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EPIDERMIS

Eclectic Prog • Germany


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Epidermis biography
EPIDERMIS was considered, in the end of the 70's, like the German GENTLE GIANT, but in regard with the group's total discography, this might be quite reductive. They created a moving sonic dreamscape with keys, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, winds, percussion and cannon vocals. Their first album was progressive music of the very dense and complex type, with multi-layered vocal arrangements comparable to GENTLE GIANT and dynamic instrumental arrangements like YES and KING CRIMSON. The four tracks often had sudden shifts of tempo and mood, resulting in exciting music, which was at times disjointed. Often unfairly dissed as a clone band, EPIDERMIS managed to render the GENTLE GIANT realm being only a quartet. They recorded second album in the early 80's called Muster-Burger

On the surprisingly very-good "Feel Me", recorded in the early 90's with the same line-up and a bunch of guest musicians, the band offers a well-researched music, built on some precious sounds (flute, oboe, violin, clarinet, vibraphone) and some complex melodies, the music evolves between GENTLE GIANT ("Free hand" period), UNIVERS ZERO and ANABIS.

Recommended to Gentle Giant fans that enjoyed the "clones" like the Quebec group ET CETERA and the New England group HOWEVER.

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Feel Me (Special Edition)Feel Me (Special Edition)
W.M.M.S.
Audio CD$5.06
$34.99 (used)
genius of original force LPgenius of original force LP
KERSTON
Vinyl$100.00 (used)
Ich fühle mich [Single-CD]Ich fühle mich [Single-CD]
Import
Audio CD$5.16 (used)
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EPIDERMIS discography


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

4.00 | 1 ratings
In June
1975
3.28 | 11 ratings
Genius of Original force
1977
3.00 | 1 ratings
Muster-Burger
1982
3.92 | 5 ratings
Feel Me
1991
5.00 | 1 ratings
Feel Me (Special Edition ViP Disc)
1993

EPIDERMIS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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EPIDERMIS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

EPIDERMIS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Genius of Original force by EPIDERMIS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.28 | 11 ratings

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Genius of Original force
Epidermis Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A rather cult and unknown band,EPIDERMIS were the German answer to GENTLE GIANT's sophisticated and multi-influenced rock music.They appeared in late-70's featuring Michael Kurz on keys,Rolf Lanz on guitars, Reiner Neeb on drums and Wolfgang Wünsche on bass,while all four members contribute on the vocal sections.The original debut album was pressed on the small Kerston label,having a totally different cover from the one posted on progarchives and Music is Intelligence was smart enough to re-issue the album on CD format with a bonus track in early-90's.

From the very first track,the long ''The non-existent surroundings of god'' all the magnificent GENTLE GIANT-ish ingredients of a great prog track are there:complex interplays,jazzy bass lines,smooth guitar work,changes tempos and tons of multi-vocal harmonies,yet with a slight German accent.A very nice opener.Echoes of the Horner Clavinet D6 will open for the ''A riddle to myself'',which also contains some folkish flutes.Some nice vocal harmonies are met again,while Lanz easily transforms his playing from ANDY LATIMER-like emotional chords to ROBERT FRIPP-ian complicated riffing.While on the first two tracks EPIDERMIS try to deliver even a touch of personality,this is completely gone on the eponymous track,where is almost impossible to believe that the band playing are not GENTLE GIANT.This track maintains the high quality and demanding musicianship of the previous compositions,but all vocals,mass of breaks,the strong sound of clavinet and the changing climates come like a complete rip-off of GENTLE GIANT's style,which will be a little annoying for dedicated fans of the band (including me).''Prime origin'',the closer of the original album'',happens to be the shortest but also the most original track of all with a KING CRIMSON-esque atmosphere on guitars and structure blended with nice keys and really strong drumming in an interesting Symphonic/Jazz mix.The bonus track is almost out of place,compared to the other tracks.This is a very nice ballad,dominated by sweet flute solos and calm piano,before a rather simple electric solo leads the listener towards the end.Another interesting track in the line.

So,having heard the album plenty of times,I think the right title should be ''Genius of unoriginal force''.Genius,because is really hard to deliver such complex music but managing to capture the listener's attention without getting him bored...yet ''unoriginal'' because everything in this album seems like it has spread out of a GENTLE GIANT record.However this effort will always be a great listening for those into intricate and artistic progressive rock....and one last thing:Amaterus of prog should better stay away.

