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2 stars Honeyelk was an extremely short lived French Zeuhl group, who released but two albums, both in 1979. This second, Stoys Vi Dozévéloy, is a very jovial and upbeat brand of Magma's genre, with strong dependence on saxophone. Despite having the album reissued somewhat recently (or so I heard), Honeyelk remains an extreme obscurity. Sound quality is absolutely terrible, and is the biggest hindrance to the album, though not the only.

The compositions are somewhat uninteresting. There's a bland decency to the songwriting, that makes it less than memorable. But, the compositions are by no means bad, and the playing is all very good (drumming by Christian Blanc being the most noteworthy). It's also really, really short. It could very have been an EP. Apparently, when the album was reissued some bonus tracks were thrown in, but I've heard those were less than essential.

Honeyelk is a completely alright Zeuhl band. It is no starting place for the genre, nor is it a highlight. But it is a really nice album, and any Zeuhl fanatics might want to pick it up.

Report this review (#169757)
Posted Saturday, May 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Honey elk; the type of dreams the hibernating grizzly bears in Alaska have at this very moment.

The French zeuhl band with the same name on the other hand have had their dreams about Magma before they commited these 25 minutes over two songs to a master tape in a studio somewhere. It is not known if Christian Vander & the rest of Magma dreams about grizzly bears, though.

Twenty-five minutes, two tracks. That is the bare bones of this release which is listed as an album here. EP is probably a more fitting listing, though. But it does not matter at all. The music is very Magma'esque. The music is driven by a saxophone as the main solo instrument, supported by some good vocals (in Kobaian ?) and the usual keyboards, bass and drums. The music is not particular dark and the songs has a bit of a symphonic prog setup over it. The music also have some avant-garde RIO feel over it too.

The quality is good throughout, without offering anything particular news to this genre or to the mankind. The first song Stoyz is more zeuhl like while the second song Do Zé Vé Loy is more avant-garde like and based on a mood than technical brilliance.

In short; this is a good zeuhl album which should appeal to any zeuhl fan. It is not an impressive release by any means and it will not win this band or this genre any new fans.

3 stars

Report this review (#367098)
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars This is the only album Honeyelk released during the band's lifetime, it contains the original recording and mix of what was supposed to be only the first side of their debut, but since they were not happy with what they had, they never recorded anything else that time and released the album as it is with only two lenthy songs, clocking at 26 minutes only. Later on in 1995 Gerard Blanc (singer and bass player) remixed the album and added 4 more songs, the album was released that year titled "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur". Because of not having a record label, the band had to finance everything on their own. The mixing was done in a small private studio in Paris and I guess that was the reason why the quality is not that good. The mix is not perfectly balanced and there are a few moments of chaos here and there (not in a good way I mean). Further more due to not having any professional help while recording, the outcome is far from perfect and other issues like timing and out of tuning also occurs. Most of these problems were fixed in the reissue, and now definitely sound much better and more balanced, such a great job was done. But honestly I don't mean to sound too negative since I really do like this little album inspite of all its problems.

So basically Honeyelk plays a typical style of Zehul mixing some jazz and and RIO elements. The music is mostly dark and haunting (well of course). There's a strong Magma influence, and their style definitely resembles other progressive bands like Zao and VDGG. The music is not heavy at all but also far from being laid back, that's because of the band's overall sound and instrumentation. The leading instruments here comes from Pierre Yves Maury playing the clarinet and saxophone, he is playing all the leads and responsible for the melodies too, of course there's a big help from keyboards and piano which are also always present and help to create their unique sound. Although Frank Lovisolo is credited as being a part of the band playing electric guitars, he doesn't really contribute much and his role is very minimal, I mean there is more guitar playing in bands like ELP, VDGG or Banco which didn't concentrate on guitars that much. The reissue also indicates that Blanc wasn't that satisfied of Lovisolo's guitar parts since he took a lot of them out, making the guitar almost non existent.

Although the music is quite intricate and complex, the band is not tight enough, they are at some points but other moments are too loose, and that's where they lose a few points. The compositions are long and although they are not perfect and suffers a little from an incoherent level, they do have some very good and inspired moments, one thing that I do miss is more killer interplay between them all. The music is moving from intricate aggressive playing derived from a killer bass to other passionate vocal parts, Gerard Blanc is delivering some stunning workouts, no doubt about it. Maury is definitely good playing both dissonant and melodic leads and pretty much gives the overall music it's vibe. It doesn't really detract from my enjoyment but the drums work is a little unstable, I hear some awkward and hesitant drumming here and there, again not tight enough. Another thing that I really like about them is the singing, not only is Blanc a capable bass player, he is also a great vocalist. Because french and english are obviously not interesting enough, Blanc is singing in his own made up language, which gives the music much more character. He is passionate and also sounds very much like Peter Gabriel.

The 1995 reissue "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur" offers a more stable and balanced mix with a refined sound, on the other hand, this original recording offers a more rawer sound with much more evident guitar playing. For example, the third and final part on the second track is where it's most evident. I like that psychedelic guitar flying over everyone, this is really good. More over this version offers a different ending and is also one minute longer with more vocals and music, both versions are equally great though.

This is recommended to all Zehul fans which are looking for more music to settle their hunger. Although this is not the best album in the genre and it does have a few problems, you might find them unimportant compared to the music and ideas delivered. You can pass this over if you already have the 1995 reissue, but also this is worth tracking down for a reasonable price. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1017197)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink

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