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ESPERANTO

Eclectic Prog • Multi-National


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Esperanto biography
Esperanto is a language invented in 1887 by Zamenhof, who combined bits of various Romance language to make what he hoped would become a vehicle of universal communication. The Belgo-English band of the same name at the beginning of the 70s had a short but intense career and produced an extremely varied musical repertoire thanks to the many different nationalities, origins and outlooks of its members.

It all started at the end of '71 when the Belgian violinist Raymond Vincent, leader of the Wallace Collection wanted to embark on a more adventurous musical endeavour (in spite of his surprising predilection for hard rock) after his band had broken up. After playing for a short period with Dany Lademancher and Roger Wollaert (who had left Kleptomania), then with Dirk Bogaert (of Waterloo), he got in touch with Bruno Libert who was completing his musicology studies and playing piano every night in Brussel's theatres that were putting on "off Broadway" musicals, which were quite fashionable at the time. Raymond told Bruno about his new project and showed him some musical ideas. He also played him a promotional album, Metronomics, that he had written for an advertising campaign. The two musicians agreed to launch the project and started to look for other musicians. They discovered the Malisan brothers, two Italo-Belgians of the Mons area: Gino, bass player and Tony, drummer. They started to rehearse in the back room of a small cafe, wrote a series of new numbers and recorded a first demo-tape at "Cathy" studio in the Brabant Wallon region, owned at the time by Marc Aryan (Belgian singer successful at the beginning of the 70s).

The four musicians took their demo to England, where they met David Mackay who had produced the Wallace Collection and The New Seekers and later produced part of Esperanto's first album. David was interested by the project and agreed to recruit more musicians in order to strengthen the line-up which was quite limited on the first demo (violin, piano and Hammond organ, bass and drums). Soon, he contacted Glenn Shorrock, an Australian singer who was living in London at the time and had left his group, the Twilights. David also played a series of records from his collection to the musicians to try to find female singers. Raymond and Bruno were immediately convinced that Cliff Richard's trio of backing singers would fit the bill. David set up an appointment with Joy Yates, Janice Slater and Bridget Dudoit (who had released a re...
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Danse MacabreDanse Macabre
Import
Universal 2003
Audio CD$20.00
$32.86 (used)
Last TangoLast Tango
Import
Universal Japan 2003
Audio CD$168.88
$34.87 (used)
Are U Mine - Esperanto 12Are U Mine - Esperanto 12"
MAGNET
Vinyl$11.90 (used)
ESPERANTO Are U Mine? 12ESPERANTO Are U Mine? 12"
M&G
Vinyl$16.00 (used)
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LITOVA KANTO en ESPERANTO - Lithuanian POP Vocal JAZZY FUNK 1972 - MELODIYA USD $49.90 Buy It Now 3 days
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ESPERANTO discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ESPERANTO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 16 ratings
Esperanto Rock Orchestra
1973
3.65 | 39 ratings
Danse Macabre
1974
3.92 | 56 ratings
Last Tango
1975

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ESPERANTO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Esperanto Rock Orchestra by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.06 | 16 ratings

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Esperanto Rock Orchestra
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by João Paulo

3 stars I listen in first time Danse Macabre and Rock Orchestra after, and it's the beginning of an adventure with multinational musicians. This first album, in my opinion, is the music project that still needs to mature. Tracks with very good arrangements with a violin that it's not smooth, with songs, whose vocal arrangement up is cute and nice, but unfortunately a little commercial. They made an even funny version of a song by the Beatles, with an origianl way, but all the album, it's nice but I feel that it still lacks something. This is the maturing of this whole project, what will happen in the next two albums, Danse Macabre and Last Tango. The complex music made, create a very expensive stage material, that is limited in this time, and it's the motive for the end of the band. It's good listen the beginning of Esperanto, to untherstand this superb band, and make an assessment of their development 3 stars, but really 3,5.

