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NOUVEAUX MONDES

Cafeine

Symphonic Prog


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Greger
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Nouveaux Mondes" is French band CAFEINE's new concept album. The band though doesn't exist since the early nineties. Their debut CD "La Citadelle" was released in 1994, and it's also their only album up-to-date. They have been working on this follow-up for a couple of years. The concept is about great conquerors like Alexander, Don Juan and Icarus. Just like the band AYREON there're many guest musicians and vocalists, for example Christian Décamps (ANGE), Sonia Nédélec & Jean-Baptiste Ferracci (MINIMUM VITAL), Cyril Grimaud (HAUTEVILLE), Pierre-Yves Theurillat (GALAAD) and Julie Vander (MAGMA). The music is symphonic progressive rock with vocals in French. There are reminiscences to AYREON, The FLOWER KNGS, GENESIS and YES, with big soundscapes, beautiful arrangements, good melodies, skilful musicians, lengthy instrumental passages and a professional production. This is one of the best albums from 2000 and I strongly recommend it to everyone.

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#11916)
Posted Friday, February 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Now this is a fine little recording my friends... CAFEINE's "Nouveaux Mondes" is a superbly well crafted album blending an original musical prowess with a brilliant technical expressionism. Songs are well conceived with loads of dynamic mood and tempo changes and are delivered with great emotion. Although their music is quite sophisticated and electrically charged, they maintain a high degree of control never sounding "over the top". Instrumentally speaking this 4 member band are simply killer with great guitar, keyboard, bass and drum interplay. Hard to peg these guys down as their music draws from so many different influences, but perhaps one could draw parallels to ANGE, LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT, VISIBLE WIND and KING CRIMSON all wrapped into one. CAFEINE's music is meaty with some grand time signature changes and musical phrasing.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#11917)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars CAFEINE is a relatively new 4-piece band, and their second album "Nouveaux Mondes" was recently released on the Musea label. This band plays what I would call "modern symphonic prog". The style of music here has similarities to bands like CAST, DISCIPLINE, and FINISTERRE. In the case of CAFEINE, they also bring in fusion influences, as well as influences from the 70s French prog scene (ANGE, MONA LISA, ATOLL, etc). "Nouveaux Mondes" is quite a diverse album, and each track tends to explore new ground and atmospheres. Some examples include the first track "Hubble", which is an excellent sympho-jazz-fusion instrumental. A couple of the following tracks remind me a bit of SPOCK'S BEARD. The music, at times, tends to flirt with traditional verse/chorus/verse/chorus song structures. But the instrumental sections, and musical surprises along the way, tend to spice things up. The last few tracks, which sound more like a long epic, recall the classic days of ANGE, MONA LISA, and ATOLL. I have to mention that although digital equipment is used throughout the CD, it is tastefully done. Those last few tracks really bring back those ANGE, MONA LISA, and ATOLL atmospheres to mind. I almost forgot to mention that each vocal track (99.5% of the album is in French) on the CD features different guests from the French prog scene. Those guests include Christian Decamps (ANGE), Sonia Nedelec & Jean Baptiste Ferraci (MINIMUM VITAL), Cyril Grimaud (HAUTEVILLE), Pierre Yves Theurillat (GALAAD), & Julie Vander. Overall, "Nouveaux Mondes" will impress not only fans of modern prog bands like CAST, FINISTERRE, and SPOCK'S BEARD. But fans of the classic French prog era will find plenty to enjoy.

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Send comments to Steve Hegede (BETA) | Report this review (#27337)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars One of the most interesting recent issues from France, an ensemble built on the contribution of various "prog" artists,for example musicians from Minimum Vital or Ange; nevertheless this work is discontinuous and even though is enriched with interesting guitar excursions and a bunch of convincing effects too at the synths, reproducing "Hubble", this album is a bit repetitive and often in the new prog vein...as for all these reasons the output is not exceptional. However you can check it out at least, despite of forgetting soon this one as a new "French miracle"!

Interesting but not essential!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#11918)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another modern French beauty.

"Noveaux Mondes" is a very modern sounding prog rock album with both symphonic and fusion appetites. A concept album about the nature of discovery and the people who undertake it. The album features 7 guests vocalists on various tracks including Christian Decamps, Julie Vander, Pierre-Yves Theurillat and others but also features large instrumental sections to please everyone.

