My second attempt at posting on this blog will take my audience to a different genre of rock, a different country, and a different decade. I decided to go a completely different direction, focusing on a once-popular rock band from Germany in the 70’s named Eloy.
Germany, in my opinion, has brought to the music scene a great genre of rock known as Krautrock. Coined as a stereotypical name for bands from Germany in the 60’s and 70’s, Krautrock consists of experimental bands that range in styles from electric avant-garde, psychedelic rock, jazz, and synth rock. Bands like Can and the Scorpions can be classified in this genre, and have brought a new flavor of rock to the United States, still influencing many bands today like The Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age, and Radiohead.
Eloy, named after the creatures the Time Traveller interacts with in the book “The Time Machine,” is a project brought together by singer/guitarist Frank Bornemann. Through many decades and albums, Eloy has experienced many line-up changes, with Bornemann as its anchor. The 70’s yielded their best work based on album sales, including their hit album “Ocean,” one of my personal favorite albums of that era.
Instead of reviewing their album “Ocean”, I would like to review their 1983 release “Performance.”
Why “Performance” you ask? I’ll tell you why. As many bands from the 60’s and 70’s entered the 80’s, some had a difficult time adjusting to the unique music trends that were beginning. From synth rock to new wave, many rock bands were forced to adjust their sound to their differing audience. Every older rock band I can think of experienced this change simultaneously: Rush, Scorpions, Yes, Pink Floyd, and the list goes on. Unlike those that have failed, Eloy is one of those bands that survived the transition.
Using a wide variety of synthesizers and sound manipulation, “Performance” is a masterpiece of early 80’s rock. Songs like “Heartbeat” and “In Disguise” use an overwhelming use of cliché 80’s sound, while songs like “Shadow and Light” and “A Broken Frame” give a nod to their prior work from the previous decade. Comparing them to a more rock version of Duran Duran, I love to listen to the variety of guitar styles throughout the album, to the combination of tom toms and cymbals on the drum set, and especially to the futuristic and melodic sounds produced by the keyboard. Over the length of each song, the keyboard gives an added and unique element to each song like different types of icing on a cake.
The greatest thing about “Performance”? The surprising bass guitar that grooves throughout the album. Not many bassists grab my attention when listening to my rock music library. Klaus-Peter Matziol, Eloy’s bassist from 1976 until today, has to be one of the most under-rated bassists in early rock history. The first time I listened to this album was after many listens from their more commercially successful 70’s albums. After only hearing each of their 80’s albums once and downplaying them altogether, it took a second attempt of sitting and actually listening to their music to pick up the bass guitar. Klaus-Peter’s bass lines grabbed me from early on in the album, and dominate in songs like “Mirador” and “Heartbeat”. As the saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. As many will criticize the bass guitar on the whole, one cannot claim Klaus-Peter Matziol to be the weakest link in this album.
I highly recommend this album to lovers of synth rock, new wave, and 80’s music in general. If you are a fan of this style of rock, I suggest you also listen to Eloy’s previous albums “Time to Turn” and “Planets”.
Check out this Youtube video of the song “Heartbeat”!