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 Last Tango by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.92 | 56 ratings

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Last Tango
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Usually I shy away from albums including covers of Beatles songs. I have no quarrel with The Beatles. I like them, as most people do. The problem is that I find it boring and uninteresting when bands cover them. On many occasions I have to admit that the covers work well, such as in the case of Kaptain Kopter's "Ticket to ride" or Blood, Sweat & Tears "Got to get you into my life". So, hearing the unanimous praise about "Eleanor Rigby" I was sort of curious but I felt, mostly, suspicion and distrust.

Putting on the album I was soon convinced that Esperanto had indeed made something very special with this song. When you cover a song you need to put something little of yourself into the interpretation. Esperanto poured their very souls into the effort. The original recording of "Eleanor Rigby" is a pensive, thoughtful, beuatiful and mellow, almost baroque piece of music. Esperanto twisted and turned the song into something completely own, unique and over the top. At first you barely recognise the track but when the vocals kick in you know what song it is. Everything from the instrumentation to the vocals are amazing and gives the track a very special feeling. When the lyrics reach "All the lonely people, where do they all come from..." you recognise the original feeling of the song, making me nod my head in recognition as indeed I think they meant it. The vocals apart from that are harsher, less pensive and melodiuos. They are raucious and raw, reminding of Maggie Bell from Stone The Crows. This is one of the most perfect covers I have ever come across and it is progressive rock at it's finest. When bands like Ekseption rewrites classical works into something else you find yourself in awe. The same can be said about "Eleanor Rigby". By now Beatles is as classic as Bach and just as influential. So, when a band rewrites, arranges and kicks up a storm like this you cannot be anything but marvelled. I have no words to describe it. I discover new things every time I listen to it. Utterly complex and genius.

After such an opening, how do one carry one? "Still life" has an intro reminding me of crime shows on television from the 70's. Sort of funky and groovy. A great track in it's own right. "Painted lady" is a more accessible, straight forward prog-rock song. It's a good track, yet again reminding me of Stone The Crows. After the three opening tracks, full of energy and kicks, it is nice on the ears when "Obsession" starts. It is a very beautiful ballad styled song. Very warm, mellow and wonderful organ.

Apart from "Eleanor Rigby" the only true epic is "The rape" with several sections and complex arrangement. Ominous and foreboding, with violin and exceptional keyboards it really is as impressive as the forementioned track. The brass that kicks in at two minutes is glorious. I can't give this track enough praise. The title track is a nice ending of such a complex, entertaining and very special album. A mellow piece to wind things down. It is the slice of mint after a very steady meal.

As a conclusion I can only say that this is a true gem of the progressive movement of the 70's. It holds everything that is great in the genre. It is complex but not to the point that you cannot make out the music. In tone I'd say that it is very british, though they are multi-national, as it were. I would really recommend this album to almost anyone into prog. Top stuff and simply genius.

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 Danse Macabre by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.65 | 39 ratings

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Danse Macabre
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars After ''Rock Orchestra'' was published, Esperanto toured the whole England as a support act to Sha na na, then traveled in Europe next to Strawbs, just before entering a castle in Wales to record a second album.The first tapes were soon recorded, but shortly afterwards Glenn Shorrock returned to Austrtalia, replaced by Keith Christmas, who was introduced to the band by Peter Sinfield.New material was recorded and sent to A&M, but again Esperanto were hit by the departure of the whole female singing trio of Yates, Slater and Dudoit, thus the band appears as an eight-piece group on the covers of the sophomore effort ''Danse Macabre'', released in 1974.