It opens with high drama in the form of a haunting soundscape before the band crashes in with "Hubble, an instrumental showcasing the deep talent in the line-up. They hit the ground running with plenty of speed and some nice hooks. Track 2 is "L'or Des Indes" which I felt started rather clumsy and plodding with vocals that seemed forced, but the track recovers in the middle with a calm break and some soft embellishment, and finally ends quite well. Sadly I have to say that again in "Voler en Eclat" and "Les Conquerants" the vocals just never seem to gel very well with the music, perhaps the result of using all guest vocalists. There are nice instrumental touches to all the songs but I find that in those two songs and occasionally elsewhere, the vocals just seem to put the brakes on the festivities rather than lifting the band to a better place. Just an observation. "Don Juan" however finds Ange's Christian Decamps in fine form all these years later and in this case the vocals do work for me. My favorite track might be "Atomik" with Julie Vander's beautiful mostly wordless vocals and some magnificent guitar/bass/key interplay. The guitar playing towards the end reminds me of Steve Howe on the Drama album, a high energy front-loaded sound. "Alexandre" is OK but under utilizes the 10 minutes they give it. "My Only Quest" is a nice change up with a mellow synth opening that flows into piano and soft guitar. The mood of the vocal is introspective and the album needs more moments of variation like this. Lovely song. "Cathedrale" ends the album with an epic feel overall with some flute and strings. This is a nice touch. The album could use at least a little more acoustic instrumentation to warm up the sound occasionally. This one builds well and is one of the better composed tracks. A wise choice for a closer.

As I mentioned the band has a polished modern sound that is hard hitting and yet dexterous as can be, reminding me a bit of Eclat in places and also Ohm. There are lots of modern synths but also great guitar leads and killer drumming. This is a rich and complex album that takes many spins to fully appreciate although I believe that this band can do better. I feel they should try to add more warmth and enlist a single full-time vocalist rather than guests. I think they could be capable of a masterpiece but I don't think this is it. Modest but decent lyric booklet included. 3.75 stars.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#127658)
Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I haven't had a fine listening while discovering this looooooong album. I moderately appreciated their first album, but this one is frankly overrated.

L'Or Des Indes features good instrumental parts but I can't stand the chorus related to the all mighty one (God). This work sounds more as a French musical than as a true prog-rock album. This feeling notably prevails during the vocal parts (Voler En Eclats). Simple French rock music for some six minutes. Fortunately, the closing part is fully symphonic and a great guitar solo punctuates it. It was about time.

There are little variation between songs, and a certain feeling of dullness is felt while listening to this album. No tracks are weak, but there is no highlight as such. Just a bunch of average to good songs. But it is very difficult to be enthusiast about this release. Just because the band doesn't convey this feeling. And the several guests won't be able to change this (even not the great Christian Descamps during Don Juan).

The instrumental Atomik is no other Experience. A good tempo, OK. But what else? It ends up nowhere. But where did it start?

This album doesn't work for me. Pompous and repetitive. For about seventy minutes. That's a long time to bear. One still hopes to reach a jewel track, but it won't come, unfortunately. Sometimes this happens : an acclaimed album just can't do it for me.

Musicianship is excellent and the quality of the guests is unquestionable. It is just that the mayonnaise doesn't work. Theatrical vocals at times, but lyrics are nothing from the other world. Don't look anything à la early Ange in this respect. The search would be useless.

Alexandre could have been a nice epic. I guess that there was sufficient elements to write a great song about this extraordinary character. But nothing as much. A boring song for about ten minutes. Another Broadway type song. Press next.

The short My Only Quest is a track that could have been attractive. Nice and subtle piano, pleasant background keyboards, but again the feeling of a musical is really too much. Maybe a live representation with hundreds of people on stage could have brought another dimension. But it wouldn't have improved the weak lyrics.

And the long and closing Cathédrale won't save this album. It is fully in-line with the other songs, unfortunately. Two stars. This is as far as I can get for this concept album. Even if I have a special look at French prog.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#158420)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Apparently the complaints about the vocals on their debut led them to employ an array of guest vocalists for this their second album. This is a concept album with the lyrics in French. The music is well done and mostly in that Symphonic style.

