Sunday, May 17, 2015

Eskaton - 1981 - 4 Visions

4 Visions

01. Eskaton (10:24)
02. Attente (10:12)
03. Ecoute (13:00)
04. Pitie (8:44)

And the following four tracks on the Soleil Zeuhl release:
05. Les Chutes Du Sanzu (5:39)
06. La Horde (5:02)
07. La Nuit (7:43)
08. Le Gros Delire (5:13)

Recorded in 1979 - first released in 1981 on cassette

- Andre Bernardi / bass
- Gerard Konig / drums
- Alain Blesing / guitar
- Gilles Rozenberg / organ, synthesizer
- Eric Guillaume / Fender piano
- Marc Rozenberg / Fender piano
- Paule Kleynnaert / voice
- Amara Tahir / voice

If you are only going to get one Zeuhl album in your life, make it this one. Eskaton was my second exposure to Zeuhl(Magma being the first, obviously), thanks to PA. This album was recorded in 1979 but not released until 1981(on cassette only!). A lost gem that thankfully has gotten more respect as the years have passed. The music here is light years ahead of anything Yes or Genesis were doing between least as far as 'prog' goes. If Magma scares you, you might find this more appealing. Listen to the stream of the song "Attente" here on PA; if you don't like that, chances are you will never get into Zeuhl. Eskaton are on the more accesible and rockin' side of Zeuhl, as opposed to the more jazzy and avant end of the genre.

The music on 4 Visions is a mix of hard rock, jazz rock, symphonic rock and electronics. A lot of the time there is an energy and intensity here which rivals some fusion and metal. All the singing is in French and is done by two women. Although slightly operatic at times, there is nothing here as crazy as some of the vocals you will find in Magma or Koenjihyakkei for example. The songs "Eskaton" and "Attente" were re-recorded in different arrangements for the band's second album Ardeur; why I don't know, the versions here are a perfect example of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it". There is a nice blend of keyboards here: electric piano, organ and synthesizers. The bass has a sound that could rip your face off. The drumming and guitar playing never really stands out, but is well played. "Ecoute" and "Pitie" are not quite as good as the first two songs, but they are still great nonetheless. The newest version of the CD has a few bonus songs; I haven't heard these but the version I am familiar with has the song "Le Cri" added. It's a good song but not as good as the four songs on the album.

Unfortunately, Eskaton's next two albums are not as good as 4 Visions is. But as far as prog music in the early '80s goes, there isn't very much that is better! If you can't really get into Magma and are thinking about giving up on Zeuhl, I suggest you listen to this album or Weidorje's only album. Magma may have invented this genre but they are not always the be all, end all of this kind of music. Highly recommended.

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