The album cover alone screams PROG!, and worth the price of admission alone just for the stellar artwork presented here. Now does the music match the album cover? Absolutely right it does! An equally stellar record of outstanding musicianship from Germany in the late 70’s. We speak of Hanover, West German band , ELOY. Like someone took a lead from Roger Dean’s artwork and painted something from deep left space we get this epic album from 1977. Unlike most German bands form the 70’s this one was more symphonic in the likes of the UK bands and carried forth a slightly different approach to the “Krautrock” scene. Depending on the years active 1969-1984, 1988-Present, the band went through numerous line up changes with one exception, its founder, Frank Bornemann. Albums that were thematic, exploitative and full of a giant wall of sound, they have definitely been a mainstay in the Prog world of epic records to hear. Certainly a band that should have a record or three on the top 100 Prog records to listen to of all time, this being one of them. Named after the race of people in the H.G. Wells novel, “The Time Machine“, the race of people 800,000 years in the future that were controlled and eaten by the Morlocks in the books written future. Bornemann saw this concept somewhat like the uncertainty of music in the early 1970’s as a start to an unknown future with bands creating their own music as opposed to copying others like the human race developing its individualism and that’s where he got the idea to name the band as such.
Now a leading producer and engineer with Horus Studios in Hanover Frank doesn’t most likely perform too much with the band anymore and yet hasn’t retired the group either so Eloy is still on the books for now. This is a great band to introduce yourself to as far as the want for something different out of Germany in the 70’s that wasn’t technically considered to be “Krautrock” in the traditional sense of the word but more along the lines of a global concept of European, UK and American symphonic idealism on how to make their music. They stuck with many of the German traditions of singing in English as well but the accent is clearly German! Interestingly enough most European bands you could almost depict where their accents were from like the French psychedelic/Prog band “Echoes” and the Pink Floyd tribute band from Italy, “Interstellar Factory” yet surprisingly enough with the Prog band from Texas, “The Aaron Clift Experiment” there’s no southern drawl to be found anywhere. Don’t worry, we’ll get to reading about them soon enough! But right now, let’s dive head first in to 1977’s masterpiece, “Ocean“.
A four song lengthy journey of sound that conjures up images of watery titans and long lost cities forgotten by time and destruction. “Poseidon’s Creation” commences with a synth and drum blend that brings forth a subtle but stirring movement in a very Tangerine Dream kind of way. The build up and introduction of the song finally brings the rest of the instruments in to play shortly after the one minute mark allowing time for everything to blend together in to a melee of cosmic sound. A little difficult to understand the vocals due to the heavy German accent but one can easily still get lost in this spacial extension of a swing around the solar system. But why think when one can Google lyrics right? Right. The story of the creation of the lost city of Atlantis is the basis for the album and this opening track clearly provides the foundations for construction with it’s bouncing bass groove, dreamscape synths and slow but cathedral tone like sounding guitar solos. The tempo is fairly consistent throughout the song with subtle split second start/stops that would easily be missed whilst lost in this almost 12minute epic. The last couple of minutes is a repetitive guitar refrain that keeps the pace and groove hypnotic as it fades to end keeping your mind in check with the sounds that are filling the air of your room. A symphonic montage of Prog elements that sway ebb and flow with relatively calm seas under its beginnings for a first song on the album making the stage set for a lengthy record to go through in a grand scale of things to come. “Incarnation of the Logos” is a calm heartbeat type track that continues the fable with a primarily bass and synth lead under the mostly spoken word track. Very much a conjuring style vocal here for the first 3.5minutes until it changes tempo and switches gears to bring in the rest of the band to compliment the song’s structure to make it swing the Prog way. The great thing with this album is very much like Alan Parsons Records, they don’t necessarily reflect a certain period of time from the year in which they are released. One does not get the sense that this was out in ’77 but could have easily been released before or after, a timeless effect well executed by both bands. Then there are facets of the song that clearly say, yeah total 70’s sound here but who’s really counting right? The song carries off in to a cosmic swirl of vocals and synths regaling stories of Atlantis’ inception and interestingly enough the bass almost commands the song with under tone leads as opposed to a traditional synth or guitar solo so it does make the song stick out as unique indeed.
“Decay of the Logos” follows next and wastes no time getting in to the build up of the track that starts off like a jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier waiting for the word to go and this song does have that feel to it. A slow build up with the drums snapping over the hi-hats in triplets and the synths dragging notes long out to create the suspense then with drum fills and rolls the bass heartbeats again in doubles leading in to a 2.5minute introduction to the vocals entrance of the song. Finally at a minute later the jet is released and the song gyrates and takes off to whirling engines of sound in to the sky above. A quirky synth solo takes us even higher than expected and has that tight sharpness to its tone then the song falls back to earth and adds elements of the Prog recipe accordingly with the start/stops tempo/timbre changes effectively and being the shortest song on the album at 8:16minutes it contains a lot of changes and shifts in the Prog ingredients it displays very well. “Atlantis’ Agony at June 5th-8498, 13P.M. Gregorian Ear.” gets Prog acknowledgement points just for its title alone and that it clips in just under 15:50minutes as a grand scale epic finale track on the record. An Orwellian title deserving of an equally lengthy piece of music this track marks a highlight of extremes in symphonic Prog with it’s deep spoken word beginnings and cathedral church like sounds of luxurious wave upon wave of synth notes that carry this piece in to its own. A pastoral exercise for a first movement that lasts just over eight minutes before the drums roll over and kick the song in to the next stirring phase with a passive vocal track to compliment the song’s drawn out mellow and humble start. A symposium of sound fills the air here as it transmits on a large scale of Prog frequencies here. This is for real hardcore Proggers who love long songs and are really in to the symphonic duration that it undertakes. Lighthearted Prog fans might have to get through this track either bits at a time or at least a half a dozen listens before they can truly appreciate it’s magnitude and concepts as it’s a slower piece than what a lot of other Prog songs of this distance are. Beautifully scaled and layered with all instruments present and accounted for in full Prog regalia yet ending not on a huge crescendo finale but a sombre synth wave fade out. A calm ending to keep you left in an engaging discordance of melancholy and completion of a long journey in to time and space as well as travelling through the pillars and columns of Atlantis and its people who have all graced its streets and shoppes that have all but disappeared now.
Not the best album to introduce you to such a heavy symphonic band but a great album nonetheless and to further take you deep in to the catacombs of Prog where bands like this dwell in the glory of great albums and huge walls of sounds that permeate the air all over the halls. Eloy proudly sits on their Symphonic Throne in the Halls of Prog and the Friars of Prog happily smile upon them for all their contributions to the genre for decades to come. As a slightly different offering from the stereotypical “Krautrock” scene, Eloy has brought forth a style very unique for German bands at the time and stand out as a testament to being one of the first major symphonic sounding bands that utilize more than just synths. Unlike their colleagues, Tangerine Dream who went all synth for the most part, Eloy used bass and guitars and drums on top of the elaborate synth soundscapes and swirling invocations that an electronic instrument can offer. Their website is available in both English and German allowing more people to venture in to it and discovering this band’s great works as musicians and the history of their legacy and releases. Highly recommended and not to tread lightly in to their music, dive right in to it and absorb the magnificent sounds they have created over the years. Enjoy.