Deep within the entrancing world of ambience and avant-garde sounds, noise trio Emeralds shimmer with a strange luster. It’s a bright shine that illuminates, surely. Cleveland-Portland trio John Elliott, Steve Hauschildt, and Mark McGuire comprise Emeralds, known for a distinct fluidity with improvised instrumentation, running guitars through delay pedals. The result: richly textured waves of noise, humming with equal parts drones and divinity.
Following up to their brilliant previous release Does It Look Like I’m Here is certainly not an easy task. Ever straying from the norm, Emeralds takes a decidedly different direction with Just To Feel Anything, a more traditional studio album featuring further shifts in instrumentation — adding to an already complex set of soundscapes.
The debut of a Roland TR-808 drum machine creates a definitive pitter-patter rhythm, like the hardened rain of an idle summer afternoon, present on “Adrenochrome”, one of the album’s punchiest tracks that segways into a frenzy of six-strings and beats. The emotive “Through and Through” follows, swelling with a gorgeous ambience similar to Chromatics’ minimalist musings.
A slow but abrupt follow-up, “Everything Is Inverted” resounds with 8-bits that don’t just remind you of the Nintendo, but place you directly inside the console. Particularly with “The Loser Keeps America Clean,” Emeralds reveals that lucid sheen, creating a sinister ambience that could very well have been re-scored to Twin Peaks as the backdrop to Dale Cooper’s crimson-singed nightmares.
Although astounding in its finesse for creating distinct ambience, where Just To Feel Anything falters is in its desire for expanse. The unity of Does It Look Like I’m Here listened collectively as a singular unit, almost resembling a film score. Yet the tracks of Just To Feel Anything listen as individual pieces that don’t entirely fit sonically, with throbbing EDM interspersed with the brilliant, terrifying unsounds of the album’s more subdued tracks. Tightened and more focused, Just To Feel Anything wouldn’t entirely jar the listener out of their headphones. Still, it shines when you hold it up to the light.