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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Eloy

Time to Turn

Review by John Pierpoint

This is the sequel to Eloy's stunning 1981 tour-de-force Planets, continuing the story of the cosmic journeys of Ion from the planet Salta. Therefore it has a very similar feel to the music and production. Even the cover art appears to depict the same scene as the art to Planets, albeit as seen from a different angle. However, Time to Turn is marked by more emphasis on lead guitar work than its predecessor - and some very welcome guitar solos, which were notably absent in the preceding installment.

It's clear to even the casual listener that Bornemann's group has a great love for the music of Pink Floyd; but despite some obvious moments mentioned later, the feel of this album is sufficiently removed from that source to have its own validity. Influences of bands like Genesis and Yes (and even ABBA!) are also clearly detectable in the mix. Unlike the previous album Planets, there are no live bonus tracks on this CD reissue, which is a shame, as a live version of “Through a Somber Galaxy” could be something quite fantastic to hear.

If you like Eloy's previous album Planets, then it's a no-brainer to invest in this record, as well, as it continues in the same vein, and should really be considered as the second disc of a double-album. The inclusion of some fine guitar work raises the bar, although some of the songs are perhaps not as outstandingly memorable as those on its predecessor. “Through a Somber Galaxy” alone is worth the price of admission.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Through a Somber Galaxy
A synthesizer fanfare fades in, to be joined by a sequencer beat. The concoction then spirals down to introduce a bass-led driving beat, with high synth wailing melody. A guitar comes in on the chorus. A mixture of guitars and keyboards form a bridge. Then, after the second chorus, we get a guitar solo – full-on double-tracked wailing bottleneck style, à la Dave Gilmour. It's so obviously influenced by Floyd, but done so well that they can be forgiven this bare-faced homage. Indeed, this is the point where I had a big happy grin on my face the first time that I heard it, as it gives the song such a wonderful lift. The piece ends with dramatic rapidly-repeated three-note motif (reminding me of the opening to Yes's “Machine Messiah”). A rather synthetic-sounding explosion leads to the next number.
Behind the Walls of Imagination
With quiet guitar harmonics and feathery keyboard melodies, this is a change of pace. All is not so peaceful though: an undercurrent of tension starts to build up until it spills over into a new section led by an electric harpsichord. The pace quickens and the tune moves into to a more funky 70s (almost Stevie Wonder) style. There is another short guitar solo, more in the vein of Blue Öyster Cult's Buck Dharma this time, with tasteful peeled harmonics.
Time to Turn
The title track begins as an upbeat tune with upfront bright bouncy bass and damped, echoed, multi-tracked electric guitars (reminiscent of Pink Floyd's “Another Brick In The Wall”), overlaid with electronic spot-effects and wild pitch-bend synth screams. It establishes an excellent groove. There is an anthemic chorus by the female backing singers, and then another excellent Gilmour-like slide guitar solo. The whole tune exudes a feeling of barely-restrained power.
Magic Mirrors
A very 70s-sounding electric piano introduces this song, which then brings in a synth melody that evokes Genesis. Bornemann's voice seems to struggle on this one, possibly in a key that is beyond his natural range. Unlike many other Eloy tunes which start in a mellow vein only to stride suddenly into a heavier section, this one stays firmly rooted in its starting mode. An instrumental section has guitar and keyboards doubling on the melody – reinforcing the Genesis feel.
End Of An Odyssey
Fat analogue synth swells announce this tune, which then breaks into one of those swirling, bright keyboard melanges that Eloy do so well – building the excitement. High-hats tick, incessantly panning across the mix. Then pounding tom rolls come in, the whole effect reminding me of Floyd's Nick Mason. A dramatic organ fanfare introduces a delicate flute-like keyboard melody line, underpinned by bass and damped guitar. The tension builds up slowly as the drums return and other layers are added, taking its time to establish the mood before levelling-out as the vocals enter. There is an Abba-like electric harpsichord instrumental passage, which takes us to the fade-out.
The Flash
This begins with a repeating single note melody on the guitar, over a busy bass and closed high-hat beat. The keyboard tones have a more funky 1980s modulated feel here than on other tracks. Guitar accents come in between vocal lines. Electronic drums enter on the instrumental, which features a short pitch-bend keyboard solo before a middle-eight, then a breakdown to a driving, monotone bass with keyboards dancing over the top. The initial guitar riff returns for the next verse. The song ends on a fade, with guitar accents.
Say, Is It Really True
This has an epilogue feel, maybe a comment on the message of the preceding story, rather like the final track on side one of Rush's Hemispheres. Brief spoken vocals (“Hey”) introduce a laid-back acoustic guitar tune with gentle waves of keyboards underneath. There are even seagull-like sounds between the verses. A precise rototom fill brings in the concluding section, with the bass now picking up the melody from the acoustic guitar.
 
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