William Sheller - Lux Aeterna. 1972 France


William Sheller (nee Hand), will never be mistaken for a subversive underground rocker. He comes from a well-to-do past and was formally trained in music at various academies. And while he had a passing interest in rock music, like everyone else due to the mid 60s fun of The Beatles, it was never his true passion. Lux Aeterna was composed to celebrate the marriage of dear friends (you can just picture the gallant ball already). This is true symphonic progressive rock. Sheller didn't need cheap imitations like mellotron to produce what he had envisioned. He had a whole orchestra and choir at his disposal! Of course there is a significant rock element present, which is how it hit the underground collecting channels. The lush, but dark, nature of the compositions coupled with psychedelic guitar and drums is a very powerful musical statement. The album gets heavier and darker as it goes, and thus the acid guitar solos really pack a punch in this setting. A truly exquisite work, and proves that Sheller - had he wanted to - could have been a brilliant progressive rock "star". But that would have been far too restraining for the young Sheller, and he has since gone on to release dozens of albums in a variety of styles. Lux Aeterna is the perfect complement to the Jean-Claude Vannier L’enfant Assassin des Mouches album.

Personal collection
CD: 2012 Omni (Australia)

My first copy of this album was the second LP press featuring the dapper Sheller on the cover. The top cover is the original, which is also (fortunately) used on both of the CDs. The 1980s press was one of the rarest CDs in my collection for many years. It was pressed in France by Columbia and distributed, I think exclusively, by Marquee in Japan. It came with a full back plate obi, with a biography of Sheller, written entirely in kanji. I traded for one out of Japan sometime in the 90s, and I don't think I ever saw a copy again. The CD was so obscure that when Omni came along with their CD reissue, they stated it was the first legitimate press on the market. There were pirate editions floating about, so I can understand why they said that. But the 1980s press is absolutely legit - but no one knew about it!

All this to say that the Omni CD is by far the best way to go if you're looking to own this. It too has proven to be a bit difficult to obtain here in the US. Not only does the CD feature the entire Lux Aeterna in its best sound yet, but you also get the very rare 1969 Erotissimo EP and no less than 8 other rare singles recorded from 1967 to 1970. One of these singles was a huge hit in France called 'My Year is a Day', a Sheller penned song for an American student group (sons of diplomats living in Paris) called Les Irresistables. The financial windfall from that single helped to fund Lux Aeterna. We learn all of this from the fantastic liner notes of the CD. A great job all around. It would be great if Omni reached a little further into the vaults and released the Popera Cosmic album, which Sheller produced. It too will need bonus tracks, since I recall it being under 30 minutes long.

2 comments:

  1. The first CD reissue was done in 1989.

    Sheller have (partly) arranged Emmanuel Booz : Le Jour ou les Vaches which also uses a real orchestra and a choir, and his style shows well on this album too.

    Actually it was through this album that Sheller got attention from the Japanese collectors, as this album was already rather known by the early 80s as Fool's Mate magazine have championed about it then.
    Those were the days that specialist magazines reviewed not only new albums, but also totally unknown / long oop albums.

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  2. Excellent insights - thanks Nobuhisa! I changed the date of the CD as well.

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