Emerald’s neo-kosmiche has always been deep in pursuit of nostalgia. The Cleveland
three-piece circa 2007-2008 gained more widespread buzz than most post-noise artists
are used to, earning labels like “the biggest drone band in America”. Until Just To
Feel Anything, their fifth album release (not to mention dozens of others EPs and CD-
R releases), their sonic reach has stayed fairly focused, dedicating themselves to the
combination of abstract guitar and synth tones to create rhythms and polyrhythms.
They’ve taken a pretty big risk in the new addition of drum machines and a generally
more “conventional” feel. But where there’s a certain post-rock quality to these
scapes, it seems important to appreciate the cultural trappings that these often
cheesey-sounding jams explore. Just To Feel Anything dives deep into an aesthetic
that superficially obsesses over 90s neon noir and cop soundtracks as much as it
does earnest New Age musics. There are remnants of the plazas and marble interiors
explored by the recently critiqued Vaporwave (http://dummymag.com/features/2012/
07/12/adam-harper-vaporwave/) in that of a sort of business-like, corporate sort of
“Adrenochrome” has all of these, especially the latter; real motivational business
seminar type of stuff. These ideas are the vessel for pushing their real M.O.,
also touched on by the title of the record, almost a summation of the quest for
transcendence (or even just “Realness”) via existing psychedelic tropes and hallmarks
of “immersive” musics like prog and more contemporary drone.
This works out particularly well on the title track, where McGuire’s guitar wailage
is a little more restrained in the melodrama on top of a crisp, steady drum machine.
Just as his solo sets delve headfirst into a sort of Andy Summers, dad-rock kind of
blissout, the chord progressions touch on half-familiar golden riffs and veer only
slightly from what your brains expecting.
“Everything Is Inverted” is a real spaced odyssey, dark Tangerine Dream-style,
properlled by a high-paced Steve Hauschildt synth sequence with McGuire’s hair-
blown guitar in the background.
There’s a wider, arbitrary coldness that drifts across this record, more so than the
glowing heights of Does It Look Like I’m Here? It’s hard to say whether this new
approach to experimentation sits as well with Emeralds themselves as the previous
outings; the results themselves are immersive in an entirely different way.