Boomkat Product Review:
1985’s shamanic beauty ‘EOSTRE’ is the equally acclaimed, cultish follow-up to :Zoviet*France:’s classic ‘Mohnomische’ album, and sees the inimitable Geordie unit drift in and out of entrancing texturhythms, etheric tape loops and bucolic dream sequence keys in deliciously mind-bending style
Another vital instalment to one of 2019’s most prized boxsets and reissue programmes, ‘EOSTRE’ finds the group slightly reshuffled, with Paolo Di Paolo replacing Peter Jensen alongside the band’s sole constant member, Ben Ponton, and Robin Storey, who would depart after a handful more records. This reshuffle perhaps explains the familiar yet subtly different shape of ‘EOSTRE’, whose absorbing rhythms and vibes feel more lax and oneiric than on their preceding classic. The music herein feels as though it reflects a changing of seasons, winter subliminally thawing into crisp spring freshness, but with the time-lapse quality of a half-remembered daydream.
Where the most potent contemporary psychedelia often hijacks familiar, synthetic tropes to evoke surreal sensation and allows us to step outside ourselves and possibly discern a modern condition, in the mid ‘80s :Zoviet*France: were masters of using a mix of environmental field recordings and tape loop iterated repetition as ephemeral, fleeting sonic suggestion that spoke to a phase shift from analog to digital horizons, or analog music’s death rattle and Bardo. Considering that at the time practically everyone was in thrall to shiny new synths and drum machines, :Zoviet*France: were positively, contrarily antediluvian in their choice of old, knackered or primitive kit, but as history has proved, their music has been instinctively future-proofed because of its aesthetic means, and set perpendicular to practically all other records of the era.
The 12 tracks in ‘EOSTRE’ sound to us like echoes of north east England’s pre-Christian past as much as it’s bleak future, phosphorescing eternally like heather on dusky moors and granite bedrock. Appearing to bridge vast time and space, it sees the trio of players as shamans for the land and its people, seamlessly eliding electro-acoustic dimensions into ephemeral evocations of folk music beaten out with wood on sacred standing stones, mixing ancient spirit cries with slightly less ancient Roedelius-style piano, and turning tape loops into feathered creatures of an unknown taxonomy, with some radgy, bellicose drums for balance.