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Nil - Nil CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.75 | 7 ratings

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4 stars NIL was formed by David Maurin and Julien Paget somewhere in 1994. After performing covers they were now on to compose their very own songs. Soon Samuel Maurin joined the band as a bass player, even he was totally unfamiliar with the instrument! Actually he had never played any instrument before! ''Still, he is really motivated!''* Then Benjamin Croizy is after all a hich-hiker that Samuel Maurin picked up in Grenoble one day and it revealed he was a keyboard player - why not to join the band! Then Julien Paget left and in need of a drummed David Maurin called his old schoolfriend, a jazz-rock drummer Frank Niebel to join the band... Now who would have quessed this band was to become such a great group? Their debut album is a re-recorded demo album from somewhere 1995:

1. La Misere

''It's probably the song that gave us the biggest difficulties in order to achieve it. Frank had just joined us, and we were starting to generalizethe use of asymmetric time signatures, and above all, complex changes! The title came from a plain obrervation: it has been a real misery to write and play this song''*

La Misere starts with an intro of curious sound effects and keyboards and then with a nice melody led by a strong low slashing bass and drums until heavy guitar riff joins in taking the lead. At the same time the music below the guitar starts to change...

And instantly we are in it, in the center of NIL's musical philosophy, in its undermost being: Constantly changing, complex and variative music with a very rhythmic nature where all the instruments are equal and mostly used in rhythmical purposes. The melody is carried on by a most imaginary and clever manners fooling totally the unconcentrated or inexperienced listener by being pseudo-chaotic. Instruments are at the constant interplay throwing the 'ball' to each others while instruments without the ball are sneakily changing places. At this debut NIL however uses surprisingly much lead guitar.

... and it goes through the end, being a complex metal-fusion track led by several layered guitars and melodies that come and go.

2. First Passage

''This song invites you to a journey, the whole song builds itself up into a tale that each of us is free to interpret in his own manner.''*

First Passage change the mood into more dark and beautiful direction with ethereal keybs and cymbals in the background while beautiful guitar picking gets faster and faster till' the song truly begins at almost four minutes. An absolutely great beginning! A female vocalist takes the song while the dark ethereal background with guitar picking goes on at the back... and suddenly the air is filled with noises from children playground and happy organ and major playing! What a fantastic song!

3. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldriritch (Locked in Syndrome, part 0)

''David wanted Frank to play a really linear part on his heavy 15/8 guitar's riff. It has been a real challenge to convince him to do so. Still now we avoid to mention even just the name of the song in front of him! At the end of the song one can find a Russian text told by David. This language has been chosen in relationship with Philip K. Dick physics experiences he had, involving the Russian's secret services.''*

This song takes us back to the first songs metallic atmosphere with some male vocals and spoken words. Again almost zeulish bass is very notable and guitars go from chronic riffing to howling soloing while the chameleonic theme wanders around. Again Nil vomits a song that is almost disgusting at the first hearing but that soon grows on you. No easy listenin', no.

4. Bön-Glå-Glön (Locked in Syndrome, part 1)

''We all are really proud of this one. Benjamin wrote the introduction after all the song has been written. It has such an Anglagard feeling, that we decided to name it after the famous swedish band! There's also a theme from ''Hybris'' that you can hear if you really pay attention.''*

It's Anglagardic flute that takes us to the song, like the intro reveals. But Anglagard is soon left behind and the band moves more into King Crimsonian oddity and away towards new territories they fly... This is the only song on the album that has some influences, despite they're passed very fastly while they rush into their own ''avangardish fusion doom prog''. No easy listenin either!

5. Inner Mazed (Locked in Syndrome, part 2)

''...For a lot of persons this one is considered to be the most listenable of our songs... the fact that you can find two almost identical verses in it has probably a lot to do with it!''*

Well I'm apparently not included in those lot of persons, because this is the weakest song of the album for its vocals that feels weak, thin and irrational. The music and playing is assured anyhow.

6. Nogegon

''After reading Luc and Francois Schuitten's book, David suggested to the others to write a palindromic song! This was a hard one to complete... it took us over two years to finish it! The Schuitten's book is written in a certain manner so that in the middle of it, the story goes backward, as well as the strips. Palindromes in music is not new: Bach wrote a piece called ''The musical gift'', and even before, around the fourteenth century, Guillaume de Machaut wrote ''My end is my beginning'', using the same proceeding. For nogegon, the excercise had to deal with several aspects: The song is 8' long, themes are numerous, The sound charasteristics are also reversed and the inversion works also with the stereo.''*

NogegoN starts forward with space and guitar accompanied with moody bass... till the backward vocals or spoken words and the music changes to rhythmic guitar driven picking and moody bass and keybs. At the half way through there's a change of stereo channels: right becomes left and vice versa... and forward they come...emoc yeht drawrof dna ...asrev eciv dna tfel semoceb thgir :slennahc oerets fo egnahc a s'ereht hguorht yaw flah eht tA .sbyek dna ssab ydoom dna gnikcip nevird ratiug cimhtyhrot segnahc cisum eht dna sdrow nekops ro slacov drawkcab eht llit ...ssab ydoom htiw deinapmocca ratiug dna ecaps htiw rdawrof strats NogegoN

Summary Nil's debut is their album most to zeuhl and RIO since they've moved more towards elaborate and beautiful expression. It's also their most metallic album - guitars and even keyboard sounds are occationally even unnecessary metallic - yet it's also very dark and anxious but really complex too, both in compositions and in playing... Does it sound like a nice pop album? :) It's extremely demanding piece of work but it awards the listener at the end... To complain about something: Sometimes the overall sound and production feels somewhat harsh and hollow. Accented male singing in English is a bit fruitless and amateurish, yet the spoken words and narrations here and there are sometimes very adaptive. Without these lows this album would rate even higher. Recommended ecpecially for Zeuhl-RIO-lovers!

Nil's debut as well as their second Nocturnes are totally sold out and not available anywhere. A reprint of them would be a very nice deed indeed.


David Maurin - Guitars, flute; Samuel Maurin - Bass, fretless bass, stick; Benjamin Croizy - Keyboards; Frank Niebel - Drums. And additional: Jean-Luc Feirrera - Flute; Marion De Saint Vaast - Voices; Jean-Michel Gaude - Voices.

Nilman | 4/5 |


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