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Nodo Gordiano - Nous CD (album) cover

NOUS

Nodo Gordiano

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.02 | 90 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Things are getting quite bubbly and intense in RPI land, as another slew of majestic releases are being foisted on us unsuspecting reviewers. And as per the tradition of constantly stretching the boundaries of sound and substance, here is one that got me hooked like some blue marlin biting into lethal bait. Nodo Gordiano (Gordian Knot in Italian) has published a third album of impressive atmospheric originals that confound and seduce with stellar authority. Everything about this jewel will keep the prissy prog fan breathless, as this trio of incredible talents summon their collective spirits in complete harmony and disciplined execution. I have always had a massive respect for 1999's one shot wonder Sunscape, a psychedelic/space rock self-titled Italian masterpiece that few have latched onto (my good, their bad), considering it to be a timeless classic that may never be challenged! Well, never say never!

'Nous' is a clever concoction of adventurous explorations, somewhat devoid of puerile formulas and immediate thrills. Thick, dense, articulate and highly detail-oriented, the trio of Andrea de Luca (bass, guitar, keys, voice), Fabrizio Santoro (guitars, bass, keys) and drummer Carlo Fattorini unite their considerable techniques in forging eclectic canvases of delightful RPI-tinged, psychedelic crossover prog. Now comparisons or benchmarks will be a hard slog but let's just say a heady mix of King Crimson Mark III (the Bruford era), some bold space rock flavourings (Eloy, Mappe Nootiche, Colorstar) and a decidedly heavy-prog approach. Nothing to make one nod off (sorry for the pun), constantly imaginative, petulant and bombastic, the material will keep you on your collective Defcon III, alert and ready for the next onslaught. All 7 tracks flow like some celestial river, meandering, cascading into occasional pools of serene karma and then splashing forward, unrelenting. The bass guitar seems to be the prime motivator, the devilishly reptilian conductor taking charge and forging ahead, unafraid. Lots of electric guitar phrasings in both rhythmic and in soloing presentations, incessant baking colorations that defy mundane facility. There is a definite Djam Karet-like vibe as well as a wink to that Sunscape album, definitely soundtrack music for the travelling mind.

Things start out pretty simply, acoustic guitar and male vocal with rifling yet gentle drum fills, "Portonovo" sets the proper mind-altering mood to get the prog brain nicely anesthetized and fit for cosmic interplanetary voyaging. The neurotic and effect-laden guitar shrieks will get your attention, perhaps even eliciting a few smiles of unbridled jealousy. Like some plastic doll floating in some swanky swimming pool, the cottony contrasts will confound and disturb. "I think the patient is ready, dottore!" 9

The propulsive "Aion" is a highlight track, the serpent-like bass corkscrewing deeply into the rhythmic pulse, shimmering guitars collapsing behind the forward motion and a foreboding sense of doom and sweat-laced fear. It then gets Floydian heavy, escorted by a binary muscle beat and searing axe phrasings, repetitive and merciless. This is space prog at its unpredictable finest. 10+

The vocally-pushed "Apologia del Nolano" is a weirder creature, an odd cocktail of the psychotic and the bizarre, where a strained voice, vibraphone and devious synth whispers combine to shatter a few illusions. A hint of Gentle Giant, pastoral psychedelia and unsettling angst, these are the unexpected ingredients served up by the crew. 8

The sumptuous title track is where the mood gets really hypnotic, a seemingly familiar theme is carved out from the bare-bones introduction, a screaming guitar and intense keyboard assault suddenly take hold, almost like a Hawkwind instrumental blow-out but the seductive bass work really impresses immediately. Both axemen really lather on the sweaty riffs and the swift licks, once again a wink to Djam Karet-like explorations. This one will take you far into the deepest realms of the cosmos and drop you off exhausted at the nearest space station for some needed R&R. Spectacular sounds, amazing themes. 10+

Some respite? Hell no! Massive mellotron squalls will tumble ahead with "Officina", keeping the pedal firmly on the Ferrari pedal, an astro-lullaby of the highest order, deeply Pink Floydian and a complicated vocal. A classic organ-led foray moves the piece into more playful confines, bass humming along and stark mellotron waves. The main melodic theme will get a smile on any face. 9

Effects-laden and slightly medieval like the stunning black and white artwork, "Arturiana" is a fine example of their consummate craftsmanship, a jungle of lush mellotron and guitar interplays, brooding bass sinews and bashing drums. Bombastic, overblown and colossal are just three words that come to mind, but I can add cool, confident and utterly brilliant too. Material such as this can be enjoyed in various everyday situations, from the bedroom to the kitchen, to the sunny patio and the living room. Will it offend the neighborly Nickelback fan? I certainly hope so! 10+

As with Finnforest's epic review, "Stella Maris" is one hell of a finale, a fitting end to a gloriously intense album, chock full of unforeseen themes, devious twists and turns and numbing excitement. The female wailing is beyond beautiful, a tinge of Celtic/gothic sensibilities, hand percussion notwithstanding. 10

A simple design makes this package very desirable, a thrilling release that should fascinate, titillate and enchant the most blasť prog fan. Instrumentally spectacular and melodically highly enticing, this is another sure contender for the 2014 list of masterpieces.

4.5 French maps

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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