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Dün - Eros CD (album) cover





4.24 | 511 ratings

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5 stars Western French group Vegataline Boufiol were subject to a number of unstable working environments: constant change of personnel, uncertain direction and sound, many band-name changes. It came time for the group to finally set things in stone. The line-up more or less fixed, the band name finally decided (changed from Vegataline Boufiol to Kan-Daar to Dune, and then, finally, Dün), and the musical bearing focused. What was once intended to be a Mahavishnu Orchestra tribute band became a jazzed-up Magma, with dashes of Henry Cow-like avant-garde leanings, and, in the days following this recording, an improvisational live jazz ensemble.

Though the first of the songs appearing here were written back in '78 (while the band went under the name Kan-Daar), the real beginning of this holy grail, this rural gem, this hidden masterpiece, can be traced as far back as '76, when the original band was formed. Indeed, little of that original band remained in them when they stepped into the studio (and indeed, they would change again once stepping out). In fact, only two of the original members remained in the ensemble at studio-time: Pascal Vandenbulcke, the virtuoso flute and the unique player of the gruyèrophone (AKA the swisscheeseophone), who is also the main composer of the tracks, and Laurent Bertaud, a very sensitive, flexible and creative drummer. The other musicians all add their share to the overall sound: the driving bottom end from the great Thierry Tranchant, the vital and cosmic keyboards of Bruno Sabathe, and the subtle but precise guitar work of Jean Geeraerts. Other musicians appearing here are Alain Termol whose percussive touch is essential at crunch time. Philippe Portejoi's saxophone is exclusive to the bonus tracks (recorded earlier, while he was also a full-time member of the band).

Conceptually, the album's subject can easily be seen to be Frank Herbert's fantasy, science-fiction universe of the Dune series. This assumption is derived from not only the band's name, but the song names, and, arguably, the atmosphere and feel of many of the tracks. Sometimes the music paints a vivid image of barren sand seas; other times the unfathomable depths of outer space. Indeed, Pascal and Jean were both captured by Herbert's novel at the time of the songwriting. However, this is by no means a concept album (unless the band themselves deem it so) because the atmosphere, as I see, was not intentionally meant to depict the world of Frank Herbert's Dune, and the topics are not pursued further than song names. The lack of lyrics adds to the fact that this is simply a music record (versus a concept album): all songs connected in spirit, but not in the fashion of a full-blown concept album.

Musically, however, the album is as cohesive and coherent as any has ever been. It is more comparable to Magma's debut than the zeuhl of Magma's Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh and onward. Few grand marches appear, and absolutely no chanting awaits. For many, this may be a relief, as I understand that that side of Magma's music was the only thing holding people back from fully enjoying the rest. Combining elements of many of their influences, from the jazz, avant-garde, and zeuhl pools of music, they managed to form a matchless masterwork. The compositions fly from incredibly complex segments, to spacey chord progressions, with rhythmically led marches (never lasting too long), while always full of experimental sensitivities, with even a few symphonic splashes for additional diversity. Chiefly acoustic and analog, the only really electronic sounds appearing are those from electronic keyboards (whose welcome is never overstayed) and the electric guitars (who never grow anywhere near overpowering).

The only flaws hindering this disc lie in the production. While the re-issue's packaging and booklet are top-notch, the sound quality remains atrocious, and the editing is often unmistakably rough. The bonus tracks grow even more disgustingly jagged, and the final track "Acoustic Fremen" is so low-quality that it is difficult to distinguish the instruments apart. However, the bonus tracks are just that: "bonus", and their assessment should not in anyway affect the final grade of the album. The four key songs are giants of complexity, musicianship, atmosphere and originality. The four compositions, sometimes mind-boggling, other times gorgeous, are some of the greatest on this side of the musical world.

Eros stands as one of the great musical outputs ever. I pity the ears that die afore digesting these sounds.

Shakespeare | 5/5 |


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