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Eloy - Ra CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.79 | 212 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Eloy's 1988 album `Ra' saw the band essentially whittled down to just vocalist and guitarist Frank Bornemann and keyboard player Michael Gerlach, but with the aid of a few guest musicians to fill out the sound. The music presented here was still often in the song-driven direction the band had been on since `Colours' back in 1980, so that meant streamlined, guitar/synth driven rock often with verse-chorus structures, but there is still plenty of worth to discover here. Despite a loud arena rock sound throughout much of it, the album is still coated in those defining shimmering synths and Bornemann's heroic guitar soling, but the killing factor for many listeners may be the overuse of crashing programmed drums. This time around there are also plenty of quasi-spiritual lyrical pleadings and cosmic proclamations, but the band's keen melodic skills and skilled playing are all still evident.

Nine minute opener `Voyager of the Future Race' instantly sets the sci-fi template of so many Eloy albums past. After a serene ambient intro, the piece comes screaming to life with wailing guitars, thick synths and the most bombastic and loud programmed drums imaginable that could only come off an 80's album! The track crashes down on you with repetitive hard-rock riffs, an introspective middle and victorious guitar solo, and check out loopy lyrics such as "Life and death are now just a status, look around - you'll see a celestial glow..." - Oh Frankie, give me more! `Sensations' is not the most complex of arrangements, instead it's a gutsy rocker driven by more of those aggressive pounding drums, a forceful vocal from Frank and a very catchy chorus. `Dream' is a big dramatic symphonic piece with ethereal space-whisper female voices and a dreamy, almost uplifting chorus lifting over floating synths. It's also full of rambling New Age contemplations such as "Peace and love reunite in everlasting burning light, you feel your aura expanding, bathing in virginal joy, just like a flower in bloom...". I love the innocence of it!

There's plenty of driving power throughout the second side's `Invasion of a Megaforce', a more up-tempo and surprisingly positive piece. Moments of symphonic bluster and urgency run alongside a subtle yet infectious Yes-like quality to the chorus vocal harmonies with murmuring slinking bass, and Frank get's to briefly let rip with a tortured bluesy guitar solo. The gentle power-ballad `Rainbow' may just be one of the sweetest and more heart- felt tunes Eloy ever delivered, with a classy dream-like chorus that's not unlike those softer moments that showed up on most Alan Parsons Project albums. I love the naivety of such lines as "Find your peace of mind, leave all cares behind...and your dreams will come to life." With words like "You can't control the whirlpools in your mind, you try to find a value in yourself, but the way is too long. But your spirit's fighting back under the storm...", `Hero' is seemingly an ode to crashing and burning but rising again. There's a gentle melancholy to the plodding drama, but Frank offers a final stirring and sympathetic guitar solo.

Eloy may have released endless stronger albums, but this one has always been a personal favourite of mine. It still has many of the trademarks I associate this wonderful German band with, especially Frank Bornemann's charmingly accented delivery and the deep-space synth atmospherics. The programmed drums have always made this album a very divisive one amongst Eloy fans, but I feel it gives the music a suitably robotic quality, perfectly appropriate for their science fiction sound. The cover is also beautiful, full of fantastical sci-fi imagery. It's certainly superior to their next album `Destination', which would replace their usual sound with hard guitar driven AOR. But chances are, especially if you enjoyed the previous albums `Metromania' and `Performance', you'll still find plenty here to enjoy.

Three stars, but rounded up to four for my own selfish love for this great little unloved album!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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