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 Genius of Original force by EPIDERMIS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.28 | 11 ratings

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Genius of Original force
Epidermis Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The biggest complaint directed at this band is that they sound so much like GENTLE GIANT.This four piece band from Germany put out a solid album in "Genius Of The Original Force". The vocals are in English and all four members do sing as they engage in those complex vocal arrangements that GENTLE GIANT are famous for. I must say for the most part I really enjoyed this album, the instrumental work is well done as are the vocals.

"The Non-Existant Surroundings Of God" opens with barely audible sounds that do start to build until we get a full sound after 2 minutes. Vocals before 3 minutes and GG comes to mind right away. These guys sound really good. A collage of intricate sounds as it gets quite complex before 8 minutes. Heavy bass 9 1/2 minutes in with cool vocal arrangements. "A Riddle To Myself" has a nice guitar intro before it calms down as vocals arrive. Flute and bass lead the way 2 minutes in. The guitar that follows sounds great. More GG- like vocal arrangemnets. Tasteful guitar 4 1/2 minutes in.

"Genius Of The Original Force" above all other tracks sounds the most like GENTLE GIANT. Especially the vocal style and arrangements. Some nice guitar 2 minutes in as bass throbs. It gets a little dark before 6 1/2 minutes as the bass continues to be prominant. Vocals come and go. Spoken words to end it after 11 minutes. "Prime Origin" opens explosively before a tasteful instrumental section follows. Vocals before 3 minutes. This sounds fantastic before 5 minutes. "Feelings" is a bonus track that I don't like at all. More of a ballad with lots of piano.

3.5 stars. It did remind me why I like GENTLE GIANT so much.

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 Feel Me by EPIDERMIS album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.92 | 5 ratings

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Feel Me
Epidermis Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Apparently, this album is Epidermis' third album, recorded some 12 years after their rather good Genius Of Original Force debut, Epidermis managed to retain a certain progressive edge and actually did not fall into the trap of recording an awful album after many years, casted-off in a cupboard shelf. With an unchanged line-up, the group gets plenty of help from guest musicians. Musically they sound fairly different, the GG-obsession being much less present, and the German singing also changing much sonically speaking. From the five tracks present, only three are real complete tracks, the last two being so-called radio edits - as if Epidermis was to ever get radio airplay, but hearing those clear melodies, it was worth a shot.

The opening almost 8-min Ich Fühle Mich (the title track Feel Me) is a delightful piece of music mixing modern rock balladry with classical gothic (almost medieval) ambiances and the use of many classical acoustic instrument give the track a superb almost folk-prog and the group lets itself flow within the dreamy soundscape. This track often approaches the intimate feel of chamber music, partly due to the violin and oboe guest instruments, but retains a clear rock edge. The following almost 8-min Traumland (Dreamland) retains that charming folk sound but veering a bit more towards the Mike Oldfield realm (the pop side is undeniable but mostly offset by a medieval feel), it is maybe the most accessible of tracks of the album. In a way, we are fraying with Ougenweide (helped by the German lyrics sounding often authentic), new-age versions Alan Stivell or Dan Ars Bras from the same years, as the rhythms are seemingly programmed (I can't be sure because the drum sounds of those dreadful late80's-early- 90's were definitely tampering the aesthetics resistance of the most uncompromising purist musicians) but there is nothing unbearable, quite on the contrary.

The following 22-min epic A Speck, A Dream, is a complete different story. Epidermis develops a weird mix of Gentle Giant influences with Univers Zero-esque chamber prog that results in some parts of the music sometimes approaching the universe of Zappa (without the silly humour, though). They use an impressive amount of unusual instruments (among others violin, bassoon, oboe, accordion, sitar, recorders, double bass, tamboura, vibes, clarinet, and children choirs) and manage it quite impressively, while keeping it not too complex, fairly accessible (we are far from UZ's macabre realm) and keeping a slight happy but gothic ambiance. While returning to their GG influences temporarily, Epidermis does not use the full frontal array of GG musical palette, (avoiding cannon vocals among other), and their major influence appears completely integrated in their sound. Easily the album's highlight, this track is a small tour de force.

The two shortened tracks (edits of the opening tracks) that follow do have a more radiophonic sound, but are not altogether different, but they really don't compare to the original tracks.

