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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

EMMENS & HEIJ: The Sculpture Garden (2011)

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

The Sculpture Garden is a major and arguably the most accomplished work of Emmens & Heij

1 Rocky Lumps 10:33

2 Needle Tower 11:45

3 Pallisade 8:04

4 Jardin d'email 14:15

5 Concetto Spaziale Natura 10:53

6 Phyllotaxis 15:19

(CD/DDL 74:26) (V.F.)

(Progressive Berlin School)

Inspired by a visit to the Kröller Möller Museum in Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands, THE SCULPTURE GARDEN presents 6 titles that depict the beauty and mysticism of amazing artistic sculptures. An album where heavy and nervous rhythms cross dark and experimental atmospheres, adding a challenge to our sound perceptions and also bringing us to the gates of a cross between the Netherlands School and the Berlin School on rhythmic structures that breathe those of Jean-Michel Jarre. In fact, it's a simply exquisite album where the percussions and the sequences serve as ramparts to musical structures as astonishing as the sculptures that they represent.

Rocky Lumps is wasting no time getting this 5th work of Emmens & Heij going off the ground. After an intro where twisted airs escape with high tones, heavy nervous sequences pierce a metallic mist to stir feverishly. Soft synth layers cover these sequences which alternate their strikes with velocity, while a panoply of percussions is deployed and reinforces the rhythmic approach with a superb fusion of cymbals, percussions and rattlesnakes. A bass line adds more warmth and depth to this rhythm which is covered by a metallic mist and good synth solos with twisted arabesques unique to the signature of Gert Emmens. These powerful solos come and go on a frenzied structure, where permutations and modulations bring us into a bewitching fusion of the Netherlands and the Berlin School. Like if Tangerine Dream, with Chris Franke in the lead, were secret collaborators of the Dutch duo. This perception becomes more and more important as we discover this album, in particular with Pallisade and its nervous and semi-slow rhythm which is overwhelmed by a synth whose sounds recall the years of Dream. By far the 2 most furious tracks on this THE SCULPTURE GARDEN. Needle Tower is more nuanced in its rhythmic approach. It's a gloomy track which begins with cosmic hoarse breaths, sinuous and heavy oscillations and delicate pulsations on a sequenced line. A dark intro which is surrounded by disturbing streaks and a mist imbued with mystery which progresses in a heavy atmosphere where the spheres of metallic hoops collide between delicious languid solos. Solos with misty flavors which encircle the rising portion of this track which will experience an exquisite explosion around the 8th minute with rattlesnake percussions and keys of a melancholy keyboard.

After a short atmospheric intro, Jardin d'email wakes up with a movement of the sequencer which hops on the ashes of its intro. These sequences with curt oscillations pulsate convulsively through the breaths and synthesized solos to join forces with good percussions whose acoustic clicks constantly charm. On this sober rhythm, Jardin d'email continues its bewitching progression where the sweet solos fade to let in a cosmic mist that releases wandering choir lines and strange voices from beyond spaces. It's a nice atmospherical passage which crashes on more nourished percussions, thus modifying a rhythmic axis which has become heavier by the presence of solos from a synth with various musical personalities and of a heavier sequence which surveys a rhythm of which the fine dissimilarities converge on a dazzling finale. Multiple eclectic tones initiate the astonishing Concetto Spaziale Natura. Slowly these elements of an abysmal darkness are pushed by slow oscillations, drawing oblong sonic arches to plunge us into a chthonic universe where reminiscences of a Tangerine Dream, a vintage Klaus Schulze and a more contemporary Redshift ooze at full ears. The openness of Phyllotaxis continues to grow on atmospheric roots, even touching the moods of Tangerine Dream on Force Majeure. A good introduction in which a spasmodic sequence crawls through an iridescent mist, icy choirs and resonant pulsations to emerge from its increasing cadence towards a rhythm sustained by good percussions and surrounded by dreamy synth layers. The movement changes in subtlety with more nervous sequences and rattlesnake percussions which redefine another infernal rhythmic, rocked by the solos of an oneiric synth.

THE SCULPTURE GARDEN is a major and arguably the most accomplished work of Emmens & Heij. It's a powerful album that is in the continuity of Silent Witnesses of Industrial Landscapes with fiery rhythms which cross intriguing atmospheres and others whose mysteries are finely refined. The percussions bring us to the borders of JM Jarre rhythms while the sequences of Ruud Heij inevitably bring us back to the Chris Franke era of Tangerine Dream. But its main strength lies in the more concrete exploration of the duo in these atmospheric spheres which are more developed than the skillful solos of Gert Emmens.

Sylvain Lupari (October 15th, 2011) ****¼*

Available at Emmens & Heij's Bandcamp

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