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Honeyelk - Stoyz Vi Dozévéloy CD (album) cover





3.21 | 24 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars HONEYELK was one of the many zeuhl inspired bands from France following in the footsteps of Magma. The band formed in 1974 near the city of Toulon in the south of France and stuck around long enough to release its one and only album STOYZ VI DOZÉVÉLOY which i presume is a fictitious language also inspired by the Kobaian legends of Magma. Originally released with a limited pressing of only 1000 copies, the album has been one of those hot rarities in collector's circles however the album has been re-released on CD twice albeit with a completely different album title "En quête d'un Monde meilleur?" and album cover. Another factor that makes it completely confusing is that even though the content is exactly the same, the original LP featured two side long tracks whereas the reissues broke down the various suites into individual tracks with the track titles also ditching the zeuhlese and appearing in French.

One of the first things anyone coming to HONEYELK for the first time will immediately notice is that these guys didn't sound very much like Magma or any other zeuhl band for that matter. Sure those choppy bass grooves appear but HONEYELK was more of a jazz-fusion band with avant-prog outbursts from time to time. The zeuhl aspects only appear intermittently especially in the chorus sections. The vocals when they do appear courtesy of the the Blanc brothers sound more like Premiata Forneria Marconi than Christian Zander. The rich brass section courtesy of Pierre Yves Maury who plays clarinet and tenor sax offers a heavy emphasis on jazz motifs whereas the collection of keyboards guarantees more of a symphonic prog connection.

Really it's bassist / guitarist Gérard Blanc who keeps the zeuhl connection alive as the musical procession drifts in and out of zeuhl territory. This is a bizarre album in how it meanders all over the place really and the unfocused nature of it is surely the reason the album hasn't gotten more love over the ensuing decades since it has become better known after being saved from the obscurity bins. The band was a quintet with guitars, keys, bass, drums, clarinet and sax but three extra musicians appear on this release including a violinist. Given only two vocalists, HONEYELK wasn't as operatic with no traces of stentorian choirs and instead offered a series of harmonic contrapuntal motifs. The music is difficult to follow and upon a single listen may leave you disappointed. In many ways the music itself reminds me of some of Canterbury Scene jazz-rock bands in terms of meandering compositions although the idiosyncratic sounds of Canterbury bands are absent.

Given that this was a one and done project which was fairly common with hardcore progressive acts putting their entire career of ideas into a single package due to the collapse of newer prog bands finding a foothold in the market, STOYZ VI DOZÉVÉLOY showcases a wide variety of interesting musical ideas that if released earlier in the decade surely would have been teased out over a multi-album run but personally i find these complex labyrinthine albums fascinating in scope. Musically speaking this one is a tough nut to crack but ultimately a rewarding one as it invites new listening sessions to explore the dreamy otherworldly terrain that is punctuated by moments of familiarity that reference not only zeuhl but various strains of jazz-fusion, psychedelic space rock and even eclectic English prog bands like Van der Graaf Generator without sounding like any of them.

One of the differences between the original STOYZ VI DOZÉVÉLOY and its later rendition as EN QUETE D'UN MONDE MEILLEUR is that the latter featured several bonus tracks. The original album featured two long tracks that only added up 26 minutes but the reissue added another 15 minutes of live and studio tracks. All i can say is that HONEYELK's sole album is very weird and for me that's a good thing. It delivers something totally unexpected in a genre known for its consistency at least in terms of the basics. Intricately composed and decorated with all kinds of bizarre musical explorations, i really ended up liking this one even though i, as many, found this one a bit alienating upon first exposure. Sure the vocals could be better but in a way they fit in to the alternate musical universe presented here.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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