|when darkness falls upon the earth
releasedate: 2005, Spetember 22 th
Paul Rijkens for E-dition -
***** (out of 5)
Gert Emmens has the unique ability to mix elements from the Berlin School with excellent melodies. Don’t expect ultra-long experimental and spaceintros and stretched sequencerlines. No, all of his tracks have a head and a tail. This approach has put the Dutchman on the very top of electronic music. "When Darkness Falls Upon The Earth" proves this once again.
The album starts in "Rendezvous With 2004 MN4" with a great (short) ambientintro, played on a Korg Wavestation, after which the sequences and rhythms fall in. Gert’s solos (amongst others -he uses a lot of "old" gear- the legendary Yamaha CS80-synth) are fat and fit the music. What an opening. But there is more.
The titletrack and "Nostalgia" contain some of the best melodies Gert has ever composed. -
The rather Tangerine Dream-like "Casting Shadows On The Cold Ground" is maybe his most Berliner Schule-track so far. The sequences are masterful. "
The Morning After-extended version" was initial a piece written for a Analog Project.
"Requiem Pour Sam", with which the CD ends, is a short melancholic track that was made special two fans of Gert because of the sad loss of their little boy Sam. Personally, I find this the best album Gert has ever made. And the cover by Pablo Magne is again great.
"Rendezvous With 2004 MN4" has a few seconds of atmospherics before a sequence appears which is then joined by a bass one and some lovely Mellotron string swells. The effects on this track are excellent. Some of the sounds reminded me of Gert's previous effort, "Waves of Dreams". Typical melancholic, sad atmosphere prevails which has by now become a trademark of Gert. Nice soloing with a new timbre as well. A very laid back number. After the 8-minute mark the sequences are emphasized and let to fly on their own. The Mellotron string sound returns, adding extra depth and atmosphere. I do notice the excellent sound quality of this release - nice mastering work, indeed! A mournful lead line can be heard that after a while cries alone, in a desolate, misty soundscape. Wow! This is some moody stuff!
The epic title track starts with dark sheets of sound. Incredible sound design - Gert just gets better and better in this regard. A whistling synth solo gives it all a vaguely Kitaro-ish mood. After 2 minutes, though, the expected sequences do come in and... BOY, this is some DARN GREAT sequencing!! All my thumbs are up in sheer ecstasy! Somewhat reminds me on Jarre's "Arpegiateur" (my favourite Jarre track). Excellent melodies as well. I'm telling you, guys, this is some of the best Berlin School music I've heard. Looks like Gert has mastered the art of sequencing to a degree where few can follow him. An atmospheric section comes at the 6-minute mark and gets somewhat darker towards the end. Another sequence starts supported by lovely Mellotron strings. The sequence is more bass-laden and menacing this time. The rhythm that comes a few moments after is very enjoyable and swiftly supports the sequencer runs. A lead line flashes on top - this is pure Berlin School EM which is simultaneously atmospheric and melodic. The next synth solo had me in raptures - this is so tasty - it sent shivers down my spine as I flew through desolate landscapes and cosmic ether - very moody stuff. Ok, enough of the New-Agey talk, the finale to this track is anything if pure bliss, with the Mellotron string sound giving may to dark sheets of sound we heard at the beginning.
"Nostalgia" starts with gentle soundscapes but then a few melodic notes suddenly drop out of nowhere and then a misty synth lead joins - sort of romantic sounding stuff, but still way out in space. A galloping bass sequence fades in that is then joined by another melodic one. An impeccable journey that has so much feeling put into it, it's amazing. A total change of pace and rhythm comes after 6 minutes into the track - a more floating section dominated by synth solos and melodic sequences. It all ends on a reflective note with some excellent use of Mellotron flute sound.