These unfortunate issues did not affect the performance of Raymond Vincent & co., as captured on the long opening ''The journey'' with its strong Classical, Avant-Garde and psychedelic influences, like a mix of CURVED AIR, EAST OF EDEN and RENAISSANCE, led by the furious, scratching violins, the dominant organ waves and the dreamy piano textures.''The castle'' is a lovely BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST-like orchestrated ballad, propably refering to the place of the album's recordings, with ethereal piano and keyboard parts, and both opening tracks actually sum up the whole story of ''Danse macabre'', which from this point on continues and develops around these kind of inspirations.With longer and more progressive compositions, Esperanto's music alternates between sinister instrumental mannerisms with dual violins and piano in the forefront and more easy-going music venues, where even E.L.O. come to mind due to the heavy string sections, with also lighter use of organs and melodic vocal lines by Christmas and plenty of multi-vocal harmonies.Parts of the pieces are heavily leaning towards Classic Prog with nice symphonic-oriented textures, reminding a bit of GENTLE GIANT and GENESIS, like on the nice ''The prisoner''.The last track is inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns eponymous tone poem, delivered in a very short but trully magnificent movement by Esperanto, having a dramatic atmosphere, based on organs, synthesizers and violins.

Definitely a step towards more progressive and adventurous material by this short-lived multi-national ''tiny orchestra''.Well-executed music, with good breaks between calm and darker moods, and delivered with passion.The Si-wan release comes with different versions of three of the album's tracks with Glenn Shorrock on vocals, just before he left the band.Nevertheless, recommended.

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 Last Tango by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.92 | 56 ratings

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Last Tango
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Any time a rock band resorts to covering "Eleanor Rigby" you have to wonder if maybe their creative juices have become depleted. When a studio album opens with this cover, the traditional order for a record's strongest work, that suspicion is reinforced. In the case of Esperanto their third and final album has some decent music to offer, but even though this version of the song is one of the more energetic and ambitious that I've ever heard, the 'Last Tango' title for the most part aptly describes both the state of the band and their music. Aside from the in auspicious cover, the band managed barely 38 minutes of music for this record, nearly a third of which is taken up by the creepy, uncomfortable opera tome "The Rape".

Esperanto brought their career to a close with yet another frontman for the record, in this case the relatively unknown Roger Meakin replacing Keith Christmas who had departed in favor of a solo career. By this time the band's original vocalist Glenn Shorrock had already begun to emerge in what would prove to be a hugely commercial success fronting the sort- rock Aussie group Little River Band, while Esperanto themselves were on a fast track to obscurity.

An emerging disco industry wave seems to have influenced at least some of the band's music, most notably on "Still Life" which features a heavy bass line, jaunty piano and strident female vocals. "Painted Lady" is similar but with vocals and a rhythm that are both slightly awkward; and "Obsession" is a purely AOR number that finds the band offering little more than clever strings and a smooth bassline to back Moore's crooning vocals.

The centerpiece of the album is the twelve-minute mini rock opera "The Rape", whose title hearkens back to the band's second album 'Danse Macabre' and whose lyrics tell a predictably bleak tale revealed in the song's title. There are some great string movements interspersed throughout this song, but the overall effect comes off as ambitious but just slightly disappointing in the delivery.

As with the other Esperanto CD reissues this one has a couple of bonus tracks, and again as with the other two records these offer little to enhance the album's appeal and were clearly included as simple filler to give the longer recording capacity of the CD format a little more heft.

This was a band that probably should have been much more successful and well-known then they were. In reading the band's history it's clear that poor management and timing played role in their early demise, along with the expected challenges that come from trying to maintain and support such a large group of musicians on a touring rock-band's budget. Of the band's three albums this is neither their finest nor their worst, and overall it is a decent though not exceptional offering. That pretty much describes a three-star (out of five) record, which is what I'll give it, along with a mild recommendation especially for folks who find well-constructed string arrangements on pop music records appealing.

peace

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 Danse Macabre by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.65 | 39 ratings

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Danse Macabre
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars Esperanto's second album reflects both the lineup and scenery changes the band had undergone in the year since releasing their debut. In addition, the group seems to have jelled somewhat following lengthy touring in support of the Strawbs after a less successful pairing with the retro-rockers Sha Na Na. The band found themselves in a Welsh castle for several weeks preparing for this release, and under the tutelage of producer and famed King Crimson lyricist Peter John Sinfield. The results of these changes were immediate and obvious. This album is much more cohesive than the group's first record, and while it is not a theme album or 'rock opera' per se it has a consistency of style and mood that was not present on the prior release. Also, the music is in much more of a progressive vein with majestic string arrangements, wordless vocal accompaniment from the mostly uncredited female singers, and lengthy instrumentals replacing the shorter, soft-rock and dance-oriented numbers on their 1973 release.

