An Emerald City: The Fourth (Banished from the Universe)

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An Emerald City: Circa Scaria
An Emerald City: The Fourth (Banished from the Universe)

After their impressive self-titled EP in '08 then the expansive, cinematic debut album Circa Scaria the following year, this Auckland-based band which brought together psychedelic space-flight guitar rock with touches of world music (Middle Eastern and North African from violinist Felix Lun, plus sitar, oud, lute and odd percussion from Rob Croft and Ede Giesen) relocated to Berlin.

It was almost the breaking of them, but on the evidence of this eight track album – especially the latter half – it sounds like it has made them into something harder, less romantic and much tighter. Almost inevitably elements of Krautrock (Can, Neu!) have been assimilated and, if the exoticism of the world music has been reined in, then what has come through instead is an urgent astral ambience on pieces like Seizuretron which is so wide-screen it sounds orchestrated.

The exoticism sensibly hasn't been dispensed with entirely (it's their point of difference) and on Circa Scaria here – yes, also the title of that debut album – you are swept off to a caravansary somewhere in a desert, perhaps one on Mars. And Keys to the Kingdom is a haunting sci-fi/world music crossover.

Ulica Bolslaw doesn't tell you much more than you already know although hints at the German influence which comes to fruition on throbbing tracks like the nine minute-plus title track and Casual Encounters at the end where a darker, menacing and occasionally industrial edge has been added to their vision.

AEC could have happily sat where they were for a couple of albums, but The Fourth suggests they are restless spirits – and they've set their controls fo the heart of the sun.

And we're the better for it.

There is an '09 interview with An Emerald City here, and guitarist Reuben Bonner answered the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here (with dates of their March 2011 New Zealand tour).

Like the sound of An Emerald City, then check out this guy -- and this guy.

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