Emeralds Does it Look Like I’m Here? Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Cleveland cosmonauts are the newly-crowned Kings of Kosmische.

Spencer Grady 2010

It seems like the boys are growing weary of all that noise. Denizens of the US underground are softening their blows, trading assault and battery for more sedate cosmic vistas. At the vanguard of this shift are Daniel Lopatin’s gauzy Oneohtrix Point Never project and this synth-led trio from Cleveland, Ohio, comprising of John Elliott, Steve Hauschildt and Mark McGuire. Ironically, both units have recently found a home on Peter Rehberg’s Vienna-based Editions Mego imprint, a roster long-identified with a particular strain of feral electronics.

But, while both projects eschew their label’s more brutal excesses by successfully mining for artefacts from the pastoral past, it’s Emeralds who seem better equipped to fashion a brighter future from its detritus. Whereas many of their peers topple from the tightrope demarcating the sickly from the sweet, or get caught endlessly circumnavigating cavernous cul-de-sacs, Emeralds pitch it just right, variegating the Teutonic templates mapped by Tangerine Dream and Cluster, intuitively pushing on into unchartered Galactic channels in pursuit of further psychedelic oceans. The secret could be in their seclusion. Cleveland is a relatively isolated place, its distance from any major cultural hub allowing for artistic development without the interference of outside contamination.

Does it Look Like I’m Here?, the group’s third long-player proper, reveals a keener eye for detail than on previous releases. Halfway through the opening Candy Shoppe an analogue surge climbs out from the preceding burbling sea of rippling radiant suds, like an immaculately sculpted monolith approaching upon the distant horizon. It’s an album full of such totems, monuments functioning as signposts for cosmonauts who’re perilously close to losing their way in the purple fug. McGuire’s guitar is also positioned to the fore, his series of pirouetting arcs on Genetic recalling Michael Rother’s casting off of incendiary confections during his stints with both Neu! and Harmonia; supplementary flares of salvation for the nearly damned.

While the set does suffer from the occasional micro-lapse (for instance, the untidy blemish of Now You See Me’s milky faux-Marillion chord sequence brings back unhappy memories of that saxophone solo on Vangelis’ otherwise sublime Blade Runner soundtrack), for the most part Does it Look Like I’m Here? is a certifiable boon for all somnambulant bliss-seekers; swathed in sheer luminescent pools of joyous, amorphous analogue and crowned by diaphanous shards of brightly lit neon nimbus.

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