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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

GERT EMMENS: Time Portal Chronicles (2021)

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

The review is long? It's because the album deserves it!

1 Wanderer of Time - Part 2 17:50

2 About Aliens who Appeared to be Time Travelers 12:03

3 Seaside Encounter 5:25

4 A Warning from the Other Side 17:20

5 Your Future self is Watching you 7:49

6 The Moment it Becomes Present, Future Reveals Itself 14:59

7 To Those who Never Returned 3:24

(CD/DDL 78:53) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

The review is long? It's because the album deserves it!

A dull explosion and its radiation propel us towards the journey of Wanderer of Time - Part 2. As soon as the synth pads land, we recognize this sound so typical to the synth of Gert Emmens. The reverberations of the explosion stretch out close to the 3rd minute when the sequencer, also so characteristic of our friend Gert, makes waddle its pensive balls. The haze banks intensify, as a second round of sequences leaps into the grooves of the first one and synth solos take on a tint of intergalactic hiss. Still bewitched in its dense cosmic finery, Wanderer of Time - Part 2 accumulates its decorative effects, like some other good solos by Emmens, adding a harmonic depth to this opening that some piano notes make more dramatic 30 seconds into the 5th minute. The sequences have been dragging a fluty tone for a few minutes, testifying to the depth that surrounds the music of the Dutch musician-synthesist. And so goes Wanderer of Time - Part 2! Rhythmic and harmonic sequences, dramatic elements, electronic birds chirping and interstellar fog waves, its heavy and slow rhythm drifts with this piano that sometimes adds its cinematographic impact. This is one of Gert's very good tracks that adds its dose of nostalgia with a sober synth song, which goes for another tone, after the 10th minute. The ambiences rumble and bring the track to its only mutation a little before the 13th minute. This time, the sequenced balls have a clear tone and waver idly in suspension until they tie in with the tap dancing of the percussions. The bass buzzes in secret and blends well with the unexpectedly dropped keyboard riffs. These two elements sculpt a succulent down-tempo where splendid synth solos are exchanged with this perfume of a sax-trumpet fusion which makes the universe of Gert Emmens so unique. What a great track to start TIME PORTAL CHRONICLES in strength! This new album of Gert is about the concept of time travel. The Cosmos and its para-cosmic intrigues have no secret for our friend who transposes quite well in music what the titles mean. For this album, he takes the traveler from Wanderer of Time to here with the title Wanderer of Time - Part 2. Thus, we are able to see the dazzling evolution, both in sound and composition, between the Gert Emmens of the 2000's and the one of today.

It's hard to survive a title as solid as Wanderer of Time - Part 2. In a structure still evolving, About Aliens who Appeared to be Time Travelers introduces itself with a metallic haze whose silvery blasts are nuanced by keyboard chords. It's two minutes later that the sequencer makes wiggles its resolute balls in a murky ambience reactivated by a very good bass line. The rhythm that's come of it is fluid with an urge to roll in a Berlin School mode copiously sprinkled with solos from a synth in mode Jazz. I like the rhythm, and the way it looks! It's very solid and lively in a cosmic setting so only Gert has the pencil mark to design it. Sounds of waves caressing the beach are at the origin of Seaside Encounter. Gert's ballads are unlike any other. Enriched of a nice artistic creation, they flow with that tone in the sequences that make it harmonious. This one is simply beautiful. An earworm that sticks to our eardrums quite easily! We come to another long musical chapter with Warning from the Other Side. Of breezes and cosmic winds, its opening is also conceived in the industrial noises of a space shuttle. It is some 3 minutes later that a rhythmic structure, bouncing with a debonair approach, makes hear the tonal multiplicity of the sequencer. Minimalist, it suits the presence of the synth solos and those layers of hazy harmonies that come from another planet. The solos have this warm tint unique to the Emmens universe. They come and go on this jerky and minimalist rhythm which must take a first bridge of ambiences around the 9th minute. We drift with orchestral layers well stuck to a bass line eager for a wilder rhythm. That's what happens around the 11th minute. The sequencer movement is brisk with sequences zigzagging under thick layers of fog and ominous sound effects. The layers of mist become harmonic elements as they flow like orchestrations guided by absent violinists. The rhythm is pure Berlin School flavored with keyboard riffs that become more and more endemic, darkening this soundscape of anxiety.

Slowly paced, even hobbling at times with organic noises and effects, Your Future self is Watching you explores the ambiguous side of the Dutch synthesist's cosmic ballads. Spinning like this aimless carousel, it exports a tonal fauna that borders psybient with melancholy filled solos. Intriguing waves and shadows feed the musical firmament of The Moment it Becomes Present, Future Reveals Itself. We can hear the stars twinkling, but a little less than these waves of reverberations which dig the soundscape of the title of a veil of shenanigans, of unenviable things to come. It's from this panorama that an ascending movement of the sequencer emerges a little before the 3rd minute. These jumping balls that rise and fall in a pure Berlin School style are supported by percussions before taking an unexpected turn 60 seconds later. The Emmens universe is full of these unusual rhythms that go off on unusual tangents in a vision that is both exotic and catchy. This one is just perfect! Rising and falling with more rock passages that are fueled by good synth solos and/or Gert's post-apocalyptic setting, this beat goes the 7-minute distance before being sucked into a black hole and its barren winds. Oscillations emerge to make flutter their big, nimble wings, plunging the fates of The Moment it Becomes Present, Future Reveals Itself into a finale where it struggles at unequal strength. We are at the end of TIME PORTAL CHRONICLES with the death-like ambiences of To Those who Never Returned. This ambient track with a disconcerted look makes the organ and synth layers travel like a last speech to those who will never come back. The intensity of the pain in the soul is as sustained as Jean-Michel Jarre's Last Rendezvous: Ron's Piece, beats in less, from the excellent Rendez-Vous album.

Gert Emmens continues to take us on a journey through his various cosmic capsules, revealing musical panoramas that always have something new to tell us. TIME PORTAL CHRONICLES is full of those nuances that make us jump with a smile on our face. Because yes, we have an excellent album. An album where the sequencer erects its palettes of rhythms with tonalities always as bewitching as these solos of synth which make us dream in a beautiful, all blue Cosmos. And its opposite, with ambiences where I would not even put the kitten of my female cat outside!

Sylvain Lupari (05/06/21) ****½*

Available at Groove NL

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