return to the origin



releasedate: 2004, March 13th


1. Vortex
2. Return To The Origin
3. Solaris
4. Life In Motion
5. So Long

coverdesign: Pablo Magne
mastering: Ron Boots
more info and soundclips here
ordering: groove unlimited




This CD from 2004 features 71 minutes of galvanizing electronic music.
A haunting opening strongly evokes vistas of cosmic proportion seething with astral elements to which even spacier aspects are introduced. Drifting electronic textures establish a sense of overwhelming awe. Distant blooping sounds herald the emergence of imminent sequencing of sparkling disposition.
Once this harmonic flow gives way to a melodic presence, the thrills begin with ecstatic results. Keyboard loops interweave with increasingly more complex chords, generating a lush mood of compelling electronics. An urgency is quite evident, stirring the audience's soul with dancing notes that spin and spiral with enormous enthusiasm. Pinnacles are achieved with alarming  frequency, each peak surpassing the last and lifting the listener to higher altitudes of quantum mesmerization. Touches of heavenly airs hide in the surging euphonies, lending a reverent touch to the constant sonic ascension.
Subtle e-perc plays a vital role here, creeping from the tonal morass to flourish amid the melodies with shining effect. These rhythms propel the tuneage with engaging tempos that blend with the whirling electronics, merging to form a cohesive gestalt of synthetic rapture.
These compositions are superb, capturing attention and emotion with their emphatic sonority. Sound transmutes into instant bliss, then immerses the audience in a stimulating soundscape of active riffs and energized sedation.
Ruud Heij has played with Kubusschnitt, Free System Projekt, and Patchwork.

2004 Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity


This is a unique collaboration between two musicians from the Netherlands who have both been doing great these last few years. Gert Emmens is well-known and popular because of his melodious approach to retro-electronic music and Ruud Heij is a Berlin School specialist who has worked with both Free System Projekt and Patchwork. “Return To The Origin”, the result of their collaboration, is nothing short of sensational. There is a lot of retro-EM about nowadays, following in the footsteps of the great names of the Berlin School, and a lot of it sounds great. But there are always albums which stand out among the others and are really something special. “Return To The Origin” is such an album. The sequences are brilliant, the sounds (from vintage electronic instruments like the Moog Modular System 55, MiniMoog, Polymoog, etc.) are excellent and the atmosphere is superb. Upon listening to this music, one almost cannot help but think back to the times when Tangerine Dream almost managed to bowl over entire cathedrals with their loud sequencer lines. From the brilliant opening track “Vortex” to the final piece “So Long”, everything fits just perfectly on this album, which might earn a place of honor for itself in electronic music history as one of the greatest retro works. Hopefully this CD will mark the start of a long and fruitful collaboration between these two fine musicians. And the album title is a brilliant find as well. 
***** (out of 5)

2004 Paul Rijkens for E-dition #2


‘I died and went to sequencer heaven’. That is what I was thinking while listening to this CD. Don’t be fooled by the first seven minutes of opening track “Vortex” because these are deadly dull: from the eight minute the sequencers erupt and don’t ease up until the fifth and last track  “So Long” which starts quietly, but even then Emmens & Heij cannot help themselves and introduce a nice portion of rhythm. The title of this release, “Return To The Origin”, says it all: pure retro in the best Berliner Schulze tradition. Man, man, man, man, this is pure hopping through the room with the volume knob unashamedly on 10!

***** (out of 5)
2004 André de Waal for E-dition


Ruud is better known for his valuable contributions to two of the main retro / sequencer driven bands around, Free System Project and Kubusschnitt. Gert has a number of solo albums available in similar territory. Here they combine to produce another excellent Berlin School tour de force. We begin 'Vortex' with wonderful deep space drones rising and falling like solar flares exploding into the ether only to be dragged back to the star from whence they came. Amongst them we get a collection of lovely analogue sounding cosmic twitters and effects as well as sparing use of distorted unintelligible voices very low in the mix. From this exquisite atmospheric beginning emerges a rapid ballsey sequence which hits the spot perfectly, positively thundering along.

