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Does It Look Like I'm Here?

    In the late 2000s a sprawling catalog of what is now genre-defining music was emanating from an unlikely place. Cleveland, Ohio has a broad reputation for many things, but in the aughts, psyche-expanding Kosmische wasn’t necessarily Cleveland’s calling card… until Emeralds. The trio of John Elliott, Steve Hauschildt, and Mark McGuire had released a profusion of limited-run cassettes, CD-Rs, and vinyl titles that had been passed around basement shows and then migrated to niche music communities online, creating a unique kind of murmur, even in the height of the DIY blog era. Three kids from the rust belt were crafting a distinctive and truly far-out strain of music on their own terms in the Midwest. They were flipping lids in wood-paneled basements and circulating around the underground with soaring sounds stylistically indebted to deep German electronic music pioneers and released with the ethos and twisted fervor of renegade Midwestern noise freaks. After several releases garnered a die-hard fandom in niche circles of internet/music culture, and then catching the attention of the late Peter Rehberg, the renowned artist and curator of the Editions Mego label, an expectation was set that the next Emeralds record was going to be a big one. And in 2010, Does it Look Like I’m Here? was it.

    Artistically, the album is a definitive statement; this is to say it was crafted by heads for heads, a genuine article and a profoundly deep listen, but the mainstream dove in too. Pitchfork acknowledged the rarefied nature of the album’s electricity with a “best new music” rating. This crossover success is a result of the tracks’ potency and wonderfully engineered and succinct structures. It’s dialed in. Still creating their distinct yawning cosmic sound, Elliott and Hauschildt shower the stereo spectrum with shimmering arpeggios, dusty, melodically dynamic swells, rippling FM textures, and canyon-wide waveshapes. McGuire’s signature guitar playing echoes emotive new age pathos and cascading astral space rock trance states. Their previous albums found many tracks hovering past the ten-minute mark, but these new songs were short, potent. “Candy Shoppe” opens the album with polished elegance; Emeralds’ throbbing synthetic sound made bite-sized, an incandescent morsel wrapped in waxed paper. On “Goes By” the languid electric guitar strums and swooning synth pads peel apart into enveloping sheets of synth gargling and soaring leads. Both tracks are entire worlds kept neatly under five minutes. If previous albums like Solar Bridge and What Happened were lysergic sprawls, Does It Look Like I’m Here presents itself as a tin holding a series of psychonautic blasts. This is all to say, the album lived up to the hype.

    Listening to it now, 13 years after its original release on Editions Mego, the album sounds however timeless, still immediate. There is a wide-pupiled and cotton-mouthed awe sewn into these radiant folds of sound; for those newly into this sort of thing, let this reissue serve as an initiation, a history lesson, and a heroic dose. For those who’ve come up in the scene and have worn out their pirated mp3s of this album; they can finally get a fresh copy on vinyl. Does It Look Like I’m Here? became a hallmark that would carve a path for an entire scene. Ghostly International is thrilled to reissue the album, remastered by Heba Kadry, including 7 bonus tracks exclusive to the digital album and CD. The limited edition 2xLP includes extensive liner notes by Chris Madak (Bee Mask).


    Barry says: I *love* Emeralds, and everything everyone from Emeralds has ever done independently of Emeralds, so it's no small thing when I say that 'Candy Shoppe' might be one of my favourite Emeralds tracks. It has an equal amount of everything in it that make the band great, and that's the FIRST TRACK. If you like Emeralds, you'll already want this LP and if you don't, then listen to the first track.


