From time to time, we shine the spotlight on a SoundGym member by reviewing one of their releases for our Music Spot feature. In this review we take a look at former SoundGym Hero Gerry Matthee’s indie synth-pop duo Emerger and their album Bloom.
The duo comprises Matthee and his “band- and life-mate” Emma Goode. Matthee is a multi-instrumentalist and also produces, while Goode is on vocal and piano duties.
Matthee and Goode met at high school and continued studying together at the University of Cape Town where they both achieved music degrees. Emerger were formed quickly when Matthee heard of an international song writing competition hosted by Avid and Abbey Road Studios and wanted to submit a song with Goode singing.
The newly minted duo recorded a track called ‘Break and Fall’ that went on to be one of the winners of the competition.
‘Break and Fall’ is one of the highlights of the new, deluxe version of the duo’s debut album Bloom, a sparkling collection of polished, synth heavy indie pop. It’s a bold track, remarkably fully realised for a debut single, and a great introduction to the Emerger sound; cinematic in its scope and restless in its production, with Goode’s crystal-clear voice ranging from intimate to soaring.
The backing music encompasses stuttering synths, divebombing bass notes, gentle guitar chords and rippling pianos and doesn’t stop evolving from the start of the song to its finish. You can hear that this production is a labour of love for Matthee.
Emerger showcase a smooth and virtuosic musicianship that is not always present – or even necessary - in music of this genre. It’s not showy however, the playing remaining in service of song, and therefore never feeling out of place.
A great example of this is the bass playing on instrumental album centrepiece, ‘Bloom’; fluid but driving, dextrous but not grandstanding. Around the bass, the duo craft a shifting soundscape that is indebted to neo-soul, and even acid jazz, but ensure that it is put together with enough care that it works in the context of this album of synth pop.
‘Break and Fall’ and ‘Bloom’ both featured on the original release of the album in 2018. The new deluxe version of the album includes new song ‘Silent Road’ and a reimagining of older song ‘Urban Wilderness’.
‘Silent Road’ treads a similar cinematic indie path to the one heard on ‘Break and Fall’, with Goode delivering another towering vocal performance. ‘Urban Wilderness (Reimagined)’ is a real highlight of this new version of the album; anchored by an elastic bassline and a fresh, dynamic drum pattern, this new take on the production transforms the track into a swaggering pop gem. The album is playful and unafraid to hop between genres but hangs together incredibly well.
Emerger's clear-eyed vision for this record shines through, resulting in a seamless and captivating musical journey.
If you want to hear more from Emerger then check out their Spotify, Apple Music or their YouTube where you can discover the band’s really well-developed visual identity. You can follow the duo on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or Twitter.