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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

EMMENS & HEIJ: Return to the Origin (2004)

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

“Return to the Origin is the start of fascinating collaboration between the harmonious rhythms of Ruud Heij and Gert Emmens' melancholic synths”

1 Vortex 17:36

2 Return to the Origin 14:13

3 Solaris 8:34

4 Life in Motion 18:06

5 So Long 12:09

(CD/DDL 70:38) (FR)

(Berlin & Netherlands Schools)

It's in the depths of cosmic horizons that begins this first Emmens & Heij collaboration. The first 7 minutes of Vortex are devoid of rhythms. In return, they are rich in ambiospheric textures with bohemian synth layers, wandering interstellar spectra among psychic whispers, and lines with starry tones that drift among asteroids of twisted tones on invisible continents. Different from other works of this kind, Vortex's sonic canvas depicts an artistic signature that will be the trademark of the Dutch duo. We sense a disturbing presence that lurks slyly between these piles of synth lines. A metaphasic presence that opens a gap and detaches a line of sequences whose keys jump furiously, molding a static rhythm that winds and oscillates in the Vortex labyrinths. Everything is set up. The synth and its mellotron breaths caress a rhythm whose mathematical power of the sequencer installs another line with more limpid sequences. These keys are gamboling with more anarchy in a fluidity that divides a rhythmic approach, and which harmonizes as best as possible the duality of the still stationary rhythms, while the soft solos of Gert Emmens stroll there with their strident songs. Strongly inspired by the Encore and Ricochet years of Tangerine Dream, RETURN TO THE ORIGIN extends its dense ambiospheric layer over melodic and ambient rhythms where sequencers are modulated in Chris Franke's strikes, while the synths are covering of their unique nasal layers a universe of harmonic seduction from where lunar melodies float like sighs of melancholy. The title track starts with more spontaneity. A line of sequences pulses heavily and spreads a mist of drizzle tinged of seraphic chants. The pace is heavy. Covered with a smooth layer of iridescent haze, it ripples forcefully in sinuous corridors, clinging to robotic cymbals so as not to escape of the vertiginous horizontal spirals. Synths draw auditory acrobatics, borrowing tones of ghosts with singing tones as sharp as ever. Songs that have become the signature of Gert Emmens, as well as the polyphase structures of beats are those of Ruud Heij. Rhythms that are gradually lacking essence and quietly evaporate to lead Return to the Origin to its port of haze, where interstellar mermaids give a concert for souls lost in mists sprayed of metal drizzle. Solaris presents this unique sequenced approach from Ruud Heij with keys that hop and flicker in symmetrical intersections and where rhythms are never banal. It's a melodious sequenced, lively and catchy approach that Gert Emmens waters with delicate harmonica timbres. Solos whistling in cosmic ambiances with tones defying the imagination. Life in Motion evolves in a Vortex pattern before blowing the pace with a sequence structure that recalls Chris Franke's rhythmic attack on Encore's Cherokee Lane. The synths weave a relaxing misty cosmic canvas where clinging musical solos lazily parade on a rhythmic movement that one feels growing, even if fragile glass notes dilute its velocity. It's a good piece that caresses a certain progressive cosmic rock approach, the best way to describe the colorful universe of Emmens & Heij. So Long concludes RETURN TO THE ORIGIN with a mysterious ambiospheric approach that grows quietly with layers of voices floating on muted threatening pulsations. A fascinating vampire organ layer invades this decor of atmospheres elements that explodes with a furious emergence of a sequencer line. A line that makes dance and alternate its keys with frenzy in a sonic whirlwind from which lines with cosmic perfumes fly and whose imprints are lost in this mist that sometimes whistles solos but adorns above all the cosmos of dense morphic layers.

RETURN TO THE ORIGIN kicks off a seductive collaboration between Ruud Heij's evolving and constantly changing paces, and Gert Emmens' synth fill of chthonian layers, melancholic mists and dreamy solos. In the end, it's a beautiful album where the long structures release rhythmic kicks linked to a sequencer with keys as agile as heavy. Keys that blend with a surprising harmony in cosmic fragrances and synth tunes that bring a new sound to a genre that desperately needs it. At the time, there were talk of a breath of fresh air in the world of EM. It still is.

Sylvain Lupari (September 14th, 2013) ***½**

Available at Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij’s Bandcamp

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