Monday, 12 October 2009

Emeralds, "What Happened" (2009)

Five tracks of blissfully organic ambient drones. Not your cuppa tea? No problem, I understand - you can look away now.

Emeralds' back catalogue over the past three years contains a treasury of self-released CDR's and tapes, though you might discribe What Happened, released in April on the No Fun Productions label, as their third album "proper", following Allegory of Alergies (2007) and Solar Bridge (2008).
Like Terry Riley, Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno before them, Emeralds tread a crunchy analogue path through abstract soundscapes. It is interesting that after more than a decade of a vibrant ambient techno scene, some artists are now returning to the retro approach of the original pioneers to evolve their music. Here, Emeralds' sound is not made up of minimalist, digitally sequenced samples, but is wide, psychedelic and sprawling - music that can be played live and which has developed through collective improvisation. Why does that sound like a radical idea these days when contemplating electronic music that isn't in the rock or jazz mould? Of course it isn't really, but it does seem on this evidence that a group of musicians using instruments designed for performance as well as composition does add an extra quality that is sometimes missing from digital pieces. Warm blood rushes through the arteries of this music, and there is real communication between the layered tracks. These songs are written to be heard live and loud! That's not to say it is an improvement on the wonderful music of contemporary solo ambient composers such as Eluvium or Fennesz - it's just different - music for another mood.

One thing about Emeralds that is worth noting is their origin and emergence from the bristling Ohio noise-scene, which might seem surprising, when all the indications would point towards a 'home birth' in some tripped-out California' happening. The battle lines have finally been rubbed out of the dirt and the cultural deliniations fuzzed -
it is now absolutely fine for a punk to trust a hippy!

lastfm/emeralds - what happened/

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