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Eider Stellaire - Eider Stellaire I CD (album) cover


Eider Stellaire



4.00 | 101 ratings

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4 stars Zeuhl is often perceived as a genre closely aligned with rock in opposition, and the avant-garde scene in general. True enough, a hefty portion of Magma's catalog is very inaccessible and bizarre, and most Japanese zeuhl groups are noisy and outwardly flamboyant. However, there were a number of bands in the Zeuhl genre to weave symphonic, jazzy, melodic, and, simply: more accessible elements into this style. Univeria Zekt was the first attempt to draw more listeners to Zeuhl, which was indeed merely an alternate version of an early Magma, with more a straight-forward rock and pop sound combined with upbeat jazz. Zao were the first band, besides Univeria Zekt, to also make this brand of catchy-zeuhl, adopting a very heavy dose of jazz, comparable even to later Maneige. Then came Eskaton in 1979, with their stellar debut, 4 Visions. Now, in 1980, after Magma had already passed through their prime, Vander had turned his focus to his other project: Offering.

Offering is essentially Vander's expressing of jazz, as well as his environment to be a full-time front-man. Since he didn't often drum in Offering, but rather sang, drummer Michel LeBards was employed to take his place at the throne. Michel also wanted to compose music, and have his own group, and thus formed Eider Stellaire. It follows the melodic and symphonic Zeuhl direction of Eskaton, with vocal work similar to Weidorje's: wordless and non-prominent. It is still with its anchor in the fierce rhythm section, which is imperative to all Zeuhl, and comes with a liberal serving of jazz. Despite being more accessible than Magma and the Japa-Zeuhl, they're arguably no less complex, and certainly just as intense. The most exciting thing about Eider's debut album, I find, is not the mind blowing musicianship, nor the classy compositions, but rather the undying atmosphere spread evenly across this mere 35 minute masterpiece. Every listen, I am so entirely captivated, and feel distant from earth.

The bass is a real highlight on this album for me. It moves with a destructive power, and a texture as though something extremely heavy is being dragged. It feels and sounds like snow when crushed under boots. In fact, I find this album bestows frequently imagery. Sandy dunes and polar scenes alike. It smoothly and fluently evolves from dark choruses to jovial themes. At some moments, even, melancholic piano announces a beautiful melody. Other times, guitar and a beautiful female voice together chant a haunting string of notes. Even a few dispersed sax and flute solos appear. But throughout the album, these moments are kept scarce. The majority of the album is comprised of intense rhythms supporting a powerful and destructive guitar line, as spacey keyboards tie it all together. The songs are all somewhat similar, but not to the point the album is redundant. It rather makes the album coherent and gives it its distinct flow.

I can't stress enough how really fantastic this experience is. The singing is just impeccable, and the melodies are haunting and very pronounced. The only flaw hindering this absolute masterpiece is the sub-par sound quality. The cause of this problem is obvious. The only digital copies of this album were ripped straight off the vinyl, non-professionally (that means, somebody feeling generous performed the rip in their basement). You may think this immoral, or even illegal, but it isn't. The album is by now long out of print, and Eider wouldn't profit from your purchase of any copy you stumble across, anyway. It was never remastered, and there was never even a CD version officially released. Many requested have been made of Michel and producers to remaster and reissue Eider's small catalog, but Michel didn't agree to oversee a remaster. Regardless, the original tapes are rumoured to be lost or damaged, so there is no hope of there ever being a remaster anyway.

This all goes to feed the obscurity of this band. Now with the vast majority of vinyl era bands remastering and reissuing their albums, it is assumed any band who doesn't do so will be forever condemned to the oblivion of obscurity. I prithee go in search of a vinyl copy, or a digital copy, and reverse this process. It's a sad shame it's so unpopular on Prog Archives, let alone the rest of the musical world. Please don't let this masterpiece decay in memory.

Shakespeare | 4/5 |


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