    01. Candy Shoppe
    02. The Cycle Of Abuse
    03. Double Helix
    04. Science Center
    05. Genetic
    06. Goes By
    07. Does It Look Like I’m Here?
    08. Summerdata
    09. Shade
    10. It Doesn’t Arrive
    11. Now You See Me
    12. Access Granted
    13. Escape Wheel*
    14. August (Extended)*
    15. In Love*
    16 Lake Effect Snow*
    17. Genetic (Rehearsal)*
    18. Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Daphni Mix 1)*
    19. Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Daphni Mix 2)* 

    Julie Byrne

    The Greater Wings

      The first album in over six years from American songwriter Julie Byrne is a testament to patience and determination, the willingness to transform through the desolation of loss, the vitality of renewal, and the courage to rise, forever changed. For nearly a decade, Byrne has moved through the world as a characteristically private artist largely outside the public eye. A self-taught musician that has committed her life to her work, she now emerges from a deeply trying and generative period with the most powerful, lustrous, and life-affirming music of her career, The Greater Wings. While they hold the plasticity of grief and trauma, the songs are universally resonant, unbridled in their devotion and joy, held up by the love and alliance of a chosen family. Byrne leans further into atmospheres both expansive and intimate; the lush, evocative songcraft flows between her signature fingerpicked guitar, synthesizer, and a newly adopted piano, made wider by flourishes of harp and strings. It is the transcendent sound of resource, of friendship that was never without romance, of loyalty that burns from within like a heart on fire, and the life force summoned in unrepeatable moments — raw, gorgeous, and wild.

      The Greater Wings was written across several seasons, pulling imagery from nights on tour, periods of isolation, and the drives cross-country for its various collaborations between Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Recording started with the late Eric Littmann, her longtime creative partner and Not Even Happiness producer, and finished in the Catskills of New York with producer Alex Somers (Sigur Rós, Julianna Barwick).

      “My hope for The Greater Wings is that it lives as a love letter to my chosen family and as an expression of the depth of my commitment to our shared future. Being reshaped by grief also has me more aware of what death does not take from me. I commit that to heart, to words, to sound. Music is not bound to any kind of linear time, so in the capacity to record and speak to the future: this is what it felt like to me, when we were simultaneous, alive, occurring all at once. What it has felt like to go up against my edge and push, the love that has made it worth all this fight. These memories are my values, they belong with me.”

      Julie Byrne will confess the success of her 2017 LP Not Even Happiness was unexpected; nine gracefully road-worn odes to the fringes of life she assembled without any expectation that they’d travel so far beyond their DIY origins. But its hushed closing track, “I Live Now As A Singer,” did forecast an intention. She knew the open space — occupied by Littmann’s signature palette of synth tones, Jake Falby’s strings, and Byrne’s robust, drifting voice — presented something new and thrilling, something they’d develop as a live band touring the world, and what would later be understood as the catalyst for material to come. From orchestral folk meditations (“The Greater Wings”, “Portrait of a Clear Day”) to windswept piano ballads (“Moonless”, “Death Is The Diamond”) to the luminous, synth-driven euphoria of “Summer Glass,” The Greater Wings builds on this revelatory space at every turn.


      Liam says: Following on from her standout 2017 LP 'Not Even Happiness', 'The Greater Wings' is a sweeping, expansive and meditative record that passes through wistful orchestral folk, heartfelt piano balladry and iridescent synth passages - gorgeous, gorgeous stuff!!


      1. The Greater Wings
      2. Portrait Of A Clear Day
      3. Moonless
      4. Summer Glass
      5. Summer’s End
      6. Lightning Comes Up From The Ground
      7. Flare
      8. Conversation Is A Flowstate
      9. Hope’s Return
      10. Death Is The Diamond


      Release Spirit

        Canadian producer Dylan Khotin-Foote has kept his Khotin alias going for the better part of a decade; the impressionistic electronic project shifts with the movements in his life. Sometimes it leads, like when the club-friendly grooves of 2014’s Hello World immersed him in the heart of Vancouver’s underground dance scene, and sometimes it follows, like 2018’s Beautiful You, a downtempo salve for DJ fatigue. His melodic sensibility and playful ear for atmosphere remain the rippling core of the project’s fingerprint; whether beat-driven or ambient, a foggy smear or a dusted and pristine print, a Khotin track has a distinct and instantly recognizable swirl. During and after the 2020 release of Finds You Well, his second LP on Ghostly International, Khotin-Foote settled back into a slower vibe in his hometown of Edmonton. Even before the pandemic, his pivots to softer production, and away from DJing, left him with fewer opportunities in Vancouver and club bookings overall, and as a self-identifying introvert, he was fine with that. But the change of pace did open space for Khotin-Foote to grapple with concepts of adulthood and career. At his lowest, he almost walked off this musical path altogether; instead, he doubled down on the craft — the tone, pacing, and dynamism of new material — arriving at a definitive full-length. With Release Spirit, Khotin releases himself from the pressure of expectation, fusing and refining everything we know about his music. The warmth and familiarity of Khotin’s dreamy, dulcet style meet new ideas and frameworks, a natural progression, a modest revelation; Khotin confirms it is okay to move slowly and he’s never sounded better doing it.

