Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eloy - Floating (1974)

Eloy are a German band that played psychedelic rock in a somewhat British vein, steering largely away from the free form improvisational nature of their Krautrock contemporaries, instead drawing inspiration from bands like Deep Purple and Pink Floyd. "Floating" is their third LP, and the first on which they really refined their sound as a band.

Eloy's later career would be dominated by concept albums with a somewhat gentle space rock vibe. There is no concept here, nor is there any gentleness to speak of. This is hard psych to be sure. Hammond organs scream through walls of distortion and the guitars are turned up to eleven. The third difference between this and later Eloy releases is the marked absence of synthesizers, further emphasizing the heaviness of the record.

The album consists of five somewhat lengthy tracks, with the centerpiece being the fourteen minute "The Light From Deep Darkness," a splendid prog rock track that contains numerous tempo changes, catchy melodies, great solos and a wide variety of moods. On this song, as well as on the rest of the album, wah pedals and other watery guitar effects add to the trippy nature of the music, living up nicely to the title "Floating." The vocals are not terribly strong, but they are infrequent, mixed low and take a backseat to the music anyway.

The instrumentalists are all very proficient and at the top of their game. I particularly enjoy the way the guitar, bass and organ trade lines and play off one another, often in quite complex ways. Although most of the songs rely on one or two (mostly awesome) riffs that are repeated over several minutes, the band manages to keep it interesting by changing instrumentation, mixing up the rhythm section and overlaying countermelodies in the form of solos.

Anyone who has an interest in the heavier side of psychedelic rock should give this album a spin. With its combination of superior musicianship, trippy textures and a talent for coming up with memorable melodies it is a great find in a genre that is sometimes overwhelming and difficult to navigate.

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