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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

EMMENS & HEIJ: Silent Witnesses of Industrial Landscapes (2008)

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

A very beautiful EM album where surging and progressive sequences join superb melodious approaches

1 Silent Witnesses of Industrial Landscapes (Overture) 10:06

2 Elements in Decay 12:59

3 Liquid Ore Finding its Way 13:02

4 When Night Falls 8:28

5 Point of no Return 7:55

6 Setting the Wheels in Motion 18:12

7 Silent Witnesses of Industrial Landscapes (Finale) 8:04

(CD/DDL 78:58) (V.F.)

(Progressive Berlin School)

The Emmens & Heij association just gave birth to a superb musical odyssey. The union of Ruud Heij's heavy and nervous sequences to rhythms imagined and weaved by Gert Emmens shapes great EM which transcends the Berlin School and forks towards the heavy style of the Netherlands School where the influence of Ron Boots and Tangerine Dream can be heard on enchanting evolutionary structures. SILENT WITNESSES OF INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPES (what a title!) is the 4th witness of this fruitful association. It's an album where the musicality is comfortably sits on superb sequences, good percussions and bass sequence lines which undulate and twitch beneath great solos of a synth which also drops nice mystic mists. Elements which charmed fans of Berlin School, but this time the approach is devastatingly heavier.

Overture propels us into the enveloping spheres of the last Gert Emmens; The Nearest Faraway Place Vol. 1 with a dark intro where we hear sequences snaked in a cosmic nebulosity. A nostalgic keyboard pierces this nervous sequencer's movement with its morose arpeggios, while Overture continues its slow ascent and attaches itself to sober percussions while wrapping itself under beautiful solos of a melancholic synth. Solos immersed in a strange nostalgia and which whistle in a good melodious approach up until the darkness of the cosmos. Clear sequences skip and intersect with finesse to open up the long and bewitching Elements in Decay. A fine chthonian mist spreads over this zigzagging movement and gets heavier with dense synth layers which cover sequences that have become more intense and undeniably recall the work of Chris Franke. Weighty and bewitching, Elements in Decay progresses under a sky darted of solos with large sinuous arcs and falls under the yoke of percussions which marry marvellously a revived approach as well as more incisive synth solos. Solos which take refuge in synth layers with tones very close to the soil of Tangerine Dream to reemerge in soft spectral breezes and conclude one of the very good tracks on this album. Liquid ore Finding its Way presents an intro stuffed with very eclectic sounds of an abstract animal world that intersects the howling streaks of a fire-breathing cosmos. A superb hyperactive sequence emerges from this colorful ambience. It waves with velocity among sober and melodious keyboard chords, slow percussions, heavy sequenced flights and spectral solos, drawing a subtle paradox between rhythms and ambience. It's a real whirlwind of sequences that surround our ears when the rhythm switches to a solitary sequential ride, whose feverish chords alternate with dizzying speed. A speed which diminishes under the breaths of a synth as mysterious as unpredictable.

Beautiful, dark and ambient, When Night Falls lets slip chords of a nostalgic keyboard. They hang out in a cosmos impregnated with a melancholy mist which escapes from fine solos among the soft shimmer of a delicate chime with melodious tinkling. Everything is beautiful and exudes the sensitivity of Gert Emmens with his hesitant touches and his sidereal laments which merge in a taciturn cosmic landscape. It takes a nice ascending sequence emerging from an atmospheric, and very electronic intro of the vintage years, to bring Point of no Return out of its cosmic nest. It goes up and down, surrounded by an iridescent mist, stars and other electronic sound effects, to attach itself to good percussions and thus pound a heavy and slow rhythm. The percussions and the sequences bicker to structure an impermeable rhythm which frames a very beautiful cosmic melody under the thick coat of a dense mellotron. The rhythm continues its ride under a sky smeared with running streaks, cosmic haze and suave solos of a still dreamlike synth. Setting the Wheels in Motion begins with a heavy and dark mellotron veil that releases a panoply of electronic tones. One line of bass sequences pulses arrhythmically while another line releases limpid arpeggios which skip slowly under beautiful layers of chimerical violins. The sequences unite to create a disordered rhythm where the chords alternate with more velocity in a movement which is not without recalling a mythical Berlin trio and find refuge under intense twisted solos which emerged from this dense mellotron mist. Percussions come to support this hypnotic oscillatory rhythm a little after the mark of 9 minutes. The rhythm then becomes more complex with the addition of another sequence which winds at full speed a structure always covered with furious solos and a calm iridescent mist. Silent Witnesses of Industrial Landscapes (Finale) already ends this 4th collaboration album of Gert Emmens and Ruud Heij with a structure similar to Overture, but with a more fluid rhythm and a more present melody.

A very beautiful EM album where surging and progressive sequences join superb melodious approaches, SILENT WITNESSES OF INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPES deserves a special place in any good contemporary EM disco. Emmens & Heij plunges at full rhythms on heavy and powerful structures which are the prerogative of the Netherlands School and which bring to life the best moments of Tangerine Dream from the Baumann, Franke and Froese era.

Sylvain Lupari (March 13th, 2009) ****½*

Available at Emmens & Heij's Bandcamp

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