Emeralds, Vienna Rhiz, 6 September 2011

Enjoyable, if frustratingly brief, evening of whizzy ambient electronica from this highly touted American trio. I’m no authority on Emeralds’ music, but the fact that their most recent LP Does It Look Like I’m Here? is released on Peter Rehberg’s Editions Mego label made them worthy of investigation by itself. Consisting of a guitarist and two keyboard boffins, the group proposed three long tracks, the first of which was a charming, somewhat pastoral excursion into prime early 70s Tangerine Dream territory. I was on a massive TD kick as a teenager, but haven’t listened to them for years. Hearing Emeralds issue those same, sensuously overlapping waves of analogue melody was like being lowered into a warm, bubbling bath.

After a while proceedings took on a darker, harder edge. Mark McGuire made skilful use of numerous effects pedals, rendering his guitar work oblique and tortuous. If the attention started to wander during this middle section, it was soon reined in by the final part of the set, an intense flurry of shimmering synth-driven beauty.

The only thing not to like was John Elliott’s ridiculous headbanging and fist-waving. Why does he do that?

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