|obscure movements in twilight shades|
releasedate: 2003, September 27th
albums “Asteroids” and “Wanderer Of Time” (Also on Groove
Unlimited), Dutchman Gert Emmens has established himself as one of the
leading musicians in the retro/melodically style. On “Obscure Movements In
Twilight Shades” he manages to further master this. The album contains
music he has written exclusively for his concerts at the “E-Live festival”
on September 27 2003 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Roel Steverink / Exposé magazine no 28:
whole bunch of new synth composers are seeing the light in the Netherlands. Emmens
is one of them who debuted with Elektra around the end of the 90s. It’s
obvious he likes long tracks, which have several sequencers running, up front
melodies and occasionally a fine solo on top. But Emmens doesn't do it
the Schulzian way with long stretched carpets, although the first track
betrays his love for Picture Music.
creativity as a composer that Gert Emmens has flows through several
ambiences. Yet the one that, in my opinion turns out to be his best asset in
front of other artists of Space Sequencer Music and of Synth-Pop is the fact
that he gives free rein to his musical inspiration, without tying himself to
pre-determined structures, nor to pre-conceived ideas on how a track related to
these styles should sound.
Binkelman (Wind and Wire):
Here is an album of four long (between fifteen and nineteen minutes) EM soundscapes that unfold patiently (even when the music is fast tempo) by one of the more unrecognized artists in the genre. Emmens combines Berlin school elements with a strong melodic sensibility as well as borrowing from other European styles of electronic music at times. He is not some mere Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze knock-off yet he is also different from other modern practitioners of Germanic EM, e.g. Rudy Adrian, Paul Ellis, and Dom F. Scab. Emmens composes/performs highly visual, deeply evocative suites, somewhat like a classical music approach (although never sounding like classical music of course). His long compositions sometimes have "movements" containing refrains and motifs, yet the songs sustain mood and atmosphere throughout these sections. By melding flowing melodies and catchy refrains with more traditional Berlinesque sequencers, rhythms and keyboards, the result is refreshingly complex and yet also accessible (the latter is even more remarkable given the average length of a piece on this album).
Flowing melodies and lively beats at the start of "The Day the Wind blew out the Light" open the CD in remarkable fashion, featuring retro-pulsing synths in the mid-section that call to mind EdgarWinter's "Frankenstein!" morphing into classic Berlin sequences and washes of lush keyboards with plenty of spacy effects underneath it all. The title track opens with serene floating washes, a la Jonn Serrie, before introducing reverbed notes and a nice mellow mid tempo sequence that builds in intensity before heading into a series of dramatic soaring refrains amidst synth chorales. Percussive effects become more complex as pitch-bent whistling tones snake their way through the sequenced beats, eventually slowing down to incorporate mellotrons washing over you like refreshing waves before ending in a rapid fire sequence pattern. "Entering the Dark Depth" is appropriately moody, with minor key tonalities, mid to lower register synth choirs, and a melody blended with darkness and foreboding. Sequences are folded in later with darkly-tinted percussive effects heavily echoed. However, even here Emmens' flowing sense of musicality runs through the piece. "Voice from the Past" closes out the CD with eerie rumblings and burbling effects that evolve into quasi-new age soundscapes, featuring flute-like keyboards (mellotrons?) set amongst ethereal choir tones and other spacemusic-like sculptings. Of course, a nice driving rhythm of sequenced beats emerges with quavering horn-like tones echoing here and there. Later, tasty arpeggios bounce up and down the scale, buoyed by a smooth undercurrent of synth washes. Dramatic tenor/baritone chorales enter the picture and the song enters full dramatic swing.
The dense mix on this CD (as well as its perfect engineering) make headphones almost essential, unless you have the luxury of turning up your music really loud. Even after five or six playings, I'm sure I haven't even started to glean all I could from obscure movements in twilight shades. This is an outstanding recording in the EM genre and I highly recommend it as a showcase for slowly developing soundscapes that blend Berlin school with other European elements as well as entertaining occasional forays into spacemusic and a tiny slice of electronic new age music, too.
has certainly come along in leaps & bounds over the past two years,
capturing just the right balance of memorable melodic & sequenced/spacey
music in a style that never seems to lose it's popularity & adding his own
talents to the mix.
David Law (SMD):
Metallic shimmers abound as the opener 'The Day the Wind blew out the Light' warbles into life. A superb melodic sequence soon surges forward along with a little tuneful motif. Drums come in, hitting the spot perfectly as this already superb track just gets better. More melody is added in the form of slow sighing pads. Simply beautiful. We get a whooshing / splashing interlude in the eighth minute then things take a rather dark, windy, sinister turn. Out of this a fantastic mid seventies (think 'Rubycon'ish) sequence emerges. It morphs this way and that as a second sequence falls into formation. There is lead detail but it plays the supporting role.
The title track is initially full of bright glistening pads, creating quite a magical atmosphere. The sequence starts very low in the mix disguised by slow melodic note droplets. It gradually begins to make its presence felt whilst ethereal, sighing backing gives soft contrast. It's all very pleasant, relaxing and rather easy on the ear. We get a moody mellotron interlude from which another sequence emerges. This one is much more urgent than in the first half and when a foot tapping rhythm joins it the whole track starts to motor. I suppose the sounds at the beginning of 'Entering the dark Depth' could very well conjure up images of being far underwater but they also sound very cosmic to me. Whatever there are some lovely breathy pads and sonic shimmers. An excellent sequence fairly bounces to life and proceeds to get better and better, the addition of drums giving even greater oomph. An optimistic lead line blazes out but soon subsides again to be replaced by a slow tuneful relaxing melody. Two new sequences momentarily replace the old then its back to the atmospheric depths. Gradually layer after layer of sequence return and within no time at all a real body-moving groove is created. We return to the deep ocean to finish. 'Voice from the Past' seems to start off right where the previous track finishes. We then get tranquil flutey synth with tron backing. When the sequence emerges it is a superb one, reminding me of something of a cross between TD's 'Stratosfear' and 'Tangram'. A lead line comes in, and very pleasant it is too, but my attention was still locked into that excellent sequence. Another sequence joins the first and if anything it is even better! Steam starts hissing out between the pulsations as we enter new heights of brilliance with even a moody twist or two along the way. This really is a superb track and a stunning way to finish the album.