Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A pre-edit version of what appeared in today's Clevescene:

What Happened
(No Fun)

Titling your debut album Bullshit Boring Drone Band is a bit of a gamble for a young underground outfit; there's the inherent danger of self-fulfilling prophecy, of handing lazy critics the rope with which to hang you. Happily, Cleveland's Emeralds are gifted enough to play that kind of risque self-labeling off as tongue-in-cheekiness. Early discs like 07's Solar Bridge revealed the trio to be heirs apparent to dimension-surfing krautrock acts like Cluster, thickening Brian Eno-esque ambience into a subtly psychedelic paste. What Happened builds up from that trippy template, stirring in elements of noise and discord with face-melting results. "Alive in the Sea of Information" plays host to insiduous synth-on-synth violence, as razor-toothed Parkinsons' loops nip haphazardly at the heels of starry-eyed, drippy-bass, and fantasticly flatulent drones alike. "Up in the Air" is something of a tonal way station, with thermal updrafts, thumping pulsations, and rippling sonic mirages intersecting briefly before vanishing into the ether, then - eventually - gliding back. After opening as a tentative organ meditation, "Living Room" morphs into a woozy primordial ooze: the introduction of a plaintive guitar exoskeleton provides a structure to which electronic twitters and squiggles can be affixed en route to the blaring, black-metal denouement that's stealthly foreshadowed. And just to prove to us - and perhaps themselves - that they're not taking this space-rock stuff too seriously, hints of "London Bridge Is Falling Down" crop up intermittently in Emeralds' sublime pea soup.

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