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Nil - Nil Novo Sub Sole CD (album) cover

NIL NOVO SUB SOLE

Nil

 

Eclectic Prog

4.27 | 72 ratings

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Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
5 stars Wooed by icebergs

In my book Nil Novo Sub Sole possibly is one of the greatest modern prog albums. When I take a look at some of the records that we today herald as being groundbreaking and earth shattering pieces of prog rock, I must admit to feeling a bit sad on Nil's behalf. This album is about the most innovative piece of work I've come across in the past 20 years. Sure, just like a lot of other progressive artists, you hear certain bits and pieces harking back to the old time greats, but then again I find it next to impossible describing the sound and feel of Nil just by throwing a bunch of names on the table. This album is as unique as a carrot screwdriver or a ballet dancing boa constrictor.

The first thing that hits you will probably be the venomous bite of front vocalist Roselyne Berthet. This woman sounds like a beautiful French vampire - whispering soft icy emanations in your ear. She's seductive, diabolic and angelic all cooked up in a manner that has you trembling with lust and fear simultaneously.

This icy voice blends incredibly well with the overall ambiance of the band, which shines through in the sound-production like one of those freezing winter mornings, where the sun is terrifyingly white like an exploding bag of radioactive flour. This makes for a cold and serene feel to the music, and although the two acts sound nothing alike, what this clean and frosty feel reminds me the most of, is Dead Can Dance's masterpiece Within the Realm of a Dying Sun. There's a similar sense of abandonment and desertion to this album. The thing is, you don't feel detached from the music - the result is far more complex, and conveying how this mystifying approach actually works, would take all of my evening - plus the fact that you'd have to be a trained shaman from Ecuador to actually fathom this highly original musical trade.

Slowly rising up between these trembling vocal ice plates - we are treated to lethargic oscillating synth layers that sound like they're ascending steam from a boiling kettle. Gently and swirling - reminding me a great deal of the type of ambient wizardry you'll find in Richard Barbieri's playing. Counterpointing this intangible piece of the puzzle, we have perhaps my favourite ingredient in the mix, which is the powerful and reckless drumming. Frank Niebel is the name of the man behind the kit, and this guy is without a doubt one of the most incredible modern drummers. He never plays what you'd expect him to do. With an overpowering lust for insane, complex and just impossible rhythms - he injects every piece of music within this recording with something audacious and off-kilter. I've never encountered so many poly-rhythms in such a short amount of time - well not any that work this beautifully! On paper this bizarre, angular and utterly aggressive approach should fail miserably, but it is just one of the magic components of this album that makes it soar and glide like a bald headed vaseline eagle.

Then you have the propulsive bass lines and the metallish squares of the guitars filling up this monstrous sonic bathtub - now complete with sea creatures, nymphs and underwater vampires snapping out after you. One could easily put a sticker on this album calling it Zeuhl - or maybe symphonic - then again you could deem it to be metal, no better yet avant gothic prog rock with 50 litres of blood in it... There is no way you can box this creature down - it lives on its own terms, frolicking wildly among those preceding musical masterpieces that answer to no one. It is very rare that I look for that fleeting 6th star, but this is certainly one of those special cases.

This is music that every morning plays for old sea captains standing on the edge of the beach - seductively being summoned by the sea - wooed by the crystal music of icebergs blue. If you'd like to join them in their never-ending quest, then you certainly need this awe inspiring gemstone. It is beautiful like a thousand white suns.

Guldbamsen | 5/5 |

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