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Ego on the Rocks - Acid in Wounderland  CD (album) cover

ACID IN WOUNDERLAND

Ego on the Rocks

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.36 | 27 ratings

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Lewian
4 stars This is a quite ambitious attempt by drummer and lyricist Juergen Rosenthal and keyboarder and guitarist Detlev Schmidtchen, both of which had just left Eloy (or "were left"; pretty clearly the split was not on good terms). The original album (ending with "Civilisation Song 1") has all the songs connected and is meant to be appreciated as a whole, with all the voice recordings becoming part of a bigger, mysterious but somewhat philosophical concept. There is no clear "story" behind this but the lyrics together with the voices, many of which are quotes from authors certainly give qite a bit food for thought without restricting the imagination of the listener too much. The band has come under fire in the majority of the reviews for distracting from the music by this approach, but for me personally this works very well and makes me listen to the lyrics and thinking about the quotes, although I normally tend to ignore lyrics. I am fluent in both German and English, which obviously helps; without German you miss about a third. Still, the voices and other noise snippets are also fine as integral part of the sound for me.

The music mixes several elements. Both Schmidtchen and Rosenthal use their trademark Eloy sounds for drums and keyboards and particularly some of the keyboard work evoke Eloy. Schmidtchen moves also in a more electronic/spacey direction, using some Tangerine Dream-style sequencers. There are some straight and atmospheric instrumentals (though these come with recorded voices besides further sound samples), some complexity and experiments in the longer songs, and actually three or four examples of surprisingly catchy songwriting.

Rosenthal plays straighter than in most of his Eloy work, fitting for the time, but in any case he is a great, groovy and very characteristic drummer and both the drums and the keyboards are really strong, well played, original and tasteful. You've got to like some early 80s synthesizer sound, though. Generally there is more emphasis on sounds and atmospheres than on twists and turns in the songwriting, which is in a middle ground between grandiose 70s prog and decluttered (though still interesting) 80s new wave/electronic but there is much variation on the overall album between songs so that it still is a multi-faceted experience.

The bonus tracks fall clearly behind and are not integrated in the overall concept; they are partly interesting, partly experimental and partly annoying and although I liked listening to some parts of them, they are not on a par with the regular album; this includes the elsewhere celebrated "Once in Africa 1", which I find rather aimless and too long. Also their production is substandard, they were probably not originally meant as an end product. The simpler bonus songs are not on a par with their counterparts "Asylum" or "Erected Error" from the original LP either. The bonuses don't hurt though, it's just more music and one can skip it, of course.

This is a very interesting and rewarding work, although it suffers somewhat from the thin non-singers voice of Schmidtchen, who does most of the vocals, and from the fact that Schmidtchen is by far not as good as guitarist and bass player as he is as keyboarder. With a top notch bass player and singer I'd have rated this 4.5, as things are it's 3.5 rounded up.

Lewian | 4/5 |

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