Glenn Shorrock departed between the test runs and final production of the album, replaced by the more earthy-sounding Keith Christmas who would himself leave before the band ended its run supporting the release. Sinfield also convinced the band to employ more layered, multi-part vocals here, although instrumentals dominate the work including on the ten minute-plus opening song "The Journey". The group seems to have taken a cue from Camus in the song titling, using simple, direct names such as "The Castle", "The Duel", "The Cloister" and "The Decision". These give the impression of a thematic album, although considering the paucity of lyrics or obvious storyline this appears to have been more of a gimmick than anything else.

The male vocals are less commercial-sounding than the band's prior work, particularly on "The Cloister" and "The Decision", and come across as more operatic and folksy than either the first or last album from the group. The one slight aberration is the closing title track, which manages to blend in a fiddle jig with the driving, rock-based rhythm resulting in a short but energetic tune that sounds as if it may have been influenced a bit by the time the group had spent on the road with the Strawbs.

As with the first record the reissues of this album include bonus tracks, in this case alternate mixes of "The Duel", "The Decision" and "The Cloister". These are generally more lively than the versions that ended up on the vinyl album, although the production is rather spotty and only the extended version of "The Decision" is a noteworthy addition.

Overall this is a better album than the band's debut, mostly due to improved production and a more mature, consistent mood. Sadly the band still didn't manage to make a lasting impression on the buying public which would lead to further lineup changes and eventually the group's demise; however, for progressive music fans this is an interesting album that marks a welcome improvement. Four stars out of five for effort, and a hearty recommendation for fans of most types of progressive music.

peace

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 Esperanto Rock Orchestra by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.06 | 16 ratings

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Esperanto Rock Orchestra
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Even those unfamiliar with Esperanto Rock Orchestra will likely find something strangely familiar with their sound, although exactly what that is may be difficult to pinpoint. Hard to believe one of the main singers on this debut record (Glenn Shorrock) would soon be crooning out soft-rock hits for Little River Band ("Well I was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best; the albatross and the whales they are my brothers...").

The rest of the multinational lineup were relative unknowns, although cellist Timothy Kraemer had managed to land an appearance with the monster assemblage known as Centipede during their epic 1970-71 recording sessions for 'Septober Energy'. And several of the female backing singers had also backed Al Stewart; two of them would score a minor UK hit in 1974 by covering an old Phil Spector tune under the name of The Hooter Sisters.

Esperanto drew their name from their varied nationalities, ranging from England to the U.S. to Italy to New Zealand and Australia, although the band itself was formed by a Belgian and was briefly based out of that country before traveling to England in search of a record deal. This, their debut album, featured a large cast including at least three different lead singers, although the lineup would prove to be fluid both during the recording sessions and throughout the band's brief career.

The influences of the Broadway, pop, folk and classical music backgrounds of the various members are all apparent in the lush and varied production of this album. Attempting to genre label would be a futile exercise and also a mistake with this music, as it ranges quite fluidly across so many spectrums of classical and contemporary disciplines.

The opening "On Down the Road" is a fairly straightforward light rock number with Shorrock's distinctive voice reinforcing the commercial feel to the tune, but with violins, cello and piano that are not all that different than what ELO would probably have sounded like without Jeff Lynne. Undoubtedly this was intended to be the launching single for the album.

The band begins to branch out almost immediately though, following the opener up with the Janice Slater-fronted, slightly R&B-tinged "Never Again" before returning to the strong string accompaniment with another Shorrock tune in "Perhaps One Day". This one seems to have progressive rock ambitions, but doesn't quite pull it off and ends up sounding like a pop-rock tune with a heavily fussed-over instrumental arrangement.

