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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

GERT EMMENS & CADENCED HAVEN: Life in Cosmic Highway (2011)

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

This first collaboration offers a more dreamlike and clearly more harmonious album than what Emmens is used to offering

1 Vision of Mind's Eye - Overture (4:23)

2 Distinct Memories (8:20)

3 Reflective Orbit (7:48)

4 Call to Meghna (8:54)

5 Aural Empathy (7:20)

6 Incomprehensible Walk (7:52)

7 Illusory Reformation (11:20)

8 The Quiet Steps (8:08)

9 Vision of Mind's Eye - Finale (4:21)

Groove | GR-179

(CD/DDL 68:44) (V.F.)

(Cosmic Netherlands School)

After a brief ethereal introduction and initiated by a Buddhist gong, Vision of Mind's Eye - Overture deploys a heavy rhythm centered on good percussion strikes and a sequential movement, with fluid and alternating keys as vividly as heavily, which undulates with a somewhat symmetry a bit messy, unique to the musical universe of Gert Emmens. The celestial voice of Cadenced Haven, as well as the synthesized winds, blow a delicate harmony which floats in opposition to this slow and heavy rhythm. Vision of Mind's Eye - Overture kicks off a captivating album with delicate and melodious atmospheric approaches supported by these ingenious sequential movements by Gert. Constantly torn between morphic and ethereal atmospheres, which mainly forge the introductory movements of each title, LIFE IN A COSMIC HIGHWAY vacillates between the ambient and the rhythms pushed by sequencer as well as a good set of drums which surround the suave and dreamlike approaches of synths or vocals from Cadenced Haven.

Distinct Memories is a good example. It's a delicate cosmic ballad imprinted with a poignant melancholy forged by synthesized lamentations. Synths pushing solos to the sounds of solitary saxophones weave their way through a mellotron mist, creating tender orchestral arrangements and blending into the greyness of the soul. A fine sequential movement slides under this structure and establishes a floating rhythm which emerges from its stationary hold with the arrival of heavy and slamming percussions, plunging Distinct Memories into a more lively finale. A similar structure is found on Call To Meghna, of which the slow and morphic synth layers weep in their solitude, recalling even Cocteau Twins' Pie Jesus, on synth breaths and moving reverberations à la Vangelis. This morphic tenderness is delicately disturbed by a sequential movement which adopts sulphurous orchestral arrangements and suave synth solos signed Gert Emmens. Here is a splendid title where the ethereal sweets are gently awakened by sequences and percussions, like in Aural Empathy. Fine metallic percussions slam next to spectral synth breaths and Reflective Orbit plunges into a heavy and slow rhythm, embellished of a few scattered chords and fine cosmic solos. Impromptu percussions with a metallic tone disturb this delicate approach, somewhat removing Reflective Orbit from its harmonious path. We are in the best of all worlds of Gert Emmens with his uncertain rhythms which disrupt a delicate cosmic approach while Reflective Orbit will make alternate its movement between the softness of synths with floating waves, its limpid sequences which frolic around nice and soft ethereal movements and its heavy percussions which draw a fragmented structure but always imbued of an astral sweetness.

Incomprehensible Walk is a solid track which plunges us straight into the universe of Gert Emmens with its sequences and percussions dividing a cosmic rhythm nourished by good solos flying over another structure. A complex title where sequences and percussions hammer out rhythmic pieces which always return to the home of Emmens' cosmic harmonies. Bewitching and symphonic synth breaths intertwine with sinuous reverberations in a musical universe where the imprint of Vangelis is felt again to open Illusory Reformation. A soft and dreamy intro that a heavy strung sequence switches from its ascending and undulating movement towards another more agile and limpid sequence. A Tangerine Dream's sequence which intersects a hypnotic bass beat and leads Illusory Reformation to a more fluid rhythmic structure, nourished by fractional sequences that skip in a sweet frenzy with sober percussions, a bass line with big grumpy chords and a dense mellotron envelope. It's a superb very lively minimalist movement which nests near beautiful solos of a hybrid synth, combining sobriety and daring. The Quiet Steps is another little musical gem that blossoms on a heavy rhythm. A rhythm where percussions and sequences create a slow but passionately animated structure, like each of the pieces of LIFE IN A COSMIC HIGHWAY. The sequential approach spreads out its long fluttering loops which encircle the rhythms of Gert Emmens, supported by glass tones percussions and slow synth twists which add a touch of cosmic romanticism to the music of the Dutch synthesist, while the rhythm is fading and The Quiet Steps reinstated the tranquility of its intro. Vision Of Mind's Eye - Finale closes the album with a more morphic and cosmic version than the introductory track, bringing us to the very romantic breaths of synths with Vangelis tones that we find on Call To Meghna.

This first Emmens / Haven collaboration offers a more dreamlike and clearly more harmonious album than what Gert Emmens is used to offering. Although I love Gert Emmens' unpredictable rhythms, I have to admit that LIFE IN A COSMIC HIGHWAY exceeds my expectations, I who thought I heard Cadenced Haven invade the universe of Emmens. No! Instead we are entitled to a clever mesh of ideas, rhythms and melodies centralized on the unique sequential universe of Gert Emmens. Different because more melodious and dreamlike, LIFE IN A COSMIC HIGHWAY in no way extinguishes the creativity of Gert Emmens who uses rather well the sensitivity of his better half to forge an album where the rhythms marry wonderfully with the astral sweets of Cadenced Haven. Very good and above all very Emmens!

Sylvain Lupari (September 11th, 2111) ***½**

Available at Groove nl

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