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Emeralds – Just To Feel Anything.
Label: Editions Mego – EDITIONS mego 150
Format: CD, LP, Download
Released: 07 Nov 2012
Electronica as the modern Electronic music universe is widely known these days (though not technically correct as Electronica is a style within Electronic music) seems to be a hard genre for some music lovers to “get” it is mainly an instrumental sphere with focus squarely on the tone, texture, feel and atmosphere of the music rather than the music backing the stories, views and feelings of the lyrical content, though the two do come together in styles such as modern Industrial music and Synth Pop. It is a genre that is highly versatile in what can be achieved ranging from stark futuristic soundscapes to highly rhythmic dancefloor fillers to harsh digital noise experimentations to warm bubbly analogue collages and this is where Emeralds come in. From Cleveland, Ohio, a three piece band comprising of, John Elliott, Mark McGuire and Steve Hauschildt, they started life in 2005 firmly entrenched in the experimental/drone scene making improvised abstract ambient soundscapes with album names like, Dirt Weed Diaries Vol 1 and Grass Ceiling, so we can safely assume where the inspiration for the music is coming from.
Since then though they haven’t sat around smoking pot and repeating the same worn out cliches a very small insular scene can produce, they have evolved their sound to the point where we have, Just To Feel Anything, an album fully in the bubbly analogue realm using a range of analogue synths to surround you in what only analogue synths can do, a warm, luscious ambience of sound thats full of texture, tone and intense emotion, add to this Mark Maguire’s washed out and effected guitar styling’s and you have an album reminiscent of 70’s Krautrock big guns Tangerine Dream but with very modern sensibilities. But there is a big twist with this album for the boys and that is the use of drum machines something their previous music lacked and for some critics who have followed the band this is something that brings the album down a peg for them, the rhythms here are not the most complex or original in execution. For me though they do add enough to make the inclusion worth it and hopefully with subsequent albums they’ll start to push them to the limits they have with their other equipment. Though for older fans of the band its not all about the new, the album contains some lovely abstract ambient tracks that take you back to their earlier music and especially the highly acclaimed previous album Does It Look Like I’m Here?
The production throughout this release its crisp, clean and warm in texture and tone allowing you to slip into its arms very easily and for me a great place to start an investigation into the massive world of Electronica. I can detect a bit of “hot” mastering that is plaguing modern releases but not enough to spoil your enjoyment of the music within. This is a band who are very adroit with their trademark equipment and sounds but because this album with its use of drum machines and more straight forward compositions is different enough from previous releases it shows they are not content to keep producing the same sounds year after year. This latest album could be the genesis of a new direction for the band who have been prolific over the past 6 years releasing over 40 albums, EP’s and singles or it could just be an experimental detour, I hope its the former as Just To Feel Anything is an enjoyable album with just enough echoes of past electronic music to let you know where its coming from.
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I knew nothing of this artist before this arrived for review, just a vague feeling I had listened to something by him on Spotify once.