Shorrock adds a slightly sappy 'go USA' tribute with the self-penned "Statue of Liberty" that really doesn't seem to belong here ("hey you, get out the way - anything can happen in the USA!"); but the band acquits themselves quite well by following that with a trio of loping, comfortable-like-your-favorite-shirt numbers in "Gypsy", "Roses" and "City", the latter two of which move away from the orchestral string arrangements in favor of a more R&B sound with prominent three-part female vocals, featured lead electric guitar and plenty of dance- inducing percussion that comes off as sort of a white 5th Dimension (maybe a little bit like Silver Convention without the disco beat).

Given the folk and soft-rock influences of several members (not to mention the presence of an acoustic guitar player, cellist, violist and both 1st and 2nd part violinists), it was inevitable the band would include a slow acoustic number as well, which they saved for the end of the original vinyl on "Move Away".

CD reissues of this album include three bonus tracks. "Getting Along" is a funky dance number, while "Waiting Till the Day" is pure soft-rock with some proggy accoutrements and more extended organ breaks than appeared anywhere on the original record. I'm not quite sure but I believe the one of vocalists here is Keith Christmas, who appeared on some of the demo tracks the band brought to England and who would become the band's lead vocalist for their second release 'Danse Macabre'. Shorrock remains the lead singer here as well though. And "Emma" is another slow tune with a twangy guitar riff and vocals that remind me quite a bit of the bands America and Home circa around the same time period.

The large lineup, classical-music-meets-Broadway sound of the band could be compared to a blend of bands like Carnegie, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the 5th Dimension. I'm not sure this really qualifies as true progressive music, but it is a good introduction to some of the more complex and ambitious work the band would employ on their next two releases. A decent record to have in your collection; not a masterpiece but worth picking up especially if you are a fan of strings with your rock music. Three stars and recommended to fans of representative eclectic progressive rock from the mid-seventies.

peace

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 Danse Macabre by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.65 | 39 ratings

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Danse Macabre
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars A dense dance

This multi-national band with among others British and Belgian members released three albums in the first half of the 70's. I didn't know anything about them until recently when I was quite impressed with their third album, Last Tango. This previous album, however, is a far less enjoyable experience for me. While Last Tango was varied and memorable, Danse Macabre is far more dense and impenetrable and does not leave any lasting impression on me. There are no songs here like Painted Lady or the title track from Last Tango. Those more melodic songs brought an appealing diversity to that album that is wholly absent here.

The piano and keyboard work is very similar to that of Keith Emerson and there is a lot of in the opening track, The Journey. The violin work, on the other hand, reminds me of The Mahavishnu Orchestra (Birds Of Fire). Esperanto relies heavily on violin, viola and cello in their sound rather than guitars. There are male and female vocals, but the vocals are not very much to the front - they function mostly as just another instrument. There is no doubt that the musicians involved here are skilled, but instrumental prowess is hardly a guarantee for great music.

Danse Macabre can be a difficult listen and I strongly recommend to start with the much better Last Tango before taking on Danse Macabre.

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 Last Tango by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.92 | 56 ratings

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Last Tango
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars An eclectic musical language

This band with British and Belgian origins released three albums in the first half of the 70's. I didn't know anything about them until recently, but was quickly impressed. The closest comparison I can make of the band's sound is to those of Curved Air and early Electric Light Orchestra mostly due to the strong presence of cello and violins but also due to the female vocals that sometimes remind strongly of Sonja Kristina, particularly on Painted Lady which could have come straight from a Curved Air album. The male vocals remind rather of Roger Chapman of Family. Other band that come to mind while listening to Esperanto's Last Tango are String Driven Thing, Beggar's Opera, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gentle Giant and Carmen. But the band is really as eclectic as the language from which they have taken their name.

The album starts with a cover of The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby which is as wonderfully different from its original as Manfred Mann's Earth Band's several covers of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen songs. For not having any guitars in the band, the band's sound is surprisingly aggressive. Whatever could be done with electric guitars is here done with cellos and violins to great effect. The bass guitar is Chris Squire-like and often functions as a lead instrument rather than merely as part of a rhythm section. In addition there are keyboards and drums.

