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emeralds - Just to Feel Anything
It seems like eons ago that Ohio weirdos Emeralds dropped their genre-baiting ‘Does It Look Like I’m Here?’ and single handedly re-routed their sound from the pensive overdriven drones of ‘Solar Bridge’ to something more progressive and rhythmic. ‘Just to Feel Anything’ picks up after a couple of years of ceaseless touring and a seemingly endless stream of oddities from John Elliot’s increasingly prolific Spectrum Spools label, and once again finds the three piece confounding their built-in audience. If its predecessor took the Emeralds core sound into more mainstream areas, then ‘Just to Feel Anything’ goes still further, giving their characteristic sounds a breathy sheen you’d rather expect to find on an early 90s action movie soundtrack than a basement noise act from the Mid West. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s followed their progress from the beginning, as this is simply a realization of the trio’s manifesto, but it might come as a shock for those of you hoping for a return to the dreamy synth-clouds that dominated their early catalogue. It’s propulsive stuff, and has been put together with the kind of defined narrative you’d more likely expect from a prog rock concept album – there are the usual elements of Ash Ra and mid-80s Tangerine Dream, but these are offset by what sounds like a keen knowledge of Pink Floyd, pre-electronic Bill Nelson and 90s chiptunes. Somehow these influences are melted together into glossy, coherent ‘songs’ and while they’re bound to polarize listeners, the hardline retro fetishism has forced the band to land on a sound that they can truly call their own. ‘Just to Feel Anything’ is further from the done-to-death arpeggiated synth scene Emeralds helped birth than anything else in their catalogue, and that’s something we feel they’ve had in their sights from the very beginning. This is VHS sponsored, buttered popcorn-fuelled, Monster Energy guzzling, Friday night entertainment at its finest – pop on your Ray Bans and enjoy the parallax sunset.