Gert Emmens Project - Memories

Artwork by Ed Unitsky


1. Flight Into Nostalgia    6:12
2. When Dreams Come True     8:36
3. One With Nature    6:48
4. Caught In Despair    10:09
5. Evocation – parts 1, 2 and 3    7:43
6. Daydreaming      9:26
7. Waves Of Dreams – part 2     8:49
8. Lost In Memories      8:24
9. Thoughts Of You     11:35

All instruments played by Gert Emmens.
Vocals on track 2, 3 and 7 by Gert Emmens.
Vocals on track 9 by Cadenced Haven and Gert Emmens.
All lyrics written by Cadenced Haven.

Composed, recorded, mixed and mastered by Gert Emmens.

Coverdesign and artwork by Ed Unitsky.

Photo of Gert Emmens was taken by Aleksandra Przybylska during soundcheck at the E-live festival on October 28th, 2012.

soundclip of track 5 Evocation - parts 1, 2 and 3

video of Daydreaming on YouTube

Ordering and more info: Groove Unlimited

Date of release: January 3rd, 2013



The inside cover, artwork by Ed Unitksy




Marcel Haster - Live Prog

Video review



Gert Emmens is a long established "EM" musician from the Netherlands and with over 20 albums under his belt (some collaborations with other artists) and he has now made a Progressive Rock album! Now, I have to say that with most "EM" artists this would not be good news to my ears, because the transition is not easy if you don't have a good understanding of what fans on the genre are looking for in an album of keyboard driven Prog, but when I heard that Gert Emmens was doing one I suspected he would do it well, and I'm pleased to report that this certainly is the case! Always know for his strong sense of melody and solid structure within his music, Emmens was, I suppose, the ideal candidate to approach such an album, and 'Memories' has done him proud.
Emmens is obviously familiar with the works of the major Prog bands and seems to have incorporated all of the popular "Prog" sounds on 'Memories', without overdoing any of them, exhibiting strong skills as a composer, keyboards player, arranger and producer, but then those of us familiar with his earlier "EM" work know this, and just what he is capable of.
The styles crossover the Wakeman-esque style of melodic Mini-Moog runs to sweeping symphonic workouts similar to Nick Magnus & Patrick Moraz, with solos that bring the likes of Eddie Jobson (U.K.) to mind, making music that will appeal to anyone with an ear for strong melodic keyboard playing.
I'm taking it that Emmens has created the guitar, bass and drum parts himself as well, and these are very good too. On the album's nine tracks there are a few short passages of male vocals (from Gert) on three tracks, and male / female on one track (Emmens with Cadenced Haven), but these are minimal and nothing to be concerned about. As usual Emmens offers a generous playing time on 'Memories' - in excess of 77 minutes - and it's quality instrumental music from start to finish.  On such an undertaking, slightly weaker moments are bound to crop up, and to be 100% honest there are a few parts that are a bit on the "twee" side for me, but these are so few and far between that it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the album as a whole, and as such, I would recommend 'Memories', especially to anyone with a liking for both the Synth and Prog genres, who are almost certainly going to get into the album - I know I have!

