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Runaway Totem


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3 stars I discovered this record through the free music download thread, if you havn't already checked the thread out you should, especially if you are low on money like I am.

That being said this is deliciously wierd, I am not sure about this being Zeuhl, as they don't sound like magma, atleast to me. Any way back to the album. At first I could not enjoy this, with it being in another language and it being a little too strange for my tastes. But I forced my self to listen too it again and guess what, it grew on me.

The first song is extremly avant and seems to jerk between different sounds without a lot of connection, and to tell the truth I tend to get lost. Luckilly the record starts to pick up around the third song and get into some fun basswork and frantic drumming.

Because of the language barier the songs tend to blend together for me, some of the stand out tracks however are

Sancta Santorum: a fun song with a great bass line and cool groove before going into what sounds like a civil war era march with a voice screaching what sounds like "whup that thing" but thats probably just my mind screwing with me.

Ala Di Corvo: song that sounds like a classic rocker to me, but with chanting and opera vocals before going into crazy space rockthat sounds like demented floyd, verry fun song.

Leone Alato: intresting tribal drumming inro and great funk, oh yea babe.

Laosus Exilis: this song scares me, verry dissonant, dont know why but scares me more than most other music, even music focoused on scaring (deat, black metal)

this is a good cd but in no way masterpiece, not even really essential: 3 stars

Report this review (#126618)
Posted Saturday, June 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Crazy Runaway and successful Totem ...

The first effort of RUNAWAY TOTEM is a combination of Avant with some Post, Psychedelic and Jazz Rock/Fusion. Remembers me at FISHBONE sometimes with their special performance/appearance. Vocals are in italian language. The band consists of excellent musicians which have produced a lot of surprises during the recordings for this release. A melange of different styles and a lot of funny and mysterious interludes and breaks care for a great variety. For sure there is no boredom raising when you are examing this album. The band doesn't exaggerate the crazy concept and yes - there are some songs which I can really enjoy.

San Giacomo De Compostella and Sancta Santorum for example are very impressing grooving rock songs a la LIVING COLOUR. They are provided with some mysterious electronic modified vocals and synth effects. O.T is cluttering. After a sacral beginning we have a hightempo bass and drum part with a space/psychedelic guitar. This is later mixed with opera female voices - maniac, fascinating and not dedicated to sensitive ears.

The fantastic interplay Mekanik Ritual really sounds like the title promises. Leone Alato is a terrific and complex Fusion track and my highlight. Ein Tag In Das Haus Von Hermann - the title is grammatically not correct but it's a mystical trip anyhow. The long track Lapis Exilis is also a very convincing song, dynamic and psychedelic with a remarkable hypnotic recitative in the background.

This release is another surprise for me. After several rehearsals I have to recommend it as an excellent addition. Not only interesting for RIO/Avant and Zeuhl aficionados.

Report this review (#128028)
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I wasn't as pleased with this release. There's more sloppiness and poor production than ever, and the songwriting isn't as diverse. It gets sort of exhausting to listen to it in one sitting, even more so than Tales From Topographic Oceans. Musicianship is not phenomenal, the writing is not overly complex, and the sound quality is horrid. There are even some really really silly things: silly vocals, silly keyboard voices, silly melodies. But there are great moments as well: where the music punches out such ferocious energy, and the few extremely complex moments that'll make you mutter "that was cool" as you're listening. In the end, Totem will go on to release much better material in their career, and I don't recommend this as one of their better albums.
Report this review (#132270)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars Italy's RUNAWAY TOTEM kicked off their career in a purportedly ZEUHL styling with this album, Trimegisto, and to be quite honest, at least to my ears, it's more of a 'metallic' or heavy prog adventure with this one. Throughout the (mainly short) songs on this record, hints of Sympho-Prog, an element of Spaciness, and maybe even a smidgeon of R.I.O. can be discerned - this can be taken as an eclectic and original melding of sub-genres. The album opens ominously enough with a whispered vocal backed by a low-register synth burble. Within seconds, the energetic rhythm section enters the scene with a vengeance, complete with shredding guitars and obscure synth interjections. When the foreign language recital begins, it's all so processed that you'd swear the aliens have finally arrived to tell us the news (good or bad, who knows ??). Tempo's chop and change every few bars comfortably enough not to baffle enthusiastic listeners. Possible faults may be a lack of texture and contrast - it's full-on most the way through and a consistent listen. My favourite pieces on the album are the longer cuts, the near-7 min 'Segreto tra le Mura' (with its relentless, circular, fuzzed out Bass riff and aggressive drumming) and the 11min+ 'Lapis Exilis' which features hypnotic chants and plenty of room to jam out. The Bass Guitar and Drums stand out majestically, always a finer point for me. Most should find this album engaging and worthwhile. 4 stars.

