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Runaway Totem - Tep Zepi CD (album) cover


Runaway Totem


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3 stars This is the kind of music that is not easy to review... either you like it or you don't. I really had difficulties getting into "Andromeda", their previous effort, to the point that I got rid of my copy. But Tep Zepi is way easier to listen to, because the tense moments are now interspersed with softer, more melodic passages which allows for some "breathing" time. This is still difficult music anyway, but worth listening to if you like such groups as King Crimson, Magma, Universal Totem Orchestra. A real amateur of this kind of music would certainly put a better rating than me. I would also like to point out the splendid and very expressive vocals (in Italian) of the singer.
Report this review (#18734)
Posted Saturday, December 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars Be carefull with this band, this isn't a Magma like band. The comparaison with King Crimson is unbelievable. No links with Gentle Giant. This is a kind of gothic music with simple structures that can be related to progressive rock, but the great harmonic weakness of the instrumentation and the use of inappropriated ambiant gothic pieces try to mask the emptiness of the compositions. The keyboards are typically 80's and are not advised to 70's prog lovers and ridiculous. In my opinion the singer is the only member oh this band who constructs something strong. I don't agree with the filing of this band under the term Zeuhl and advise to every people who want to buy those albums to listen to it before!
Report this review (#120066)
Posted Saturday, April 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. Dark, intense and oppressive music with powerful Italian vocals is perhaps the best way to describe this album. Less spacey and less of a Zeuhl flavour on this one compared to the previous one called "Andromeda". This record really has a gothic feel to it at times and I wasn't surprised to see that this band used to be on the "Black Widow" label.

The first track "Aurea Carmina" is dark and atmospheric with church bells slowly ringing out before the powerful Italian vocals come in. The organ is great before the vocals stop and various sounds come and go. Spoken words arrive late.This first song has really set the mood. "Sacro Re" takes things up a few notches as a heavy soundscape including some abrasive guitar opens the song. The instrumental work here is fantastic as the tempo slightly shifts. After a great 4 1/2 minutes a pastoral passage comes in including acoustic guitar and vocals. I like the background synths. The last minute of the song reverts back to the original melody. "Pardos" has some amazing chanting on it. It sounds like male and female choirs taking turns. Very powerful. 2 minutes in the song comes alive with some heavy guitar melodies that turn into scorching, ear piercing sounds 3 1/2 minutes in. The choirs are back 6 minutes in.This is great !

"Iperborea" starts off with clashing guitar, and then those incredible sounding Italian vocals as the guitar grinds away. Nice. Synths come in. Uplifting and powerful vocals after 3 1/2 minutes. There is what sounds like an explosion a minute later. Lots of atmosphere and spoken words. The guitar just rips it up after that. "Montsalvat" is spacey to open before the guitar pierces the tranquility. There is so much guitar on this album which is partly why I love it so much. Vocal sounds and guitar battle for supremecy until the song speeds up and brightens briefly. The last minute of the song is great. The final 3 songs are part of a suite called "I 4 Signori". There is a guest vocalist used on this section. It starts with "L'Isola Sacra" that begins with 2 minutes of instrumental work before the vocals come in. A fuller sound 3 1/2 minutes in. Guitar and drums lead the way as the song blends into "I Guardiani" which continues in the same vein. The final song "Akasha" is different as it opens with a spacey soundscape before guitar and drums join in. The drums pound away and the guitar is so raw and abrasive. I like it. Vocals 3 minutes in.

Excellent release from this great Italian band that likes to mix different styles of music into their sound. All I know is I really like the music they create. Bravo !

Report this review (#146966)
Posted Friday, October 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's hard to define what kind of music plays Runawat Totem. I'm not a fan of "genres" but in some way they're necessary to introduce other people into music world and with RT I have some problems to find an accurate description.

Zeuhl, symph prog, epic sections, gothic, heavy metal and other genres are part of the interesting discography of this Italian band which has one of the most consistent and impressive bunch of albums of the las decades even when "Andromeda" is their highlight, without any doubts.