Sylvain Lupari - Synth & Sequences

The rhythm is unbridled. Disheveled, but brief, it tumbles in 4 seconds with airs of UK (period Bozon). A small acoustic guitar is scratching a shadow of synthesized silence and Gert Emmens sits astride "Flight into Nostalgia" of a delicate rhythmic ride where prog and EM merges on the strikings of pale percussions. Gert Emmens who does in prog! I have to admit that his project has frightened me a bit. So much that I asked a friend (thank you Nick Adam) for his first impressions (he is a fan of prog) on this “Memories” from the brilliant Dutch synthesist. He liked it well. Making even a link with a group of the 80's, After The Fire. Me? The first idea which comes to mind is UK (the synths sing so much like Eddie Jobson's) as well as the unbridled rhythms with abrupt outcomes out of the electronic/progressive passages from Stomu Yamashta's Go Too. And, to my big surprise, I have to admit that Emmens manages well with this electro-prog fusion. Hem...Yes, even with his voice which haunts 3 pieces of prog-em.
And "Flight into Nostalgia" includes the whole recipe of a good prog of the vintage years. The rhythm is bipolar. Soft and rock, it's interrupted by more ethereal passages. Melodious passages where guitars, tom-toms and synths with delicate solos and cosmic mists outline some fine melodies in the shade of more aggressive rhythms which are tinted in aromas of jazz. Weightier, "When Dreams Come True" offers a structure of heavy prog with guitar riffs which bite the synth and keyboards from which the harmonies pour as quiet rivers versus the curt and unbridled rhythms. One would believe to hear a bit of Asia but the drum which always remains a little more in retreat with strikings which don’t give justice to the strength of the rhythm. The rest is complete! Very rhythmical keyboards, synths with solos signed Emmens that we would recognize among 100 and good electronic harmonies which remind that Gert Emmens is an excellent composer in electronic structures. Moreover tracks like "Evocation-Parts 1, 2 and 3" and "Daydreaming" are closer to EM than of progressive style with superb dreamy solos which flow into iridescent mists. It's with "One with Nature" that we meet the voice of Gert Emmens. The shock goes well. His voice is subdued, reedy and floats like a cloud of melancholy. The music? It's cosmic prog which begins with a delicate harmonious structure flowing of its arpeggios in cascades. Wooden percussions outline a fine tick-tock which guides quietly the rhythm towards a soft very tameable gallop under spectral synth solos before rushing towards a more rock phase, more dishevelled with good pads with a scent of old organs which slow down the heat. A good track which would have quite another dimension with more incisive, more human percussions. Which is all the contrary with "Caught in Despair" which is a good prog rock with an e-guitar from which the jazzy forms extend over an alive structure. A structure which, although Gert tries by all the means to trap in a prog approach, digresses for the electronic, oniric and harmonious world of Emmens. And I, I cannot always refrain of making a parallel with UK. Especially with "Waves of Dreams-Part 2" and its curt and edgy rhythm, its shy riffs, its cooing and spectral solos as well as the floating voice of Gert which are trapped in a foggy and cosmic ambience. "Lost in Memories" describes perfectly the progressive/electronic duel which rages throughout “Memories”. The twisted synth solos are many and sing on a structure which eventually fastens itself in a rhythmic ride of which the gallop of the percussions are interrupted by more cosmic and more ethereal passages. Emmens seasons his structure with keyboard pads in the flavors of Procol Harum's tones of organ. "Thoughts of You" follows the same tangent of prog rock and ethereal passages, although the rhythm leans on good notes of a minimalist and melodious piano, with the voice of Laila Quraishi which adds a dimension à la Curved Air to “Memories”. It's a track which is more prog than electronic with solos of an e-guitar and pads of a captivating organ where the melodious approaches of Gert Emmens always dominate, even on structures in perpetual movement and clearly raffish than on his electronic works.
What to think of “Memories”? I'm a bit divided. The structures are interesting and the music is very good except that the play of the percussions has difficulty to give the mordant that the music needs to really take off. It's fair prog which needs a good boost on drums. I rather see it as an electronic work with a progressive approach. There are very good moments which give the taste to listen prog music. In fact I dip into Patrick Moraz (Story of I), Rick Wakeman, whose harmonious approach seems to have been a source of inspiration for Gert Emmens (sections keyboard and piano), UK (Danger Money), Curved Air (Phatasmagoria) and Go Too from Stomu Yamashta while and after reviewing it. I would certainly like to hear this album with a real drummer because Emmens always demonstrates this sense of rhythm and melodies which make of his music an inescapable in the electronic sphere.
Sylvain Lupari (July 8th, 2013)

Stephan Schelle

Die Elektronikfreunde kennen den Niederländer Gert Emmens bereits seit Jahren, steht sein Name doch für sehr melodische und von herrlichen Sequenzerläufen geprägte Elektronikmusik. Gert hat aber auch eine Ader für Progressive Rock und die lebt er nun auf seinem neuen Album „Memories“ aus. Um diese Musik von seinen Soloprojekten zu differenzieren, hat er hierfür das Wort „Project“ hinter seinen Namen gehängt. So ist auch für alle Musikfreunde erkennbar, dass sich diese Musik von der seinen Soloplatten unterscheidet.

