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5uu's 5UU's & The Motor Totemist Guild: Elements album cover
3.55 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews | 12% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ignominies (5:12)
2. Imperfections (4:23)
3. Resentments (3:59)
4. Acknowledgements (1:43)
5. Elements (2:35)
6. In Life's Hands (4:55)
7. The Artist (3:36)
8. Causes of Merit (2:42)
9. The Futility of Oneness (6:41)

Total Time 35:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Curt Wilson / vocals
- Greg Conway / guitar, guitar synth, percussion
- Sanjay Kumar / piano, keyboards
- Jon Beck / bass, autoharp
- David Kerman / drums, toy drums, guitar, synth, tape
AND The Motor Totemist Guild:
- James Grigsby / bas, trumpet, leyboards, guitar, vibes, snake flute, arrangements
- Becky Heninger / cello
- Emily Hay / flute, piccolo
- Lynn Johnston / clarinet, saxophone, oboe, French horn

- Eric Strauss / percussion
- Gene Carl / keyboards (2)
- Ken Ando / guitar (3,5,6)
- Chuck Turner / keyboards (3,5,6)
- Eric Johnson / bassoon (8,9)

Releases information

Artwork: Patrick Tierney

LP RER Megacorp ‎- RER 33 (1988, US)

CD Cuneiform Records ‎- Rune 85 (1996, US) Together with 1986 "Bel Marduk & Tiamat" plus extras, renamed " Point Of Views" (see on Compilations)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy 5UU'S 5UU's & The Motor Totemist Guild: Elements Music

5UU'S 5UU's & The Motor Totemist Guild: Elements ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(71%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

5UU'S 5UU's & The Motor Totemist Guild: Elements reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars What a difference this album makes over their early Marduk album. Having dropped one of their guitarist (Coleman) for another keyboard player (Sanjay Kumar that will also be on the U Totem records) is not the only reason: Wilson's vocals have also changed for the better, dropping that early 80's new wave tone, and sounding much more RIO. The addition of the Motor Totemist Guild is an incredible up-value for the album. Indeed, the Guild is made up of multi-instrumentalist Grigsby, Emily Hay on flute, cellist Heninger and windplayer Johnston. Other guests include amongst others bassoonist Johnson.

Indeed the music has not only darkened and become more serious (but not losing a certain sense of humour), more severe and tighter, but one can sense Univers Zero and Present's influence clearly in this album. Not to say that the Henry Cow legacy influence is absent far from it, but there is a clear evening out between the UK and Belgian schools of thoughts. Starting with Ignominies, you just hear the oppressive march so Present that it seems to overshadow most everything else.

The short title track reaches an apex in oppressiveness, but the apex is reached in the coming In Life's Hands, where there is even a bit of Zappa's attempts at Kobaian choirs, the whole thing chased by a dissonant sax, before a Keith Tippet-like piano changes the plot all over again. Some tracks are just so solemn in the way they advance methodically, trampling systematically every inch of your sanity, but still doing it with enough humour such as the elephant squeals in the background of Futility Of Oneness, which makes an excellent finale.

Clearly this album Elements will sound much more like U Totem's first album "avant-la-lettre", rather than a typical 5UU's album, partly because of Sanjay and the Totemist's presence, but also because the songwriting is much more advanced than in their Marduk album.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. "Elements" combines the forces of the bands 5UU'S and MOTOR TOTEMIST GUILD plus we get five guests helping out this nine member super-group. One of my biggest issues with this album is the vocals of Curt Wilson, and while he is an upgrade over the vocals from the debut, he pales in my opinion with the vocals that are on the four albums that followed this one. In fact to my ears his vocals just don't suit the music, not like Susanne Lewis and Bob Drake who would sing for example on the followup to this called "Hunger's Teeth". Heck I wish Emily Hay was the singer here instead of just playing her flute. Even instrumentally I feel this is a step down from what would follow.

The album is under 37 minutes and divided into two sections. "The Ends & Means Of Privileges" is the first section and the first track is "Ignominies" a top three track for me. I believe that's bassoon to start from guest Eric Johnson as flute and more join in. This is melancholic but it turns fuller before 2 minutes and this sounds really good before settling right down as the vocals arrive. I do like when the intensity rises each time although they are brief sections contrasted each time with the more mellow vocal sections. Love the guitar 4 1/2 minutes in.

"Imperfections" features lots of piano melodies early on in an Avant soundscape. A calm with vocals follows and this is experimental to say the least although it stays fairly relaxed overall. "Resentments" is uptempo with the drums and piano standing out, vocals before a minute. Horns before 1 1/2 minutes as the vocals stop. I like the determined sound before 2 minutes then the vocals return after 3 minutes. "Acknowledgments" is almost folky with piano, cello and vocals. I'm really not into this but thankfully it's under 2 minutes.

"Elements" is a top three for me. Piano and some depth of sound here in this relaxed start. Vocals join in quickly. Heavy outbursts will be contrasted with the mellower sections. Dissonant horns before 2 1/2 minutes and I like the drum/ piano section that follows. It's building then the vocals return. The second half of the album is called "The Distrust Of Merits" and it begins with "In Life's Hands". An interesting soundscape to start then we get multi-vocals a minute in as Kerman comes to the fore on drums. Catchy stuff. A horn before 2 minutes. Discordant piano 3 1/2 minutes in then the vocals return.

"The Artist" is my final top three and it opens with the piano and drums both pounding away. Then it gets interesting instrumentally while the vocals join in. These contrasts will continue. Great sound before 3 minutes including the bass. "Causes Of Merit" doesn't do much for me as piano and vocals dominate. "The Futility Of Oneness" is the longest track at almost 7 minutes but man I can't get into the vocals here. Instrumentally this is incredible though. The vocals come across as being lame to begin with and they will come and go unfortunately. Love the experimental sounds after a minute as the vocals have stopped. The vocals are back sadly at 2 1/2 minutes but man the final minute or so is really good as the vocals have stopped again.

The last four studio albums from 5UU'S are amazing and they really are the standard when it comes to American Rio music. I just feel that it took a couple of records for them to get to their unique sound.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Second album to 5uu's, that more than band name it's a code name or logo for Dave Kerman and his cooperates. For those who are unfamiliar with the RIO scene, I'll mention that Dave Kerman is a well known musician from the American RIO movement, being a Drummer, composer-song writer and lyricis ... (read more)

Report this review (#181278) | Posted by ShW1 | Monday, September 1, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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