Sunday, May 17, 2015

Joy Unlimited - 1974 - Instrumental Impressions

Joy Unlimited
Instrumental Impressions

01. Breeding Ground 2:39
02. Jigsaw Man 2:30
03. Soul Gravy 3:46
04. Homunkulus 1:55
05. Santo Pueblo 3:35
06. Jamara 2:53
07. Silverstone 2:39
08. Blue Box 2:52
09. Parabolica 2:24
10. Laguna Seca 2:46
11. Herbie 1:50
12. Spektrum 3:28

Recorded 1972

 Roland Heck: organ, fender rhodes, piano, vibes, marimba, percussion
Gerd Köthe: flute, saxophone
Hans W. Herkenne: drums, percussion
Albin Metz: fender bass, trumpet
Dieter Kindl: fender bass, guitar, percussion
Klaus Nagel: flute, guitar, woodwind, percussion
Hans Lingenfelder: guitar

When I posted de rest of the Joy Unlimited albums I somehow forgot to post this one, a visitor requested it, and here it is.

Many original records with Italian Library Music are among the most sought-after collector's items of the jazz, funk and soundtrack fans today. They were produced by minor labels during the 1960s and 70s in small editions for license purposes only. One of these worldwide hunted cult albums from Italy is called "Instrumental Impressions" and appeared on the obscure Devega label from Milan in 1972. The rare LP was recorded by the legendary German progressive band "Joy Unlimited" from Mannheim, which caused quite a sensation with their mix of psychedelic rock, funk, soul and pop.

"Instrumental Impressions" features twelve excellent tracks of jazz-funk, psych rock and Latin music, with clever arrangements and perfect grooves. Frantic horns and flute lines, wah-wah guitars, psychedelic organ, Latin rhythms and jazzy saxophone or vibes develop a true kaleidoscope of varied retro sounds. The band plays music for an imaginary film of the counterculture, spiced with "killer breaks" and electronic effects."

Foehn - 1985 - Faëria


01. Fœhn
02. Loreleï
03. Ludine
04. Licorne I
05. Nomade
06. Licorne II
07. Melba
08. Rétrodroïde
09. Faëria
10. Tadji's Song
11. Dernier Souffle

Recorded at Studio 8, March 2, 3, 4 & 5, 1985.

Bass – Michel Boussiard
Drums – Marcel Beaudry-Gal
Guitar, Music By – Alain Blesing
Keyboards – Philippe François
Percussion – Jean-Manuel Belliard
Saxophone – Sylvain Beuf
Vocals, Lyrics By – Anou Belliard

it has been some times I wanted to post this unusual and rare lyric jazz fusion album recorded in 1985 by an obscure formation composed by some known french musicians as saxophonist Sylvain Beuf and guitarrist Alain Blessing
Nice bass lines, spacey keyboards and electric guitar, jazzy saxophone with various rhythmics (jazz, syncopation, latin, ...) accompanied with 'Cortexish' vocals make this album an intimate voyage into darkness of heaven.

Eskaton - 1985 - Icare


01. Marcel
02. Autant le temps
03. Le gros délire
04. Le bruit
05. New-York
06. Le chant
07. Le cri
08. Icare
09. Unknown track 1
10. Unknown track 2
11. Unknown track 3
12. Unknown track 4
13. Unknown track 5

Andre Bernardi: Bass
Paule Klaynnaert: Vocals
Amara Tahir: Vocals
Gerard Konig: Drums
Gilles Rozenberg: Guitar,Keyboards
Marc Rozenberg: Vocals, Piano, Synth

This was also originally posted on mysteryposter in 2006, then re-posted 2009 (according to Wayback Machine). Eskaton, from the Paris area, were one of the best Zeuhl groups towards the end of the 70s. Their three main albums (from 1979, 1980, and 1983) were all reissued by Soleil Zeuhl in the past few years. This record was their last effort, and was never released. A few songs were included as bonus tracks on the reissues, but the whole thing has only been passed around as a bootleg. I have no idea where the original came from (before it got to Mystery Poster), or how it made its way onto the internet as 320k mp3s, but I am pleased to have it, and happy to pass it on again.

This is real-deal 80s prog. If you're a 70s proghead ideologically opposed to 80s prog, this may not be for you. If you're open to 80s sounds but not that into prog, you might still be into this. I personally love 80s prog. Although much of it can be pretty bad, there are tons of gems to be discovered. The good stuff usually shows a pop influence, giving up some of the more esoteric prog extravagances, highlighting some of the more melodic and groove-oriented features. The recordings often sound bizarre: 80s prog bands seemed to be really open to new synths and digital effects, but the way they used them sounds nothing like what you hear in new wave or disco music from the same time. This strangely affecting synthetic sound is definitely present on this recording, but is made weirder by the lo-fi transfer quality of this copy. Super fuzzy, always making me think of it as "VHS sound quality." The versions of these songs included with the reissues sound a lot clearer. I've also noticed that the versions on this copy are pitched up. The tracklisting is also a bit dicky, with the endings of two songs separated for no reason. I love the way this copy sounds, though.

