Review Summary: German prog meshes English influence and textural organ to mixed, and exotic results. WORD UP.Review of the Month: March 2007
Though Germany was noted for the innovative art music movement known as Krautrock in the 70s, German rockers Eloy followed the English prog scene instead. While their contemporaries messed with splicing tape reels, electronics, and avant-garde sounds, Eloy focused on more traditional musicianship, building complicated jams and inventive interplay. Inside
is a raw exploration of spacey arrangements, the core of each song made up of meshing impressive guitar and organ work that veers off into seemingly unforeseen directions. Though Eloy would evolve into a more symphonic, cerebral band, the unrefined chemistry was already perfected here.
Instantly notable about this sophomore album is the intricate change of mood and tempo, each song going from calm and atmospheric, to jumbled aggression within the lengthy songs about ambiguous mysticism. Land of No Body
instantly kicks off the dense jamming, throughout its 17 minute lifespan it strings together an overabundance of riffs to a military like rhythm section, switching moods rapidly, and reinforcing the stereotypical ambition of progressive rock too strongly. Through its incoherent body, it throws a few too many references to Pink Floyd
, directly quoting the opening pings of Echoes
at one point, but at least out shine the Floyd in extravagant flaunts of musical chops. Some Krautrock influences actually do shine through in this excessive opener, the mid section morphing the band’s hectic workout into a freeform collage of swooshing guitar sounds, showing that Eloy do add some of their own flavor to their mixed bag of influences.
What does keep Eloy unique from other bands is the organ, which leads the feel of the album, switching between an omnipresent background, to a guitar’s sidekick, to a lead instrument within minutes. The organ’s manipulation of textures and sounds is the key to keeping Eloy from completely masturbatory, to stylistically experimental. It changes from crunchy, angular and rhythmic to sweeping and ethereal, and keeps the listener from dosing off, making sound changes easy to note.
The album’s third track, Future City
, is the only song absent from the safety of the commanding keyboards, but ironically is easily the best song on the album. It starts off as an ominous acoustic guitar track pacing robotically, and morphs into a funky breakdown, as Eloy mix flamenco, and R&B into a rhythmic groove, with exotic percussion keeping a surging beat. Guitarist Frank Bornemann finally shines without the organ as he belts out an almost danceable wah solo, and though his playing gets a bit too self-indulgent on other songs, here it works perfectly.
One downside to Future City
is how it reveals another one of Eloy’s bites of an English band. Vocalist Bornemann perfectly imitates Jethro Tull
frontman Ian Anderson (the song’s earthiness is even similar,) though his German accent does give away the fact that he’s not Ian Anderson. The lyrics overall do have an awkward approach that showcases Eloy’s foreign roots on top of Bornemann’s voice. The bass closely resembles the bass work of Yes
, though not enough to warrant another accusation of unoriginality.
does do a good job of displaying Eloy’s masterful abilities, but the song structures of most of the tracks are poorly rounded off and constructed that it makes them seem somewhat primitive and amateurish. This is even more obvious if one listens to their later works, which displays Eloy as a more intelligent, conceptual band, and not just a rambling afterthought of prog rockers. The two bonus tracks added to the re-master, Daybreak
and On the Road
are both concise songs originally released on a single, and are more digestible than the original songs, captivating the band’s energy in shorter amounts of time. The former includes the only string arrangements on the album, and make an exotic instrumental similar to Future City
is an entertaining listen for a progressive rock fan, especially those more akin to Jethro Tull
rather than King Crimson
, but can just be a jumbling mess for anyone else. Their later releases Dawn
are improvements, and still retain some of the experimental spirit on this album.