Another brace of higher register but just as rapid sequences quickly fall into formation increasing the excitement still further. Just as impressive however are the underlying pads and effects which complement the whole perfectly. The title track starts with lovely soft ethereal tones over which floats a delicate sequence. A second deeper and meaner one adds an urgency and the pulse starts to race even faster as a laser sharp lead line flashes over the top. The feeling of energy and speed is just as intense as on the opener though with something of a moodier twist. There is a section in the middle where things are stripped down to the mutating main sequence which then takes off with even more menace and oomph. The backing also becomes quite intense until it all calms down to a lovely melancholy finish. Fantastic stuff. The sequences keep coming with 'Solaris'. A pair bounce off each other, keeping the quality as high as before. A lovely deep bass line falls into formation providing yet another stab of mid 70s inspired brilliance. Each sequence mutates as they go providing a shifting backing for a dreamy lead. 'Life in Motion' has quite a delicate beginning with little twitters of sound shinning through a low volume breezy drone. Gradually more mournful pads come to the surface.

The opening section last for five minutes and provides a welcome interlude from the fairly constant sequences we have had so far. This sort of variety is essential as even for me seventy minutes of almost constant sequencing would be too much. It makes the sequence, when it does come, even more effective especially when it is of this quality, sounding very Schulzian from the 'Mirage' period. We then get some TD type sequences joining it blasting forwards on a wonderful ever-changing throbbing soundstage. Runs of notes come and go whilst others remain darting this way and that. What a wonderful track. We calm down for the finish floating through the ether straight into the final track 'So Long'. Again a soothing interlude is created then shattered with the arrival of probably the fastest sequence so far. I just closed my eyes and let my mind surf on the exciting wave of pulsations. If you are into sequencer based music this is an essential purchase.

2004 Dave Law, SMD

The genre of Spacemusic is based on the concept of the future. It's true that musicians working in this field have always been perceived as making music that is ahead of its time, but that's just half the story. In actuality, it's not that the world isn't ready for this mode of expression, but rather that this kind of music always points to some unspecified faint point in the distance and to the possibilities of tomorrow. Return to the Origin (70'40"), the debut collaboration between Gert Emmens and Ruud Heij, is an album based upon the time-honored forms, figures and sound designs of '70s era Berlin-School Spacemusic. The album moves as if powered by star drive engines. Each of the album's progression of tightly composed episodes are centered upon the traveling, cyclical repetitions of splintered rhythms created by Heij's pattern generating sequencers. Gliding above, Emmons' melodic narrative relates a tale told through a wandering ribbon of warm synth lines - rising, falling and bending in time with the tapestry of interlocking electronic pulses and beats. Unrolling expectantly, the thread is thrilling but the weave leaves us spellbound. The duo augment each other well on this poetic meditation into the vastness of human spirit as explored through music technology. They are well versed in the vocabulary of this genre's early masterworks. For the listener, Return to the Origin is a means to cover great distances while lost in our own imaginations. For Emmens and Heij, it is part of their quest to locate themselves in the world of their musical ancestors.

Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END   25 March 2004


Return to the Origin has the long dreamy space passages, the pulsing hypnotic sequencer sections, everything a vintage electronic music voyage should be. “Vortex” spends several minutes drifting and floating, but is off to the races once the sequence starts. The synth lead is classic stuff, though more restrained and mellow than some, letting the sequence do most of the talking. Synthetic sound effects bounce around for the last minute or two, concluding a strong 17-plus minute journey. Ruud Heij’s musical presence dominates the title track, sounding much like his excellent Patchwork CD that he did with Rene Jansen. Haunting strings and atmospheres give way to more strong sequencing. I’m also reminded of Kubusschnitt in the sequences, and Klaus Schulze in the lead lines – very good company indeed. Next up is “Solaris,” launching into mesmerizing loops right away this time. The warbling lead line is a signature Emmens sound. Toward the end the sequence drops out of the mix, leaving just a bass part which leans toward a Redshift sort of sound. A spacey sound effect rings out for a nice finish. “Life In Motion” pings about randomly at first, then a low rich pad signals that things are going to get going. Five minutes in – what else? – a crystal clear sequence appears. A second sequence then mirrors it, nicely layered as a bass line adds depth. Similar in feel to the title track and to Patchwork, it’s a formula that continues to pay dividends to the end.


