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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BOOTS & EMMENS: A Night at Blackrock Station (2021)

Delicious heavy Berlin School structures à la sauce Hollandaise

1 Flock of Swallows 15:45

2 A Woman on the Platform 5:43

3 02:17 AM 17:29

4 The Nighttrain didn't stop 10:53

5 A Night at Blackrock Station 11:56

(CD/DDL 61:47) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

Gert Emmens and Ron Boots in one album! It is impossible, and unthinkable, not to have our ears as open as our mouths were gaping when we heard the news at the end of May. And what can we expect? A NIGHT AT BLACKROCK STATION is a big one! A big album at the height of what we can expect from such a collaboration between two artists who are at the top of their art. This very good production from Groove nl label is anchored in big heavy and evolving electronic rock in ambiences which fits very well this fascinating cover. It's Ron Boots and Gert Emmens, in fusion and in solo, who have made it their mission to give us full the ears.

Austere chords cast a reverberating outline that radiates off the movement of the sequencer and its double jump line emerging after the timid THX effect that introduces Flock of Swallows. Add another line with organic sequences, which hop along in parallel, and bits of synth solos, and the opening of this first Boots & Emmens' collaboration is tightly woven with a dramatic vision matched only by the nostalgia displayed in the synth solos. Unabated, and with a rhythmic background that constantly reminds me of The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again, Flock of Swallows is woven so tightly that the emptiness of a nanosecond is impossible. Heavy and not too static rhythm, creative sequencer, dark atmosphere and Emmens-like solos adorn a first rhythmic direction that changes its orientation around the 6th minute. The rhythm then becomes a pulsating mass, provided by the bass, allowing keyboard chords to chime in an ambience always attracted by the dark side of EM. The sequencer has other plans. And 90 seconds later, it picks up this charging circular motion for a strobe-like momentum that is pierced by keyboard riffs with a fuzz tone of an electric six-string. It's around the 8th minute that a small swirl restructures the music to take us back in Phaedra time with a heavy sequencer rhythm created to make the mellotron flute sing. Percussions, pulsating bass line and sequencer structure a driving rhythm with pads that sound very Tangerine Dream, ditto for the title-track by the way. The rhythm goes for a last modification, around the 12th minute, in order to highlight the synth solos of the two Dutch synthesists. Speaking of TD, A Woman on the Platform seems to be inspired by the album Le Parc, with its nostalgic and dark vision that unravels to offer an electronic ballad sewn for synth solos.

If you're missing some MorpheuSz, 02:17 AM takes you there, as well as into the progressive music territories of Gert who plays guitar and drums on this track. You have to hear those amazing and enjoyable percussive elements that bang behind the drums and guitar solos. Awesome and daring! It's a big progressive electronic rock with a rhythm that's catchy enough to make our trunk swing back and forth, hands in our pockets and all embarrassed. The track reaches a metamorphic phase around the 11th minute to offer another good rock, catchier I would say, designed for a Pink Floyd-like keyboard and synth solos with a slight jazz flavor. We take the ambiences of Animals, we inject some ecstasy and it gives the second part of 02:17 AM! The rails of The Nighttrain didn't stop start to heat up a few 115 seconds after its opening ambiences. It's the sequencer, seconded by a cloud of clattering percussions, that structures this rhythm that rises and falls like a train proper to the Berlin School style. The falling and dancing electric piano chords remind me of the superb Wanderer of Time - Part 2, an important track on Gert Emmens' latest album, Time Portal Chronicles. They add an essential depth to adorn the landscape which is suffocatingly heavy as the intense and frantic rhythm releases imposing banks of heated mist. And when it's too much, the slamming percussions add the musical charcoal that becomes as essential as those chords that disappear only to reappear later. I have rarely heard such a powerful track, over such a long distance, in Ron and Gert's repertoires. Wonderful! A big, crashing chord opens the title-track. A shadow forms in the reverb to ripple fiercely, driving a lively rhythm that a synth-guitar effect pinches with sharp notes. A Night at Blackrock Station is also on an evolving rhythm that goes from heavy to fluid before taking on an atmospheric bridge just before the 5-minute mark. At this point the synth wails with a vision that is so Le Parc from the Dream with smooth vocal pads and arpeggios dancing in a circular motion that fat, naughty sequences follow. Gradually, A Night at Blackrock Station escapes in a good progressive electronic rock with its ascending rhythm machine-gunned by percussions and embellished by synth solos and finally by those murmurs of mist of the Le Parc's years.

A colossal work! A NIGHT AT BLACKROCK STATION is signed by two artists who respect each other's territory while being able to follow each other's creativity. It gives simply incredible titles! Evolving tracks that go off on rock tangents, like delicious Berlin School structures with a sauce Hollandaise.

Sylvain Lupari (June 9th,2021) *****

Available at Groove nl

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