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Shub-Niggurath - Les morts vont vite CD (album) cover





4.08 | 159 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 339

Shub-Niggurath is a progressive avant-guard rock/zeuhl band from France founded in 1983 by Allan Baullaud. The band is named after one of the deities in Cthulhu Mythos created by the famous American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.

Shub-Niggurath originated playing dark and intense expressionist music influenced by the legendary progressive French rock band Magma and the contemporary classical music. Aside from the members of the band being fans of the former, the pianist and later on also guitarist, Jean-Luc H'rve had studied composition with G'rard Grisey, a French composer of contemporary classical music. After the first album the band started developing towards structured improvisation and electro-acoustic experiments. The band was dissolved in 1995 following the death of cancer of their leader, the bassist Alain Ballaud. They released two proper albums in their lifetime, their debut 'Les Morts Vont Vite', in 1986 and their second 'C''taient De Tr's Grands Vents', in 1991, later followed by their third 'Testament', released in 1994, which is nothing more than a compilation of unreleased material from the 90's. Besides these, there exist two highly rare cassettes, only releases, a self-titled demo anteceding the first album and a live recording released in 1989 by Auricle. Plus later, in 2009, the band also released a fourth studio album named 'Introduction'. But 'Introduction' is in effect nothing more than their debut demo tracks of Shub-Niggurath cleaned up and released on the CD format.

Their debut studio album 'Les Morts Vont Vite', received critical acclaim for its innovative avant-garde inclinations, and major developments over the Magma's sound. The album is very dark and is very close to the RIO/Avant-Prog style.

The line up on the album is Ann Stewart (vocals), Franck W. Fromy (guitar and electric percussion), Jean-Luc Herv' (piano, church organ and harmonium), V'ronique Verdier (trombone), Alain Ballaud (bass) and Franck Coulaud (drums).

'Les Morts Vont Vite' has four tracks, plus two bonus tracks on the 1997 CD release. The main melodic thing is the harrowing soprano vocals of Ann Stewart. The music is developed in an expressionist landscape of ascending and descending chromatic chord progressions on electric guitar, piano and trombone. The music is channeled through the utter darkness and evil. The guitar solos here are more like tortured and primal sounds than anything from jazz or rock or fusion. The percussion owes more to the modern classical than jazz as well. The music here is generally dark and ugly. We can say that it has a deep darkness, and a very interesting ugliness. For the most part, 'Les Morts Vont Vite' is made of the band's improvisation and an overall mix of strange and varied sounds. 'Les Morts Vont Vite' is, in my humble opinion, an album representative of classic RIO/Avant, where its roots can be found in the early creations of Henry Cow, Univers Zero, and Magma. As for the latter band though, I've mentioned it especially because the amazing operatic vocals of Ann Stewart that remind me a bit of those of Stella Vander of Magma, while any other parallels between the music of Shub-Niggurath and that of Magma can't be clearly seen here. Another one of the most influential RIO/Avant bands that is often mentioned in the reviews of Shub-Niggurath is Art Zoyd. In my point of view however, any comparisons between these two bands can't be clearly seen too. Art-Zoyd's music has a very strong classical feel to it and it's light rather than dark, harmonious rather than dissonant. Quite the contrary, the creation of Shub-Niggurath is inspired by the Avant-garde Academic Music and has no much in common ground with the Classical Academic Music.

Returning to 'Les Morts Vont Vite', all the six compositions on 'Les Morts Vont Vite' are about the classic RIO/Avant with pronounced elements of Avant-garde Academic Music and Zeuhl, though the structures of 'Cabine 67' contains also quite a large quantity of very heavy musical elements. Of course, all the arrangements on the album are in the state of constant development and, thus, are completely unpredictable. Ann Stewart's vocals are dramatic in character and are very charming. They're present on all of the tracks on the album but the aforementioned 'Cabine 67'. By the way, this is also the only composition on the album, where all the arrangements on which are exclusively fast and intensive.

Conclusion: I'm deeply impressed with the music on 'Les Morts Vont Vite'. The music here is admirably dense with a kind of a method of madness as opposed to something more varied. Still, their persistence and talent for molding a small array of timbres into almost symphonic mass is really very impressive. But, its music isn't that too much like Magma, lacking to it the energy, repetition, and funk that suffuse Magma's work. Instead, this is music of brooding intensity punctuated by glorious frenzy. This is the best Shub Niggurath's albums and it's the most approachable too. But it's not exactly an easy listening album, though. I really hope you have already this album, otherwise, you are maybe simply too frightened to face this awesome nightmare. Still, I think you must have to listen to this album, and then, maybe you will like it too. Then, you will have found the dark heart of Shub-Niggurath, and Lovecraft will be proud.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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