Dreamworld - reviews

"Mysterious Landscape" is a short melancholic introduction. It's classically tinged with sparse piano and various synth pads / symphonic textures. "Soundtracking" starts in a similar manner before the first tinkling sequences appear as well as a mournful lead line. I must say this is all rather melancholic sounding - very sober stuff. It's an OK number with a fair amount of changes to keep it all interesting. At the end of the track the symphonic synths return. "Come On" is straight into sequencing coupled with symphonic synth pads. I am sorry to say so, but this track turned out to be too generic and banal for my taste - there's just nothing that really stands out. Not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but I would've preferred something more daring. Also the use of digital preset sounds is somewhat unimaginative on this particular piece. Let's hope "Underwater Secrets" does deliver the goods. Well, I must admit the water samples were something I expected, but otherwise the beginning does create a nice atmosphere with symphonic synths and some more unusual sounds. It's got a laid back rhythm that I found very relaxing. Very good, indeed and the proof that to create a nice EM track you have to spend some time searching for interesting sounds, provided you have all the other necessary skills. "Time Is Killing" is next. This track has a dramatic start with various effects and a generally dark and reflective atmosphere. A bass throbbing is heard. After a while we get a drum rhythm together with some synthesizer sounds that wouldn't sound out of place on a 1987 - 1992 Tangerine Dream album. I'd say this sounds fairly typical of late 1980's synth music, although interestingly enough it was recorded in the New Millennium.  Not much to say about this track. It's sort of normal and pleasant - nothing fancy here, but also nothing that would make me reach for the skip button. If you like the said period of Tangerine Dream - you will like this one. The title track is flooding your ears with obligatory digital synth atmospheres. A lone flute is heard on top. All is fairly delicate and melancholic. However, urgent bass slabs make an appearance and destroy the idyll that preceded it. Nice lead sounds sing their song and in the end it's a nice track with enough sequencing and atmospheres / solos to please any mainstream EM fan. "First Movements" tries to convey a dramatic mood by way of special effects and rich synth timbres. It doesn't take long before we hear bass sequences and a rhythm. It's a good, dynamic track mostly based on sequences. With a track title like "Blue Ambience" I expected an ambient track; however it turned out to be another melancholic rhythmic number along the lines of the rest of the album. "Moving To the Limit" is based on a throbbing bass coupled with a piano melody and some male choir sounds. A bit different from the rest of the album I must admit but doesn't take me to any "limit" at all. The bass transforms into a steady sequence as we hurtle forward on top of waves of synths. It's an interesting upbeat track, in spite of not exactly living up to its title. "E-Motional Sequencing", quite expectedly, is based on sequences and has much more interesting sounds that most tracks on "Dreamworld". Certainly the best cut on the album - typical EM, emotional, laid-back and cosmic - music for star travels. The solo that comes after 7 minutes is too prominent, though. "Journey To the Unknown" is another rhythmic composition in the style of late 80's - early 90'sTangerine Dream, sometimes using almost identical sounds. "Less Is More" is quite cheerful compared to the rest of the album that tends to be based on minor, low-key harmonies.
Overall "Dreamworld" lacks the otherworldly qualities of EM and concentrates on rhythm and melody. That said, I must add that texture-wise a lot of it sounds pretty one-dimensional. However, the best tracks on this album are actually very good. I think Marc is a talented artist and I recommend"Dreamworld" for melodic / rhythmic EM aficionados. Nice debut, if a tad too long (the CD runs at almost full 80 minutes).
Artemi Pugachov / Encyclopedia of Electronic Music (Russia) (2005)

Embrase is een nieuw Nederlands EM-talent wat ik noem ‘soundscape sequencer synthesizermuziek’ maakt. Wat ik bedoel daarmee is dat Marc Bras, de man achter Embrase, veel nadruk legt op mooie volle klanktapijten, die net iets te stimulerend zijn om ambient genoemd te kunnen worden, en die vervolgens ondersteunt met beschaafde sequencerlijnen. Denk hierbij aan de puike CD’s van Gert Emmens, dan weet je wat ik bedoel. Deze combinatie pakt vaak goed uit, zoals in het nummer Soundtracking en het titelstuk, maar soms zijn de melodieën een beetje te simpel en te liftachting (zoals in Come On en Time is Killing). Het zou allemaal best wat heftiger mogen. Over het algemeen legt Embrase echter genoeg emoties in zijn spel, zoals goed geïllustreerd wordt in het fraaie E-motional Sequencing. Ik ben benieuwd naar de opvolger.
André de Waal / iO Pages no 63 (2005)

The CD of Embrase called Dreamworld is a good album in my ears. Also a bit different from the 'normal' EM albums that are coming out. I would't call the music 'Berlin School', but it definately has elements of it sometimes. It's very hard to describe how it sounds, cause to me Embrase has found his own sound, sometimes calm and sometimes energetic. The album consists of nearly 80 minutes of music and that's the little minus, this is an individual thing of course. I am just not too fond of albums lasting for more than an hour so I get a bit tired after listening for 60 mins, but overall I think it's a brilliant debut. Then let's see what the next release will bring! 
Bjorn Jeppesen / Roskilde Dampradio - Elektroland (Danmark) (2005)

