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An Emerald City - Live @ St. Peter's Hall, Paekakariki

05 Mar 2012 // A review by Alistar3000

It starts with a single violin playing an eerie lament, on a stage lit only by antique table lamps on a dark and stormy night in Paekakariki, half an hour out of Wellington. 

One by one the rest of An Emerald City stroll onto the small stage to take up the tune, in a way reflecting the band's approach to song writing.  Songs start off quietly, building up and up, with layer upon layer of sound being added, sculpting the tune.  With some bands this creates a wall of noise where each part is lost, but An Emerald City are masters of this game and at no point does the music seem busy; clever and effective use of dynamics are a big part of their music and mean that every instrument and every player gets their time to shine.  

While no one musician is above the others here, it's the violin that amazes most, as noises you never thought possible are wrangled from the instrument centre stage; at times it becomes a percussion instrument, sometimes played like a guitar, all the while carrying the melody and anchoring each song as the rest of the band explore.

Their music has been described as "Middle Eastern meets outer space" but while they play you forget that anywhere else exists, let alone space and time.  Rhythm hypnotises while melody suggests adventure and intrigue, and before you know it you're swaying to the music, lured in to their world, oblivious to anything but the music.  It stays like this until the music stops and the house lights come up, reminding us where we are. 

We're treated to a selection from across the two full length albums, with Siezuretron and The Fourth, both from second album The Fourth, being the songs that connected most with the audience, and encouraged the small crowd to up and move to front of stage.  

There was a newer track for the band to play with, and a treat of an extended jam as an encore, finishing the night the way it began, the drummer being the first on stage this time, hammering out a jumping beat for the rest of the band to join and build upon.  

If you haven't seen An Emerald City before, then you're probably shit out of luck.  By the time you read this they'll be finishing up their final tour for what could be an extended hiatus, or could be forever.  With the band split between Berlin and New Zealand, playing together has become tricky and they've decided to take a break. It's fortunate they gave us, under the auspices of the Wellington International Festival of the Arts, one last tour to see them off; but it's also a sad day for music, as we lose one of our most original and unique bands.

About An Emerald City

Since their inception in late 2005, Auckland band An Emerald City have strived for musical experimentation and liberation. Organic instrumentation and sounds of the east meet psychedelia with guitars and violin are at the centre of this original and unique 6 piece.

The summer of 2007/2008 unleashed an array of summer performances that included the likes of: Soundsplash, Rhythm and Vines, bFM’s Summer Series and Shore Sounds. WOMAD saw An Emerald City perform to over 1200 people across their two performances. This is also where NZers and the world got their first opportunity to purchase a slice of An Emerald City - their debut self titled EP.

The 4 track EP features two of the bNet favourites Qing Song (also featured as Karen Walker’s opening track at New York Fashion Week) and A Thousand Stars At Night recorded at Clockwork Studios in Auckland with Nick Taylor. The EP also included two new songs Mr. Finn and the new single A Question recorded at Roundhead Studios with Liam Finn and Jol Mulholland. The sriking original artwork is by Mr. Will Handley.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for An Emerald City

Releases

The Fourth
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Circa Scaria
Year: 2009
Type: Album
An Emerald City
Year: 2008
Type: EP

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