A few months before writing this review, I became aware of this thing called Zeuhl. With some investigation, Magma came forward. It was like nothing I had ever heard before, and made me an instant fan. As my Magma collection grew, I kept seeing the names DÜN, and Eros. However, I could not find this highly touted album. After some time, my curiosity won out, and I ordered it. That was a very good decision, because this is an incredible album.
It doesn’t have the operatic influences characteristic of Magma, but it is just as challenging. You also don’t need to learn a sci-fi languange to get all of it, as it is entirely instrumental. The sound is more updated, but not immoveably rooted in the ’80s. The style itself is very unlike any of its time. It seems to be an avant-jazz fusion, with some heavy guitar, flute, and xylophone. It sometimes reminds me of Zappa. But, where he would use the xylophone as a sort of musical comic relief (that doesn’t mean I doubt how serious Zappa was about his music), it sounds as if it is necessary here. The flute is bold, and at times would even make Ian Anderson jealous.
“L’Epice” is a full band workout (like any of this isn’t), and features nice little duels, and duets with the players.
“Arrakis” starts out mellow, but with a hint of something malevolent. In the middle, we get a great jam. For some reason it always puts me in the mind of “Weather Report” (the bass is a lot like Jaco Pastorius). That feeds into a drum free for all, yet it never seems to be without structure. The end is a choppy weirdness that would make Robert Fripp proud.
“Bitonio” is … well … sort of … everything really. It has spots that seem like space rock, symphonic, straight jazz, or folk. You name it, and it’s probably there. Somehow, it all fits together.
“Eros” begins quite spacey, and very flute dominated. It then gets very spacey. The bass line discretely picks up tempo, and before you know it, it’s a jam. Then, oops, I lied there are lyrics. The band shouts “Eros, Eros, Eros” for a few bars. it gets to a Gentle Giant like place, and CRASH!. At the end, it just fritters away.
I like to reserve my reviews to the original album, so I won’t go into the bonus tracks.
Unless I misunderstood, this is supposed to be inspired by the writings of Frank Herbert. Even being a fan of the “Dune” series, I just don’t make that correlation. Who cares though? Listen to the music, and don’t try to make it a soundtrack. It is a marvelous piece.
Laurent Bertaud – drums
Jean Geeraerts – electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Bruno Sabathe – piano, synthesizers
Alain Termol – percussion
Thierry Tranchant – bass
Pascal Vandenbulcke – flutes