        The album title borrows from the “release spirit” mechanic in the video game World of Warcraft. When players die, they are prompted to release their spirit and return as ghosts to find their corpses and come back to life. Khotin sees it as a worthy metaphor for the impending change his return home presented and the resulting process of purging artistic expectations to find his creative self again. On this go-around, he is freer, more playful, and more intentional within his palette of warped synth, breakbeats, and piano sounds — including the classic Casio SK-1 presets he’s used since the start — mingling with wistful samples, field recordings, and other abstract snippets. For the first time, he enlisted Nik Kozub to do the mix and assist with sequencing. Khotin-Foote has long worked with the Edmonton-based musician and engineer in the mastering phase, as well as their days co-running the label Normals Welcome, and this time was able to involve his ears earlier given their newfound proximity. “I think it’s my best sounding record to date.”

        We begin on “HV Road” or Happy Valley Road, where Khotin-Foote spent time during a family vacation in British Columbia’s Okanagan Lake. His plans to record crickets at night are quickly foiled by his younger siblings; the cute exchange orients the listener to a core memory of sorts, setting the tone of universally understood warmth and wonder that has defined some of Khotin’s most transportive tracks. Hazy percussion takes hold, and we are swept further into the wisp of “Lovely,” a grooving, melodic standout built on the interplay between the beat and human voice-like hums. Khotin knows this zone well; equally suited for a reverie or a club warm-up.

        The bubbling atmosphere and absurdity of “3 pz” offer a cosmic/comic interlude and also speak to reflections on his family’s move to Canada two generations ago, and the audio tutorials they used to learn English. “I can only imagine my grandparents repeating some of the bizarre phrases.”

        “Fountain, Growth” finds Khotin in collaboration with Montreal’s Tess Roby (Dawn to Dawn) for the project’s first-ever vocal track. Roby’s soft cadence echoes atop spiraling air pockets of rhythmic production, lending a breezy, almost shoegaze pop feel. Throughout the single and the album, wind gusts between the compositional layers, akin to the roaming spirits of its namesake, curving around the birdsong of “Life Mask” and seamlessly reaching “Unlimited <3.” The latter bumps in slow motion; disembodied whirrs from his Casio collide with 808 drums and sub-bass for a vibe that teeters on trap and instrumental hip-hop.

        Release Spirit rests in a dream sequence. Oscillating synth lines dance around the heartbeat of “Techno Creep,” a hyperactive REM state before the digitized ambient sprawl of “My Same Size.” In the final pass, Khotin imagines transcontinental travel from the glow of his screen. He recorded “Sound Gathering Trip” to soundtrack a genre of YouTube videos he’s taken to that follows train routes through Europe and Japan. The scene is serene and moving; piano keys warble as static-filled sound design shimmers off the rails, from cityscapes to the countryside, an introspective ride through a world beyond his bedroom. It doubles as an apt parting image for Khotin’s project as a whole: dreaming big but happiest when riffing on the details, shaping environments from the inside out. Over the last decade, he has stretched from his core in Edmonton, leaving a trace in Vancouver and beyond; but when all signs point home, he loops back to see it all from a different vantage, revitalized, refined, and free. 



        01. HV Road
        02. Lovely
        03. Home World 303
        04. 3 Pz
        05. Computer Break (Late Mix)
        06. Fountain, Growth (ft. Tess Roby)
        07. Life Mask
        08. Unlimited <3
        09. Techno Creep
        10. My Same Size
        11. Sound Gathering Trip 

        Matthew Dear is a shapeshifter, oscillating seamlessly between DJ, dance-music producer, and experimental pop auteur. He is a founding artist on both Ghostly International and its dancefloor offshoot, Spectral Sound. He writes, produces, and mixes all of his work. He straddles multiple musical worlds and belongs to none, now nearly 20 years into his kaleidoscopic career, with five albums and two dozen EPs plus millions of miles in the rearview of his biography.

