GERT EMMENS & RUUD HEIJ: Lost in the Swamp (2012)
“Even if more atmospherical than usually, Lost in the Swamp remains a magical album”
1 Lost 13:32 2 Swallowed by Immensity 12:00 3 Learning to Survive 27:25 4 Life in the Swamp 9:01 5 Serenity of Nature 15:25 6 The Way Out 2:12 Emmens/Heij | EH-007
(CD/DDL 79:47) (V.F.) (A mix of ambient and sequenced Netherlands School)
Concept album on the hazards of an adventurous man who gets lost in an immense swamp, LOST IN THE SWAMP is one of the quietest albums from the duet Emmens/Heij. It's an album which depicts marvellously the visions of his two authors with heavy atmospheres of night-madness weaved in a skillful ambiospheric pattern by synths which spit diverse tones to the antipodes of reason. But synths unique to Gert Emmens' signature with enchanting solos which sing and float among a perpetual mysterious mist built around a great use of Mellotron which feeds the paranoia of a night-visitor in a swampy den crowded of small reptiles and their steps, theirs beatings of wings and their jingling threats that we feel and hear by these flickering sequences that are the trademark of a creative duet which meets an impressive musical challenge.
Winds singing by hollow trees open the sinister introduction of Lost. From our ears we see the swamps depicted by the Dutch duet. A synth to the aromas of a friendly flute is dancing with some rippling lines over a pond filled of multiple sinister tones. Floating such as a cloud of comfort among these clashing sound particles, it spreads a veil of sweetness among eddies which bubble and burst of threatening pulsations, awakening the first stammering of a line of sequences. From the start, the listener is in familiar ground with these sequences which flicker on the jingles of cymbals, moulding a floating rhythm of which the pulsations confine in a still role while the harmonies and solos of synth, always so unique to Gert Emmens' enchanting musical universe, are pervaded of a melancholy enriched by these intense silvery fogs. These oneiric mists pour a bit of heat on this rhythm and its fine docile kicks which are getting themselves lull by solos as much wonderful as morphic, introducing an album that will be constantly at its crossroads, between its tamed rhythms and its indomitable moods. Swallowed by Immensity says it all. It's a long track of ambience where the winds, the rushes of black breezes, the spectral lamentations and the glaucous reverberations embroider a hearing painting filled with a sinister discomfort of perdition which snakes in and out up until the introduction of Learning to Survive and of its shamanic Maracas. This long epic track depicts perfectly the universe of ambiguities that separates the stillness from its agony and the beauty from its ugliness. The voices of distraught mermaids which filled the alarming atmosphere of Swallowed by Immensity are whistling there while that quietly a timid rhythm emerges a little after the 4th minute. Limpid it bends its resonant sequences which forge one of these strange horizontal ballets from the Dutch duet with these ions which shear the void in wait of a spontaneous progression. Except that the rhythm remains quiet. Sparkling on the spot it receives the fall of keyboard chords and their melodious riffs, tinted by some TD scents, and the hybrid tones of a synth which mislays its shrill flute for some more suave breaths, feeding even more the duality of the state of mind of the unfortunate lost man. After another brief ambiospherical phase, Learning to Survive kisses a steadier rhythm which draws some more beautiful harmonious aerobatics. A rhythm which adopts the curves of roller coasters, but with docile slopes, and where the dark tunnels are replaced by a synth with angelic choirs and mists. This rhythm sometimes takes heavy tangents with sober percussions which leave a latitude to the sequenced keys to flicker like they want in the harmonies tinted with mist from a synth and its suave solos.
Life in the Swamp is the most livened up track of this album. The intro bites our ears with jumping ions which agglutinate on the spot and oscillate fiercely under the rippling fogs of a synth to the approaches always marked with mysticism. The rhythm grows heavy with the arrival of percussions that a synth clasps of harmonious lines and superb solos which sing and dance in some dense oneiric mists. Very good! Serenity of Nature is the second atmospherical phase of this musical ode of to be lost in the swamps. And like in Swallowed by Immensity, the atmospheres are rich and black. The musical fauna is flooded by scheming noises, a little as the night-life of a swamp amplified hundred times in order to seize better the confusion and the anxiety that live inside our ill-fated walker. But beyond this multi-sonic fauna, tepid winds, at the limit musical, emerge and guide our hermit of a wandering night towards the exit and to the fresh airy rhythm of The Way Out, which spits its ions in a short rhythmic approach as much effervescent as explosive. And the solos! Hum...this is great Gert Emmens.
A night in a swamp! It's through Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij's visions that our ears can embrace the mysterious adventure of our unfortunate night rambler. Even if more ambiospherical than usually, LOST IN THE SWAMP stays nevertheless a success at the level of the atmospheres. These rich atmospheres, both in tone and in climate of anxiety, encircle these unique rhythms of the Dutch duet who weave bursting contrasts, amplifying even more a story that we live eyes closed. LOST IN THE SWAMP is a nice success of weird ambiances which targets a public fond of atmospheres and of its organic sound elements.
Sylvain Lupari (March 6th, 2013) ***½**
Available at Emmens & Heij's Bandcamp