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Eskaton - 4 Visions CD (album) cover

4 VISIONS

Eskaton

 

Zeuhl

4.24 | 141 ratings

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Psychedelist
5 stars An underrated album. Thanks to PA, 4 Visions was my first Zeuhl album and I'll never regret that I started my exploration of Zeuhl universe with this and not Magma. This is actually one of the best records I've ever heard so far, Zeuhl or otherwise. Being obviously influenced by Magma*, Eskaton managed to create their own original, unique sound. The result is subtle interplay of stunning music and charming female vocals. It Is Magic. And I love it. Very much. It's true that Eskaton is far more accessible than Magma, and the main reason is the music being very expressive. The reasons that made 4 Visions exactly expressive music are extreme quality of arrangements, outstanding musicanship, softer vocals (compared to Magma of course), and absolute lack of flaws on the whole album (try and you won't find anything that seems or sounds 'wrong'). Plus, the overall effect somehow managed to be not as weird and out-of-this-world as it was with Magma. Actually, it came up as a surprise to me, because I do think that actual musical content here is, at the very least, not less complex than Magma, definitely more complex than, say, MDK, which was a totally opposite case - quite simple in terms of musical structures, but extremely difficult to listen to (for many, not for me though; in fact, I 'got' MDK at second listen, 4 Visions - at third one). Faster musical development, lots of non-recurring themes (as opposed to repetitions) and overall effect being pleasant and 'weird' in positive way rather than scaring and 'weird' in neutral way at best, so isn't Eskaton's music less 'deep', but more 'progressive' and complicated? From a certain point of view, maybe. Nevertheless, the truth is that Eskaton's music is easier to listen to and to get into, and I already explained why (music being expressive), so the true is also that 4 Visions is a PERFECT introduction to Zeuhl genre. If I needed to scare or really impress someone, I'd go with MDK. To get into Zeuhl? 4 Visions. That's it.

* - Continuing comparing Eskaton to Magma, the closest Magma's album I can think of, regarding actual music, is Udu Wudu. Ultimate comparing? I prefer Eskaton's masterpiece much over that Magma's album which was nevertheless an oustanding one.

I'm going to try to explain how this works by going track-by-track.

Eskaton. How would I describe this in one word (and the whole album as well)? There's a word - 'Psychedelic'. Eskaton isn't going to bore you. This music and these women, being an organic part of the music, will not only make you an active listener. In fact, if you're like me, the bass line will make you move. Bernardi is an outstanding bassist and the other musicans are more than compitent as well. The vocals sound rhytmic rather than melodic. Groovy, rhytmic, and 'weird' (in the best possible meaning; but again, it's not out-of-this-world weirdness). 4,5/5

Attente. I have no suggestions regarding 'conceptual' value of the first 'spacey' minute. The rest is amazing. This is probably the most complex composition on the album, regarding whether musical complexity or hard-to-get aspect. The composition can be possibly divided into four conditional parts and the best one is definitely third part. At this time, the vocals are more melodic and start to reveal their beauty. The mood of music vary from charming beauty (cortesy of vocals) to subtle weirdness, whether it is about how intsruments/vocals sound or what they play/sing. I do not insist that the greatness is this, "only" that this composition is great. 4.7/5

Ecoute. Somehow, a tremendous blend of the first two songs. All the best is here, in these 13 minutes of pure Joy/Zeuhl/Prog/Music. Maybe a bit too weird 'joy' for some, I don't know. A detail for an Eskaton hardcore (if one exists): listen to the melody at the intro (0:00-0:33). Did you ever notice that at the central part, where the composition starts over, at 7:30-7:59, she* sings exactly same melody? The reason why it was so hard to notice is that there was no rhytm at the intro and thus the melody was being perceived in absolutely different way. That was an amazing discover for me at the time. And finally, once you've passed that amazing chord progression... what can I say about the obvious emotional pinnacle, part at 4:46-6:13 and its further even more tremendous repetition at the end? This is some of the most charming, catchy and hypnotic things I've ever heard (the reason is the way voices sound and the melody they sing). While my mind still considers it being emphasized on form rather than content, this is one of the few things that likely got stuck in my mind forever. A part like this was enough to make this album masterpiece. 5/5

* - What a magnificent duet, the singing graces, Amara and Paule. One has...'stronger' voice, and the other one - 'softer' one. Their voices interplay with each other just as perfect as they do with the music. The shame is that I actually don't know who sings what. So that's it.

Pitie. Slower, softer, even more melodic, vocals start to play almost dominant role. For me, it is an ideal example of 'relaxing', and yet the music. 4.5/5

Le Cri (as a 'bonus' track; it shouldn't spoil the 'Four Visions' concept). Still a great pleasure, even if lesser than the four previous terrific visions by any means. 3.5/5

4 Visions has been recently reissued by Soleil Zeuhl label. All the tracks have been remastered from the origianl master tapes (so I guess the 1995 release was based on that 1979 tape and not the master tapes then), the reissue also includes four previosly unknown bonus tracks from the Icare era. I have to get it soon.

If this is not a masterpiece of Zeuhl, then only MDK and nothing else is. The reason why 4 Visions is exactly masterpiece is that, no matter what you talk about - superb musicanship or outstanding compositions' structures, beautiful vocals or 'weird' mood, the result, being definitely progressive, manages to remain The Beautiful Music, from my point of view. Undoubtful 5 stars.

Psychedelist | 5/5 |

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