Album in History: Sven Van Hees – Gemini

Sven Van Hees - Gemini - 12" (All images are copyrighted by their respective copyright owners)

White Martians, Missile Men not from Earth-Three, Humans and Musical Nomadic tribes, I bring forth to you the very first ‘Album in History’ listing. Each solar month I will go over an album that has influenced my musical tastes from a particular era in history.

This month’s deserved selection goes to an album I discovered back in 2001, but was actually released in 1999. ‘Gemini’ was Belgian producer Sven Van Hees’s second album, a follow-up to his highly acclaimed 1996 conveniently titled album, ‘Svengali’. And while ‘Svengali’ captured the metoeric rise and decline of tribal leftfield ambient sounds that shaped much of the mid 90s after hours experience, ‘Gemini’ was in many ways a musical homage to a sound yet to be discovered and largely ignored by clubland, especially in Europe.

In the late 90s chillout music meant either ambient or niche triphop heard in small club rooms in places like Bristol where it would often really boil down to Aphex Twin classics or sounds people listened to when smoking the good reefer but knew nothing about. In any case, it certainly wasn’t a stylish fresh mix between jazz, bossa, house, electronica, drum and bass with a delightful dash of oriental drums! And this is precisely why this album was so instrumental to it’s time yet largely went unheard off, it created a sound ahead of it’s time that was only later in the early 2000s perfected by the likes of Kruder & Dorfmeister, Mo’Chilla and Thievery Corporation, yet was not released at a time when these sounds had much audience!

Gemini remains one of the albums that defined the modern lounge jazz sound and allowed chillout to move out of it’s safety net and fuse various sounds. The album isn’t without it’s downfalls though, ‘Serrano Anthem’ is one to be easily forgotten, but that is the only exception to an otherwise almost perfect fusion. The track of the album however has to be ‘Matras Mambo’ followed very closely by ‘Ocean Jive‘.


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