Still Life continues with some very nice instrumental work outs with cello/violin, piano and great bass guitar. The more symphonic and piano/harpsichord dominated parts remind me of Renaissance, the bass guitar is a bit similar to that on Renaissance's Ashes Are Burning album. But despite the absence of guitars, Esperanto often has a harder and more aggressive sound.

The three shorter tracks are slightly more conventional but no less good. Painted Lady in particular is a great song that, as I have said already, remind of Curved Air. The closing title track is indeed a bit of a tango. And finally we have the 12 plus minute The Rape which is a strong number that represents the album very well.

Last Tango is an enjoyable and recommended listen.

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 Last Tango by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.92 | 56 ratings

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Last Tango
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

5 stars For Esperanto's last album, gone is singer Keith Christmas (and to a lesser extent 2nd violin Tony Harris) and in comes the duo of Kim Moore and Roger Meakin. But the core of the group again remains intact, and still they don't find the need for a guitarist. With a disturbing artwork about a disturbed dancer, this album is even more impressive than the previous Danse Macabre. It was also recorded in the famous French studios of Hérouville, and does it ever sound like it. Read the excellent bio to see why this group stopped on top of their art.

Starting the album on one of the craziest version of Eleanor Rigby, the least we can say is that Esperanto starts all four wheel and eight cylinders biting the asphalt on the highway to your heart. But hat to say of the sublime Still Life with plenty of drama and intense string interventions. The weird Painted Lady is sonically sticking out of the rest of the album, but crazy little features (like those sardonic laughs) are making still not out of line. The stunning Obsession is another beauty of a track, even if playing on an easy-to-please terrain, but the execution is so immaculate and they're pulling all the right c(h)ords that it's close to perfection.

On the flipside, in comes the disturbing 12-mins The Rape, where the groups climbs up and down every alley of sanity with their string section and the lyrics referring to Manson's rape and murder Sunday afternoon ballads and we're hearing the Helter Skelter stolen to Eleanor Rigby's creators. The closing section of this epic is a lengthy crescendo, which allows to recuperate from the previous madness. The album-closing title track is indeed a tango, one that could've been sung by Queen, if it hadn't been for the string section.

Difficult to make a better album than this Last Tango, especially given the group's inhabitual construction of the group. While not perfect, I find few albums that I keep coming back to over the last 30 years and listen with such delight, even if the periodicity of spinning is down to a couple times per year. Much recommended.

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 Danse Macabre by ESPERANTO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.65 | 39 ratings

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Danse Macabre
Esperanto Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Very much an improvement on their debut album, Danse Macabre is probably the result of the group's taking their destiny in their own hands. While there were much changes amongst the singing casts, the core of the group remained stable, becoming tighter and musically more interactive. Produced by ex-Crimson Pete Sinfield, this album goes through several states of madness especially when it comes to the string section and it is a concept album. Indeed Raymond Vincent was now leading a four-man string section that was used as the main lead instrument . Starting on the small epic instrumental The Journey a demented trip flying on violin bows and wild paces, we then reach a Castle, a short sung soft and slow track by Keith Christmas. Ensues The Duel, a wild fight between the concerned instruments and some exciting scat choirs and a slight early Crimson influence. The flipside opens on the ecclesiastic and Gregorian The Cloister, but it is all a show, because the track is certainly not as peaceful as its title would have you believe. After an unremarkable Decision, I suppose that the more interesting moments of the Prisoner (those dark slow brooding gothic moments mean that there s some yummy torture, with a little Arabian touch later. The short title track closes the albums with a very weird screechy, almost dissonant violin section showing all signs of losing its marbles musically as they're all over the place. Impressive but perfectible.

What an improvement over the previous album, but then again, wait until their final album to know how much better they could get. In either case, Esperanto's DM is an excellent trip through one of the most visited clichés in the genre. Almost as essential as its follow-up album.

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