© 2004 Phil Derby / Electroambient Space


If you like classic cosmic sequential electronics, you will not find a better current evocation of that style than this collaboration between Gert and Ruud. Both have done excellent works before, but this transcends their origins, taking them into the deepest realms of hyper space to fill the space between your ears with incredible sounds.


I must admit that with the announced album of traditional Berlin School Electronic Music I was a bit fearful that it will be a complete copy of 70’s Tangerine Dream, but thankfully this is not the case. Sure, the structure of the tracks is genuinely Berlin School and the sequences and soloing do bring to mind some of the classic TD/Klaus Schulze stuff, but it’s certainly not a rip-off. The tracks on this album are traditionally long and drumless, all rhythmic elements being provided by the ubiquitous sequences.

“Vortex” has long atmospheric introduction of the dark variety. It’s a tad similar to “Rubycon”, but pretty unique overall and very moody. It’s only inevitable, though, that after around the 6:50 mark, fast sequences appear that are complimented by the brief EMS effects. It’s an energetic but flowing track. More sequences are added together with background pads. The sequences slightly change here and there to keep things interesting. Warm analog string sounds are a welcome addition. The solos are also pretty tasteful. As the sequences subside, the track ends with another atmospheric section. Next we have the title track that starts with choirs and strange otherworldly sounds. Very delicious! A harmonic higher-register sequence is added along with soft EMS sounds. This is soon replaced by fast Rubycon-type fat analog bass sequence. This is 100 % Berlin School. Fortunately, it’s not very derivative at this point. I say fortunately because a 100th copy of Tangerine Dream circa 1975 is certainly not what I’d like to hear. The solos are top-notch - lovely analog timbre. Overall, the track is a sequencer fan’s paradise. “Solaris” is a busy track that’s straight into up tempo melodic sequences. It’s beautiful stuff that’s similar to Gert Emmens’ solo music because of the Elka harmonica solos and the use of the pads. At 8:34, it’s the shortest cut on the album. Now the longest cut, “Life in Motion”. Very deep and atmospheric beginning, sparse EMS flashes here and there, strange sounds and very deep windy whooshing, almost on the edge of hearing at times. Then a fat sawy sound appears out of nowhere, something like slightly distorted analog strings, pretty dramatic and evocative. The sequence arrives at around the 5:06 mark, soon joined by another one and then another one, in the bass register. All then settles into a steady rhythmic groove with soloing on top, similar to some of Schulze’s seventies stuff. This section is a bit too derivative for my tastes, mainly because of the solo timbre. The track ends with that already familiar analog string sound. “So Long”, the last track on the album is also the best one. It manages to be gentle and comforting, although a bit mysterious, while at the same time having a mind-bending, super-fast sequence throughout its middle part.

I’d like to mention the mixing. The album sounds as if it was recorded on analog tape. Therefore, it is possible that Ron Boots (who mastered the album) or the musicians themselves made use of the “analog” function on the desk, although I wouldn’t bet on it.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable album of Electronic Music that all sequencer heads will love!

2004 Artemi Pugachov


In this album, Gert Emmens and Ruud Heij have succeeded in creating a
window through which the listener can glimpse at faraway worlds, experience
adventures among the starse, and find himself face to face with the
transcendental enigmas every Human Being wonders about from birth to death.
Impressive music that spurs imagination. Best quality Space Sequencer
Music, rich in complex rhythmic architectures and suggestive melodies.

EDGAR KOGLER for Amazing Sounds # 138, May 2004