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Epidermis - Feel Me CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 12 ratings

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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.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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