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Jean-Pierre Louveton - Le Livre Blanc CD (album) cover

LE LIVRE BLANC

Jean-Pierre Louveton

 

Crossover Prog

3.96 | 83 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars One of the finest French prog groups has decided to go on an extended sabbatical, leaving on a very high note with the release of the spectacular 'Coma' in 2015, a work that garnered seemingly universal praise from a wide swath of prog fans that span all genres. Yes, Nemo is gone, so I guess Coma is aptly titled, still plugged into a recharge battery system and perhaps they will return soon refreshed and exciting. Guitarist and guiding light Jean Pierre Louveton (JPL) always had a parallel solo career that began back in 2002 , so it's with a certain amount of trepidation that ' le Livre Blanc' is released in 2017, surely a manner of keeping the muse fed and content. Two of his Nemo band mates, Guillaume Fontaine on piano and drummer Jean-Baptiste Itier help round out the guest list, together with drummer Ludovic Moro, bassist Sebastien Delestienne and vocalists Steph Honde and Lazuli's Dominique Leonetti. Truth is Louveton handles most of the instrumentation, namely all the guitars, bass, vocals, keyboards, programming and percussion. He is a tremendous player both in the acoustic and electric realm, carving out quite a reputation, in the course of his Nemo and solo career. The cover art is outstanding, medieval stained glass windows, 'ogive' arches, heroic figurines that hint at famed chevaliers Bayard and du Guesclin and a sense of mystery and passion that begs discovery.

'Un Livre Ouvert' (Open Book) raises the velvety curtains with rustic acoustic guitar that only serves to set into motion the countrified lick (I swore I heard 'Sweet Home Alabama' for a sec) that motors the track, as JP's hushed voice navigates page to page, recounting a story of one's unending skepticism about life and the sinewy road towards some kind of salvation. The heavily treated guitar takes some sensational directions, egged on by loopy synth maneuvres, pleading, urging and begging for some kind of resolution. Itier mans the drums perfectly, as he always does, constantly innovative and detail oriented.

The brooding 'L'Hermite' is definitely a high point, a 9 minute romp that swerves from soft to hard and then back again, layered with massive melancholic riffs, Fontaine's lavish piano and a solid rhythmic foundation, on which the tortured guitar leads flutter and caress, the lonely orphaned voice poignant and afraid. A world class track that deserves to heard over and over again, in fact becoming more enjoyable with each pass. The contrasts are stunningly effective and induce a profound sense of beyond.

Change of pace on a delirious track like the rocky 'Joker', where the guitars become crunchy and tainted with old school absurd, a cocktail of pervading riffs and slick electric licks that keep the pressure on. The wild bluesy English vocals from Steph Honde are clearly different in tone and style from JP's usual and distinctive delivery. Pushed along by Moro's pulsating beat, this is quite the departure and a welcome one at that! Hot, tectonic, spewing and erupting, the exuberance is manifest and clearly there for sheer enjoyment. Buoyed by an insistent bass motif, 'Trompe la Mort' is a more unperturbed piece, a somber ballad scorched by a troubled vocal, a smooth atmosphere that soothes the frazzled soul, fooling death once again, duping fate as it's dealt by the master of destiny. Groovy acoustic guitar work underscores the delicacy of the music and a persistent chorus that sears the memory banks, I could hum this forever! Tropical percussion gives this a glowing midnight sun feel that is simply delicious.

Bombast returns with 'L'Etoile du Nord', the lyrics are devastating in despair, a cry out for the guidance of the Northern Star, a personal beacon of light that can show the way once again, out of the darkness and into a better future. Musically resolute and persevering, the howling background choir expanding the symphonics with gusto, the powerful piece unites soft acoustic fragility with a strong melancholic rage, solitude hurting as the axe rages, undeterred. A song about love, faith and courage. A lighthouse in the middle of a vast and arid desert. Fantastic. A perfect segue is the mournful 'Convol'ances', the next step in the healing process, where memory and guilt hold hands and a breath-taking vocal is paralleled by a sublime guitar melody, peeling off to sizzle in evident agony and a binary drum syncopation that portrays loss and dysfunction. Louveton takes his frenzied and pained guitar out of the dark tunnel and into the light, slowly ascending, determined yet deeply wounded, perhaps forever more.

Manic and propulsive assault and battery is next with the monstrous 'La Peste et le Cholera' , two devastating epidemics that once ravaged Middle Ages Europe set to musical form, channeled by diseased guitars, feverish drum beats and bone breaking drum salvos. This is where JP gets to unleash a blizzard of notes, torturing, molding, cracking and bleeding all over the fret board, proving what a master axeman he is. A second section with spoken English words from none other than Ravi Shankar sets the pressure down to tolerable levels, letting a delightful bass solo to bloom from guest Delestienne , a weak-kneed moment for your truly!

History is never far away in the French psyche, 'Jehanne' seems to be dedicated or inspired by one of France's perennial heroes, namely Joan of Arc, the virgin of Orleans who fought off , albeit temporarily, both The English invaders as well the corrupt French church. She placed an inept and weak French king on the throne only to die, burnt at the stake in Rouen. This is where prog can really shine, recounting vivid historical events and coating them with contemporary armor, bringing back to life both legend and spirit, perhaps the greatest victims of today's society that has stopped dreaming. Ten minutes plus of athletic music gloriously presented, heroic in delivery, bold in action and stunning in emotion. The thrashing guitars emote on a multitude of levels, insistent and desperate, conveying the well-recorded drama that still fills history books.

The instrumental finale 'Le Livre Blanc' (the White Book) puts this exhilarating work to bed, while keeping the comatose Nemo alive, with a magnificent symphonic exercise, a perfect platform for Louveton' s dazzling guitar skills, which he is thankfully immodest to display. The flexible notes, the scouring leads, the clanging riffs, a fine bass undertow that keeps the lien straight and narrow, this is pure progressive heaven. Thank you Kev Rowland for inspiring me to hunt this down real fast, I follow your advice. You guys now follow mine, now. Sort of a prog version of 'Pay it Forward'.

5 White Books

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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