Emerald Cloud Cobra is a name I'd never heard before, but intrigued me from the first time I heard it. The name was the first thing that caught my attention. Emerald Cloud Cobra brings all sorts of exotic images to my head. Tales of Native American legends and stories of Indian snake charmers, all wrapped into one. What is best, though, is that Emerald Cloud Cobra actually embodies these elements and wraps them into one, cognitive whole. This is some of the most innovative music I've heard in a while and may be my favorite new artist of the year.
"The Siren Seed of Shadow" begins with the combination of acoustic guitar, organ, and some kind of wind instrument, all working together in an attempt to melt cultures together. I'm sure the motive isn't something so grand, but in its meditative throes, ECC succeeds. There is so much happening here, that it speaks to some kind of larger force. By the time we make it to the mini-epic third track, we're embroiled in a sitar love affair. Bookended on the right and left by more flute playing, ECC pulls out all the stops on this magical journey. Eventually simply strummed acoustic guitar comes into the mix, reminiscent of something somewhere in between Magic Carpet and the Incredible String Band. It's absolutely spellbinding and easily one of the year's most memorable tracks. It's straight out of 1967. Leon Lo's violin playing on it just enhances the experience even more.
It's almost as though ECC exists in a time-warp. The only catch is that you can never quite tell what decade he's living in. The 11th piece, for example, has a certain tribal aspect to it with the junkyard percussive backbone, but the underlying drones are modern. Chanting vocals that sound like something on some Keijo's latest fade in and out of the mix. On other points of this disc, ECC also employs throat singing to great effect. This modernistic approach continues right into the next piece, which is even more drenched in a sonic undertow. Distorted guitar screams are the last straw to show that we're firmly planted in the 21st century now. There's nothing that ECC won't try.
I only have one complaint about this great debut: it's entirely too long. At 73 minutes and 14 tracks, "The Siren Seed of Shadow" could have easily been one perfect album and a second very good one. I'm often disappointed when people feel the need to cram every minute available to them on a CD-R with something. It's unnecessary. But this is the only place that ECC fails and for me, it's a minor point. "The Siren Seed of Shadow" is a brilliant excursion through the history and future of the East and West. In the end, Emerald Clould Cobra proves to be the nexus at which they meet. 9/10 -- Brad Rose (18 July, 2005)