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Runaway Totem


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Runaway Totem Esameron album cover
3.79 | 12 ratings | 5 reviews | 8% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. De Cause Prime (21:12)
2. Ombra Alata (8:14)
3. Lux (L'Albero del Sole) (16:28)
4. 0 Infinito 1 (23:46)

Total Time: 69:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Roberto Gottardi / guitar, synth guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, sequencer, sampler, vocals
- Germano Morghen / drums, percussion, timpani, piano, keyboards

Releases information


CD Runaway Totem Records ‎- GMG 01001 (2007, Italy)

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy RUNAWAY TOTEM Esameron Music

RUNAWAY TOTEM Esameron ratings distribution

(12 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RUNAWAY TOTEM Esameron reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Just getting acquainted with this Italian exponent of contemporary Zeuhl prog rock? and loving it!!! Runaway Totem is a band that wears its main influences on its sleeves, yet it doesn't restrict itself to the role of talented clone and takes the assumed standard forward into refurbished sonorities and renewing moods full of stamina and intensity. This album entitled "Esameron" has the peculiarity of being conceived and recorded in a time when the band got reduced to a duo format of Roberto Gottardi and Germano Morghen (or Cahal De Betel and Tipheret, if you will), so it becomes even more impressive that these two performers had to expand themselves beyond their respective guitarist and drummer/percussionist's roles and deliver the keyboard and bass parts - plus some sequenced rhythm patterns occasionally - with grace and skill. This is an amplified merit, indeed. "Esameron" is as a powerful album as Runaway Totem albums ever get, and in fact, the shocking nature of the composition is not as overwhelming as in previous albums: even if it is a peculiar item in RT's history, I recommend it as the starting point for the curious Zeuhl-friendly uninitiated. This album is full of twisted musical elaborations where the kaleidoscopic elaborations and the stylish arrangements create the perfect framework for this catalogue of especially frantic compositions. "Esameron" comprises four pieces, with the first and last ones surpassing the 20 minute mark. 'De Cause Prime' starts very cosmic, in this way anticipating the first main motif's orchestral scheme: a punchy, pulsating dynamics is disseminated through every sonic pore of the musical structure in a sort of hybrid of "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh"-Magma and "Heresie"-Univers Zero. Some highly impressive guitar leads intrude into the overall framework so the dramatic atmosphere can be madly enhanced. Around the 10 minute mark, a symphonic bolero section settles in and instills an unexpected warmth into the sonic landscape, but it won't be too long before a chaotic section twists the overall thing up and down and draws a nightmarish storm onto the landscape. Later on, a calmer section brings images of soft grey clouds in an autumn afternoon, a chamber moment around which the RT guys first build a jazzy wrapping and secondly create a powerful crescendo. The last section is a solid exercise on avant-prog over a blues- like tempo, going all the way toward a pompous climax. This is an extraordinary opener: I just feel so lucky that this way the first RT track I ever heard. Track no. 2 is the 8+ minute long 'Ombra Alata'. It starts with tympani beats and ceremonious keyboard textures, almost like the background to some pagan chanting (I am reminded of Shub-Niggurath at this point). Some piano-driven passages state some slight jazz-fusion allusions, but mostly they are momentary ornaments among the hyper- neurotic frenzy that makes the most of this piece. 'Lux (L'Albero del Sole)' starts on a quieter note, but you can notice that something sinister is lying behind the veil of mystery that surrounds this not-so- deceitful tranquility. In fact, I find this mood even more terrifying than many passages comprised in the preceding two tracks, something that Ken Russell would have gladly used in his most Gothic movies (especially that great movie involving heretic sexual fantasies, erotically demented nurses and lunatic power-hungry priests). Just when the instrumental development is assuming its central shape, the dynamics created by the triangle of drum kit, bass and piano is completed by tortured guitar solos that create a colorful exorcism and the digital choral arrangements. A few second before the 10 minute mark, the band shifts to a spacey venture that comprises aleatory effects and minimalistic layers. Finally, the main body is retaken for a spectacular coda. The album ends with the other ultra-epic piece, the 24- minute long '0 Infinito 1'. This monster track starts with a sublime, mysterious orchestration that seems to flow all the way up into the valleys of the Purgatory itself, it is that creepy indeed, but also exalted, as if providing the mind with a vision of what lies beyond the pale. At the 3 minute mark, a choral sequence emerges in full Goliard style, craftily completing the tense atmosphere that never ceases to grow in a controlled fashion. At 4'55", the tension is totally established and the guitar takes center stage with its cathartic solos to make it even clearer that the fog of torment has come down to fill the surroundings of the mind. After the 10 minute mark, some caustic piano cadences make the transition toward a calmer pace, in this way giving room to the elaboration of an eerie atmosphere. It is not so usual that RT gets this warm, but when it does, it works beautifully. The digital imitations of woodwinds, cellos and violas work very well: the resulting scheme sounds to me like a reconsideration of the Zeuhl pattern through the eyes of electronic krautrock (77-77 Tangerine Dream, more precisely). Right after the 16 minute mark, some atonal figures emerge in order to construct a new creepy landscape. It isn't overwhelmingly strident really, but definitely it bears a patent amount of sinister darkness, especially when a martial rhythm settles in among the pairing of two pianos, one rhythmic and the other free-form. The sung portion and bell tolls that end this epic complete the whole unearthly concept. Now I'll be level with the reader - this is a Zeuhl masterpiece!! You can still have some of those in the international progressive scene that keeps developing in the new millennium.
Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This band is a new discovery for me. The only modern Zeuhl I am familiar with is the Japanese variety. Runaway Totem is from Italy. These guys are just as good as any Zeuhl from France or Japan. I listened to this album 5-6 times on their website; this was my first introduction to this band. So far, I have to say I am pleased with what I hear. All of the band's albums, except the 2009 one, can be listened to in their entirety for free on their website. You can hear excerpts from the newest album but it's understandable that you cannot hear the whole thing; it is their latest album and they are trying to promote it. I am very thankful that I can listen to their previous albums. For your generosity you may be financially rewarded in the future.

