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Unit Wail - Pangaea Proxima CD (album) cover


Unit Wail


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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars The influence of Shub-Niggurath, coming from one of that band's founders, the guitarist Frank Fromy, makes this debut album very dark. Respect to the last unlistenable effort of Shub-Niggurath (Note: I thought it was the last, but after their 3rd album there's another released in 2009 I wasn't aware of) this album is very well played and arranged, so if you are in the right mood for this kind of sci-fi inspired dark and obsessive music, with jazz and classical elements fused together, this is a very good one.

The music is dissonant but not noisy, and even if dark, not horrorific as Shub-Niggurath were.

The track titles give the impression of a sci-fi concept,but of course, without lyrics this is hard to say.

"Mesozoic Cities" may be referred to the "Old Ones", and one of those cities could be R'Lyeh. The music is able to suggest images of chaos and weirdness, but it doesn't appear to be improvised. Each passage seems to be carefully planned, and this is more evident with "Ombos". I don't think one can improvise on that kind of signatures. Ombos was effectively an ancient city, known in ancient Egypt as "Nubt" on which there's a great necropolis.

"T'l't'" has a funky start and becomes dark when the guitar enters. Bass and drums play perfect Zeuhl in the Magma tradition. I don't know what the title means, unfortunately.

"Sargasso Sea" reminds to Lovecraft but also to "Le Bateau Ivre" by Arthur Rimbaud. A sea covered by algae on which ships can't move because of the absence of winds and any kind of possible monster behind the surface. This is one of the most rock tracks, easier maybe, but this doesn't subtract anything from its goodness. The guitar is remarkable on this track.

Few seconds of dark ambient can give the illusion of something relaxing, also because we are in "Outerspace". This is one of the most uptime tracks instead, with an incredible signature underlined by the slapped bass, but with a very good keyboard layer and the guitar which in some moments sounds like Andy Latimer (in terms of sounds, not of notes). For me the best album's track.

"Humanized Fish From Encelade" is the most chaotic track in terms of melodies and signatures, and Philippe Haxaire makes an excellent work with his drum kit. I'd like to see this performed live.

"Home Of Nowhere" transports us to the depest obscurity. Here the Shub-Niggurath imprinting is strong. Drums and keys are the main elements. It's so dark that the following "Magnetostriction" can appear "pop" in comparison. Surely it's more rock-oriented, more August Derleth than Lovecraft if this can give the idea.

"Holocene Extinction" is even relaxing. The music seems to describe a desert world after the extinction happened, but it's only for about 30 seconds, then drums and bass bring in some rhythm.However this is not "tragic" as the title could suggest. I must remark that Holocene is the current geological period so this is about "our" extintion, nothing to do with dynosaurs.

"Shambala" is more structured. After a Floydian beginning it becomes jazzy with bass and drums on fusion rhythms. The tempo is quite slow. I think this is the easiest track of ths album. Less challenging but being challenging is not a must.

I don't know what "three Eyes" should mean, but the dark environment is completely restored. If it wasn't for the guitar which plays long struggling notes, it would have a free-jazz flavor. Less than three minutes of crazyness.

"Subdeath" closes the album in a horrorific way. This track reminds me of the Shub- Niggurath debut. It features the only lyrics, a bass pitched speech, of the whole album. I don't understand what the speaker says but I would be curious to know it, also to understand if my interpretation of the music's meaning (if there's a meaning) is correct or not.

It's an excellent addition for who likes the darker side of Zeuhl, not for everybody. In my opinion is a 3.5 stars album which I round up because of the excellent musicianship of the band's members. It's a debut. If tehy won't loose the way as Shub-Niggurath have done with their third album, we can expect exciting things.

Report this review (#955744)
Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars UNIT WAIL is the most recent project of guitarist Franck Fromy who was one of the founding members of the legendary SHUB NIGGURATH. He's brought on board four younger guys who i'm sure have all learned a great deal about music from this master of dark and intense music. This particular project is all instrumental but not too far off the path that SHUB NIGGURATH blazed through hell itself. We get twelve tracks over 45 minutes so it's easy to digest.

