The Midwest leaves an indelible mark on Emeralds’ sound; their debut characteristically vibrates as if from a ghost mall or some other relic of the rust belt. Side A, “Magic,” finds the three young musicians summoning by way of analog synthesis and processed guitar motifs. Though it could be loosely called “drone,” this miasmic wall of melody ripples through dynamics; pulses ebb and flow in and out in a way where every edge disappears. Like any good magic trick, there is something invisible at play here.
On Side B, “The Quaking Mess,” oxidized squeals and shuddering mechanical whines commingle with square and saw wave pads and flickering guitar details to create a post-industrial parking lot tableau. Eventually, the ground swells up, and a massive firmament trembles below the wobbling synths and rickety electronics. There is a power at the heart of Emeralds’ sound that displays a kind of egalitarian psychedelia, a working-class kosmische, a proletariat trip zone. Everyone is welcome to watch the world fold in on itself as they are pulled into the portal.
“Photosphere,” a previously unreleased recording included as a digital exclusive, affords a look at a more serene stretch from the same session. A demure guitar loop wafts above slowly shifting tectonic synthesizer drones; the tremendous restraint the trio shows here hints at part of the unique place they would carve out for themselves, both together and respectively, in the annals of American DIY experimental music. Elliott, McGuire, and Hauschildt are known now for being tuned into a mutual vocabulary as Emeralds. They are players that exercise a kind of profound listening. Slowness, as a kind of punk ethos. As the static sputters into the right channel around the twelve-minute mark, the scene becomes selfaware, and we are released into the ether.
Emeralds materialized as a fully formed entity radiating cosmic potential. Their discography evolved and incorporated different qualities and vocabularies but hearing where it started will always feel different. The density, the patience, and the sheer refinement presented on Solar Bridge legibly demonstrates how and why Emeralds has become a legendary part of the contemporary electronic music canon.
B1. The Quaking Mess