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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

EMMENS & HEIJ: Galaxis (2018)

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

“This is a mega opus on 3 CD and with over 3 hours of pure Berlin School style of EM that is excellent from beginning to end”

1-1 Interstellar 16:56

1-2 Galactic Centre 15:03

1-3 Magellanic Clouds 17:18

1-4 Wolf-Rayet 14:45

2-1 Distant Spiral 20:48

2-2 Dark Matter 18:41

2-3 Cluster 20:16

3-1 Gravity 10:01

3-2 Andromeda 9:02

3-4 Zone of Avoidance 9:15

3-5 Halo 11:30

3-6 Celestial Equator 10:46

3-7 RR Lyrae 14:05

3-8 Orion 12:37

(3 CD/DDL 200:49) (V.F.)

(Berlin & Netherlands Schools)

A muted wave! Rising from the deepest corner of the Cosmos, she blows with a hint of voice and gradually takes a musical shadow. Other sound elements revolve around her, gradually filling up the Space. The interstellar void! Our senses in a state of weightlessness and our ears on the alert, we wait for the suite that unfolds with the arrival of a sound mass where reverberations, strange bouncing pulsations and distorted lines surrender to a fascinating symphony of cosmic tones. Two hundred seconds later, a line of the sequencer begins to execute a form of spasmodic rodeo that scrolls with lively and jerky keys, like a chef cutting his salad on a damp towel, which drifts much more slowly than the pace of the sequencer. And then the synths! They weave filaments with tones as acuteness as the whistles of a nameless bird that our civilization has not yet indexed. Interstellar follows its rhythmic course with some nuances in its flow. Its ambient rhythm is cajoled by these synth whistles and layers of voices absent, much like a choir escaping purgatory and seeking its way to heaven. Sound effects invite themselves in the quiet evolution of Interstellar, adding just what is needed, especially in terms of percussive effects, to begin this long journey of this trilogy with the certainty that we will go where nobody still went. And it continues with the heavy and wicked rhythm of Galactic Center. More exciting than the opening track, Galactic Center offers this kind of structure where one rolls of the neck, the ears wide open to wrap up the resulting percussive wildlife. The analog effects add a dimension as tasty as the first 8 albums of the duo Emmens & Heij, whose first trip dates to 15 years ago with the surprising Return to the Origin. Everything happens at the level of the sequencer here, which flows in an approach as heavy and fluid as the oceanic crossings of Godzilla. Two lines of rhythms that intersect their paces that go to the same place, but not in the same way, Magellanic Clouds extricates itself from a heavy hibernation in the center of glaucous and ghostly atmospheres to strongly wave on a structure of ambient Electronic Rock. Bass pulsations release sound waves that serve as a setting before that the synth, and this tone so unique to the works of the Dutch duo, covers the rhythm of Magellanic Clouds that finally take off after eight minutes of uncertainty. Sound waves amplify the curve of intensity of the music with splinters from the keyboard which deposits its riffs here and there. Riffs and chords that tinkle like magic and are also unique to the universe of Emmens & Heij. Drums and percussive chords give a new breath to the rhythm of Magellanic Clouds which continues its race with a mass of sound more and more loaded on its rhythmic framework. Now, let's take the 3 phases of rhythms presented before and this synth whistler of enchanting tunes. Mix these phases of rhythm in a perfect symbiosis and add percussions and it gives the very energetic progressive cosmic rock of Wolf-Rayet, whose electronic vision is signed by very good synth solos and chords of a keyboard that seek to anchor its melody in this broth of agitated rhythm of percussive swirls. And if the percussions sound the charge, the deployment of the sequencer lines subdivides it into a rhythmic flow of the most creative. And it's not over!