"Tep Zepi" (no "Zeri") came right after this prog jewel, into the so called "cicli cosmici" established by the band on their discography. And even when the album doesn't reach the quality of "Andromeda" is an important step into the history of RT.

"Tep Zepi" keeps most of the elemnts that make RT music so special and unique: zeuhl progressions mixed with consistent symphonic epical moments; gothic passages full of dark romantic atmospheres and a persistent, cathartic and intense rhythmical section which turns every track into a solid piece full of references and influences, but totally new and singular, including the operatic vocals by Cahl de Btl, which gives to RT another distinctive characteristic.

Some highlight of this impressive album are "Sacro Re", "Iperborea" and the long suite "I 4 Signori", perfect examples of the surprising mix of prog genres that we can find into RT discography. 4* just because "Andromeda" deserves the 5*... Ah! And a great album for everyone who's interested in listen RT for the first time...

Report this review (#302184)
Posted Monday, October 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fourth album from this Italian band. A major improvement over Andromeda. The Zeuhl and Avant-Prog influences are stronger here than on the last two albums. The RPI and Prog Metal influences less so. They still got the heavy guitar and choir sounds here which seem to be their trademark. Overall, good production and playing. The compositions on this album are superior to anything they had done previously.

"Aurea Carmina" starts with bells and spacey sounds. Then singing. There is a great vocal melody that gets repeated; I don't understand Italian so I'm not sure what the lyrics are. Later there is some overdubbed talking. Then what sounds like trombone and bagpipes(using a sampler I assume). At the end you hear backwards slowed down talking. "Sacro Re" begins with guitar and keyboards in an almost metal style. Then it goes into a 11/8 time sig(I think) with noisy guitar. More riffs and time changes. Halfway thru everything calms down with some melodic singing and some nice acoustic guitar. Goes back to the 11/8 time sig at the end.

"Pardes" after a rockin' start goes into a symphonic section with choir sounds and piano. Later the guitars and drums come back. The song ends with choirs and piano. "Iperborea" has more melodic singing at the start. Then a marching beat. Later a great symphonic part with good singing and guitar. Then a spacey atmospheric section where the backwards slowed down voice reappears. After that the piano comes in with a guitar solo. The vocals come back later. "Montsalvat" starts with New Age keyboards. Then guitars and drums go thru some riffs and time signatures. Before 4 minutes there is a upbeat and catchy part. It ends with a symphonic metal part.

The last three songs are part of a suite called "I 4 Signori". The first part "L'Isola Sacra" begins with spacey synth sounds and pounding drums. Backwards slowed down voice again. Then some great female vocals with piano and symphonic synths. Followed by marching drums and guitar. "I Guardiani" starts in symphonic prog mode. Then it gets more Zeuhl and avant- prog sounding. Then goes into a symphonic metal part with male and female vocals. "Akasha" has spacey synths and some great guitar at the beginning. A marching beat and then choir sounds and female vocals. It ends with a symphonic section where the melody from "L'Isola" gets reprised.

The best album I have heard from this band yet. Some good Italian style Zeuhl with avant, metal and symphonic influences. Highly recommended. 4 stars.

Report this review (#326332)
Posted Friday, November 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Runaway Totem continues their journey with this, their fourth album.

Although listed as a zeuhl band, the band discarded most of these clothes on their previous album Andromeda. They loose even more zeuhl associations on Tep Zeri.

What we get here is a bit of what we get on albums with bands like Univers Zero and Present. The stuff on Tep Zeri is in the same mould as on Andromeda. But just a lot more chamber orchestra like. That means a couple of dark distorted Rock Progressivo Italiano songs too in the beginning. But most of this album is dark avant-garde and RIO.

The quality is very good on most of the album. But most of the album feels like there is something unleashed which is not coming through. I don't feel the full potential of the material here was fully unleashed. But this is still a good album where the Rock Progressivo Italiano stuff really shines through here. It is also a free download from their homepage and well worth the megabytes.

3 stars

Report this review (#550718)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permalink

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