There are only two members here. Since this is the first album I have heard, I don't know if other albums have more members or not. What these two do here is great however. Using PA terminology, the music here sounds like a mix of Zeuhl, RPI, Avant-Prog and Heavy Prog. The sounds of the choirs, violin and flute are done on samplers. They use "real" drums and piano here which is a bonus. The first time I listened to this the sound of the snare drum got on my nerves. On repeated listenings I got used to it. Overall, I enjoyed this album the more I listened to it.

Although the songs are very long they seem to fly by because of the strength of the music. Only "Lux" and "0 Infinito" have actual vocals, sung in Italian. They remind me of that fat guy from Banco. There is a part during "Infinito" where there is double-tracked vocals which sound good. You can hear a crowd laughing at one point. Part of this song reminds me of Univers Zero. There is a part with mainly choir and piano which I think goes on a bit too long. "Ombra Alata" has an interesting dissonant part. "Lux" has a nice guitar-synth solo.

In general I am very impressed. I am going to check out the rest of their discography starting with the first and working my way up. I am being very cautious with my rating. This is my first exposure to this band so I may like some of their other albums more than this. All I can say for sure is that this does not deserve any less than 3 stars!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars RUNAWAY TOTEM are a Zeuhl band out of Italy and they have released eleven studio albums between 1993 and 2019. Three times they have been reduced to a duo including this 2007 release called "Esameron". I have their four album run between 1999 and this record from 2007. A couple of three star records and two four star albums between those.

This has been a band who have intrigued me more than anything I suppose hearing them first back in 2007 with "Andromeda" and liking how they blended that gothic vibe with Zeuhl and Italian vocals. Abrasive guitar and keyboards, a metallic element for sure made them sound quite unique.

I have always had this question mark about them though just feeling something was "off" about the music but of the four records I own by them this is the one that stands out as my favourite. There's a psychedelic component to this one with the soundscape music and repetitive grooves and sounds. This has a lot of sampled mellotron on it and man this music is dense at times. A long one too at almost 70 minutes with only four tracks.

There's a fair amount of sampled instruments on here as well and I like the space that we get on this one instead of feeling like it's a chore to get through that dense sound for over an hour. A lot less Zeuhl on this record as well as those Blasquiz-like vocals from "Andromeda" are gone and while we don't get a lot of lyrics we do get plenty of vocal melodies and the vocals we do get they change them up enough to again make this an interesting listen. I like this one!

Latest members reviews

3 stars Runaway Totem, an extremely obscure Zheul-ish band (popular here mainly because three of their albums are available for free download on their website) have released one of their better album this year (2007) with Esameron. Production is a step up from other works they've done, though the irritati ... (read more)

Report this review (#132267) | Posted by Shakespeare | Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Only listening to the first and most recent albums in a bands discography is arguabally the worst way to listen to a band, however that is what I did with runaway totem. Between Trimegisto and Esameron the band has matured immensally. while Trimegisto sounded avant harsh and fast Esameron on the ... (read more)

Report this review (#130474) | Posted by Proletariat | Friday, July 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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