Emma In-depth Biography
Part of the same mid-'90s Philadelphia psych-pop}/space rock} scene as Bardo Pond}, the Asteroid #4}, and Transient Waves}, Emma} also adds a hint of Joy Division}-style darkness to their mellow sound. Basically singer/guitarist Rick Henderson} (who also plays keyboards with Eltro}, City of Horns}, Ashtabula}, the Wayward Wind}, and others, often under the name Elmer Clayton}) with help from bassist Dean McNulty} of Chopper}, and drummer Ed Farnsworth}, Emma} has never been a full-time project, but their occasional releases are likely to attract fans of other "Psychedelphia" bands as well as folks fond of Windy & Carl}, Amp}, or Ghost}.
Emma}'s first release was a six-song demo tape that was originally packaged in a bag of glitter. Four of those songs appeared in the much less annoyingly packaged Blue Girl} EP. (In fact, Blue Girl}, a pair of 7" singles packaged in thick cardboard with a Japanese-style obi strip, is gorgeously packaged, as are most of Emma}'s releases.) The first full-length, 1997's Difference Engine #23}, was a noisier affair that vaguely recalls the Olivia Tremor Control} in spots.
The following move was utterly perplexing. Henderson} took two out-takes from the Difference Engine #23} sessions, "The Company Picnic"} and "Available,"} pressed 666 copies of a vinyl single, wrapped them in classified ads from the Philadelphia Inquirer} that had been drawn on with a red marker, and mailed each and every copy to randomly chosen local businesses. It might have been a publicity stunt. Conversely, it could have been Henderson}'s way of saying "Dig me, I'm freaky!" Could have been both.
Henderson} followed that dada exercise with Emma}'s most straightforward and satisfying record, 1998's Garden City 44}. Puckishly sequenced as if it were a Days of Future Passed}-style concept album based on the concept of an average workday (song titles on the back cover are listed by time of day and place, like "3:45 a.m.: Bedroom" or "2:00 p.m.: Office [Water Cooler]"; the real song titles are located on the other side of the CD tray card), Garden City 44} is actually a strong and varied collection of psych-pop} tunes in a number of styles. After that triumph, Henderson} turned to his other projects and Emma} lapsed. ~ Stewart Mason, All Music Guide