"Casting Shadows On the Cold Ground" (those titles...!) begins with some of the deepest sounds so far, like echoes from a subterranean world. Whisper-like effects add to the spooky atmosphere. A Mellotron choir fades in ever so slightly with the whole picture bearing an almost Lustmordian air. This is some new ground for Gert in which he seems to be equally skillful. A persistent bass sequence appears along with some more familiar synth / Mellotron sounds. After a while it turns into real sequencer heaven. Really, if you dig sequencer-based synth music - this is it! Dramatic effects, mournful leads, soundscapes, rhythmic pulsations - it's all there. On this album you will find lots of whistle-like (or theremin-like if you know what I mean) synth soloing and this track is no exception. We finish on a sad, dark and dramatic note - this music expresses fear, longing, pain and anguish and does it so well - you can almost feel it down your throat. Gert's emotional prowess has never been so strong and evident.
"The Morning After" is an extended version of a track composed for an analogue sampler project. It's a bright number with melodic sequences, EMS-like effects, melodies and slightly phased pads. After the darker tracks that preceded it it's like seeing a sun ray glide along the surface of long suffering Earth. The second part however is more insistent, with slightly more aggressive sequences and a return to minor chords. This section has an almost classical feel to it, especially when the sequence subsides. There is a strange humming sound underneath and when I listened to it, I thought someone forgot to turn off the hairdryer. :-)
"Requiem Pour Sam" ends this excellent album of neo-prog Berlin School Electronic Music on in a rhythmic sequency fashion, still retaining the aura of sadness and melancholy.
© 2005 Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
With Ruud Heij or without, Gert Emmens has quickly established himself as one of the top names in electronic music these past few years. His latest solo effort, When Darkness falls upon the Earth, is no exception.
Rich pads fill the opening moments of “Rendezvous With 2004 MN4,” followed by slow and steady sequencers, both a main part and a bass part, paired up perfectly. Synth percussion and drums come next, then soaring strings complete the package. Even though Emmens treads familiar Teutonic territory, he always maps out a niche of it that is easily recognizable as his own. On the lengthy title track, churning restless textures and a cool “ooo-eee-ooo” synth lead get things going. A steady chugging rhythm is next, followed by – what else? – more excellent sequencing. Gert tells me that Ruud is a master at sequencing, but he’s clearly learned a lot from his frequent collaborator, sustaining a great trance-inducing loop of his own. A metallic shimmering ambient section in the middle is excellent as well. The sequence following this is a rich, slowly looping bass tone, a dead ringer for some of David Hendry’s exceptional work under his O-Head moniker.
The driving rhythm of “Nostalgia” is soft but insistent.
Eerie electronic echoes begin “Casting Shadows on the Cold Ground,” the spacious sci-fi quality reminding me of Chuck Van Zyl’s The Relic. A very cool sound effect like a cross between percussion and human voice samples is next. Splashes, twitters and other effects burst forth here and there as it goes along, propelled along by yet another bit of fine sequencing.
disc ends with the touching “Requiem
Pour Sam,” a beautiful tribute to friends who lost a son. Emmens just keeps
getting better and better.
Lew Fisher / Progday Society
I am not an expert in what
creates Electronic Music. I only know that Electronic Music has been a favorite
of mine since first hearing Tangerine Dream's Phaedra album in
1975. I know what a Sequencer, Synthesizer and Mellotron sound like, but that's
about the length and breadth of my technical prowess in EM gear. What matters to
me is the artist knowing and thereby creating a music that paints a picture
without words and speaks to my heart as well as my mind.
2005. Matt Howarth / Sonic
This release from 2005 features
75 minutes of moody electronic music.
Der aus den Niederlanden stammende Gert Emmens ist wieder sehr fleißig gewesen, erscheint doch neben seinem Album „Blind Watchers Of A Vanishing Night“, das er zusammen mit Ruud Heij einspielte auch noch Ende 2005 sein neues Soloalbum mit dem Titel „When Darkness Falls Upon The Earth“. Der Titel lässt erst einmal auf sehr düstere Klänge schließen, doch wer Gert’s Musik kennt, der weiß, dass sein Name eher für herrliche Melodielinien steht.