Aus Holland … Kommt der Musiker Marc Bras und firmiert unter Embrase. Er legt seine Debüt CD Dreamworld vor. Harold van der Heijden hat auf einigen Tracks das Schlagzeug gespielt und Ron Boots hat dem ganzen zum Schluss beim Mastern den richtigen Schliff gegeben. Wenn ich die CD so höre kommen mir folgende Vorbilder oder Ähnlichkeiten in den Kopf: Bombastisch wie Ron Boots, Sounds und Sequenzen wie Klaus Schulze. Rhythmen von Peru. Also eine durch und durch Holländische Produktion. Ein Newcomer mit Zukunftsaussichten. 
Joerg Strawe, Cue-Records, EMC Newsbits Nr. 74 (Germany) (2005)

'Analogy' ist eine TOP-CD!!!! Für mich ist es mit Embrase das Beste von Groove in 2005!!! Weiter so!!!!!
MARCUS / LFF (2005)

Marc Bras hat zurecht einige Auszeichnungen für diese CD bekommen. Klasse Elektronische Musik! Rhytmisch und Melodiös, mit sehr viel Harmonie eingespielt. Sehr zu empfehlen.
Uwe Sasse, www.sequenzerwelten.de (Germany) (2005)


Embrase is Marc Bras, a Dutch electronic musician, and Dreamworld is his debut release. I would categorize his style as "melodic Berlin school," with a strong emphasis on emotion and composition to go along with the synths and sequencing. For example, "Come On" is the sort of irresistibly catchy tune that gets stuck in your head for days. The majesty and musical imagery in the opening moments of "Underwater Secrets" would do Vangelisproud. But I especially like the dramatic opening of the disc. "Mysterious Landscape" starts with piano and a light smattering of synths. It is graceful and restrained, yet commands attention.  As this leads into "Soundtracking" and it moves into its opening sequence, a masterful drawing in of the listener has taken place. His musical expression reminds me much of Ron Boots, who mastered the album. "Time Is Killing" sounds like it could be a Boots composition, or perhaps a Tangerine Dream piece around the Underwater Sunlight period. Judicious rhythms and bass wrap around synth pads to open the title track, again a very familiar Boots style. That may be due in part to the presence of Harold van der Heijden on drums, who fills the same role on several Boots CDs.  "First Movements" features a low bass sequence, crisp cymbals, and awesome synth work that all begs to be driving music, turned up good and loud. The great tunes just keep coming, culminating in two excellent closing numbers. "Journey to the Unknown" has an awesome beat and could again be taken for a TD piece from the mid-80s. "Less Is More" would be a hit single if people were more accepting of music without lyrics. Dreamworld is an excellent debut, hopefully with more to come.
Phil Derby, Electroambient Space (UK) (2006)

Some tracks are reminiscent of early Peru and Nova but slower; others are similar to Tangerine Dream’s newer material from the 1990s. The overall feeling is light with more commercial or "accessible" sounding rhythms. Features help fromHarold van der Heijden, whose influence is felt in the beats.
Pat Murphy (USA) (2006)

Embrase nennt sich ein neues Projekt, das mit der Debüt-CD Dreamworld gleich einen Knaller hinlegt. Hinter diesem Namen verbirgt sich der Niederländer Marc Bras, der bisher in der Szene noch nicht näher aufgefallen ist. Zwar ist der Stil in der „Berliner Schule" verwurzelt, aber die Melodien und Sounds sind so frisch und knackig, dass sie einem richtig Spaß machen und man die Scheibe immer wieder in den Player legt. Auch Anleihen, die an Ron Boots erinnern und ein klein wenig Vangelis scheint an wenigen Stellen aus den Tracks hervorzulugen. Das knapp 1:24 minütige Mysterious Landscapes bietet schon so viel an Stimmung, die manch einem anderen langen Track eines anderen Künstlers die Neidesblässe ins Gesicht treibt. Insgesamt ein Dutzend, nur so vor Energie und Spielfreude strotzender Tracks, die teils recht komplex angelegt sind und die einem immer wieder durch herrliche Flächen die Haut vom Laib ziehen wollen, bietet der Silberling. Steine werden in ein Gewässer geworfen, so startet Underwater Secretsund es entwickelt sich ein Track zwischen Elektronik und Popmusik, der genau meinen Nerv trifft, so ähnlich, wie es vor Jahren Peru schafften. Beim Titelstück und dem Track First Movements hat der niederländische - in der Szene allseits bekannte – Schlagzeuger Harold van der Heijden Hand an die elektronischen Trommelfelle gelegt, was man sofort heraushört. Aber auch bei den anderen Stücken hat Marc ein gutes Drumprogramming hingelegt. Mit Dreamworld ist Embrase ein beachtliches Debüt gelungen. Von diesem Projekt wird man noch einiges Hören.
Stephan Schelle (2006)

