When Darkness Falls Upon the Earth
Composed, played, recorded and produced by Gert Emmens Mastered by Ron Boots Gert Emmens - ARP Odyssey, Boss DR-660, Doepfer Maq 16/3, Elektor Formant, EMU E6400 Ultra, EMU Vintage Keys Plus, Farfisa Syntorchestra, Hohner String Performer, Korg 700s, Korg Lambda, Korg MS2000r, Korg Wavestation EX,Mam MB 33,MFB Synth II, Moog Minimoog, Moog Opus III, Roland M-DC1, Roland M-OCI, Roland M-VS1, Roland SH-32, Transidrums U-77, Vermona ER9, Yamaha AN1x *2, Yamaha CS80, Yamaha SY85 Gert Emmens has the unique ability to mix the pure essence of the Berlin School with excellent melodies. In his music, there is almost no room for ultra-long intros and stretched sequencer lines. No, all of his tracks have a head and tail. This approach has put the Dutchman on the very top of electronic music and "When Darkness falls upon the Earth" proves this once again. This album is the best he has ever made. The album starts in "Rendezvous With 2004 MN4" with a great (short) ambient intro 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 fitting. What an opening. But there is more. The title track and "Nostalgia" contain some of the best melodies Gert has ever composed. "Casting Shadows On The Cold Ground", quite Tangerine Dream-like, is maybe the best Berliner Schule-track he has come with so far. The sequences are masterful. "The Morning After (extended version)" was initial a piece written for "Analogy", an analog project that will be released soon. The last track "Requiem Pour Sam" is a short melancholic track that was made especially for two fans of Gert because of the sad loss of their little boy Sam. With "When Darkness Falls Upon The Earth", Gert delivers the best retro-EM has to offer nowadays. And the cover -by Pablo Magne- is again a treat. Press Information '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 favorite 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 st! 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. Artemi Pugachov / Encyclopedia of Electronic Music One of the exciting things about electronic music is that each artist customizes their keyboards. Gert Emmens follows this path with his own enticingly unique sounds. The first track hauntingly begins like Steve Roach's dark ambient music and then develops into a slow and beautiful sequencer piece with synthetic side effects. Gert's solos are warm and inviting; a perfect balance to the dark synthesizer machinations that form and build his pieces. Pablo's brilliant cover art captures this CD's theme: warm and bright sunlight piercing through clouds of a dry, rigid, and hostile world. Longer tracks go through rhythm changes, similar to his "Waves of Dreams" CD from 2004. In particular, the track "Casting Shadows On The Cold Ground" should satisfy any fan of "Rubicon" as it mimics that track, then evolves into Gert's own creative extension. His music is a must for the "mid-era" (mid 1970 to mid 1980s) Tangerine Dream enthusiast. Pat Murphy / USA 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. The disc ends with the touching "Requiem Pour Sam", a beautiful tribute to friends who lost a son. Emmens just keeps getting better and better. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space 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. Dutch composer, Gert Emmens is one artist who knows. I won't bore you with details of great sequencer lines and haunting soundscapes. The music will certainly speak for itself. This review will focus more on what this music means to me as a listener and as a fan. 'When Darkness falls upon the Earth' is a refreshing twist to a sometimes stagnant 'Berlin School' sound. I discovered Gert's music in 2004 with his brilliant 'Wanderer Of Time' album. Although all of Gert's albums ( either solo or with Ruud Heij) are excellent, this new album manages to surpass his previous work as it seems to be a total idea or concept; a topic Gert wanted to 'speak' on. The 'Darkness' is not about lack of sunlight, but is a metaphor for the times we live in. Gert's haunting and melancholy sense of rhythm in his compositions speak volumes to me of loss, fear and in the end, hope. 'Rendezvous WIth 2004 MN4' opens this journey. A desolate landscape opens up as if on an alien world filled with ancient temples as the music of the ages ring through them. This music is ancient and romantic, with a sense of mourning of the past. Gert's ability to texture and layer the music is brilliant. It's hard to believe this is only one man playing this music. 