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Dün - Eros CD (album) cover





4.24 | 511 ratings

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5 stars Here we have a most tantalising Zeuhl curiosity! This album is the sole release of French Zeuhl minstrels Dün. What a shame that they didn't give us more of their refreshing and sparkling take on this style of music.

Zeuhl is sometimes defined as being oppressive or sinister, which this music certainly is not. It is really exuberant stuff, rather more light-hearted than Magma. A generous swirl of flute and tuned percussion ripples through the music, giving it an airy texture. It's fast-paced, too. The ideas speed by, hopscotching from one snippet to the next rather than fixating on endless repetitions. (If music was psychiatry, I guess Magma's diagnosis would be OCD, and Dün's would be ADHD!) That's not to say that it feels annoyingly episodic or choppy - but it certainly doesn't fall into the 'ever-mounting epic' category of Zeuhl.

But it's Zeuhl for sure. Twitchily-precocious rhythms alternate with more straightforward time signatures. There's intelligent, responsive, semi-jazzy drumming, and a sense of the music being 'pushed from the back' rather than 'led from the front' (i.e. the rhythm section is the prime mover, rather than some showy guitar hero). Also, of course, there's that outta-this-world touch: the album (and the band's name) was apparently inspired by Frank Herbert's 'Dune' SF novels. (Speaking of the band's name, previously it was spelled 'Dune' before being changed to 'Dün'. I've no idea whether this is correct, but according to those purported 'Kobaïan dictionaries' out there on the internet, 'dun' is the Kobaïan for 'heart'. Probably not significant, but a cute coincidence for besotted Magma nuts anyway!)

The first piece on the album, 'L'Epice', has that leaping-from-one-lily-pad-to-the-next feel referred to earlier. It's over 9 minutes long, but you'd never guess that if you weren't watching the counter on your stereo. It's quick, dramatic and punchy, and zips past like an insect in a hurry.

'Arrakis' is the piece that first got me interested in Dün - you can hear it on their page of this website. Dün seem to make a speciality of leading their listeners from the soft-and-pretty, through tightening tension, and into speedily spirited explosive outbursts, and that's just what they do in this piece. The playing is both disciplined and vibrantly enthusiastic. From the gentle, resonant opening chords on piano and synth, soon joined by melting flute and guitar, to the climax, all frothy tuned percussion and effervescent drums, it's fun, beautiful and energetic.

'Bitonio' starts out stately, but takes on a vehement tone as it gets going. After a gentle piano and flute interlude, the bass rasps rudely back into life and a tight, tense section flares into being. Again, mood swing after mood swing buffets the ensemble from one direction to the next, without the flightiness becoming irritating or making the music feel rootless.

'Eros' unfolds from spooky sounds (think harps resonating in a light breeze) into mellifluous meanderings on flute. There's an eerie section in which the flute and synths make sounds like a rainforest at dusk - reminiscent of exotic birds and insects and monkeys, cooing, chirping and howling. A spot of enthusiastic yelling of the title can only add to the cheerful briskness of the closing minutes. The piece falls away into the same misty reflections with which it began.

If the four original album tracks aren't enough for you, there are also four bonus tracks on the CD. Three are early alternate versions of 'Bitonio', 'Arrakis' and 'Eros', and the fourth is the almost Medieval-sounding 'Acoustic Fremen', which was apparently something the band used to play live. The alternate versions are interesting enough, but not quite as 'together' as the final versions. At that point there was a saxophonist in the band, but the distinctive Dün tuned percussion is missing. As a result, the bonus tracks aren't as successful (to my ears) as the official album tracks. The precision of the album versions seems submerged somehow, missing the authoritative grammar-and-punctuation of the percussion. That said, any extras are worth having with a band whose career was as short as Dün's!

There's a joyful, flamboyant feel to this music: it's got a confident certitude about it - no hesitation, no apology. It's all, like, "We're Here, We're Dün, Get Used To It"! The compulsory Zeuhl hallmark of 'whole band unity' doesn't prevent each band member getting his moment in the spotlight, but we aren't forced to sit through a relay race of witless soloing. I suppose the quick-change aspect helps on that front.

This album is held in high esteem by many music lovers. As I write this, 'Eros' is apparently the fiftieth most popular album on this site, which is saying a lot for a one-album obscurity! But the quality really does shine through. It's complex without being tricksy, varied without being unfocused, disciplined without being overly slick, and idiosyncratic without being weirder-than-thou.

Recommended! Five stars!!

song_of_copper | 5/5 |


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