Structured on long introductions animated by a sound flora always well enhanced and carried towards dying final in these same tonal elements, the rhythmic life and the musical flowering of GALAXIS have passed very near to be the privilege of 300 passionate of the Dutch duo. It came close to it. Pondered, marinated and produced in autumn 2017, this bold project of Gert Emmens and Ruud Heij was presented in a limited edition of 300 copies. Supported by a pack of die-hard fans on the social networks, GALAXIS was already sold before its release date which was on E-Live 2018. And then ... nothing else! Not the shadow of a 2nd edition, or of sale on downloadable platform. A year later, without fanfare, GALAXIS appeared on Bandcamp. Could this awesome cosmic ode really survive on 3 CDs and over 3 hours of EM? Probably inspired by the death of a mutual friend, the work is dedicated to Luc Reunbrouck, the two long-time friends have unleashed their passion together in an opus of impressive quality that exploits the different rhythmic phases of the famous duo, while developing a musical decor that goes beyond enchantment. Wooshh, waashh and wiishh! Stars that break to divide into sound particles, layers of chthonic voices as angelic ones are crisscrossing walls sometimes dark and other times very dark. In brief, textures that keep our ears on the alert. Rhythms, lots of rhythms! Articulated by sequenced oscillations, they take many forms while metamorphosing with the fingerings of the two Dutch synthesist. Gert Emmens' percussion brings an energetic dose that sways between rock and electronic cosmic rock. And then the solos! Blown and sung in their analog textures, they are to the rhythms and music of Emmens & Heij what Rod Stewart's voice was to Faces and to his solo music.

On the longest title of GALAXIS, Distant Spiral, they are an enchantress presence with their different and ambiguous tones that fly over a structure evolving in phases to end in another fiery progressive electronic rock. This CD2 starts very strongly! And it takes a title like Dark Matter with its sound swirls, its layers of so disturbing colors, if not Mephistophelic, which cling to its slow atmospheric gestation. The structure is rather faithful to the atmospheres and the decoration that I always imagined on the subject and the cavernous textures tend to float in order to flirt with more seraphic mirages. The first 8 minutes of Cluster also dip into a mass of sound effects that expands its implosive symphony with a diversity to make a title like Dark Matter jealous. The movement of the sequencer bounces a series of keys following a minimalist pattern. The rotating axis of the movement, as well as the sound of the synths, plunges us into these distant analog lands where Tangerine Dream excited its American audience in 1977. Even the percussion sound like in Ricochet. This is what I call a very nice turn of events where the last 5 minutes of Cluster bear the Emmens & Heij's signature. The CD3 is a real box of surprises with its little rhythmic treasures and its delicious ambient phases. Gravity gets rid of its time between a phase of ambient rhythm slightly leading to conclude in a cosmic rock quite aggressive. Andromeda doesn't waste time with a sequencer structure that forges an ambient rhythm whose drive is fed by big waves of wooshh and another line of sequences that jump between the holes of the main cadence. The percussive treasures of Interstellar come back to please my ears. It's a good electronic rock whose influences of Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre, for these percussive effects, tie in with this very catchy rock. Zone of Avoidance is an ambiospheric title with a zest of supernatural in some tones. Arpeggios gambol quietly, losing their way even in the zigzagging furrows of this waltz of dead bodies drifting in cosmos. It's a fascinating ambient track, while the seraphic ambiences of Celestial Equator are just like its title. Intense and beautiful with a sound texture that plunges us into the Avatar lakes. Once again, these atmospheric titles are well inserted between phases of fairly energetic rhythms. Halo blazes in percussive material before hatching into a motionless rock à la Force Majeure. Very good and it resonates in the living room! Leaving its broth filled of tone's jewels, RR Lyrae starts with the oscillating loops of the sequencer. Loops with subtle zigzagging passages. The percussions harpoon this rhythmic wandering to drive the essence of RR Lyrae in a good cosmic electronic rock that is surrounded by other good percussive effects. After the spectral singing of what appears to be a Theremin, Orion concludes this impressive work of Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij with a good cosmic rock that breathes Gert Emmens' liberties in studio. Could this awesome cosmic ode really survive on 3 CDs and over 3 hours of EM? Yes! Excellent from beginning to end, without a title that seems out of place.

Sylvain Lupari (July 15th, 2019) *****

Available at Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij Bandcamp

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