Up first is "Mesozoic Cities" where the first sounds we hear are of Franck's distorted guitar crying out as the rest of the band join in but the guitar stands out most. It picks up speed and I must say I like the drumming here as it seems sporadic. Keys replace the guitar before 2 minutes with background synths giving the song a different vibe although it's still dark. The guitar is back to end it. "Ombos" is haunting with some jarring sounds bringing UNIVERS ZERO to mind. The guitar comes in playing angular melodies over top of the darkness. Check out the drumming after 2 minutes after the guitar fades to the background. Sounds like electronics joining in as well.

"Telete" opens with drums and bass before we get some brief mellotron. I like this a lot. The mellotron is back and the bass and drums are so intricate here as the guitar is strummed. "Sargasso Sea" takes us back into the night then suddenly it all speeds up and the distorted guitar plays over top with mellotron waves in tow. great stuff ! It settles back again but the tempo will coninue to shift. Insane guitar late. "Outerspace" blows me away because the synths sound so much like PORCUPINE TREE. Who would have thought ? It opens with electronics and when it kicks in i'm thinking of the psychedelic period of PT. mainly because of the tone of the guitar. Man this is so good ! The drums are aggressive and the bass is digging very deep. My favourite tune right here, very impressive.

"Humanoid Fish From Encelade" is different with a multitude of sounds coming and going. Mellotron comes and goes. "Home Of Nowhere" is the darkest yet as we get this creepy and ominous soundscape then the mellotron joins in just to add to the fear they are creating. "Magnetostriction" is fairly uptempo and fuzzed out. Nice. "Holocene Extinction" opens like we are in a dream then it kicks in before a minute. Contrasts continue. "Shambhala" is the longest track at almost 5 1/2 minutes. Piano, bass, drums, guitar and mellotron before it all picks up. There's so many things I want to focus on here. A very interesting track to say the least. "Three Eyes" opens with ominous guitar sounds then the tempo picks up with some killer playing by all. It settles back as the contrasts continue. "Subdeath" like the previous tune features some dark sounding guitar expressions but with a marching styled beat like we're heading to the grave. Piano joins in as the guitar cries out. The spoken words before 3 minutes sound like the are from Death himself welcoming us to our final abode. It starts to get frantic or is that me. What a way to end the album !

Just a great start for this band and I must say that after hearing the followup "Retort" recently these guys are only getting better.

Report this review (#1122379)
Posted Monday, January 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars New Avant Prog band from France, formed in 2009 through a collaboration of guitarist Franck William Fromy, coming from veteran noisy Avant Rockers Shub-Niggurath, and keyboardist Vincent Sicot Vantalon.Despite the presence of Fromy the main composer of music appears to be Vantalon and Unit Wail came to full circle with Emmanuel Pothier on synthesizer, Sebastian Acre on drums and Adrian Luna on bass.However, during the long recording sessions of their debut, Acre left for Chile and he was replaced by Philippe Haxaire.With James Hugget providing bass lines in one track, the first album ''Pangaea proxima'' was eventually released in 2012 on Soleil Zeuhl.

Energetic and twisting, dark Avant Prog is Unit Wail's proposal on this release, fairly complex, extremely adventurous and very intricate stuff all the way.You should ask how such a group with two keyboardists on paper would sound, but the answer is easier than you should expect, as things appear to be pretty balanced in here, no apparent dual keyboard/synth deliveries, Vantalon and Pothier rarely get in each other's way.What's really unique is the constant presence of a Mellotron around, combine this with the haunting and robotic guitar plays of Fromy and you will often think that the ghost of old KING CRIMSON was present at the time of the recordings.Now, the album contains three quarters of an hour music divided in 12 short cuts and the material is trully compressed and dense in ''Pangaea proxima''.Complex rhythmic patterns, switching tempos and schizophenic bass work and drumming meet Vantalon's powerful Mellotron and the synth exercises of Pothier, stuff is usually fast-paced with rich and dynamic executions and a little atmosphere in some of Fromy's background, almost spacey solos.There is a certain French Zeuhl taste in the throbbing grooves, but this is more of an Avant Prog offering, comparable sometimes to YUGEN's most complex ideas.

Cool Heavy/Avant Prog with a certain direction and well-constructed pieces.Non-mystified should stay away, this one should be a great entry for all lovers of frenetic, complicated musical adventurues.Recommended.

