DŁn are the bastard offspring of Frank Zappa and Magma, with a heavy dose of RIO sensibility. Talk about intense. DŁn's Eros is a throbbing, screeching cacophony of growling basslines, firey guitars, impossibly dense compositions, and an oddly off-putting flute emphasis. I found this one to be pretty tough to get into, as its fairly oppressive listening, but those with a taste for the more esoteric and dissonant brands of progressive listening will find the album a true gem. The band has a lot in common with Zeuhl, they are generally exceedingly rhythmic with massive basslines wrapped around thundering drum patterns. Of course, the RIO element is present in spades, with incredibly complex parts all around, as well as dissonant, angular melodies that grate beautifully on the ear. Perhaps unique to this album is the use of flute as a consistent lead instrument, considering the stylistic context. Flautist Pascal Vandenbulcke provides a melodic counterpoint to the explosive rhythm section, but often joins the fray with squealing, aggressive contributions.
The band apparently draws their inspiration from Frank Herbert's novel Dune, but there is certainly no lyrical basis to tie the album together as some sort of "concept". Vocals are completely absent, aside from some wordless chants on "Bitonio". The album is divided into four tracks of approximately equal length. All the tracks are consistently good, even on through the bonus tracks. "L'Espice" is a particularly biting opener, extremely off putting, and highlighted by an absolutely smoking guitar solo. "Arrakis" is my favorite track. At first it is slightly more inviting, opening with a piano/flute theme that is actually quite pretty. Eventually, the theme develops into a savage frenzy of distorted Zeuhl bass and powerful, up-tempo drums.
The whopping four bonus tracks on the Eros CD are all interesting
listens. Three of the four are alternate takes of album cuts, while the
last, "Acoustic Fremen" is a previously unreleased composition in its own
right. Overall, one should know whether or not they will enjoy this album
based on the rough description. Hardcore fans of lush symphonic will pry
want to pass on Eros, but more adventurous listeners should certainly
make it a priority. One of the best of its kind.
Frank Zappa may have been casting his longest shadow in Czechoslovakia during the 70s, but it was in France that the possibilities opened up by his work would reach their creative nadir. You could draw a clear line from Red Noise and Moving Geletine Plates to Albert Marcoeur and on to Dun (and a good line it'd be), but where Red Noise and Marcoeur hitched their wagons to the madcap, satirical edge of his sensibilities and Moving Geletine Plates swaddled said influence in sheaths of drugged Canterbury whimsy, Dun were much too restless a crew to ply anything that giddily playful. Imagine those impossibly frenzied, mallet percussion riddled unison runs that Zappa would toss out between cutesy-poo spiels on Apostrophe, then imagine Henry Cow attempting to negotiate them. Now draw that out to album length. Breathlessly convoluted and breathtakingly beautiful, Dun's musical constructs compress more structural and harmonic variations into one minute than most bands attempt over an entire album, making prolonged concentration a prescription for cerebral whiplash, especially for those unacquainted with the demands such higher-key avant-prog places on the casual listener.
Their other stated influences (Magma and Mahavishnu Orchestra) are less overtly referenced, though they're still liberally strewn throughout the album, Magma's via their penchant for peppering the proceedings with Teddy Lasry-like sax and flute flurries and the occasional fuzz bass bombardment and Mahavishnu Orchestra sheerly by dint of how utterly inhuman the level of musical interplay is. Needless to say, this was all deeply unfashionable terrain to be mining in 1981, but then France's scene was largely exempt from the nosedive into M.O.R. pap that plagued most other countries' prog purveyors of this period.
Now if it only came with a pain reliever to contend with the stress of having my jaw hit the floor for it's duration.
(Originally published in Alternative Press #146, p.88; reprinted by
Eros consists of entirely instrumental music spread out over four long intricate compositions. The album displays excellent musical interplay with beautiful dense and complex arrangements, and slight dissonance which at no point gets in the way of the fantastic musical developments. The angularity of the RIO scene (Etron Fou Leloublan and Henry Cow) and the fiery intensity of Magma (some great heavy bass among other things) are combined with the complex Canterburian interplay of National Health. Some passages remind me of the Manzanera/Eno band, Quiet Sun, as well. Another remarkable feature of the album is a strong flute presence. Personally I think that Eros is one of the best instrumental progressive albums made to date. Not a lame second to be heard on this superb masterpiece.
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