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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 returns to its humble beginnings

(Thank you so much for this John!)

Eider Stellaire's first release has become somewhat of a cult classic, and deservedly so. The mix of jazz rock and that special unique shading that I'd like to call the teutonic touch, is here leaning heavily on the jazz side of things - making it an easy approachable album, and one that should appeal to a lot of different music listeners who like their fusion with a sprinkling of the serene and feminine.

That last part of the equation is all down to the two female vocalists of Eider Stellaire. Lingering and floating over the hard hitting jazz rock, you find an ethereal scat singing relying totally on wordless whispers and melodic effervescent emanations.

Now, personally I've always thought of Zeuhl as being the natural heir-taker of the European jazz culture that flourished after WW2. Heaps of Black jazz musicians now called France, Sweden, Denmark or even Germany their new home. Over here, they were synonymous with the American heroes that helped us trample Hitler's new world order, - AND they could play their ass off to boot - in a new and exciting way that soon took hold over our own musicians. All this may have started out as bebop, but like everything else, waves start as ripples, and these musicians were indeed the start of a wonderful sonic adventure about to unfold. France was no stranger to jazz, but this new wave of musicians still made serious ripples - soon inspiring the nation's youth to do their own thing with this newly found expression. By the end of the sixties the jazz world was again reinvented by artists like Miles and the whole notion of infusing rock within the classic mould, and sure enough, you were pretty soon spotting French artists mixing it up much like their contemporaries.

What sets this particular brand of jazz rock aside, is what Magma then proceeded to do with the genre, but I happen to think it happened even earlier than that. Zeuhl is not necessarily made up of a pseudo universe with its own strange lingo. Sure that's what it has become and known for, but when you start looking around at other artists from around the same time, you'll find a lot of the same essentials roaming freely: like the teutonic trade, the almost ritualistic rhythms, the apocalyptic menacing drive - all of this is also very present in a man like Igor Wakhevitch's music, - and well he got it from Luc Ferrari, a now famous composer that has influenced many an experimental musician - and he then got a thing or two from Edgard Varèse and so on... Again, we've said this thing over and over again: nothing exists in a vacuum. Not prog rock nor Zeuhl for that matter.

All of this ranting surely has a point, you must be saying to yourself by now, - and it does! I promise. This album was released at the beginning of the 80s, where music that put back the experimental quotient in the spotlight was a rare commodity outside of the RIO inspired groups that literally were in bloom. Eider Stellaire's debut is a throwback to the early fusion sage-rated days of Zeuhl. Reminding this listener of Magma's 1001 Centigrades that also wielded an uncanny jazz rock attitude, this album manages to put its own spin on something that by 81 was old and tried, yet somehow it comes off sounding as fresh as ever. The reason behind, according to my own uneducated guess, is the way it was captured on tape. Sounding like a regular live feast gone metaphysical right there and then at the recording session, it luckily avoids all of the androgynous studio tinkering that was going on at the time, where drums weren't aloud to sound like drums, synths should sound like plastic velcro and well just the whole notion of recording music separately and metronomic. All of that was frowned upon - or maybe the lack of money simply made the decision beforehand, - either way, the album is free of those 'dated' and lacklustre trades of the time - sounding meaty, vivacious and monumentally fresh - still after some 30 years!

Beautiful towering drum patterns - sounding like cataclysmic events happening all over each other - backed up by the deepest sweatiest bass you'll ever come across. Electric piano tip toeing its way into your heart with a small melody on its lips, often holding hands with a marvellous sounding organ that benefits the music by breathing air into the midst of things. This is surely fusion that reaches for the skies like huge buildings and skyscrapers rising up on the horizon.

I recommend anyone with a penchant for fusion to look into this record. It's an easy approachable bugger that'll charm its way down your trouser, like a lovesick ferret on the prowl. This could very well be your first time together with a Zeuhl album, and what a way to pop your cherry! 4.5 stars

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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