Report this review (#1262561)
Posted Friday, August 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unit Wail's "PANGAEA PROXIMA", 2012, is an exciting release under the Zeuhl's tagging which is a subtle way of forewarning possible listeners that "everything goes" music wise.

A 12 tracks release which in themselves contain mini-structures which can turn loose to recover themselves in different creative ways. So let me mention that this ways can turn from syncopated guitar Rock to Electronic Jazz tainted with Prog Electronic details and slapping or deep bottom basses marching along a frantic but masterfully unobtrusive drumming.

As told the use of minor chords and irreverent musical solutions impeccably performed exalt its obscure songwriting directions which of course are, if taggings permitted, a perfect trip between the Rock in Opposition, Avant Garde and Zeuhl sub-genres, all surprisingly tied and wrapped, most of the times, with the raunchiest and mostly undercovered inventive electric guitar I've have heard for a while. At close distance this effort's real deal is how well each member brings their best not only performance wise but amazingly by contributing in its music structures composition.

Expect a dark colored thrill, expect chaotic but controlled fun and mostly let yourself go!

****4 "too irreverent to praise for too good to ignore" PA stars

Report this review (#1511361)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Debut release from these heavy Zeuhlish artists from France. Thought the Zeuhl categorization may be warranted, I hear a lot of KING CRIMSON sound and stylings as well as TOE-like Post Rock.

Line-up / Musicians: - Franck William Fromy / guitar - Philippe Haxaire / drums - Adrian Luna / bass - Vincent Sicot Vantalon / keyboards - Emmanuel Pothier / synthesizers

1. "Mesozoďc Cities" (3:22) more like Red-era King Crimson! They've got that polyrhythmic thing going on (though I'm not sure it always works). (8.5/10)

2. "Ombos" (3:39) paced a little more humanely to allow for proper brain processing, this one has some melody! (8.5/10)

3. "Télété" (2:41) drum and bass on display! Interesting use of harpsichord sound and 'tron! (4.25/5)

4. "Sargasso Sea" (4:03) atmospheric effects joined by TOE-like drums, ominous electric guitar strokes and Mellotron. (8.75/10)

5. "Outerspace" (4:57) almost European techno-dance music! Very creative synths, guitars, and bass. Great drumming--except it almost doesn't fit the mood of the rest of the musicians. (8.25/10)

6. "Humanoďd Fish From Encelade" (2:23) a very bizarre spliced-feeling purveyed by unusual sounds created by bass, guitars, and keys all played over the usual frenzied drumming. (4/5)

7. "Home of Nowhere" (4:31) slow and menacing, like a damaging walk through Tokyo by Godzilla. Awful bass solo in the fourth minute! Now this one could've used the drummer's usual wild drumming! (8/10)

8. "Magnétostriction" (2:38) angular guitar soloing over relatively slow and stable music. (4/5)

9. "Holocene Extinction" (3:35) The innovative bass sound on this catchy song is almost MICK KARN-like. (8.75/10)

10. "Shambhala" (5:15) the interplay of the Outer Limits-like lead synth sound and the wild MICK KARN-like bass sound and play definitely incurs smiles (and is impressively creative!). (8.5/10)

11. "Three Eyes" (2:23) more angular guitar soloing over a rather wide range of styles and paces (including prominent piano presence) makes for quite a multiple personality disorder. (4.25/5)

12. "Subdeath" (4:43) it does sound funereal--as if one were marching alongside Charon on one's entry into Hades. Nice use of demonic male voice in narration. (8.25/10)

Total Time 44:10

Very impressive musicianship throughout--especially from the drummer and bass player though the keyboard maestroes and guitarist are very creative. The problem comes from the gradual disconnect that I hear and feel between the music being cast by everybody except the drummer (which is very creative and spacey) and the homogeneity of the drummer's very aggressive sound and style.

B/four stars; an impressive debut and highly recommended listen for any prog lover--especially if you're into 1. the Red-era King Crimson style and sound palette, 2. into frenetic drum-centric music, or 3. very creative sound-making.

Report this review (#2486293)
Posted Sunday, December 20, 2020 | Review Permalink

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