Sunday, September 20, 2015

Honeyelk - 1979 - Stoys Vi Dozévéloy

Stoys Vi Dozévéloy


01. Stoyz (Duel à Vie) (11:33)
02. Do Zé Vé Loy (14:16)

- William Grandordy / piano, synthesizer
- Gérard Blanc / bass, vocals
- Pierre Yves Maury / clarinet, saxophone
- Christian Blanc / drums, percussion, vocals
- Frank Louisolo / guitars

Honeyelk are a jazzy zehul band hailing from the city of Toulon in France, they were led by the Blanc brothers, Gerard playing both electric and bass guitars and Christian playing the drums. During the early and mid 70's they were involved with several bands mostly playing covers of other progressive rock bands. They first started composing original material as Honey Dream, then consisted of 5 musicians, adding 2 guitarists and a keyboard player to the brothers lineup. As they wanted to keep evolving and started touring, one by one the members left to pursue other careers, leaving the brothers alone. But dedicated to their project they continued by going to London to recruit english musicians, but unfortunately came back empty handed when the auditioned members found out the brothers intentions were to go back to France. By now they have changed their name to Honeyelk and started recruiting what would become their final lineup. By mid 79' after a few lineup changes, they added Pierre Yves Maury playing Clarinet and Saxophone, William Grandordy playing Piano and Synths, and Frank Lovisolo playing guitars. Financing it by themselves, over a space of two days and two nights the band have recorded two songs in total of 26 minutes, which was supposed to be their album's first side. Although writing more material, they didn't record anything else since they felt it was too out of date for the time, and not fully representative of their sound. The album was released with only those two songs and titled "Stoys Vi Dozévéloy", only 1000 copies were pressed and sold that time. On December 2nd 79' one memorable concert took place and recorded in front of 1000 enthusiastic people, featuring their entire repertoire. After the show and the release of their album, which both got very favorable reviews, the band felt they could make it on a national scale. But when contacting a few studios for the recording of their second album, they found out the costs were too high. Those high hopes turned into a string of disappointments, when a chance for them to open for Magma didn't came through when the gig was canceled, and other unsuccessful gigs also took place. in addition to that their promotion and distribution was too confidential, causing the brothers to put the band on hold for a while.

In the early 80's, after the departure of Lovisolo, Grandordy and Maury, the band still haven't gave up their dream to record a second album. Inspite of building a recording studio next to their house, and having a good and steady lineup, a second album was never recorded, though they did manage to record for themselves three more pieces that made it onto the reissue of their first album/EP. By mid 80's after adopting a more accessible style singing in french and english, they still weren't able to fully interest any of the record labels, naturally the Blanc brothers gave up and the band came to full stop.

Honeyelk's music is a fine cross between Magma, Zao and VDGG, playing in a typical Jazzy Zehul style. Their sound is mainly derived from the excellent playing of Gerard Blanc on bass, Maury's howling clarinet and saxophone and Grandordy's piano and keyboard work. Feeling French and English were not sufficient enough and wishing to be more original Gerard Blanc was singing his own made up lyrics.
In 1995 Gerard Blanc remixed the two tracks from their 79' album, offering a better sound quality and a balanced mix, and added 4 more tracks. The album "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur" was released that year by Musea with a detailed booklet, making it a worth while package.

This is the only album Honeyelk released during the band's lifetime, it contains the original recording and mix of what was supposed to be only the first side of their debut, but since they were not happy with what they had, they never recorded anything else that time and released the album as it is with only two lenthy songs, clocking at 26 minutes only. Later on in 1995 Gerard Blanc (singer and bass player) remixed the album and added 4 more songs, the album was released that year titled "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur". Because of not having a record label, the band had to finance everything on their own. The mixing was done in a small private studio in Paris and I guess that was the reason why the quality is not that good. The mix is not perfectly balanced and there are a few moments of chaos here and there (not in a good way I mean). Further more due to not having any professional help while recording, the outcome is far from perfect and other issues like timing and out of tuning also occurs. Most of these problems were fixed in the reissue, and now definitely sound much better and more balanced, such a great job was done. But honestly I don't mean to sound too negative since I really do like this little album inspite of all its problems.

So basically Honeyelk plays a typical style of Zehul mixing some jazz and and RIO elements. The music is mostly dark and haunting (well of course). There's a strong Magma influence, and their style definitely resembles other progressive bands like Zao and VDGG. The music is not heavy at all but also far from being laid back, that's because of the band's overall sound and instrumentation. The leading instruments here comes from Pierre Yves Maury playing the clarinet and saxophone, he is playing all the leads and responsible for the melodies too, of course there's a big help from keyboards and piano which are also always present and help to create their unique sound. Although Frank Lovisolo is credited as being a part of the band playing electric guitars, he doesn't really contribute much and his role is very minimal, I mean there is more guitar playing in bands like ELP, VDGG or Banco which didn't concentrate on guitars that much. The reissue also indicates that Blanc wasn't that satisfied of Lovisolo's guitar parts since he took a lot of them out, making the guitar almost non existent.

Although the music is quite intricate and complex, the band is not tight enough, they are at some points but other moments are too loose, and that's where they lose a few points. The compositions are long and although they are not perfect and suffers a little from an incoherent level, they do have some very good and inspired moments, one thing that I do miss is more killer interplay between them all. The music is moving from intricate aggressive playing derived from a killer bass to other passionate vocal parts, Gerard Blanc is delivering some stunning workouts, no doubt about it. Maury is definitely good playing both dissonant and melodic leads and pretty much gives the overall music it's vibe. It doesn't really detract from my enjoyment but the drums work is a little unstable, I hear some awkward and hesitant drumming here and there, again not tight enough. Another thing that I really like about them is the singing, not only is Blanc a capable bass player, he is also a great vocalist. Because french and english are obviously not interesting enough, Blanc is singing in his own made up language, which gives the music much more character. He is passionate and also sounds very much like Peter Gabriel.

The 1995 reissue "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur" offers a more stable and balanced mix with a refined sound, on the other hand, this original recording offers a more rawer sound with much more evident guitar playing. For example, the third and final part on the second track is where it's most evident. I like that psychedelic guitar flying over everyone, this is really good. More over this version offers a different ending and is also one minute longer with more vocals and music, both versions are equally great though.

This is recommended to all Zehul fans which are looking for more music to settle their hunger. Although this is not the best album in the genre and it does have a few problems, you might find them unimportant compared to the music and ideas delivered. You can pass this over if you already have the 1995 reissue, but also this is worth tracking down for a reasonable price.



  2. Frank Lovisolo is here now !!!

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