Cleveland, OH's Emeralds are John Elliott, Steve Hauschildt and Mark McGuire.
Pitchfork Best New Music, June 2010:
Describing Emeralds' music feels a little like capping that underwater oil spill must: how do you get your hands around this stuff? The Cleveland trio may favor methodical cadences in their music, but their releases come fast and furious. According to Discogs.com, they've put out around 40 releases in just four years, most of them CDRs and cassettes. There are variations of mood and intensity, and each major release has its own particular signature, owing in part to changes in gear and technique, and in part to being a band that improvises and records non-stop. Any given album feels like a snapshot of the band in time.
But Does It Look Like I'm Here? is the first Emeralds record you might be able to call "pretty." Listeners accustomed to the multi-vectored force of last year's What Happened, with its crush of competing swells, might initially be taken aback by the linear progressions here. Emeralds also finally seem to be playing actual notes, not just dialing in frequencies.
The songs are shorter-- aside from one seven-minute jam and a 12-minute blur, everything is around three or four minutes long. That's partly because they're dividing their music into smaller grids and speeding up the changes. On What Happened, tones rolled out in languid fashion. That's still true here, but most of the album's tracks are built around arpeggiated backbones, bubbling sequences in 8th, 12th, or 16th note formations that focus the music's energy in a directed stream.
If what set Emeralds apart before was the fact that they sounded unlike almost anything else, here you can hear distinct echoes of other artists, whether it's the burbling synthesizer music of 70s musicians like Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze, or arpeggio-prone contemporaries like Oneohtrix Point Never, Jonas Reinhardt, or Gavin Russom. "Double Helix" finds a halfway ground between the gritty shuffle of early Kompakt and the Balearic drift of Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas. And "Now You See Me" is an honest-to-god waltz led by folky strummed guitar.
But there's something about Emeralds' sound that really is theirs alone. (Timbrally, the band has never sounded richer-- thanks in part to James Plotkin's mastering job-- and that's especially true of the luscious heavyweight vinyl pressing, cut at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering.) The way they set loops against loops, with super-fast pinwheeling oscillations buzzing out of control on top, turns their tracks into perpetual motion machines, gathering incredible force as layers accrue. It's a big part of the magic of this band, and what distinguishes even their most new age-flavored compositions: the overload of information, the spray of frequencies, the thrilling, viscous rush.
— Philip Sherburne