Susanne Brokesch

Emerald Stars

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Some music writers have made the connection between present-day ambient pop music and selected composers of the late Romantic and early modern eras such as Erik Satie and Claude Debussy, but rarely have artists made the link truly explicit. Susanne Brokesch's third album under her own name does so by including a suite of new original adaptations of five tunes by her fellow Austrian composer Hugo Wolf (1860-1903). The crystalline electronic textures and floating tonalities of the Wolf adaptations fit uneasily with the rest of the album's IDM tendencies and occasional flirtations with off-center pop, best exemplified by the thumping, buzzy deconstruction of David Bowie's "Heroes." Bowie's Berlin era is an obvious touchstone for Emerald Stars, which has a similar tension between pop and art, and like Bowie, this is the work of an artist moving out of her comfort zone into unfamiliar territory. It's just that Brokesch is going in the opposite direction, bringing pop and dance elements into her previously mostly ambient soundscapes. The seams occasionally show a bit too clearly on Emerald Stars, but on tracks like the gorgeously layered electro-acoustic reprise of "The Emerald Stars in the Sky," Brokesch makes the finest music of her career.

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