The music is unorthodox prog with a pop tendency, without sounding commercial (at all). That is to say: mostly 4/4 rhythms, catchy hooks and nice riffs, but mixed with dissonant harmonies, strange chord voicings, spacey synth sounds, intricate fills, drones, strange lyrics. Synths, guitars, and dual female vocals are the prominent sounds. The lyrics are in French, and the mood varies from upbeat and joyous to hypnotic and brooding. Great album meriting deep listening.

Eskaton - 1983 - Fiction


01. Automute (4:20)
02. Simplicius (7:03)
03. Plus Et Moins (3:40)
04. Parenthese (2:10)
05. La Danse Des Feux (4:03)
06. Le Cinema (3:30)
07. La Mort De Tristan (4:20)
08. Les Deux Trucs (4:13)
09. F.X. (7:18)

2005 Soleil Zeuhl reissue
01- FX 6:35
02- Les Deux Trucs 4:10
03- Automute 4:46
04- Simplicius 6:55
05- La Danse Des Feux 4:03
06- La Mort De Tristan 4:25
07- Le Cimema 3:28
08- Plus Et Moins 3:38
09- Parenthese 2:03

Bonus Tracks:
10- Le Musicien 4:37
11- Marcel 4:33
12- Le Chant 4:13
13- Le Bruit 4:18
14- Le Cri 9:02

- Andre Bernardi / bass
- Paule Klaynnaert / vocals
- Gerard Konig / drums
- Gilles Rozenberg / guitar, organ, synth
- Marc Rozenberg / vocals, piano, synthetiseur
- Amara Tahir / vocals

Eskaton's third album (including their 4 Visions that was never on disc, but only on cassette) sees the band losing a bit its Magma fascination and renews the Zeuhl genre. Should you ever want to convert a French-speaking person not particularly prone to prog or Zeuhl music, I suggest that you try this one, because in some ways it is quite accessible. Line-up wise, violinist Patrick Lemercier who had come in with Ardeur is gone, so the group is back to the core six player including the two female singers Amara Tahir (the brunette) and Paule Kleynnaert (the blonde) and brother Marc Rozenberg on male vocals. Still unable to interest a major label with their superb music, Eskaton recorded this album in Sept 82 at home and released it on Eleanor Productions (as was Ardeur), and used a grim eye artwork with a digital time clock, giving it a post-atomic feeling, which the band confirms.
Opening the album (I will talk of the CD, not the vinyl, because the track order was purposely changed by the group) FX doesn't seem to have brought that much less Magma overtones, but things changes quite quickly with Les Deux Trucs, a hilariously- written "screw you" theme, and Automute (a story of mutation for protection), both being funkier that was Eskaton had gotten used to and more Crimson-esque (the Belew era). Simplicius and Danse Des Feux are even more jazz-rock, planet Kobaia was eclipsed during recording of these tracks, even if the scatting chants still bear a slight trace. Mort De Tristans starts out on a gloomy almost dronal keyboard. The rest of the tracks are more or less a funky Zeuhlian jazz-rock with accessible and funny vocals/lyrics. The album-closing Paranthese is a slow electric piano instrumental.

The Soleil Zeuhl label reissue also comes with five bonus tracks from their fourth album Icare that was never released and although you can hear the difference with Fiction, they are strongly Eskatonesque as well, and make a lovely and valuable addition to Fiction. Actually Gilles Rozenberg left the band in 84 prior to recording Icare, and much of the band's drive was lost, even if they remained active until the late 80's, before finally folding. Musicien was recorded in 83 and is probably the most Belew-era Crimson funky track on the album. The next four tracks are from 85, recorded for Icare. Generally, Kobaia has fled the galaxy (except for the vocals) and the music is very 80-ish, but escaping the worst trends of that dreaded decade. Only the lengthy Le Cri reminds of earlier times.

This Cd reissue is absolutely essential to Zeuhl and Eskaton fans (and at least as much as Ardeur), because it showed that the genre could move away from its Kobaian roots, a bit like Zao had managed to unveil but never confirm. Along with Ardeur, a must for Zeuhl fans.

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.

Eskaton - 1980 - Ardeur


01. Ardeur (2:33)
02. Couvert de gloire (4:28)
03. Pierre et l'ange (4:04)
04. Attente (6:38)
05. Dagon (10:07)
06. Un certain passage (6:50)
07. Eskaton (6:05)

- Andre Bernardi / bass
- Paule Klaynnaert / voices
- Amara Tahir / voices
- Gerard Konig / drum
- Gilles Rozenberg / guitar, organ and synth
- Marc Rozenberg / piano fender, acoustic piano
- Patrick Lemercier / violin on 1 and 6

