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Ga'an - Black Equus CD (album) cover

BLACK EQUUS

Ga'an

 

Zeuhl

4.49 | 16 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars The second Zeuhl release from this lineup of young Chicago-based musicians (from whom nothing has been heard since) comes two years after their extraordinary debut. (I wonder if they were in fact outtakes from the sessions that produced the previous album--the sound is so similar.) The drums are so perfect and the bass and keys stay tightly in the fold. Lindsay's wonderful voice is, as it was on the other album, mixed a little too far back for my tastes. Still, the ethereal, "instrumental" effect this gives the vocals is probably part of the charm of the Ga'an sound.

1. "Arms They Speak" (9:54) is quite a bit more rich in terms of keyboard/synth layers than the songs of the previous album but the sound engineering and the way the vocal is mixed in is quite the same. Great drumming, cool bass and layers of keys make this one a keeper despite the melodies and chord progressions not quite being up to those of the previous album. The scaled down vocals and instrumental mix in the quieter seventh and eighth minutes are sublime--great finish! Great drumming! Papa Vander would be proud! (19/20)

2. "Servant Eye" (8:35) opens with an ANEKDOTEN-like thick/heaviness. Lindsay's entry with repeating vowel/syllables is fairly quick, but then there is a stop and restart at the one minute mark--a technique the band used to great effect on the previous album. Enter Mellotron choir. The keys are, unfortunately, a little too distorted and Lindsay's vocals a little too militaristic. Another directional shift in the third minute leads to a brief passage of Lindsay's lead vocals before the drums explode into a race around the sun. Awesome in the truest sense of the word. 'tron is replaced by saw-syth--to nice effect. New pace at the six minute mark--more insistent, resolute. This then morphs into another fast race with great synth and bass work over the frenzy of flailing drumsticks--to song's end! That went by so quickly! (On my disc there is an additional minute of silence after the music has ended.) Not as good as the previous song but still at a very high level. (13.5/15)

3. "Call Of The Black Equus" (18:44) opens with syncopated pulse of a synth bass note with floating, panning synth saw within which Lindsay interjects a single LISA GERRARD-like phrase, at first intermittantly and then nearly constantly. Drums and bell-keys arrive at the 3:05 mark prompting Lindsay to begin singing some actual lyrics--as if telling a story. Still, she is in the background, virtually yelling her words into the mix. For the second verse of her song she is accompanied by several tracks of her voice in harmonizing roles. Interesting. If the voices weren't so mirroring of the keyboard lines it might get more interesting--but, then, isn't that what the Magma choirs do: match the melodies set down by the keys and guitar? The seventh minute brings something new--a kind of choral chorus--before a dirty Canterbury-like keyboard begins playing a progression of ever-ascending chords. Lindsay continues trying to tell her tale--on multiple tracks-- as the drum plays beneath it all--kind of in a PHIL COLLINS way with many, many interesting fills and flourishes. Poorly mixed Greek chorus in the ninth minute before a break leads into a softer, more spacious "White Rabbit" like passage--which then gains power and momentum with the entrance of a very strong, very chunky bass and bass line. A Tony Banksian organ passage precedes another foray at support for Lindsay's plaintive vocals. Wild bass sounds in the twelfth minute precede a slow down, drop out section from which emerges an old synth, slow ascending bass line, and dirge-like LISA GERRARD-like vocal performance. LARRY FAST-like bass synth continues in the lead while drums and synth washes try to keep up (Lindsay takes a singing break). At 15:40 Lindsay's epithets are punctuated by synth and drums until 16:22 when the band kicks back into the previous fast-paced groove--this time with synth performing a melody line of descending steps. This continues until the final 45 seconds when the music blows up into whole band waves of power and awe. I don't know how to explain it. (I lack the musical terminology/language skills.) This is just an amazing song considering it came from three musicians. It may not be on the level of intensity or power of a Magma masterpiece, but it certainly has all of the elements to be one. (I imagine this song being performed with the expanded Magma lineup! Wow, wouldn't that be amazing?!) (36/40)

I've always thought this album quite a bit weaker than the band's 2009 debut but upon current investigation, I appreciate the creative and instrumental prowess that went into this--all three of the songs.

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music and one of the shining beacons of modern Zeuhl as created and composed by three youths from Chicago!!!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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