Report this review (#215647)
Posted Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the first Runaway Totem album and the second I heard after Esameron from 2007. Again I listened to this at least five times for free on the band's website. Not as good as Esameron but still a good album. The music here sounds like a cross between Zeuhl and '90s 'alternative' rock. What an interesting combination! The vocals(in Italian) go from almost punk to operatic. The bass playing can be almost funky; sometimes there is a slap- bass feel to the playing. It's clear the bassist does not use a pick.

"San Giacomo de Compostela" starts with some whispering. Later there is what sounds like a monster. Some bell sounds get sped up. "Sancta Sanctorum" has some 'chipmunk' vocals with a marching beat. The last two or so minutes of "O.T." has a hypnotic synth part with a nice groove. The female vocals here remind me of Eskaton. Some chanted male vocals as well. Both the sound and title of "Mekanik Ritual" is very Magma-esque. Some Kobaian-sounding talking with minimal electronic percussion. Both male and female vocals. I'm not fluent in German but I think "Ein Tag in dem Hous von Hermann..." translates as "One Day in the House of Hermann". Very atmospheric song which reminds me of '80s Art Zoyd. "Esseri Periodici" has some sax but no one is credited with playing it.

I have given myself the assignment of listening to this band's albums on their website. I can only assume that they get better after this. It's rather strange that there would be a band from Italy influenced by Zeuhl in the early '90s. In the near future, when I'm not so broke, I can see myself buying one of their CDs. But not this one. Good effort, but I already know they can do much better than this. 2 stars.

Report this review (#308388)
Posted Friday, November 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars A difficult one to review, Trimesto.

This is the debut album from the Italian band Runaway Totem and now a free download from their homepage. It is also an album that pulls in all direction. Trimesto is an octopus where each of the tentacles is pulling the body in their own individual direction. On this album, you find everything from zeuhl, rio, reggae, crossover, theatrical symphonic prog, post rock, punk, jazz and blues. It is like Christian Vander forming a band with Peter Gabriel and trying to play their respective form of music on the top of each other without making any compromises whatsoever. It is chaos and that is what Trimesto is. Chaos.

Chaos can be good. Very good indeed. But in the case of Trimesto, it is not good. The production is uneven and all over the place. The vocals are not good. The songs is disjointed and the album simply does not have any coherence. Trimesto sounds like the debut album from a band looking for an idea and an identity to adopt. And I guess this is what this album is. Sorry, but this album is no good.

2 stars

Report this review (#388808)
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Runaway Totem started their trip in 1988 from the town of Riva del Garda in North Italy with Roberto Gottardi and Renè Modena ( both on guitar/keys) and the starting line-up included also Giorgio Golin on drums and Giuseppe Buttiglione on bass.All band members had pseudonyms and stated the band would pass from a specific phase to another as time goes by.The starting one was Analisi,when the band started performing live,the second being Sintesi,begun in 1991,with Modena leaving for Men of Lake,replaced by Roby Santorum on sax/flutes and Sergio Amadori on keys along with Giorgio Revelant and Ana Tores Fraile on voices.The band's first release ''Trimegisto'' from 1992 was released by Black Widow both on CD and vinyl versions.

The musicianship on ''Trimegisto'' is rather strange,heavily based on dissonant parts, sound effects and distorted vocals,but falling generally into Heavy Prog with sudden breaks and with some very dark atmospheres throughout.What is to be noticed is that the bass is really upfront here,leading sometimes the music,while guitars are heavy but often distorted as well.The keyboard work is varied: Sounds from synthesizers,organ waves and obscure electronics pop up during this weird musical trip,used in a way to create some very dramatic climates.Vocals,both male and female,have a haunting almost operatic feeling,making them a good addition to the concept of the band.However not all tracks are equally interesting,with the band often using a boring steady groove under sound effects,while the atonal parts are not my cup of tea either.

Trully uncomparable,Runaway Totem's debut is certainly a personal approach to prog music with some haunting mood around and impressive yet not always conveincing compositions.You should give them a try,a recommended musical weirdness.

Report this review (#575732)
Posted Saturday, November 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Trimegisto" is the eccentric debut from Runnaway Totem. The album is truly strange. There are points in this album where I feel that they have substituted the quality of their material for the quirky weirdness of their sound. But the experience is unique and some points of this album are exceptional.

The musicianship here is quite good. While I do think that the band could have worked for some more interesting material, they have crafted quite an interesting debut. There are points in this album that I find very unnerving, which is probably why I have not liked this album more. I do not think that this is a bad thing, in fact I commend the band on creating such a chilling mood.

The two best tracks on the album are Sancta Santorum and Ala Di Corvo. Sancta Santorum is a chilling track, with a very catchy melody and excellently arranged instrumental parts. Ala Di Corvo is a fast paced track with some excellent guitar work. Both tracks stand out as excellent, and I suggest them as introductions to the album.

I like this album, even though I am still not quite used to it. I recommend to those looking for a dark and unique progressive experience.

Report this review (#921983)
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2013 | Review Permalink

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