ESKATON have slimmed down from an 8 piece band to a 6 piece band for this recording. There are guest musicians adding violin, piano and guitar although the piano and guitar were both played on the final two tracks that weren't originally on this album, but were the "a" and "b" sides of a single the band released.
The first song "Ardeur" is an uptempo track with steady drums and vocal melodies right off the bat. We get some guest violin melodies as well. The song calms right down with some organ before reverting back to the original melody. Good song. "Couvert De Gloire" features keys and vocals that sound especially good 1 1/2 minutes in. These two ladies can sing ! The song ends in dramatic fashion with a collage of sounds. This is my least favourite song here, but it's still well done. "Pierre Et L'Ange" is another uptempo song with drums, vocals and piano leading the way. Synths are prominant late but check out the melody 2 minutes in. "Attente" was also on the "4 Visions" album and is catchy with a great sound. The drums, synths, vocals and piano shine. The vocal lines late in the song are fantastic. "Dagon" has a spacey intro with pulsating keys, vocals and light drums eventually taking over. The vocals and keys join each other in a beautiful arrangment. The song breaks out before 5 1/2 minutes as a good beat with great drumming leads the way. It's hard not to move to this song at this point. Originally this was the final song on the album and I can understand why.

"Un Certain Passage" is mellow to begin with as violin, vocals and keys create the soundscape. Eventually the vocals, light drums and violin make such a beautiful melody, so uplifting. The song then starts to intensify before settling back down to end it. "Eskaton" is the other song that was on "4 Visions". This is my favourite with the ANEKDOTEN-like guitar melodies that come and go. This song has a great sound to it and it's also heavier. I also love the way the two vocalsists are singing different parts at the same time. Just an amazing song. The first bonus track is a definite let down after hearing "Eskaton". Good bass lines though and the keys and drums are certainly active. "If" opens with the sound of wind blowing as organ comes in and the beat becomes relentless.The vocals come and go, mostly they just go. This is a very good song from the band, it must have been the "a" side single.

Yukorin the Zeuhl expert, when comparing this album to "4 Visions" said "I prefer the rougher, younger sister "Ardeur". And it's hard for me not to agree. They both are "must haves" as far as i'm concerned. And how can you pick one sister over the other ? Pick them both up.

Eskaton - 1979 - Musique Post Atomique

Musique Post Atomique

01. Le chant de la Terre
02. If

- André Bernardi / bass
- Gérard Konig / drums
- Alain Blésing / guitar
- Gilles Rozenberg / organ, synth
- Eric Guillaume / fender piano
- Marc Rozenberg / fender piano
- Paule Kleynnaert / voice
- Amara Tahir / voice

Formed in 1970, the ESKATON KOMMANDKESTRA continued the Zeuhl tradition spearheaded by Christian Vander's MAGMA. In an move towards accessibility they discard the Kobaian lyrics, opting instead for their native French. In 1974 original members Xavier de Raymond (Fender piano), Gerard Konig (drums), Marc Rosenberg (bass guitar), and Alain Blesing (guitar) are joined by Paule Kleynnaert (vocals), Amara Tahir (vocals), Eris Guillaume (keyboards), and Andre Bernardi (guitar) becoming simply ESKATON.

1979 saw the release of their first single "Musique Post Atomique", and the recording of their first album "4 Visions" (which would remain unreleased until 1981). Personnell changes (Alain Blessing, Eric Guillaume and Xavier de Raymond out, Gilles Rozenberg and MALICORNE's violinist Patrick Lemercier in) resulted in shorter songs, tighter arrangements and their next release, 1980's "Ardeur". In 1983 after the addition of synthesizers into their arrangements, and a move away from their more traditional Zeuhl sound, ESKATON recorded their last release "Fiction". In 1984 Gilles Rozenberg left the group, and the remaining members recorded their last album "I Care", which was never released.

Now 20 years later, ESKATON remains one of Zeuhl's brightest moments, and their album "4 Visions" (released on CD in 1995 through Sweeden's Ad Perpetuam Memoriam label) is a masterpiece of the entire genre.

So, two official first Eskaton's songs. The sound is quite close to their future masterpiece, but this single shows that the band still was growing up at the moment, although already existed since early 70's. Both songs are quite different to each other, and each one is good, memorable and enjoyable in its own way.

Le chant de la Terre. Somehow, this managed to be something between 'adventurous' and 'mellow' musical experience. There's nothing exactly outstanding in arrangement's quality and musicianship, it's just well-played, but the composition is definitely good. In fact, style of the composition's structure is very close to 4 Visions' compositions, which is mostly expressed in use of nonrecurring themes. It's a very pleasant listen, despite the highly unexpected and ambiguous final, directly after the part with the beautiful vocal solo.

If ...Something familiar, right? No, I'm not about PF's song (bah, I prefer Eskaton's 'If' to PF's one, FWIW). Actually, if I was reviewing Ardeur now, I'd point out that the If's melody at the first part is very similar to Couvert de gloire from Ardeur. So yeah, this is stylistically rather Ardeur's song. Again, a very good and pleasant composition, with wordless chanting this time and some good nonrecurring parts as well.