Ambient electronic trio Emeralds might be one of the most prolific collection of artists around. In the year and a half since Emeralds’ last album, Does It Look Like I’m Here?, John Elliott has released albums under two separate side projects, Imaginary Softwoods and Mist, while Mark McGuire has kept busy with two solo records and a collaboration with Trouble Books. Since then, Steve Hauschildt has been the quiet third of Emeralds, but his comparative silence has come to an end with Tragedy & Geometry, his first proper solo release.
On Tragedy & Geometry, synth loops create a floating in space sensation as they pulsate and arpeggiate with a delicate beauty, evoking an unexpected warmth that contrasts with a persistently chilling drone, subtle mood progressions, and melodic shifts. For album centerpiece Music For A Moiré Pattern, Hauschildt forgoes the tension building and subsequent release with climactic crescendos in favor of 11 minutes of interstellar meandering. The exploration of repetition takes a lively diversion in the form of Batteries May Drain, which couples buzzing synth lines with a drum machine beat to almost outright-danceable results. Like Hauschildt’s work with Emeralds, Tragedy & Geometry‘s adherence to melody results in a structured celestial wandering. Spacious in one sense and desolate in another, the celestial soundscapes here are an epic of minimalist ambience.
Tragedy & Geometry is an emotional, slow-burning, hour-long journey that tests the limits of how captivating an exploration via ambient repetition can be. According to the album’s press release, Tragedy & Geometry is a statement on the effect increasingly accessible technology has on interpersonal communication. Is it a criticism, a celebration, both, or neither? There are no definitive answers because Hauschildt’s approach is akin to that of a painter.
Essential Tracks: “Music for a Moiré Pattern” and “Batteries May Drain”