Emeralds, Just to Feel Anything

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 11.07.12 in Reviews

Over the last few decades, wheezing analog synthesizers, tranquil New Age textures and the bracing noise-cassette tape-trading underground have all enjoyed minor renaissances. In Emeralds, these three distinct trends congeal into a unified vision. The Cleveland trio of John Elliott, Mark McGuire and Steve Hauschildt converted these old, oscillating sounds into new throbbing noise to great effect across innumerable cassettes and CDRs before their 2010 breakout album, Does It Look Like I’m Here? brought them greater attention.

Somewhere between the past and futuristic

In the intervening two years, Emeralds have nurtured industrious solo careers (as well as a label), and on the aerodynamic Just to Feel Anything, they reconvene with a similar focus and sense of studiousness. Opener “Before Your Eyes” mingles soft synth textures with a melody that approaches the glide of “Trans Europe Express” before a martial drum machine and soaring McGuire solo elevate the track. Similarly, the moody melodicism and Italo beat of “Adrenochrome” suggests an ’80s cop show chase set against a German Expressionist backdrop. The final two tracks nod to the late-’70s work of German guitar master Manuel Göttsching and Ashra. Onetime krautrock pioneers, they were also New Age and synthesizer innovators. So while the title track shows Emeralds at their most cosmic and streamlined, effortlessly reaching into the stratosphere, closer “Search for Me in the Wasteland” is pure sonic drift, somewhere between the past and futuristic.