'When Darkness Falls Upon The Earth' can be interpreted as a comet heading toward the earth, or seeing images of war, fear, desolation and strife right here in the real world. Either way, this track lends to the urgency of the need for change in Earth's path. As the track progresses, there is a sense of 'blackness' as if made blind to what is going on around us. The world is in a darkness that needs to be changed. 'Nostalgia' is indeed a way of re-living, or mourning the past. Images of our life can be set to this passage and watched, as if it were on film. Memories of a better time, or at least a simpler one. Through Nostalgia, a rebirth is possible. Remember the good things and make them your own blueprint for living. 'Casting Shadows On The Cold Ground'. Gert's ability to create images in his music is brilliant. This track is indeed cold, forbidding and at times, frightening. Shadows all over the ground, as if burned into the ground as the horrors of Hiroshima depicted. Devastation, fear and hopelessness abound in the feeling of this track. Surely, Darkness has fallen. 'The Morning After' can be seen as the world has turned the tide and is finally in peace. There seems to be a lot of 'joy' in this track as it features a triumphant synth line that would usher in a new way of thinking and creativity. In a world of so many languages and beliefs, it's always music which brings people together. The final track, 'Requiem For Sam' is about a family of Gert's acquaintance who lost their baby in childbirth. It's a very touching song and fits well to end the album. Summary: Gert Emmens is one of the best in the EM genre today. His 'signature' sound is becoming more and more recognizable with each album. Any Electronic fan would do well to get this album. Allow the Darkness to light up your listening room. Lew Fisher Another great album from Gert Emmens. 2005. Theodoros Sotiropoulos / Greece This release from 2005 features 75 minutes of moody electronic music. This CD features a theme, a tale if you will, involving the collision of an asteroid with the Earth. Yet, despite this gloomy subject, the music is hardly fatalistic or desolate. Emmens takes a dire mood and elevates it with awestruck grandeur, applying gripping melodies whose drama transcends the standard disaster panorama. Much of the majestic tuneage is concerned with mortal survival in the face of overwhelming odds. Epic harmonics are teased with pensive keyboards, producing a dramatic flair that is enthralling and hopeful. Demonstrative percussion provides a spectacular dignity, with the noble rhythms injecting power as well as pep to the heroic music. As each track unfolds, the mood rises from tenuous harmonics into full-blown epic resplendence. While maintaining a comfortable relaxed nature, the tunes accrete greatness with each passing moment, conveying the incredible power contained in a simple lump of space debris, transforming that igneous state into unbridled force as the object interacts with our atmosphere. And then, when the catastrophe has occurred, the music generates a stolid courage as mankind faces the challenge of a darkened tomorrow. Perseverance and empowered optimism are the dominant dispositions communicated by this superb soundtrack. The cover graphics by Pablo Magne superbly capture the notion of a gigantic object plummeting through the atmosphere, colliding with the ground and darkening the sky for untold millennia with volcanic ejecta. Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity Dans le microcosme de l'e-music, chaque nouvel album de Gert Emmens est attendu comme le loup. Et que ce soit en solo ou avec son complice Ruud Heij, le musicien hollandais déçoit rarement son auditorat. Son dernier opus ne faillit pas à ce qui est devenu un axiome. De nouveau, il plonge dans l'âge d'or de l'Ecole de Berlin, et plus précisément dans les glorieuses 70's de Tangerine Dream. Emmens rend d'ailleurs volontairement un hommage appuyé à Rubycon, un album phare du trio allemand. Mais cela ne reste qu'une source d'inspiration. Emmens apporte ses propres séquences et lignes de percussion, qui lui confère un son tout doucement identifiable entre mille et ainsi le conforte comme un des artistes les plus inspirés de l'e-music. LouLou / Prog-résiste Amongst the splendid catalogue by the Dutch label Groove Unlimited, this work by Gert Emmens deserves special mention, as it's creative quality is most noteworthy. The six pieces included in this album are pure electronic music, with the philosophy of exploring new sonic worlds nonetheless without abandoning melody and rhythm. The composer proves his great imagination by creating a warm, vigorous electronic music, with sequencer rhythms forming rather unusual tonal structures. Many parts possess a great melodic beauty with romantic airs. In short, an indispensable record. Edgar Kogler.