Auf sechs Trips, deren Laufzeit zwischen 4:26 und 18:33 Minuten Länge liegen, nimmt er uns mit. Track 1 startet nach einem ca. zweiminütigen Beginn, bei dem er eine eher surreale Stimmung aufbaut, mit Loops aus seinem Sequenzer, auf denen er dann seine Melodielinien aufbaut.
Sound und sanfte Melodien sind so, wie ich sie am liebsten mag und sorgen dafür, dass man so schnell nicht davon loskommt. Kopfhörer auf und einfach fallen lassen. Auch das Titelstück beginnt erst atmosphärisch und geht dann in einen rhythmischen Sequenzerteil über wechselt dann aber mehrmals Melodie und Struktur, so dass der Titel über 18 Minuten sehr abwechslungsreich bleibt. Das erinnert streckenweise an die „Berliner Schule“.
„The Morning After“ ist auf dieser CD in der langen Extended Version von über 14 Minuten Länge enthalten. Der Track war auf dem Sampler „Analogy Vol. 1“ erschienen, dort aber in einer 6:23minütigen Version herausgekommen. Auch mit diesem Silberling hält Gert seinen Standard an hochwertigen Elektronikproduktionen aufrecht. Wer die bisherigen Alben von ihm mochte, wird auch das neue Album lieben.
...... kann sowas nur von Gert
Emmens richtig umgesetzt werden.... ;-))
David Law (SMD)
A deep rumbling drone gets 'Rendezvous With 2004 MN4' underway. A lovely slow haunting two-note melody calls out and receives an echoed reply. A superb sequence flies forth. A rhythm fits perfectly between the pulsations and we are now careering along at quite a pace, gentle pads providing a contrasting softness. Strident lead lines strike up in the sixth minute as if shouting out in ecstatic joy, the positive vibes being enhanced by the deployment of a further jaunty sequence. A belter of an opener! The title track comes next appropriately oozing misty, brooding atmospherics. A sonic shimmer makes it sound as though the rays of the sun are trying to break through but are answered by a powerful bass sequence as if forcing them back. A brighter sequence then strikes up, battling with the first and we are soon in an avalanche of wonderful pulsations.
A slow wistful melody hangs in the air like birds soaring high above looking down upon it all. All subsides to gentle pads in the sixth minute. This gentleness suddenly develops an uneasy character however as if darkness is descending. Another sequence, of the lovely deep rumbling variety, now becomes the main feature. A big whooshing sound heralds the arrival of a steady head nodding rhythm. From here the music once again becomes very positive and optimistic. 'Nostalgia' commences with cosmic colouring before bright melodic tones let rip. They fade away as a sequence breaks through and grows in stature. The pace quickens with the introduction of motoring rhythms. With four minutes to go it is all change in every department but things are still syncopated with a positive joyous edge. 'Casting Shadows on the Cold Ground' begins all dark and eerie like being in a forest alone late at night. The sounds of animals, or worse, being constant companions. Little chattering unintelligible vocal effects add to the feeling of dread. A really deep sequence starts up. Another is added, twisting and morphing around the first superbly creating an ever-shifting pattern of notes from which are launched a lead line (using an eerie fifties type Sci Fi film sound) and multitude of sonic twitters and whooshes. The best track on the album.
'The Morning After- extended version' first appeared on a compilation but at half this length. The sequence comes in very quickly and once more it is excellent. Again the mood is uplifting and full of hope (obviously not that sort of Morning After feeling on losing count of the number of beers consumed the night before). Little melodic touches are allowed to hang in the air then fade into the ether. The strongest melody line of the album so far then hurls itself triumphantly from the speakers- wonderful stuff. At around the seven-minute mark all is change as everything subsides to windy effects. A very different sequence to the first strikes up and when combined with the accompanying melody the mood is somewhat more reflective. 'Requiem Pour Sam' begins with a little echoing motif but a sequence and rhythm are also deployed almost straight away. Fitting to the subject matter the overall feeling is rather sad but there also seems to be a positive element there too. So to sum up- some great sequences and fine melodies but for the most part much more uplifting than your average 'Berlin School' type album.