Eider Stellaire - s/t. 1981 France

Moving this one to the current date. The below review was originally published on my personal website in 2007, and later here on UMR in 2009. Now we can celebrate the CD reissue, which just arrived this week!

Magma. Zeuhl. I could quit right there, and have served my purpose for many readers. Michel Le Bars ensemble was clearly developed with Christian Vander in mind. But he didn't Xerox the playbook and go off and play pretend. Instead Le Bars took some core formations and then added his own twists and turns, to create one of the best Zeuhl formulas to come along. Ever.

So where are these difference to be found? Vocals for one thing. Or lack thereof. There are no made up Germanic languages or the lingua franca of Eskaton being employed. There are, however, some nice wordless female vocals adding a softer non-threatening Northettes touch to the proceedings. Then there's the guitar. That's right, think about it. Electric guitar on a Zeuhl album. It's a rare species. It does exist, but mainly as an accent instrument. Not so on Eider Stellaire's debut. It's featured often, and adds quite a sizzle especially when paired with some fuzz bass. And, as on any Zeuhl album, if the bass player isn't driving the music forward - and you into oblivion - then quite frankly he's not doing his job. And Patrick Sinergy is up to the task. He may not be Top or Paganotti, but I don't think either of them would be unimpressed either. Electric piano is another staple of the business, and once again, Eider Stellaire succeeds at driving the pace with this perfectly tuned instrument. Add in some delicate flute and melodic sax to provide a little yang, and you have one great instrumental rock album, as only it seems the French can do. And don't bring up the Japanese zeuhl bands to me. Just don't. Oddly enough, the only instrumentalist that doesn't shine is Le Bars himself. On the drumkit, no one is going to forget Vander anytime soon. That's OK - as in sports, the best coaches are rarely the best players. Brilliant.

Personal collection
CD: 2011 Soleil Zeuhl

Originals - especially with the cover as displayed above - are extremely rare. The CD features a great sound, and one excellent, lengthy bonus track. And it's 100% legit - woohoo! For years I had heard this one would NEVER be reissued. I didn't believe them. More importantly, neither did Alain at Soleil Zeuhl.

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