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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

GERT EMMENS: Stories from Floating Worlds 1 (The Turbulent Years) (2017)

“Still here, Gert Emmens succeeds to charm us strongly with his unique synth tone and those moving rhythms which weave some splendid sonic painting”

1 Wandering Between Floating Worlds 12:00 2 Revolution 28:35 3 Why it was Better to Stay Inside Until Dawn... 18:36 4 Signs from the Underground 11:47 Groove Unlimited ‎– GR-241

(CD 71:40) (V.F.) (Cosmic Berlin and Netherlands School)

Gert Emmens has become a familiar face in the kingdom of EM. His name, as well as that of the Ron Boots, comes to our mind once when we speak about dominant figures in the field of Netherlands School. And his albums are loyally expected by the fans of Berlin School. The price of this glory is that the criticism became more demanding, of whom I, in the course of his numerous albums. The problem with Gert is that these albums display this tone so unique to his synths and in this sound air mass that he extirpates from his instruments with a fascinating electronic poetry since Wanderer of Time in 2003. The ambient rhythms, the floating rhythms are also a part of this signature. About 25 albums farther and 15 years later, this challenge that he has to raise constantly in order to maintain this status of EM's star may become heavy on his creativity. There were moments when I got lost in his sound constellations and when I questioned his direction of creativity so much each album takes roots in the precedent. But there was always a little something that bring me back to reason, to home. His very poetic solos, his arrangements drawn from the oil of nostalgia and especially his unstoppable movements in his algorithms of rhythms are so many factors of seduction which commanded me to listen a part of his huge discography each time, or almost, that I received a new album. As here where I threw an ear at The Nearest Faraway Place. And add to it the fact that he adds since a couple of years to his structures, always complex and convoluted, real percussions and electric guitar, we have a cocktail here which can only be explosive but also made in the unexpected. Inspired by Roger Dean's works, STORIES FROM FLOATING WORLDS 1 (The Turbulent Years) is at the image of its wonderful artwork painted by Liu Zishan and proposes 4 long titles with a music, as it is often the case in the Emmens universe, which makes float literally the rhythms and our senses.

Wandering Between Floating Worlds begins with an explosion which releases a mass of hollow breezes. Throughout these breezes and layers of a chthonian choir, a piano is crumbling its meditation whereas that suspect noises, some even organic, invade the atmospheres. Percussive sounds, effects of rattlers and apocalyptic layers throw an aura of apprehension over the first 4 minutes of the title. And taken out of this nothingness where the sounds are born, a movement of sequences sculpts these lifeless and ambient rhythms so comfortable at Emmens signature. This rhythm surfs with fluid jumps in order to draw these zigzagging movements of ambient rhythms. The synths whistle celestial harmonies whereas this rhythm lets drop some nuances to modify slightly this structure which skips now with a more twinkling shadow. Soft and floating, Wandering Between Floating Worlds raises brilliantly the sense of his title while it moves forward towards its finale which is tinted by these solos which charm as those of Vangelis. Complex and convoluted? Absolutely! But not with this title. Revolution on the other hand will fill your ears much over their capacities! Throughout explosions and through their felted echoes, a first movement of the sequencer establishes a structure which waddles innocently. Effects of explosions and very lengthened tears of synth paint the soundscape. And Gert Emmens doesn't waste time! From the 2nd minute, he adds another line of rhythm which crawls with more heaviness than in that of Wandering Between Floating Worlds. The soundscape repulses of mist and of gasifying effects whereas the pace accentuates the killing of the moods with keys which flutter and sparkle as well as great and harmonies of a synth which suits very well to the evolutionary velocity of the rhythm. Riffs of synth and other sequences decorates the ascent of Revolution towards layers of muted voices. Not even 6 minutes farther and heavier than lively, the music pulls us towards the so many electronic delights that our ears embrace with delight. After a brief ambiospherical break, rhythm passes in 2nd speed with an oscillatory movement loaded of small jerky fluctuations. It's at this moment, around the 11th minute, that the percussions land and machine-gun the pace to establish a dynamic and progressive electronic rock. There is not to say; Gert is very skillful on skins. Another ambiospherical phase, with sequences which sparkle and swirl in the velvet of the sung layers, and Revolution goes back to real life with a movement of stubborn sequencer which rushes towards another phase of rock with Gert who has a lot of fun to mistreat his drums. The riffs of keyboard, the voices and mists of a Mellotron and the movements of the sequencer place the music in the unfinished corridors of the 70's, near a Tangerine Dream zone let's say, where only the synth solos of stigmatize the hold of Gert Emmens on his music. The percussions vanished and out of breath, the sequencer decreases the fury in the oscillating of its lines to lead an ambient rhythm which, once again, suits very well to the melancholic approach to the synth. Very good! It's one of very good titles with complex evolutions that I heard this year and I find the effect even better without my headphone. Some big Emmens here!

Why it was Better to Stay Inside Until Dawn ... is not bad either. I would even say that it's more intense and emotive. Its rhythm derives with nice curvatures in its shapes between the floating islands on the back of a sequencer which is not afraid of multiplying its lines of rhythms while maintaining the cape on its main road. The opening is a little bit long; we speak here of about 6 minutes of mists and fogs filled of effects and very good orchestrations, and, in spite of a short ambiospherical phase, the pace maintains its power with a strong movement of the sequencer. On the other hand, the introduction of Signs from the Underground doesn't take time to set its rhythmic structure. Fourthly-two seconds after suspect noises trapped in hollow winds, a stream of sequences glitters and sings a sweet morphic lullaby. This fragile minimalist movement crosses a long pond of winds and effects long of 2 minutes that another stream of sequences gives a more vigor impulse to the rhythmic horde which harmonizes its pace with a just as much melodious vision. The rhythm is flying around with one wing and stagnates in a puddle of effects where piano notes which erode its landscape. Gert's melancholic soloes add a human touch to this landless civilization while these sequences which always ring in the background make sing and shine the stars. Signs from the Underground always derives without touching any land, a little like a story that we know incomplete and whose second volume we look forward. Because there will be well a volume 2, Gert informed to me that a trilogy is not in the schedule at the moment, to STORIES FROM FLOATING WORLDS 1 (The Turbulent Years); a solid opus where the romance, the poetry and the melancholy of Gert Emmens flirt with the unreal as much as the tangible in this work where the rhythms multiply without corrupting the essence of an EM which sticks marvellously with the theme of his author.

Sylvain Lupari (November 20th, 2017) *****

Available at Groove NL

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