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Potemkine - Nicolas II CD (album) cover

NICOLAS II

Potemkine

 

Zeuhl

3.96 | 41 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Potemkine was a French band whose musical offering brought a Zheul-friendly sort of jazz-prog: the legacy of pre-"Romatic Warrior" Return to Forever and early Weather Report, plus some touches of Canterbury, was given an extra edge with the addition of pulsating rhythmic ornaments in places. The lead guitarist's style shows a combination of McLaughlin's intense vibe and Phil Miller's melodic drive, which makes a perfect complement for Michael Goubin's keyboard deliveries. "Nicolas II" is the third and final Potemkine effort: generally speaking, it doesn't equal the powerful magic of the preceding album "Triton", but it most certainly reinforces the refreshing approach to jazz-prog that Potemkine displayed in the aforesaid album. The opener 'Tango Panache' bears a captivating punch, wisely focusing on a catchy main motif without employing resources of excess in the expansions. 'Raspoutine', despite the intriguing allusions of its title, offers a more candid ambience in its melodic structure, compared to the opener. The celebratory vibe gets increased in the following track 'Theme pour un Swing Imaginnaire', which finds the band exploring the swing of funk: the addition of extra percussion feeds the groove in a very effective way, and so does the electrifying guitar solo that emerges along the way. This album has really started well, but the best is yet to come. The last four pieces (which filled the vinyl's B side) are linked in a continuum. 'Air de Famile' states a languid, relaxed mood that ultimately develops into a more intense atmosphere for the last minute. This, in turn, states a contrasts with the softly dissonant lyricism developed in the first half of 'Odes de Mars': its second half shifts to a funk-instilled vibe, exciting yet controlled at the same time. A new change comes with the arrival of 'Aux Mages', whose romantic mood sets an evocative magic through the air. The weird percussive textures that emerge for the last seconds serve as a prelude to 'Amphitheatre Magique', the closing piece that brings an unexpected dark atmosphere. Its somber synth layers and mysterioys chorale arrangements, overlapped on the electric piano bases, close down the album with a moderately spectral ambience that never gets too creepy. This band bears its influences upon its sleeve, yet it finds an original way to ordain nand develop its musical ideas. While not being as peculiar Sloche, Iceberg or Il Baricentro were on their own terms, Potemkine's legacy to the world of prog is interesting and worthy of much appreciation. "Nicolas II" is an excellent item in any good prog collection.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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