The music created by Emerald Four practically oozes from the speakers. The Kyoto-based duo crafts narcotized songs built around unfolding electronics and slow, dreamy vocals.
It has taken a little bit of time to get to this point, however. Over the past two years, Emerald Four has increasingly moved toward a more dancefloor-oriented electro-pop style that plays out at a much faster tempo. It was serviceable but often forgettable, as there is no shortage of Cut Copy cut-and-copiers around these days. But now the band has discovered the perfect speed for it to go at, and new collection “Nothing Can Hurt Me” marks a fantastic change of pace. It is also one of the year’s finest independent releases so far.
“Nothing Can Hurt Me” can also feel downtrodden. The pair label tracks from this album “sad songs,” and the mix of slow-motion synthesizers and vocals lead to a deeply reflective result. The highlight, “Love Labyrinth,” drifts along like it’s lost in space, with Emerald Four’s electronic fiddling providing a sparse backdrop for the vocals to spread out over. The slow nature of the music, along with a persistent dream-pop bent, gives it an air of recovery. See the squiggly “Astral Tones For Mental Therapy,” or just the title of the whole album, which sounds more like the duo’s mantra.
The closest comparison to what Emerald Four does with its music on “Nothing Can Hurt Me” would be the work of Tokyo’s Sapphire Slows, who also produces electronic music that shines thanks to the vocals. But whereas her singing adds a layer of unease, Emerald Four uses the human voice to turn skittery, off-center creations such as “Annapurna” and “Ten Ten” into pretty, emotional slow-burns. Emerald Four has discovered a music style that works, and the resulting album is a definite mid-year highlight.
Listen to Emerald Four’s “Nothing Can Hurt Me” via the Tanukineri Records website at www.tanukineiri.net/home/portfolio-item/tnr041.