Harvest - EMI, 1976
After feeling that "Ra" may have given me an unfair slant on the German proggers, I checked out their most acclaimed work "Ocean", and confirmed my suspicion. But it's very difficult to give an impression of this album's sound without invoking constant comparisons with Pink Floyd. Released the year after "Wish You Were Here", some passages skirt too close for comfort to certain sections of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". With their spacey, heavily keyboard-based textures, they recall Floyd's unhurried, broadly arching symphonic sound. Those portentous spoken voiceovers, a lofty mythical concept, and Frank Bornemann's thick German accent may irritate some. But regular prog-rock listeners will be used to tuning out the cheesier aspects, to get to the reward of the spacious and richly melodic music beneath.
'Poseidon's Creation" starts with a long, dynamic buildup over propulsive basslines, that echoes that Other Band at their "Meddle"-era peak of energy and tightness. More than enough to excuse a dodgy accent or two when the singing starts. They certainly have a more interesting rhythm section than Floyd. Klaus-Peter Matziol builds on Roger Waters' plodding bass octaves, doing a lot more besides, such as the leaping riff on "Incarnation of the Logos". Jürgen Rosenthal's drums fill out the sound in a more proactive way then Nick Mason did. Guitars are relegated to those spangly arpeggios beloved of light prog, with only the occasional soaring lead. A wide array of tasteful keyboard sounds from Detlev Schmidtchen are more often chosen to take the melodies.
I defy any Floyd fan not to wince at the similarity of the start of "Atlantis' Agony at Dawn" to Rick Wright's nebulous keyboard introduction to "Shine On". But I'm prepared to believe Eloy were more jointly influenced than derivative, as this is accomplished and listenable symphonic rock.
March 30, 2005