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Eloy - Ra CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.79 | 210 ratings

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3 stars After 1984's Metromania, the members of Eloy went their separate ways until Frank Bornemann reconvened with Michael Gerlach to continue as a duo assisted by session musicains and a host of electronics. The band has come a long way from its roots. The material here is high quality arena rock, a semi-Prog return to form that ploughs the same musical furrow as Rabin's Yes [circa 90125] but much more progressive! The band's songwriting had never been better, and one song [Rainbow] might be considered adult radio fodder, but otherwise songs are intelligently produced with strong developing arrangements.

Bornemann's singing, normally a major bugbear, is no longer an issue - it is tuneful, often multi-tracked and often harmonised with other voices. Female vocals also play a major part, including spoken sections at the beginning and end of the album. Instrumentally, the dominant feature is Bornemann's meaty guitar work, whether stretching over a Rabin-esque solo or inventively providing rhythmic support. 1980s keyboard samples and sequencing are often unloved, and their use here does tend to give an adverse impression but in general they are used wisely. So far so good! This is an excellent album with strong leanings towards the 80s sound of Yes [even down to some very Chris Squire sounding harmonies], Asia, Saga and Genesis, with echoes of Mike Oldfield and even Enigma! But .....

..... the 'drums' are awful! The decision to use sequenced percussion may have given Bornemann greater freedom, but it takes great skill to make it sound real. These are poorly integrated, sequenced with too much rigid quantisation and use generic samples that intrude to the extent of interfering with the flow of a song and listeners' enjoyment. Invasion Of A Megaforce is only an average song to begin with, but it becomes completely unlistenable. Voyager Of The Future Race, Sensations and Hero are all brilliant Proggy songs, with full and interesting arrangements that develop well and hold the attention. All are would-be classics spoiled by unsympathetic artificial percussion. Two songs manage to escape the general malaise - the catchy but over-repetitive AOR track Rainbows, and excellent shapeshifting Dreams with its infectious massed voice chorus.

Overall, this is a very frustrating album, five of its six tracks being so good that it would easily be considered 'excellent' and 'essential'. Approach with caution, but if you can force your ears to filter out the worst of the percussion, you will be rewarded with some very memorable songs.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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