Eskaton - 4 Visions. 1979 France

For my tastes, the absolute pinnacle of the Zeuhl style of music. While no doubt greatly influenced by the almighty Magma, Eskaton are really an entirely different branch off this massive tree. Those who call it a Magma clone are clearly scratching at the surface. For one, they sing in French rather than the made-up Germanic Kobian language. Secondly all the vocals are sung by two females, often in harmony or counterpoint. Thirdly, the band plays in hyper-drive throughout. Magma are experts at building up climaxes. Eskaton are experts at releasing climaxes... for the entire album! And finally, like all Zeuhl bassists, Andre Bernardi is a beast - but his style isn't the pound your senses into oblivion like Top or Paganotti, but rather one that shreds like a thrash metal act. Get your air bass guitar out when listening, you're going to need it. While all 4 compositions are brilliant, the middle two 'Attente' and 'Ecoute' possess truly sublime melodic moments that will raise the hair on the back of your neck. 4 Visions is one 40+ minute peak experience, and truly in my all-time Top 10. I would give this a 16 on Gnosis if they'd let me.

Personal collection
CD: 1995 APM (Sweden)
LP: 2013 Soleil Zeuhl

I first heard this album back in 1992 when a friend dubbed his cassette for me. I was absolutely floored by the music. It had been one of the greatest things I'd ever heard to that point (and still is frankly). But the cassette was extinct, and I wasn't about to kill myself looking for a cheap cassette anyway. The dub would have to do. So when the Swedish label APM was the first label to get this one out on CD, I bought one faster than the speed of light. Everything about the CD was better: The sound, the cover - it was just a magnificent reissue. In the 1990's APM was at the top of the best reissue (and contemporary) labels in the world. But sadly they went out of business in 1997. And, not surprisingly, 4 Visions sold out and became highly desirable again. Enter Soleil Zeuhl, one of today's greatest reissue labels. They had been successful in reissuing the other two Eskaton albums, and demand was building for a new print of 4 Visions, so they put a new one out on the market. The APM version had one bonus track, and the Soleil Zeuhl release features 4 bonus tracks - and different from the APM one. For copyright reasons, Soleil Zeuhl used different artwork, which has proven to be somewhat controversial. Many fans wanted the "blue" APM cover. As such, this has given Soleil Zeuhl pause to reissue this one on LP, which is too bad - since the album has never been on LP. I would buy one immediately if it does get reissued.

2013 update: And they finally did get the LP out - with the blue cover no less! And yes, you can see I bought it.

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