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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

GERT EMMENS: Outland 2 (2020)

Great sequencing patterns and splendid synth solos, in short, it is by far Gert Emmens' most beautiful album for a very long time

1 Sent Back on a Mission 11:57

2 Decoded Message from an Unknown Source 10:42

3 At the Mercy of Loneliness 9:17

4 On Patrol to the Abandoned Landmark 13:46

5 Outpost Part 2 18:56

6 Outlands 13:11 (Recorded Live at E-Live 2014)

(CD/DDL 77:52) (V.F.)

(Cosmic Rock, Berlin School)

A shadow of dust rises by attracting a distant song of the synth and its orchestrations which roar while drifting. A pool of jumping keys organizes a hopping structure in a circular aubade. Typical to the world of Outland and Gert Emmens, this static structure swirls in synth waves that are full of reverberating radiations, leaving the opening of Sent Back on a Mission on the alert. Mechanical dust, industrial noises and the hum of machines adorn this opening which becomes more intense as the limpid tones of the sequencer dominate these elements. Fluty and mourning synth tears add a touch of nostalgia while suddenly an internal movement comes alive driven by spasms of percussions. These convulsions of drums highlight the sentimental side of the rhythmic singing of the sequences. And after a passage heavy with mysteries, it is the flute air and the chthonian choir which impose their dictate. Always fluttering, Sent Back on a Mission feels a next explosion which will not live up to our expectations, but which will lead us towards a splendid cosmic-exotic rock with good percussions, and especially the percussive effects which hold the attention of my ears here, and those spectacular solos with a saxophone tones in confession. Staccato arrangements also attract attention around the 6 minutes, it's a moment that we discern a little better the percussions and its effects which are at the heart of the rhythms of OUTLAND 2. Always in search of a new skin, Sent Back on a Mission arrives at this point of refueling of ideas between the 7th and the 8th minute before continuing its longevity in a slightly livelier and rock formula.

Hey! It's been two years since Gert gave us something original. I'm talking about EM and in solo. Because yes, our EM Sage has touched progressive rock with Somewhere and did a compilation album with Ruud Heij, Forgotten Tracks. The idea of giving a sequel to Outland dates back to the title track Outlands (Bonus) that Gert Emmens composed in 2014 for the needs of his performance at the E-live festival in October 2014 where he performed Outland in its entirety for the sole and first time. He found this title so good that he thought it was a waste to leave Outlands in this category of unreleased titles. He started composing music around this title and within two months he was finishing OUTLAND 2. Usually it takes more or less a year to compose an album. There was a lot of inspiration, energy and time to come full circle. The result is quite spectacular! If the cosmic tale is a continuation of the first, the music comes off with heavier, even violent rhythms, which are based on an excellent playing of the percussion-sequencer that Gert Emmens dissects in order to extract solid percussive effects. which amaze and charm. In doing so, the rhythms are more numerous and exist in different forms, from ambient to solidly catchy. If using the Mellotron exposes us to fewer soundscapes, the synth injects just as many superb solos. In short, it is by far Gert Emmens' most beautiful album for a very long time. The next title is here to highlight that!

Decoded Message from an Unknown Source awakens with an azure breeze that gradually turns to a cabalistic opening with a shower of lines, reverberating waves and above all a lament written in the manageable steel whose sound of mechanical saw adds to the gloomy industrial aspect of a sound sources which bring the title to life. A line of ambient rhythm rises with silvery chirps' sequences which are tenacious enough to support this garden of ambiences from which these weeping synth solos sing. Our ears witness this slow take-off as the clicking of cymbals and the pulsing of the bass drum structure a more powerful skeleton. Last uncertain flight turns where we hear the rhythmic machine sliding in the Cosmos and settling at a very good heavy and slow rhythm. A lunar down-tempo filled with clicks and misty layers where lies a synth and its melancholic solos. All the details are seen and corrected by adding something solid to the imagination; like these unreal astral voices, slow curves with reverberating sinuosities and this ethereal synth chant which survives a third mutation on this 11-minute track. It's a whole rhythmic scenario that the Dutch musician has just composed here. A scenario that will be repeated later in OUTLAND 2 since At the Mercy of Loneliness features a piano losing its dreams, its illusions in a sound mass full of reverberations.

There is a cinematic intensity in this title whose wooshh and waashh cross the border of On Patrol to the Abandoned Landmark. Barely enough time to let this intensity flow that the track takes us on with a very catchy electronic rock where twirl these synth solos with nasal tones always unique to Emmens' signature. Mist banks exploit the mystery side of the music which sustains its rhythm to the depths of this imaginary cave where the rhythm meets a moment of ethereal weakness while crossing the den. Breaths of sulfur, mechanical wooshh, metallic drizzle and the rumble of a machine attempt an exorcism by intimidation in a papal ambience. A sequence buzzes and loosens its embrace, dragging On Patrol to the Abandoned Landmark into a huge and creative electronic rock beat. The layers of mist accumulate their intensity on a structure that increases its velocity. No room for solos here! Just an obscure ambience that puts us in front of a discomfort when the rhythm is sucked into a final that comes too quickly ...

Outpost Part 2 is the link that unites the two OUTLAND albums. Its structure and deployment are similar to that of Outlands (Bonus track) that Gert left as is… or almost. Its opening is a long prelude of nocturnal soundscapes where specters flee the radiation of holy bells. Big patches of papal mist continue to provide these atmospheres flirting with a chthonian world which increasingly influences our imagination. Yep, we're in the lair of Tangerine Dream's North American tour with these clouds of mist from the ground. A line of bass-sequences lights up in the decor, initiating a furious stationary rhythm which collects the vintage scents of Gert Emmens and those of the Dream. Guitar chords go round in circles in this stationary noise from which a good Mellotron escapes. Its flute gives off divine tunes while the framework of the rhythm unfolds like a drifting machine in space. Oscillating weakly, this rhythm is built on a catchy structure and crosses different zones, while playing with its velocity and its intensity, following an unstable course but always close to those cosmic rock typical of Gert Emmens' repertoire. A very solid album my friends ...

Sylvain Lupari (October 18th, 2020) ****½*

Available at Groove NL

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