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ERA (an acronym for Enminential Rythmn of the Ancestors) is the project of French musician Éric Lévi, whose ethereal, evocative soundscapes began in the tradition of artists like Enigma and Deep Forest. ERA's music generally combines downtempo electronic beats and lush synths with dramatic Gregorian chanting in a self-designed language similar to Latin and Greek, with no intended meaning, although they have also sung lyrics in Latin, English, and Arabic. The group's self-titled debut originally appeared in 1996 and was re-released several times, topping charts in five countries. ERA began incorporating Middle Eastern influences into their music starting with 2008's Reborn, and focused on reinterpretations of classical compositions on 2009's Classics and its 2010 sequel. Following a 2013 collaboration with singer/actress Arielle Dombasle, ERA revisited some of their older material on 2017's The 7th Sword. The group remained a fixture of popular culture, and following their first-ever live concerts in 2019, they resumed touring in the 2020s. Éric Lévi was a member of the French hard rock band Shakin' Street in the 1970s and early '80s, and he became a successful film composer in the early '90s. He worked with British composer, lyricist, vocalist, and arranger Guy Protheroe on the soundtrack for the 1993 comedy blockbuster Les Visiteurs. Protheroe then co-wrote and sang lead on "Ameno," the lead single on ERA's self-titled 1996 debut. The song and its parent album both became massively successful throughout Europe and Latin America; reissued multiple times with altered track listings, ERA gradually sold over 6 million copies. Following up in 2000 with ERA 2, the project returned in 2003 with The Mass -- whose title track referenced Carl Orff's masterpiece O Fortuna -- and sales subsequently hit platinum status in France and Switzerland. The Very Best of ERA was released in 2004 and featured all the popular tracks from their previous three records as well as several remixes. The Arabic-influenced Reborn appeared in 2008, and like previous albums, it reached the Top Ten on France's album charts. 2009's Classics featured ERA's adaptations of pieces by classical composers like Verdi, Bach, and Vivaldi. In France, it became their highest-charting album since ERA 2, and the group followed it with Classics II in 2010. ERA collaborated with French-American singer, actress, and director Arielle Dombasle on an album simply titled Arielle Dombasle by ERA. They returned in 2017 with The 7th Sword, which featured both new compositions and reimagined versions of previous material. Its lead single was a cover of "7 Seconds" by Neneh Cherry and Youssou N'Dour, sung by vocalists Mim Grey and Racha Rizk. ERA's music has remained popular partly due to its frequent usage in films, television shows, and wrestling/mixed martial arts events. "Ameno," in particular, resurged in popularity due to its inclusion in several Internet memes. ERA began performing live concerts for the first time in 2019, with actors Pierre Bouisierie and Irene Bustamante, who appeared in the videos for "Ameno" and other singles, as part of the cast. Following a break from live events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ERA resumed touring in 2022.
© Jason Ankeny & Paul Simpson /TiVo
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