What actually startles this proghead is that, at a time when prog was only about neo- prog and early Progmetal (the Magna Carta label bullet years), this kind of album completely escaped progheads at the time of its release. Indeed, this was not easily accessible symphonic prog, but this almost RIO-Gentle Giant meeting Chamber music was completely out of this world. Even this writer missed the album until the early 00's, but is now making a mission of getting this album a bit of the much-deserved sunlight it needs. While hardly flawless, this uis one of the 90's better album IMHO.

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 Genius of Original force by EPIDERMIS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.28 | 11 ratings

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Genius of Original force
Epidermis Eclectic Prog

Review by Progbear
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As opposed to the overrated Epidaurus release, this one's been rather unfairly slagged over the years. No classic of course, but it's not bad at all. Sure, there's nothing here that hasn't been done before, and the band are clearly modelling themselves after Gentle Giant, with very little other influence (contrapuntal vocals in odd meters, medieval-styled passages with recorders, baroque-sounding Hohner Clavinet runs, etc.). But they do it rather well-admittedly it is a hard style to pull off. And they do it without plagiarizing any riffs or motives, which is admirable. The band also add an angsty Teutonic feel, which adds to my enjoyment of this release immesurably.

Just as the Epidaurus album isn't as good as you've been told, this one's not nearly as bad as some of the more poisonous reviews would have you believe. It isn't terribly original (which is why I'm unable to regale it with a higher rating), but it is rather well-crafted. Sometimes, that's enough.

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 Genius of Original force by EPIDERMIS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.28 | 11 ratings

BUY
Genius of Original force
Epidermis Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars As the later 70's unwound and Gentle Giant was slowly eroding itself through a series of increasingly deceiving albums, a few imitators came out of the woodwork, such as Quebec's Et Cetera, the New England However and the German Epidermis. Although most of these groups could qualify a bit as clones, I'd rather not indulge with such epithet, because cloning such an incredibly complex band as GG, is much more than just copying. And usually, of those three, Epidermis gets almost unanimously dissed, which I find rather unfair, because albums like this could easily quench your thirst for more classic GG albums as they really waned from Missing Piece onwards. First I'd like to say that they were they only one of those groups that managed to release between three and five albums (the exact number is still a mystery to me), and that if Epidermis does not bring outside elements from other bands (if a more prominent use of the electric guitar), they were only a quartet (GG was six) and they make a credible GG proxy, singing in English and being relatively close in the vocal dept. With a bit of imagination, you could take this album as a follow-up to Intervie'. Released on the ultra-small Kerston label, the album is graced with filtered-modified picture of a Roman amphitheatre.

Starting on an incredibly low-volume and lengthy windy intro, a (soon-funky) bass brings us slowly into a very complex groove and just as you're fully into it, start the cannon vocals that GG (you can spot a few KC and Yes influences as well, but they are discrete) has graced our ears so well. This almost 11-mins opening Non-Existent Surroundings Of God is a pure joy if you don't mind the fact that these guys were only four and they were still on their debut album. The 6-min Riddle To Myself is a bit in the same mode, but has a more depressing feel and constant use of minor keys (like most of the album).

On the flipside, the 11-min+ title track opens up much the same than the first side did, sticking fairly closely to the GG cannon. However, Prime Origins is probably the tougher track to get into, and maybe the only moment when Epidermis tries to go beyond the GG realm. Starting on a truly apocalyptic musical description of the dawn of time and the genesis of mankind, this track is probably the highlight of the album, even if the more chaotic moments (sounding a bit like some Crimsonic Giant) are not as well recorded. The closing 5-min Feelings is a fairly different affair, avoiding ultra-complex scales, it gives us a chance to peek at what Epidermis could be like when they drop their GG fixation, and I must say that although we still hear the same band, the results are not as convincing, and they sound a bit AOR-ish.

OK, I can't make you believe that Epidermis is really as good as GG, but aside from the fact that they didn't try to expand on whatever GG had developed, they still managed a fairly inspired and enthusiastic album, precisely at the moment when their masters of inspiration lacked those very same qualities. Although I wouldn't call this album essential, I still like it enough to give it its fourth star (let's count the rounding off to the upper unit as a factor as well). This album actually could start as an introduction to GG's world, because it is slightly more accessible than most GG albums.

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