3.10.09

Emeralds, A Kosmixtape.

Let me start by stating that I've been on a huge Emeralds kick lately. This Ohio three piece has become a staple in the soundtrack of my everyday life. Having these warm, enveloping sounds constantly playing in the background has made even the most demeaning tasks, like washing dishes, or folding laundry a complete joy to do. And I'm not saying that you can't enjoy this stuff in other contexts. I'm saying that it's enjoyable all the fucking time.

Last year's Solar Bridge was a huge favourite of mine (I totally overplayed it) and the number of albums to follow have been equally as good, if not better. And while I was trying to snag those releases I admittedly dipped into a lot of the older out-of-print tapes and cdrs that have been floating around the net. My findings are as follows: It all rules. Therefore, I couldn't help but compile this mixtape that I think is an excellent introduction to the band, but keep in mind that it's in no way meant to be a compendium of their material. It's just something I threw together. It's also heavily weighted towards their newer material because this blog has always been and will always be about tangible releases, and also because in my opinion the material that has come out in the last 6 months from these guys is most certainly their best. So yes, for the most part it's new stuff, or newly "released" stuff with a few older gems popping up here and there. Do enjoy.

Side A:

1. Up in the Air
Taken from What Happened (No Fun Productions, cd, 2009)


Released on the first month of 09' What Happened was the album that really sealed the deal for me. it's a collection of 5 improvised tracks that were recorded live to tape in 2007-08. It's hard to say whether these were all previously released or not because the one I know for sure that was previously released had a different title, and it was also the only one I had recognized as such. More on that later though. What Happened is a great document of the many subtle spectrums of sound that Emeralds shift into. Up in the Air, although short, perfectly exemplifies this subtle interplay of the band. Mark McGuire's guitar is heard first, a looping, sunken rhythm set atop building analog synth swells (Steve Hauschildt and John Elliott). McGuire then introduces another layer of angelic guitar plucks accenting the now fore-fronted synth pulse. It's an all too short tease for an album that only the coolest of dads would be saying "Man, I haven't heard such groovy spaced-out drone stuff since my trip to Germany in the late 60's when I did acid with the guys from Ash Ra Temple."

listen to Up in the Air


2. Mistakes
Taken from Allegory of Allergies (Weird Forest, 2lp, 2009)


Allegory of Allergies was the title chosen for a C120 tape released in 2007 on the Gods of Tundra label. The 2lp version is the same material as the cassette, only re-sequenced and shy a few tracks that I guess didn't make the cut. Mistakes, despite it's name, was a keeper. And for good reason too as this is some of the lushes straight drone stuff that the band has produced. Mcguire's guitar doesn't rear it's head until the final declining moments. Everything up to that point is shear blissful washed out synth-esthesia. Yes, there is most certainly something wrong with you if you can't hear vibrant colours in this music. LP is beautifully packaged, thick gate-fold, abstract paint smears, treetops, gold jackets and all.

Listen to Mistakes


3. Untitled A Side
Taken from Planetarium (Tapeworm Tapes, c20, 2008)


I always want to call this Aquarium and not Planetarium, because of all the submerged water sounds that seem to bubble up from uncharted depths and because of the blue cover. Or maybe because the oceans are just as dark and mysterious as space is, so it's easy to get confused or something like that. Either way, this stuff could easily allude to one or the other. The A side, which I've chosen for the tape, starts off in perfect Emeralds fashion with that ethereal bubbly synth stuff that 's just so warm and nice. Eventually the track gets a lot darker with Mcguire plucking some minor key notes. Oh it just hit me, the tape is about the sensation of floating down to Earth from space then suddenly falling through the air and finally plummeting into the ocean. Ya, that's' it.

Listen to Untitled A


4. The Quaking Mess
Taken from Solar Bridge (Hanson, cd/lp, 2008)


Solar Bridge is a masterfully crafted album. It's mere 26 minutes can feel like a life time, especially if you are playing it on repeat for hours as I was when I first laid my hands on it. All I can say is, the washed out wall of sound that overtakes The Quaking Mess midway through it's 14 minute duration is about as potent as it gets. So good.

Listen to A Quaking Mess



Side B:
5. Untitled A Side
Taken from Fresh Air (A Soundesign Recording, 7", 2009)



The first and only 7" release thus far by Emeralds. The great thing about this band is that their music doesn't limit them to any particular format. They are not stunted by brevity, nor do they drag in the longer form. The A side, almost bridging on a melodic tune, is about as busy as these guys get. Rolling-hill synth flourishes carve a meandering path for loping guitar rhythms, like a waltz that could go on forever. The flip is a bit of a darker affair, almost sounding like the A side but filtered through countless tapes, degraded with it's edges dulled. All around really nice.

Listen to Untitled A Side



6. Standing Water
Taken from Grass Ceiling (Fag Tapes, C34, 2007)


Released somewhere in the middle of a pretty prolific year of limited run cassettes and cdrs, Grass Ceiling stands somewhat taller than a lot of the other stuff. There seems to be matured sense of space, especially on the opener Standing Water that makes this one just a bit more special. The typical elements of gingerly plucked guitar and warm synth drones are there, but everything seems just a little bit s l o w e r. Judging by the opening track, this almost seems to recall a Dream Syndicate approach more than Berlin-school tactics. One of the best Emeralds songs to date.

Listen to Standing Water




7. What if God Was on the Subway?
Taken from Sunburned Hand/Emeralds Split Cassette (Manhand, C30, 2007)


So, what I was eventually going to get at about the shifty song titles from What Happened I am now going to get at. This track, What if God was on the Subway? is the same song as Damaged Kids from What Happened, just titled differently, which is perfect, because I wanted to include two songs from that album anyways. What if God.. is definitely a noisier affair, at least, it starts off noisier: far out space sounds and lazer synth lines. There are definitely a few distinct parts here, the whole track feeling a bit more heterogeneous than most of their material. Eventually the noise is subdued and we are lulled into more familiar Emeralds territory. I can't recall what the Sunburned side is like. Maybe I'll listen to that again soon.

Listen to What if God was on the Subway?




8. Lasting
Taken from Lasting Compilation (Pineapple Tapes, C90, 2009)


And finally we've got the Emeralds contribution to the Lasting Compilation, which I reviewed earlier this month. First off, the track start with a shot, as if already in the middle and the layers just build and build a top each other: lush droning synthesizers, mad guitar dabbling, and great squalls of UFO's orbiting the speakers. It's like five Emeralds tracks mashed into one but without subjecting the listener to a sensory overload. But, as the track comes to a close, everything is stripped away except for Mcguire's lone guitar plucks. Now were at the end and all you have to do is flip the tape and start the whole experience again.

Listen to Lasting




Well, that's it. I encourage all of you who download this to transfer it to cassette tape. Also, please consider buying some of these. You know where to go.

Emeralds Kosmixtape

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