GERT EMMENS: The Last Alien (2016)
“The Last Alien is a splendid album rich in tones and loaded of analog moods which is going for sure to furnish my Top 10 of 2016!”
1 Part I 12:08 2 Part II 11:55 3 Part III 15:14 4 Part IV 11:08 5 Part V 10:27 Groove Unlimited | GR-226
(CD/DDL 60:43) (V.F.) (Cosmic Berlin and Netherlands School)
One of the pleasures I have in writing reviews is to discover beautiful pearls of EM. And recently I must underline, strongly, that I am very cherished. If Softlock and Uncle Jim's Cidney Factory was totally unexpected works, our expectations are and remain on the other hand always very high with regard to Gert Emmens' opuses. And the friendly Dutch musician is far from displeasing his fans since his comeback in the lands of powerful and melodious Netherlands School, whom he helped bring into the world with Ron Boots, with Outland released in 2014. And if this album, as well as Triza, had retied the passion with the fans from the very beginning, THE LAST ALIEN will convince them to place Gert Emmens' name among the biggest craftsmen of the kind in 2016. For the fanatics, for the fans of EM from the very beginning, the Moog modular 55 will ring a bell. It's this very capricious Moog that Johan Timman has used to create the beats and moods of the surprising Trip Into the Body, a key album released in 1993. The heaviness, the resonance and the brilliance of the movements of sequences perspire throughout this album, with a Gert Emmens as patient as ingenious who managed to extract the maximum. Besides this Moog, the creator of Waves of Dreams (2004) uses the ARP 2600 for the sound effects. In fact, Gert Emmens brings our captive ears to the era of the analog with an immensely powerful album where only guitars and drum fool the ear of the die-hard fans with a clever use.
We suspect it, the sound effects abound here. And it's how that Part I assails our ears. Noises of cosmic walls which disintegrate under the loads of a big humming arouse our curiosity. Then it's hollow winds which scatter these ambient crystals with hybrid breezes which draw a fall of unfathomable voices. While these breezes reach a level of apocalyptic alarm, some knocking assault the echoes. And whereas these winds keep whistling noisily, riffs (guitar or synth?) scatter crumbs of melodies while a line of bass sequences blooms at the horizons of 150 seconds. The pulsations draw a kind of continuous industrial snore. We are on familiar ground. The one of Gert Emmens, but there is something different. The sound envelope! Here, everything is oversized with a sound aestheticism which reaches the limits of the sounds and tones of science fiction. The effects and the sequences which twist and turn beneath an avalanche of tones as thick as a tropical rain reminds us that the EM was born in the interstices of those capricious but unique machines. And it can be hear it at the greatness of this last opus of our mate Gert. The bass sequences get jostle in a schema that we all know while a synth draws an evasive melody which will tint the next minutes of Part I. The movement of sequences is agile and sculpts some oscillating loops which revitalize this rhythm mi ambient mi lively and which finds its momentum with good percussions. Who says Gert Emmens, says also structures in constant movement. The synths and their nasal harmonies are unique to the Emmens signature, as these rhythms which, even motionless, as in Part II and Part IV, evolve with good wave motions or with good lively cosmic-electronic rock. As here. Throughout this album, Gert will pursue this perpetual rhythmic fight between the percussions and the sequences in very lively patterns. If those rhythms lift the passions, the synth is not outdone with its fluty harmonies which forge some nice earworm while the ambiences are decorated with sound effects which make these ears jump up. Always playing between the limits of progressive and electronic, the Dutch synthesist adds textures of church organ to a music weaved so much tightened that our ears seek constantly for their breath.
Lively and catchy, the rhythms which assail the ambiences here are also slow and heavy, as in Part II where one guesses a big pelican flying lazily under the waves of cosmos. The beating of sequences here and the gloomy breaths of a synth in dramatic and intensity mode bring the title towards a finale a bit catastrophic. The rhythms move and evolve according to the moods and to a great deal of convoluted sound effects while the synths always have this Emmens signature tattooed in the harmonies. If we have liked the infectious rhythm of Part I, Part III is going to throw you off the ground with a superb fight between sequences and percussions in a breathtaking structure. The influences of Tangerine Dream always besiege the movement of sequences as well as the layers and riffs of synth in the music of Gert Emmens. The vampiric melody which blows on Part III, as well as the guitar, is there to remind it. For that purpose, the first minutes of Part V are edifying. Even strongly livened up, the structure of Part III stays in evolutionary mode, like Part I and Part V with fine nuances in the approaches of rhythms. Gert Emmens' soft and slow rhythms always seduced me. So, I have devoured the beautiful upward bend of Part IV and its explosions of intensity. Part V dissociates itself a little bit from the surrounding ambiences with a very TD approach. It's a good electronic rock which is closer to the usual structures of Gert Emmens that those a little more complicated which live over the 50 first minutes of THE LAST ALIEN. The title implodes in beautiful final painted of tenderness. A soft keyboard cries beneath these tears of synth which whistle for the gloomy solitude, another facet of Gert Emmens' music which has always touched me.
It's some very good Gert Emmens who surpasses himself here with a solid album, without weaknesses and where the cosmic electronic rock of the vintage years takes quite another dimension. THE LAST ALIEN is a splendid album rich in tones, in colors and in textures which is going to furnish my Top 10 of 2016! Hat Gert, because even after all these years, after all these albums, you managed to amaze me still!
Sylvain Lupari (September 10th, 2016) ****½*
Available at Groove NL