"Hubble" is an instrumental that opens with spacey sounds before the music kicks in. Some nice guitar after 4 minutes. "L'Or Des Indes" is melancholic with the keys and guitar standing out. Vocals before a minute. There's a Neo-Prog vibe on this one before 2 minutes. Contrasts continue. A calm with piano before 6 1/2 minutes then vocals join in followed by guitar. "Voler En Eclat" is atmospheric to start. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in with backing vocals as well. Not a fan of this one really. "Les Conquerants" is a ballad-like tune with vocals and piano leading the way.Yikes.

"Don Juan" features the theratrical vocals of Christian Decamps.The bass, drums and guitar standout early. Vocals before 2 minutes. It's an okay tune. "Atomik" is an instrumental although there are vocal melodies. I like the bass 2 1/2 minutes in and the guitar solo that follows. "Alexandre" opens with piano as the guitar comes and goes. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Not a fan of this one either. "My Only Quest" features the vocals of Julie Vander and she shines. I like the atmosphere to to open then piano and vocals take over. A beautiful track. "Cathedrale" features vocal melodies before male vocals come in. Female vocals then lead the rest of the way.

A good album but for me it's not even close to being a 4 star record.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#274076)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first exposure to this fine band was a couple of sample tracks from Noveaux Mondes, included on a prog sampler created for me by a college buddy who somehow stayed in touch with new prog during the dry spell of the 90s.

I did not even know track titles, let alone the performers, on the sampler disc. He did not send that info. Strictly anonymous rock.

So I had some fun with it. I played Hubble, an instrumental, for my kids (ages 9, 11 and 13 at the time), and asked them to describe what they thought the band was trying to depict. My own thought was that there was a fire, with people trapped in upper storeys, pleading for rescue, while the fire department rushed to the site. I liked the polyrhythm at the start, very sophisticated. I wondered if this song was something new from Yes.

The other cut sent on the sampler was Voler En Éclat. This is a great dramatic song, with many interesting and subtile moods, vocal dynamics that convince you something important is going on, very well structured and perhaps worthy for release as a single. Not much similarity to Hubble, but enchanting. Obviously not Yes, since the lyrics are in French. But that was not especially disappointing.

I had no idea that the two were recorded by the same band. The two were my favorites on the sampler.

Ultimately I asked my friend for the details, and he supplied the track names and band info. I ordered Nouveaux Mondes ASAP. Something interesting going on here, a band with a powerful range.

I was not disappointed. Almost every tune on the disc is symphonic, in fact loaded not only with strings but with woodwinds too.

Alexandre starts with a great riff on a bassoon, imagine that! Ultimately the song ends in an extended jam that could obviously been carried on for another five minutes or so by this talented outfit without wearing out their welcome.

Cathedrale, closing the album, is the most complex vocal song, with both male and female lead vocals. It is a multiple part composition, in the same way that Starship Trooper has distinct parts, each with its own name. The band does a great job of devoting sufficient time to each mood, and there are many moods. At one point the vocals are Gregorian style chants, something I never expected to hear in prog rock, but it works well both for the overall theme of the song and in the mix with the instruments.

On my phone: Hubble, Voler en Eclat, Alexandre, My Only Quest, Cathedrale. More than half of the nine songs on the album.

I am a prog fan from the start of my high school days in 1969. This band, along with the Flower Kings (Stardust We Are) and the reunited Happy the Man, woke me up and convinced me that prog still has legs in the new millenium. Even after 10 years of owning and listening to this disc, I am delighted to hear it.

Four stars, definitely. Solid melodies, excellent arrangements, outstanding vocals from the guests for the most part. I am no fan of Christian Descamps' vocals, but that is a quibble, he uses a very familiar decades-old French vocal style on the Don Juan tune.

This disc was released in 2000. The band has been overdue for another release for some time now. They claim that the next will include English lyrics. Since the band depends on guest vocalists, I wonder if the band has been seeking Brits or Americans for that role. Sometimes the French can be picky about that issue.

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Send comments to Dreamer of Pictures (BETA) | Report this review (#1010006)
Posted Friday, August 02, 2013 | Review Permalink

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