        Bunny is the name of Matthew Dear’s fifth album. His first since 2012, it bounces into plain sight preceded by two slyly different singles in 2017: the moody, urgent "Modafinil Blues” and the buoyant, blithe, Tegan and Sara-featuring “Bad Ones.” Bunny follows both modes, among others, parading down a rabbit hole of unhinged phrasings, dreams, and interludes. It saunters in the shadows; it stands brightly in the moonlight. Bunny is a dual vision of avant-pop; an artistic reckoning from a 21st-century polymath; persona splintered, paradox paraphrased, a riddle rendered.


        01. Bunny’s Dream
        02. Calling
        03. Can You Rush Them
        04. Echo
        05. Modafinil Blues
        06. What You Don’t Know
        07. Horses (feat. Tegan And Sara)
        08. Moving Man
        09. Bunny’s Interlude
        10. Duke Of Dens
        11. Electricity
        12. Kiss Me Forever
        13. Bad Ones (feat. Tegan And Sara)
        14. Before I Go

        Since Scott Hansen's Tycho project's inception in 2004 with the release of 'Sunrise Projector' (later renamed 'Past Is Prologue' for it's reissues in 2006 and 2010), they have undertaken a wide range of melodic electronic miscellany. Centred around the trio of albums, 'Dive' 'Awake' and onto his latest offering, 'Epoch'. 

        Though they all mine the seam of anthemic electronic music, they have leant in slightly differing directions with regards their emotional pacing and melodic makeup. 'Dive' was very much a morning album, slowly growing into a breathing and optomistic mass through woozy synths and reticent percussion, forming themes through repetition and infinitesimal variations. 'Awake' was much more as the title suggests, a pinnacle of alertness, an effervescent and resplendent rising from the woozy haze of the first. 

        And onto Epoch. A culmination and combination of the previous two iterations, stylistically, and theoretically. 

        Opener 'Division' begins with a hazy crushed electric piano, and growing fade before cutting brutally into galloping toms, and that trademark Tycho bass sound. Not two minutes in and it becomes instantly recognisable, with sliding square wave synths swooning backwards and forwards along with the kinetic rhytmic backdrop. 'Horizon' has throbbing cosmic chord stabs and sidechained crisp saturated drum kit. 

        Pieces like 'Reciever' really move the posts of what has come before, embracing the dusky atmospheres of 'Dive' but with much more of a late-night feel, jazzy rhodes trills and throbbing ambience really lending their mystique before being given a firm but subtle bolstering by some uncharacteristically distant drums and shakers dragging the pace along. 

        Move on further and 'Division' is a complex and fascinating melting pot of instrumental rock, driving electronica and ambience, being based much more heavily upon guitars and rhythm before bringing in the synths in a stop-start cut-up. A brilliantly varied but completely natural progression, made all the more hard-hitting by the lack of crossovers, opting instead for a complete about-turn on more than one occasion. 

        'Epoch' is less about ambience setting the scene than on previous offerings, and much more based on Hansen's mastery of rhythmic foundations and celever melodic arrangement. Moreso than anything else Tycho have done, this is a bracing and rewarding journey, never jarring, but constantly evolving. A masterful culmination of concept and execution, and most of all a great listen. 


        Barry says: Having been a fan of Tycho's work for some time now, I was wondering how this would come out, and I couldn't be any happier. A brilliant fusion of the unbelievable skill of the previous two albums, and a brilliantly executed continuation and expanding of the themes found on both. Darker, moodier and more uplifting and euphoric at the flick of a switch. Brilliant.


        01. Glider
        02. Horizon
        03. Slack 
        04. Reciever
        05. Epoch
        06. Division 
        07. Source
        08. Local
        09. Rings
        10. Continuum
        11. Afield 

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