These pages are no stranger to a bit of hyperbole and frankly excessive use of metaphor as part of my enthusiastic, coffee-induced ramblings. If you are at all bothered by this probably best not delve below the line, because I’m quite fond of this album.

I’ve touched on this before, but if you are unfamiliar with Emeralds’ music, it sounds like an amplification of the electric signals in the brain in a moment of pure enlightenment. John Elliott, Steve Hauschildt and Mark McGuire have moved away from playing the purely single-oscillator analog synth of earlier albums to include more complex analog/digital hybrids and guitar synthesizers. They have also challenged themselves to transfer their sound into shorter tracks, instead of the typical 15 minute odysseys the album is made up of twelve shorter tracks.

The album does pose the initial question: when your music is all about extensive transcedent journeys into the electronic ether, why would you want to try and condense it all into pop-chunks of less than 5 minutes? It is a real challenge and the fact that they felt the need to take up this challenge demonstrates their commitment to experimental and progressive music.

Candy Shoppe and The Cycle Of Abuse opens things with the gentlest of wake-ups, rousing you from your mental slumber and pushing you gently in the direction of the rest of the album. Double Helix is the most melodic track I’ve heard by Emeralds. It starts off sounding a bit like the Knight Rider theme tune, although how it would have sounded if you only had the spare parts of a toaster to make it with. Well, not just you, someone with some proficiency in making musical toasters. Mark McGuire’s gentle guitar is then introduced and tames the raw synth, until all that remains is a drifting gurgle. At only 3 minutes long it really epitomises what I imagine Emeralds were trying achieve on this album.

Emeralds finally cut loose with Genetic (and lets face it, they had to at some point, restraint surely can’t be that much fun). It is the only song over ten minutes and it uses it’s time to great effect; you spend the duration surfing along its arpeggios, getting absorbed by the pulses until it spits you out the other side, completely weightless. By the time Goes By starts you are already floating in a sea of total euphoria, by the end you are completely submerged, visiting previously unseen depths [I know this is laying it on pretty thick, but this sort of imagery is appropriate]. It Doesn’t Arrive feels just like that, something tantalisingly close, brushing past but somehow never fully materialising, the trio teasing the listener with the big climaxes that you know they are going to deliver at some point.

The tracks fade in and out of each other like passing thoughts. It is perhaps this quality that really means the album hasn’t lost any of its Emeralds magic, as we are accustomed to their tracks containing several passages each anyway. What they have achieved is cutting out some of the over-indulgencies of previous work (even if these indulgencies were more than welcome). This is Emeralds in a convenient snack-portion size, easy to tune in and out of without having to totally lose yourself. It’s definitely still got the spaced-out kosmiche vibe to it.

Emeralds remind me of the brain I sometimes wish I didn’t have; the constantly meandering logic, the apparent lack of focus. It really does me no good listening to this music all the time, at least from a getting-things-done perspective. But hey, if they can condense their sound without a loss of the magic and joy that define them, there is hope for all of us.

This also gives me an excuse to post this ace video Joseph Raglani made for Geode of their S/T album from last year:

[Vimeo 10304683]

I urge you to go and buy this piece of sonic genius.

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