The music of this album unites a beautiful symphonism with futuristic atmospheres and a general approach which enters within the realm of Space Music, although with traits of SynthPop and New Instrumental Music. The style, electronic, is agile, fresh and with a liberal use of sequencers. The orchestrations are very well built, enhancing the impact of the music. In a few words, Embrase has created a thrilling sonic adventure in this work, of a great artistic quality.
Edgar Kogler, Amazing Sounds (2006)

"Dreamworld" is the debut cd from Embrase, a play on Marc Bras' name. It is an absolute treasure and another gem in Groove's catalog of great electronica. This disc features ten relatively short compositions and clocks in at 80 minutes. It is firmly and deeply entrenched in the Berlin school of e-music. The heavy sequences do generate some cool atmospheres but they are secondary to the symphonic synths and the retro sounds. That is all very cool but this cd goes farther and pleases on many levels. The melodic airs and metallic textures are smooth, evoking imagery of vivid colors and sci-fi terrain. The orchestral timbres allow for variations on Marc's theme but there is no hidden agenda. This is 'in your face, listen to me' electronica with no apologies needed or made. This disc is absolutely essential for hard core Berlin school fans. It will also appeal to many casual fans of the style as well.
Jim Brenholts, E-dition Magazine (2006)

Dutchman Marc Bras, the guy behind Embrase, made his first contact with electronic music in the late 1970s through Jean-Michel Jarre’s "Oxygene" and the Berlin School, but also with less synthesizer orientated music like Mike Oldfield, Alan Parsons, Andreas Vollenweider, Gandalf and Hans Zimmer. The influences of all these big names can be heard on his first album "Dreamworld". It is a record that is warm, melodic, rhythmic and easily accessible, and has the ability to appeal to a lot of EM fans. The sound is full and rich, and the music is played with care. Marc’s love for the names mentioned above can well be heard on fine tracks like "Soundtracking" (indeed, like film music),"Underwater Secrets" (with some sounds that reference contemporary Klaus Schulze), "Time Is Killing"(especially interesting for those who are into the melodic side of Tangerine Dream), "Moving To The Limit", "Journey To The Unknown" (both with great basses) and "E-motional Sequencing".  The last piece is "Less Is More". "Less is More" is also a learning moment for musicians: don't fill the music up but leave space. Marc does this. "Dreamworld" has a lot of potential.
Paul Rijkens, E-dition Magazine #11 (2006)

This release from 2005 offers 79 minutes of electronic music that is rich with splendor.
Embrase is Marc Bras, with Harold van der Heijden providing drums on two tracks.
A classical demeanor permeates this music, imbuing each track with momentous majesty. Flutish keyboards mingle with twinkling notes and shuddering synthesized orchestral approximations. Decisive percussion furthers this majestic flair, as bass impacts and knickering beats inject a processional air to the tuneage. Sparkling notes describe a phantom realm that combines technology with a pastoral sense, never letting either aspect domination and resulting in a delicious homogeny of these elements.
Dynamic structure and urgent melodies are profusely evident throughout this music. While cyclic textures are utilized, the compositions rely on intricate riffs that prance about on the textural foundation, luxuriously attracting attention with each passing moment. Climactic percussion provides emphatic elevation for the already soaring melodies. Sweeping electronic embellishment often lightens the tuneage, inaugurating verdant valleys from which the music can plunge skyward with expansive resplendence.
While steeped in Berlin School roots, this music forges bravely ahead, establishing a fresh sound that is fertile with splendor and vigor. Epic compositions dominate each track, delivering satisfying riffs and monumental passages that will lift even the glummest spirit.
Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity (2006)

Encore un nouveau dans l’écurie Groove, et comme charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même, le label hollandais nous propose de nouveau un rejeton du pays de la tulipe. Car derrière Embrase se cache un seul homme: Marc Bras. Celui-ci, bien qu’il puisse se revendiquer de la Berlin School, n’a dû commencer sa prise de repères qu’au milieu des années 80, et principalement le Tangerine Dream d’après le départ de Johannes Schmoelling et de Chris Franke. Même si cette période ne correspond à la période la plus intéressante de TD, Bras apporte ses propres éléments pour (re-)gagner notre intérêt. Et des titres comme Soundtracking et Time is Killing méritent le détour. Dans l’ensemble, voilà un album qui laisse entrevoir de belles choses, même si la palette des sonorités pourrait encore s’étoffer.
LouLou / Prog-résiste

Lately new EM artists in the Netherlands are mushrooming and this is the newest offspring. Most of these newcomers know their predecessors very well, no exception here, but they all stay to close to their paragons. 
Not until track three ("Come On") does this album spring to life with a beautiful but derivative Patrick Kosmos composition. "Underwater Secrets" is a strong Ron Boots inspired piece. "Time Is Killing" could be located among the Tangerine Dream 80s harvest, but needs spice – it’s very pallidly played. Embrase produces easy-to-grasp pieces full of ear-candy melodies and sequencer and drum rhythms to match. His solos are warm and way above average. Piano is a centerpoint of his music and falls in the romantic category a-la Emmens. The production is crystal clear, too clear actually, but luckily there’s still enough life in the music left. No stuff to prick up your ears, but not bad either.
Roel Steverink