31 Jul 2021

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An Emerald City - The Fourth Album Review

03 Mar 2011 // A review by River Tucker
Haven’t heard of An Emerald City before? That’s OK, I’m here to get you acquainted. Formed in 2005, with an EP and debut album already under their belts, the six-piece German based band have just released their second full-length album, The Fourth and recently returned home to New Zealand for a nationwide tour.

From the get go this album has a welcome-to-the-carnival atmosphere with the first track B31, slowly melding into a space odyssey theme. The easy-going melody lilts along until crisp drumming in a jazz/break-beat style slams into it like a machine gun. The guitars chime in, developing the song into a broad and uplifting experience. Although the musicianship is tight, there’s a certain chaotic quality going on, which I really like. You never quite know what to expect, giving the sound both originality and a feeling of freedom.

An Emerald City’s sound is big, all encompassing and reminded me of Isis. Their 1970’s psychedelic stoner rock inflections are also similar to Kyass, (without so much grunge) while Celtic and African influences give the sound a lovely worldly vibe. But that’s where the comparisons end because this band is completely unique. With monumental and sometimes scary sections building on repetitive but engaging dynamics, the marvellous instrumental music grips my ears in audio ecstasy.

You can tell An Emerald City has worked hard on their second album, creating a cohesive and clever little eight-track gem. Recorded in a former communist radio station in East Berlin, The Fourth is a step above the bands critically acclaimed debut album Circa Scaria, which was recorded in the great cave at Whatipu on the West Coast. It appears that An Emerald City has really come of age after their tumultuous European tour with The Datsuns, Beirut and The Veils in 2009.

Variations to their alt rock theme throughout this album take the form of Indian scales using a vast array of instruments from conventional to the unknown, like a darbuka and Persian long necked lute. The ingenuity of their music lies in an underlying sweetness and laid back Sunday afternoon feel while retaining a danceable up beat tempo. Engineering and mastering is simply superb, bringing that live feel right into your living room. The polished yet unrefined sound is surely the essence of what quality music is all about.

The last track Casual Encounters is my favourite; the beautifully slow but powerful tempo and mellow undertones, while the guitars work their magic, is simply wonderful! An Emerald City’s clever melodic sensibilities and multidimensional soundscape make this album a healthy addiction to have!

The Fourth
View Track Listing

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


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

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