005), which was preceded by the vinyl single WASTED. The single was also digitally released via iTunes in 2006 to glowing reviews from ROUGH TRADE and THE DAILY RECORD.
2007 saw the release of a 21 track v/a compilation entitled ‘Elevate’.
During a four year sabbatical, Emporium took time to develop their own label further, contracting music for release and publishing to Whimsical and the subsidiary PLATFORM RECORDS, yielding over 20 releases and winning critical acclaim with their numerous artists.
A new business THE MUSIC ELEVATOR was also set up in 2010, this offering artists a release co-ordination service along with plugging to webzines and radio.
On June 13th 2011, the SILVER BRAINWAVES album was given a digital re-release while being re-promoted to various media, generating some fantastic feedback.
In 2012, Emporium return to celebrate their 14th anniversary with a seventeen track compilation including to new songs MINDBENDER and THE UMBRELLA SHOP, both of which feature on FROM ANOTHER PLANET – THE BEST OF EMPORIUM (1998-2011).
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For some reason I started off by listening to the latest single release, “The Umbrella Shop”. Described in Scotland’s premier tabloid as “a psychedelic cross between The Small Faces and The Beach Boys”. And for a second I glanced at the calendar and clock to see if time had stopped somewhere in the 60’s.
Emporium produce a retro-pop sound of sweet harmonies and melodies sung over luscious piano, string and horn arrangements, that are almost impossible to find in today’s music which is primarily constructed by loops, samples and beats.
They seem to have captured the essence of world renowned pop music composer, Burt Bacharach’s timeless music pieces, which were characterized by unusual chord progressions, striking syncopated rhythmic patterns, irregular phrasing, frequent modulation, and odd, changing meters.
Throw-in a vocal style which ranges from 60’s bands like the “Beach Boys” or “The Turtles” through to latter day acts like “Soft Cell” or even “OMD”. Plus add some Brit synth-pop rhythms, et voilà, ladies and gentleman you have Emporium!
Album highlights include, the watercolored harmonies of “Mindbender”, the beat momentum of “Wasted” and the slower, ethereal lead vocal of “Dice Man”.
My personal favorite track is the haunting “Mind Games”, while other tracks of particular note are “Elevate” and “She Won’t Come Out To Play”.
Seventeen tracks, is a lot of music and I could write page after page describing it, but music needs to be listened to. Needless to say, if you’ve experienced the 60’s musical era you would need no introduction to this album at all, and only have to enjoy it’s nostalgic karma.
However, if you, like many of our younger readers, belong to the new beat generation, my best suggestion would be to get over to the “EMPORIUM” website straight away and savor the sounds of their timeless melodies, set within a genre long gone by, and all but lost to modern music. If not for the stoic and solitary efforts of Scottish band EMPORIUM.
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