czwartek, 13 maja 2010


The Emeralds discography is a particularly confusing one, given the flurry of CD-Rs and cassettes which categorised their early career, and the constant drifting in and out of print of much of their work. The pace may have slackened a little of late, indicating perhaps a greater sense of focus on creating a core canon of albums, but Does It Look Like I’m Here shows that they retain the power to confound. The fact that they have chosen to release this album on Editions Mego, Peter Rehberg’s Austrian home of defiantly experimental electronic music, sets the listener up for the biggest surprise of all: for Does It Look I’m Here is a more structured and melodic album than anything they have released to date.
Those who know Emeralds via the dense drones of Solar Bridge, or via the fractured experimentation of What Happened, won’t quite know what has hit them when opening track ‘Candy Shoppe’ drops its bomb. It is indeed a huge sugar rush, as its fizzing synths are overpowered by a dizzying melodic surge. With the use of new equipment, sequencers and analogue/digital hybrid synths, it feels like Emeralds have moved on; perhaps tired of all the continual Tangerine Dream or Ash Ra Tempel references, they’ve moved into the future, or perhaps into a new retro-future.
Compared to those earlier releases, so much of this feels pre-planned, with less improvisation. They have cleared away the layers to leave space and clarity (the record sounds pristine, time taken over the recording and mastering- James Plotkin, natch – has paid dividends), with the relative brevity of the tracks adding to this concise, structured sense. Mark McGuire’s guitar, deployed to hallucinatory effect on his recent Solo Acoustic Guitar record, is the main beneficiary of this: just listen to the way that he deftly snakes in amongst the synth arpeggios during ‘Double Helix’, or how his haunting lines carry ‘Now You See Me’. Even where they stray from this template, such as during the dark and turbulent title track which buries sequenced melody in a blazing comet’s tail of dust and noise, or during the lengthy ‘Genetic’ (the only track to make it past ten minutes), it still feels well thought-out, elegant even. ‘Genetic’ takes just a small number of ideas – a towering keyboard riff and some shards of Michael Rother-esque guitar from McGuire – and painstakingly arranges them to make something never less than compelling. The fleeting reminders of classic Emeralds sounds, a vocal drone and a burbling, almost aquatic synth section, sound almost passé in this thrilling new context.
Perhaps the one thing that isn’t surprising about Does It Look Like I’m Here is just how good it is. Emeralds are continuing to challenge themselves, and their listeners with new sounds, and new ideas. In that respect, perhaps Editions Mego is the perfect place for this wonderful release


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