Im Booklet ist zu lesen, dass Gert alle Instrumente selbst eingespielt hat. Auch der Gesang kommt hauptsächlich von ihm selbst. Drei Stücke wurden von ihm allein eingesungen, bei einem weiteren singt er zusammen mit Cadenced Haven, mit der er ja auch schon einige Alben herausgebracht hat. Dass Gert neben dem Keyboard auch ein guter Schlagzeuger ist, das hat er schon bei einigen seiner Konzerte gezeigt, welche weiteren Instrumente auf dem Album eingesetzt werden, geht aus dem Booklet aber nicht hervor.

Bei den neun Stücken kann Gert Emmens aber seine langjährige Elektronikkarriere nicht abschütteln und so ist „Memories“ ein Album, das zwischen den Welten Elektronikmusik und Progressive Rock wandelt. Das macht Gert Emmens aber wiederum so geschickt, dass beide Lager ihre Freude an dem Album haben werden.

Der Opener „Flight Into Nostalgia“ fängt sehr rockig mit Schlagzeug, Gitarren und herrlichen Orgelsounds an und kombiniert dann diesen recht proggigen Sound mit dem typischen Emmens-Stil. Man fühlt sich sofort zu Hause, wenn man Gert’s Soloplatten mag und doch kommt eine gewisse rockige Note, die aber alles andere als aufdringlich ist, hinzu. Und Gert ist ja auch bekannt für seine wunderbaren Melodie- und Harmoniebögen und genau die finden sich auch in den Tracks, wie der Opener schon zu Beginn vermittelt.

„When Dreams Come True“ startet mit etwas härteren Gitarren und einem treibenden Schlagzeug, doch sobald die Keyboards sich hinzugesellen wird es proggig und erinnert in einigen Passagen gar an die 70’er Phase von Genesis. Hier klingt Gert dann eine Spur nach Tony Banks. Im letzten Viertel des Songs singt Gert einige Worte (den Titel), was aber noch nicht so ins Gewicht fällt. In „One With Nature“ greift er dann erneut zum Mikro. Dieses Stück wandelt durch den zarten Gesang in Richtung Steve Hackett. Und auch soundtechnisch ist Gert in diesem Stück im Bereich des Neoprog unterwegs.

Eine Prise Pop findet sich neben Gerts typischen Stil im Stück „Caught In Despair“. Irgendwie erinnern mich einige Sounds in diesem Stück an Joe Jacksons 82’er Werk „Night And Day“. Auf jeden Fall ist das Stück - auch wenn das Schlagzeug zu sehr nach Programmierung klingt - sehr eingängig. „Evocation - Parts 1, 2 And 3“ bietet dann wieder Klänge die sehr in Richtung Genesis gehen. Die drei Parts (sie sind nicht anwählbar) unterscheiden sich voneinander, bilden aber doch eine Einheit, so wie man es von Longtracks aus dem Prog-Bereich her kennt.

„Daydreaming“ macht seinem Namen alle Ehre, denn Gert hat damit ein sehr verträumtes Stück auf dem Album, das zunächst sanft beginnt und sich nach einigen Momenten doch zu einer rhythmischeren Nummer ausweitet. Hier ist Gänsehaut vorprogrammiert. Auch in „Waves Of Dreams Part 2“ wirkt Gert’s Gesang durch die Verfremdung der Stimme etwas nach Steve Hackett.

Nach dem abwechslungsreichen Instrumental „Lost In Memories“ - wieder mit Gert’s typischem Sound, aber einigen eingeflochtenen rockigen Rhythmen - schließt das Album mit dem Stück „Thoughts Of You“, bei dem sich Gert und Cadenced Haven den Gesang teilen. Das verleiht dem Sound noch mal eine ganz andere, besondere Note. Mit 11:37 Minuten Spielzeit ist es auch gleich der längste Titel des Albums.

Gert Emmens hat mit seinem Gert Emmens Project und der DebütCD „Memories“ ein sehr schönes Album veröffentlicht, das die Welten von traditioneller Elektronikmusik und Progressive Rock der Marke Genesis ansprechend verbindet. Wer die Musik von Gert Emmens mag kann blind zugreifen und Freunde des Progressive Rock sollten hier auch unbedingt hineinhören. Ein sehr schönes Werk.