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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

GERT EMMENS & RUUD HEIJ: Echoes from Future Memories (2015)

“Loaded of ambient rhythms and fill of psychotronic moods, this album is a treat for fans of Berlin School and possibly the best of the duo”

1 Secrets Lie within the Event Horizon 12:24 2 Depth of Prolonged Nature 21:20 3 Whispering Winds over Dusty Roads 17:04 4 Echoes from Future Memories 24:30 EMMENS-HEIJ| EH-010

(CD/DDL 75:24) (V.F.) (Berlin School)

Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij had things to be forgiven after the very ambient album Signs. Those who follow the sonic adventures of the Dutch duet since the 2004 Return to the Origin album were used to some long sound rivers with rhythmic figures which threw their shadows in dense ambiospherical settings. And in reality these fans, and I'm part of them, hadn't nothing to put their teeth into since 2011 with The Sculpture Garden, because even Lost in the Swamp announced an adventure towards the world of the floating music. And these fans will not be disappointed here! With ECHOES FROM FUTURE MEMORIES, Emmens/Heij makes an about-turn by putting back their EM at the analog sound and time. With its four long tracks well anchored in slow introductions which bubble up of nebulous atmospheres soaked of cosmic gas and of metallic mist and where the slow rhythms are lazily astride the intersidereal plains, this last opus of the very appreciated duet possess all the attributes to reconnect them with the fans who had run away from the cosmic ship of Emmens/Heij's sonic adventures. And in the end, you will discover a superb album which glitters with all the phases of a Berlin School and of its complexities. And I have to tell you straightaway; the title-track is a stroke of genius!

A big shade of threatening noises mutters at the opening of Secrets Lie within the Event Horizon. The horizons ooze a metallic water while residues of tones get melt to the mass of rather sober synth lines which also release pads of absent voices. The lunar decoration of the interstellar works from Gert Emmens and Ruud Heij takes shape. The sound arcs and the dense synth pads are floating, and they forge a quiet sonic oasis where the illusions evaporate as soon as the bangings arise a little before the point of the 3 minutes. Those synth layers decorate a sonic envelope which becomes more intense and the ambiences move like a long vessel which tries to change of direction on the Sea of Tranquility. A line of bass sequences pounds violently, forcing a heavy and lively movement to oscillate in the trail of another line of sequences which makes roar out some more crystal clear keys of which the keen reflections flicker deeply beneath the languishing caress of a synth and of its dreamy solos. Here as on the 3 other tracks of the album, the sound decoration is charming. Set apart the ethereal pads and the solos, the Dutch duet puts down its intersidereal ambiences with a thick cloud of ambient noises, all heterogeneous, which unfurls like a slightly psychedelic breeze. The introduction of Depth of Prolonged Nature throws us literally in space with rumblings of a space shuttle which has difficulty in moving its metallic carcass among the particles of meteorites and the multiple explosions of celestial bodies. A good fluty line lets hear an evanescent melody which roams like a specter among pads of wandering voices, hollow winds, breezes of Orion and soft orchestral arrangements. It's through these very dreamlike elements that the rhythm emerges quietly a little after the 4 minutes. Sequences sparkle such as the reflections of a brook and its waters suspended in cosmos. They wave shyly before turning into a lively movement with bass sequences which oscillate now with more vigor. In spite of its firmness the movement remains ambient. It remains floating with a mass of keys which crowd and stamp on their shadows like a panicked herd jammed in a too small tubular length to confer an appearance of freedom. This is a pattern of typical rhythm for the duet Emmens/Heij with a very hypnotic approach which has just enough nuances and variances in it to get rid of a minimalist label. Here the storm rages and progresses with subtle gradations in immense bank of Mellotron mist where we can hear the charms of this beautiful line of flute, keyboard chords which sound strangely like those of a guitar and half-formed voices which roam like spectres banished from cosmos. Whispering Winds over Dusty Roads proposes also a very ethereal introduction while the rhythm is more fluid and more alive.

With its Phaedra atmospheres, the title-track is the cornerstone of this album. A gem in modern EM of the Berlin School kind! The duet fits out marvellously its 25 minutes with a sonic envelope which shines of a luxuriant fauna of tones. We find sibylline winds, mists filled of threats, scarlet woosh and wiishh, and hoops shining of discord which little by little forge the first structure of rhythm of Echoes from Future Memories. The keys which make the rhythm are doing it in discord while the influence of Phaedra guides the ambiences. The synth solos are unique to the signature of Emmens with a tone a bit nasal. As for me; we have the best of Emmens/Heij with this long track where the keys are divided into halves in order to forge a line of rhythm as much rich as soft in psychotronic atmospheres which multiply while making room to these soft solos and these harmonies of flute which are coming from machines weaver of dreams and illusions. If the first part is mainly soft, even oneiric, the storm rages and gets violent after the ninth minute. The rhythm is vibrating and very nervous with a thick cloud of keys which skip violently into a long cylinder, and its curves, too narrow to leave a freedom for more ample capers. Synth pads filled by mist, percussions livened up by cosmic gases, metallic tssitt-tssitt spinning against the direction of the rhythm, abstruse voices and good solos decorate this second very agitated phase of Echoes from Future Memories which, like every good and solid EM track, will end into morphic mists. But not without having shown previously a power underestimated before reaching the finale. Let's say that it's a huge piece of music which bring shade to the three others which are nevertheless good and solid EM tracks, testifying of the strength of this album which marks a big comeback for the duet Emmens/Heij.

Sylvain Lupari (July 6th, 2015) *****

Available at Emmens & Heij's Bandcamp

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