Agitated Atmosphere: Emerald Cocoon’s Alone Together series

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as those featured on Emerald Cocoon’s Alone Together series.

The stark, naked embrace of Christina Carter greets those who dare venture into Emerald Cocoon’s debut 7-inch series. An icon as one-half of Charalambides, Carter goes for broke with nothing but her lonely wails and distant chimes to keep her company. “Obelisk” and “Tholos” are twins, the slightest differences only discernible to their mother, Carter.

And this is just the first entry of Alone Together. The intimate series proclaims itself a whispered conversation between musician and listener; the melodic hums of vinyl grooves holding secrets only to be shared in private company. It is the music of dusk, when exhaustion makes us most honest with ourselves. We’re too tired to fight our inner dialogue, in this case represented by immeasurable talent willing to give themselves onto us for the art of transformative speech.

The 8 minutes of black space visited by Ashley Paul couldn’t be more confusing; “Hidden Face” a real continuation of Carter’s premiere isolation, “Leave Mine” a desire to speak up and be heard, however fragile—the melody breaking like a pubescent voice. Helga Fassonaki regales herself with her Yek Koo mask, putting a healthy, calloused palm to the face of Alone Together. Her two sides ratchet up the tension between artist and listener, a message to heed art rather than shrivel from it. B-side “Flame Creation” goes so far as to remind us that there is machinery involved in this otherwise stripped exchange of idea and interpretation.

Ashley Paul's 'Leave Mine' / video by Gretta Johnson

Mark Sadgrove pseudonym MHFS is the first male voice within Alone Together. Though our world often turns to the male perspective as the first perspective, it’s a honest refresher that it’s four released deep before Alone Together asks for masculinity. And Sadgrove delivers, with aggressively jaunted sine. Beneath the syncopated snarls of The Grey Lynn Homeless Set is the destructive desire of man barbarically carving its path through civilization. Where Carter snuck away from the belly of the beast, Sadgrove employs General Sherman tactics to wield power. Pete Swanson (who also masters each Alone Together 7-inch) returns us to our chaotic calm. Open communication is restored with Swanson’s elegant simplicity. It also marks the first time Alone Together is aware of our voice. Carter, Paul, and Sadgrove seem to be speaking at us, Fassonaki speaks for us (in disguise), but Swanson speaks for all.

But Alone Together’s progression has just begun. Eons of time and space are left to navigate, with the next chapters eagerly anticipated.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

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