A step sideways for America’s most visionary
Having reinvented cosmic psychedelia, the post-noise quasi-collective consisting of Emeralds and OPN are largely credited with saving music
from an endless procession of retro reruns. So would it be controversial to suggest that, three years on, the futurist wünderkinder have been treading water of late? Would that be a bit like criticising post-war Einstein for being less ‘genius-y’? At any rate, an air of been-there-done-that permeates ‘Outer Space II’, the solo debut from Emeralds’ John Elliott who here adds little to the scene’s radical advances. Mostly it’s the Cluster-cribbing ‘Vanishing Act’ and ‘3332’’s Brad Fiedel-esque modulations that point to idea-recycling, while the Eno-esque ‘I’ is merely ’80s nostalgia. Of course it’s a frequently pretty album – see especially ‘II’’s noirish horns or ‘3332’’s synth strings. But only on ‘Liquid Systems Functions’, with its industrial sonar and bubble-rhythm, does it really feel progressive. Otherwise, this is a step sideways for America’s most visionary.