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emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
After a glut of super-limited CDrs, cassettes and vinyl pressings, Cleveland, Ohio's Emeralds present their most developed album to date on Editions Mego. Like everyone else (read: maybe you, The Wire, Peter Rehberg, Fact Magazine, so many blogs) we've become big fans of their open-skied and kosmic sound, working our way back from 'Solar Bridge' through sparse reissues, and following through last years stunning self titled LP and 'What Happened' for No Fun, plus the many, many side projects from individual members Steve Hauschildt, Mark McGuire and John Elliot. Yup, they're an annoyingly prolific bunch. Following the trend of recent albums 'Does It Look Like I'm Here?' takes a different approach from their early work, eschewing lengthy improvised jams for a sculpted and highly organised sound which thankfully hasn't lost any of the swirling synth magic they've become known for. As they've matured and developed a stronger sense of identity, the comparisons to Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and Popol Vuh are still relevant, but with this album they've harnessed the elemental chaos into well honed and efficient movements, with sublimely intuitive key changes and melting textures skillfully gauged for piloerect impact, defining their art with ever more graceful contours. We're only 2 minutes into the cascading arpeggios and pastoral guitars of 'Candy Shoppe' before they hit us with the first pivotal bliss surge. It's these moments that define their sound and reflect the comparison to "cheesy" new age or kosmiche, moments of open-hearted honesty delivered without ironic discharge. We find these moments scattered across the album, in the spiraling clasp of guitars and burbling synth in 'Double Helix', the breathless ascension of 'Genetic' and the tactile envelopment of 'Goes By'. Their other attribute is one that places them in perfect company on Mego, next to the likes of Fennesz and even more appropriately, Oneohtrix Point Never, that searching sonic futurism, seeking out utterly alien and tinglingly lush harmonic colours that justifies what many may perceive as archaic synth noodling. 'Does It Look Like I'm Here' is a magical accomplishment and should be experienced by any lovers of affecting electronic music, Just remember to turn your euphoria blocker off.