Emeralds has been kicking around Cleveland, Ohio for some time now releasing a seemingly unending stream of CD-Rs, tapes, and LPs. Some of you may remember the group from my Small Wonders column earlier this year when I reviewed their excellent Planetarium cassette. It should come as no surprise then that Emeralds’ first “official” full-length for Hanson is absolutely killer.
Solar Bridge clocks in at just over 30 minutes and contains two tracks, “Magic” and “The Quaking Mess” respectively. The stuff these guys are doing here is going to please fans of newer drone stuff like Double Leopards and Pocahaunted while also bringing to mind a few of my favorite German kosmische records from the 70’s such as Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra and Cluster’s Cluster 71. So essentially the sound is some woozy, drugged out drone mixed with the melody and repetition of classic kraut dreamscapes.
The thing that makes Emeralds so special is the proficiency with which these jams are dispensed. The listener never gets that sense of unnecessary filler that can cloud up a drone piece. I’ve been pretty vocal about the unnecessary length of some newer avant-rock (I mean come on Acid Mother’s Temple, how many albums with just one hour long track or two thirty minute tracks can one band fucking make?!). It’s refreshing when a band can make lengthy tracks that seem short by the sheer quality of the music.
Overall, Solar Bridge is a fascinating re-evaluation of kosmische music, steering it in a modern direction without losing the idiosyncrasies of the genre’s best work. If only the genre had taken this route to begin with maybe we wouldn’t have to groan at Popol Vuh’s Florian Fricke accepting the term “new age” and ushering in an era of Tom Cruise movie soundtracks for Tangerine Dream in the 1980s. Expect nothing but good from these guys in the future. I’m sure this won’t be the last release from them this year but it’s good enough to make at least a few year end lists to be certain.