Avalon Emerson is hard to pin down: in recent years, the Berlin-based DJ-producer has released a streamlined techno project with Anunaku; an EP of whimsical, depressurized electronic compositions; and some funky, raw remixes for King Princess. Perhaps the biggest left turn of all, however, was the cover of Magnetic Fields’ “Long Forgotten Fairy Tale” which opened its 2020 DJ hits to mix together. Faithful and brilliant, it was a surprising fake that swapped Stephen Merritt’s rattling production for a bright, gloopy synth without losing the original’s blend of sarcasm and sincerity.
Emerson’s final track, “Sandrail Silhouette,” indicates that this shift into indie-pop was not unique. (It was co-produced with London musician Bullion, who encouraged her to record the Magnetic Fields cover.) A first look at her debut feature Avalon Emerson and Charm, it’s a beautiful vocal reverie that nods to the rippling textures of ’90s electronica as well as the diffuse moods of cult pop artists like Scribble and Anna Domino. Emerson’s giddy voice is breathy and serene, hiding the anxieties of passing time: “Tell me I’ve got more time/When all my friends have daughters/Beautiful like them of course/A reason to be optimistic.” Under the noisy percussions and the shaggy guitar, the strings bloom like flowers after a storm. Although the indie pop kingpin comes as a surprise, “Sandrail Silhouette” ultimately feels like it’s part of the same bright, windswept world as it. 060 EP, and it shows that Emerson could be as compelling a singer as she is a DJ.