releasedate: 1999, January


1. Welcome to Elektra
2. Elektra part 1
3. Elektra part 2
4. Elektra part 3
5. The sign of the Sentinel

coverdesign: Gert Emmens
mastering: Gert Emmens
Ordering: Groove Unlimited  Article number is: 27377





Carl Jenkinson (writer for Sequences):

This CD,released in 1999 marked the serious EM debut of Gert Emmens &,despite the rather basic presentation of the album manages to be an enjoyable listen.After the short spoken robot voice of `Welcome To Elektra`,`Part 1` gets things off for real with a muscular sequence backing inventive & enjoyable soloing,this should appeal to anybody who enjoys the early to mid 90s European synth school before `Part 2` which weighs in at an almighty 32.55 ,takes the reins.Alternating with some ambient sections,the rhythmic excursions do exhibit a very up-tempo nuance,not quite the dance stylings that Gert has described but not far off & very lively,all the same.The closing 5 or 6 minutes are a melodic,cosmic affair with good melodics,nice & chilled,with some sequenced backing right at the death.`Part 3` keeps the momentum going,slightly laying off tempo-wise but with a superb rhythmic backbone,not unlike some of Asana`s rhythms.This track also features the most instantly memorable tune which is a bonus and a half.The `New Mix` of `The Sign Of The Sentinel` closes the album & fits in well with the tracks that have gone before it.

Whilst Gert`s evolution is clear when one listens to his later material this is still an enjoyable album for anyone who enjoys the slightly more freeform sequential styles,which is allowed to develop by the long tracks found here.


AMP Music:

GERT EMMENS "Elektra" (5 tracks, 60.57)
Quantum Records QCD9904 ****
An outstanding example of big-modular-system synthesis released (as far as can be seen) on CD-R only by Quantum.

Gert Emmens had a track on the Alfa Centauri sampler "Movements" which appears here as "Sign of The Sentinel - New Mix" - it has a Jarre-like off-beat sequence under brass stabs and lightweight drums, going through a metal-bashing phase into something reminiscent of Peru or Nova.

Of the main tracks though, one is just a 24-second vocoded intro, so we're faced with three main parts of "Elektra". The first starts with slow analog sequences - much of the album being performed on an Elektor Formant analog modular system - there are some nice variations on the theme, but the whole 10 minutes is at more or less the same pace.

Part 2 at almost 33 minutes obviously dominates the album, and exhibits much more variation - a slow chordal intro with sampled Gregorian chanting, then a fast sequency passage with plenty of rolling semiquavers a la Chris Franke, then a techno-pop variation on the same dominated by Kraftwerk drums.

This falls apart into a much more introspective section of buzzing oscillators and vocoders, then some more clever sequencer work before a climaz reminiscent of recent dance-oriented Klaus Schulze.

Part 3 at a mere 10 minutes continues the dance feel at a slightly less frantic pace, overlaying TD-like oboe lead lines and tinkling sequences before a gentle ending.

A pretty enjoyable experience overall. It would be interesting to see a live performance by Gert and his big modular...one's due in Huizen (Holland) in October '99...


MIDAS Music:

What a superb find this is, a new star, a new name for you to remember, and we honestly think you will get very excited about this album when you hear it. Fresh ideas are plentiful and the whole album fairly cracks along at a most addictive pace - lots of pure keyboard dynamics pour out with ease, multi layered synths and loads of those types of melody that Pickford used to conjure up in his early career are here, even bettered in places. After a small intro track lasting just 24 seconds, Gert Emmens launches into "Elektra Part1" (10.43) and it's terrific! The melody is very strong and memorable - an archetypal foot tapper - pure exciting E.M.,anthemic and classy and it recalls the better compositions of Paul Ward, Michael Shipway or the long forgotten Megabyte. After 7 minutes plus the whole thing changes into analogue sequencer-led, pacey, in yer face electronics with a very deep top line superimposed prior to the fadeout. The next track, Elektra Part 2 (32.55) starts with superb gregorian chant/Enigma style voices over an awe inspiring Tangerine Dream soaked explosion of sound - what isn't happening in this epic track isn't real - you would be forgiven if you thought Chris Franke himself was hiding in the mix manipulating the key and pace changes and the subtle sound programming! Track 4. Elektra Part 3 (10 .36) is a medium paced thumper with mind blowing sequences and a "top of the shop" melody line - synth-dripping, finger-playing keyboard sounds! The bonus and final track "The Sign of the Sentinel"(6.18) is an atmospheric floater - washes of sound over a sequenced backdrop with loads of clever effects and "squiggly" sounds. An impressive debut - a great effort, a triumph that should not be missed.


Phil Derby:

opens with a cheesy vocoder voice, sounding like those evil robots from the eighties American sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica. However, it doesn't take long at all for the excellent music that follows to make you forget all about that. Gert Emmens provides exceptionally strong compositions with crisp melodies and pace. Though there is a heavy dose of cool retro analog sounds, they are used much differently than most recent electronic music. No long sequencer passages, no layers of hypnotic effects, even though the cover art showing rows of analog knobs and switches imply it.
Though technically a three-part, 54-minute track, "Elektra" is really made up of several smaller themes and ideas, seamlessly blended into a unified musical work. There are readily identifiable passages, some of them quite brief, others lasting a few minutes. Male vocal chants, reminiscent of Enigma, at the beginning of "Elektra part 2" quickly give way to light, bouncy synthesizers, which after a few minutes surrender to floating space music, with stabs of cheese saw waves popping in and out. At times, Emmens reminds me of Venja, who also blends eighties synthesizer melodic sensibilities into its music. The music is generally bright and upbeat, the kind to give you an emotional lift for the day, or to enjoy while driving in the country or along the coastline. Emmens somehow manages to achieve this without too much kitsch. If you like how Tangerine Dream blended melody and themes into its music of the early eighties, then you really owe it to yourself to check out this release.
2000 © Phil Derby

Phil Derby (former writer for Wind and Wire, the magazine, as well as Dreams Word and currently a reviewer for a variety of websites and magazines)
Phil Derby's Best of 1999

Best CD-R:
Elektra / Gert Emmens (great melodic Jarre-like EM!)


Graham Getty of SMD (Synth Music Direct):

This album is somewhat of a surprise. Festooned with analogue modular wallpaper, the sleeve suggests we’re in for another "Berlin School" offering. The fact that the 3 part title track takes up over 50 minutes of the album reinforces the expectation. ‘Part 3’ is over 30 minutes long - other than space drift and sequencer epics, what else can occupy such a duration? Late 80’s / early 90’s uptempo pieces usually stick around the 5 minute mark - but string enough of them together and you can really come up with something very entertaining indeed. And that’s exactly what ‘Elektra’ is all about.

Fans of quality, modern, sequencing will be bowled over by this. It presents section after section of superbly constructed electro- rhythmics, bound together with some fine themes and textures. Few avenues are left unexplored. Chris Franke in ‘London Concert’ form often comes to mind, so does Robert Schroeder (eg from 20 mins into track 3), and inevitably TDream especially during the numerous bridging sections. Only the occasional dance beat, and the odd Enigma monkish chant, suggest that this was mainly recorded during 1998.

With so many differing styles that could be classified as EM in existence, it’s good to hear that there are still albums appearing which offer EM in its purest form. Make no mistake, this is one of ‘em.