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Non Newtonian Man - Clouds CD (album) cover


Non Newtonian Man

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Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
5 stars That was a surprise! Another prolific band quasi appearing out of nowhere this year. Such a high quality album when it comes to a debut! NON NEWTONIAN MAN are from Piacenza, Italy, though musically not deriving from the wide-ranging RPI playground. Hence this comes way more in the heavier vein of fellow countrymen Dropshard and Soul Secret. A six piece unity with assumed family relations and the guarantee of a lush as well as virtuoso sound. Man! They are really growing in confidence when even announcing a series of albums, a progressive project named 'Three Worlds' exactly. Where each one features nine songs linked together with 70 minutes running time.

Something conceived well in advance with certainty, yeah, that means a working phase of just about ten years! 'I'm tired of chains, that bind my brain' - the album seems to deal with several characters and mental respectively philosophical issues. And now, who is this Non Newtonian Man? The protagonist who thinks and acts in a distinct non-linear manner? The lyrics are in English, though abstract, encrypted, difficult to explore. The sole exception I could detect would be the title of the extended Olandese Volante - the Italian expression for Flying Dutchman. Maybe they feel like being the responsible crew which is condamned to cross the ocean for ever and ever? Food for thought in good supply.

My focus is more on the instrumental flow anyway. Complementing to the main seasons the band is moving through four chapters here with some breathtaking purposefulness. In association with the other long runner Biomechanical this may be regarded as the album's centerpieces. Though the more I'm listening I find it difficult to highlight any particular song ever. Or the other way round, I easily could recommend each. So what. This is heavy, slightly metal bordering stuff, decorated with prominent organ/piano and good vocals featuring traces of accent. Don't know why really, but there's something special happening when Italian born vocalists are singing in English. I personally do like that in many cases.

'I was frozen while my demons grew, but now I'm here at last' - finally the story seems to run into a temporary happy end. 'Clouds' sounds like developed with much thoughtfulness and ease. Fantastic workout! Can't say where they should improve. Only the closing song Queen surprisingly appears somewhat half-baked to me towards the end. But this probably is designed with intent, to represent the transition to the sophomore album. While considering a chain of wonderful compositions there is a constant state of change given. I strongly recommend to have a concentrated listen. Musicianship and mixing do leave nothing to be desired. If the NON NEWTONIAN MAN is capable of continuing in this way, at the latest then they'll evolve to a great inspiration when it comes to the prog genre.

Report this review (#1827048)
Posted Monday, November 27, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's been approximately two years since this album's debut on the stage of progressive music, and during the interim, I haven't seen much conversation concerning Non Newtonian Man's (NNM) first LP. There were some reviews (including a good one by Mr. Rivertree on this very website), and... that's it! It really did surprise me because I listened to Clouds over fifty times in the span of a month. Perhaps I'm not in the right circles, but I have a feeling that this is one of those great albums that was released and slipped through the cracks. (After all, 2017 was a hell of a year for progressive rock.) Thus we have the reason for this review: to reintroduce this album into the thoughts of at least one person for at least one microsecond. A tough order considering I'm a nobody with poor writing skills, but what is there to lose?

I'd like to do a track-by-track breakdown, but with a run time of almost an hour and eleven minutes, I'm not up to the task. That and I think album is meant to be enjoyed as one piece of music instead of nine separate tracks, and considering the transitions between songs and the fact that melodies, lyrics, and themes are repeated throughout, I think the band would agree with this too. Instead, I'll summarize what NNM brings us, and I'll mention the songs that I think are the best of the bunch.

Throughout Clouds, you'll be met with aggressive riffs intertwined with keyboard, often really cool organ-work; majestic and emotional highs that are brought to life with wonderful bass, touching piano, and great lead guitar; soft sections and refrains that not only tug your heart and occasionally feature beautiful violin, but they do a great job in contrasting the pugnacity to better invest you into NNM's musical world; good vocals with a nice Italian accent; and good compositions that tie all of this together. (I like the drums too!)

Every song features everything or at least most of what I described above, but "Pawn", "Shelter", and "Olandese Volante" are the highlights. "Pawn" is the first song (and only instrumental) where the bass really shines as it pops and noticeably improves every moment. Not only that, but the song's delicate moments are great where the inclusion of the violin is really felt. However, this shouldn't overshadow the great rocking moments as the band effortlessly weaves us this aural tapestry. While "In Search of Courage" and "Shelter" are listed as separate movements, they are more tightly coupled than the other tracks. The former is hopeful and has us climb upward to an emotional high with assistance by acoustic guitar, violin, and a little drum work near the end. Now that we're on the summit, "Shelter" takes over and continues with moving our hearts but with more instrumental work. The vocals and lyrics are great, and I can not stress enough our gorgeous this all sounds. About two-thirds of the way to the end, things pick up with some awesome organ and harder riffs, and we'll eventually move onto "Olandese Volante". The grooves near the end of "Shelter" continue here, and it's a hell of a ride. The bass is really fun, and sometimes I wish it would continue on into perpetuity. The beginning gives way to great instrumental work featuring extra percussion, violin, and a few good soft-hard contrasts. The vocals will return, riding upon the energy built up by hard riffing. But after this we're given more delicious bass with some thoughtful piano. The extra percussive work is, once more, appreciated too. Vocals show themselves for another time, but they're beautifully melancholic for this round. After that, the grooves make a come back with the bass leading the way, and while that's wonderful, it gives way to more emotional and reflective vocals and violin. My favorite guitar solo of the album takes the lead to end this stupendous song, but underneath all that was the organ which really added depth to the whole experience.

This is an album and band that hits hard, grooves, and touches you with inspired melodies and beauty where every instrument is played well. That's why I'm giving it four and a half stars, which will be rounded up to five stars. My opinion may change with the flow of time, but few albums inspire me like this one, and thus it's only befitting it should be considered essential.

I think it's criminal that a band releases their first but already mature album to little fanfare. It happens often, and it's always bittersweet to unearth these gems. I can only hope that Non Newtonian Man will continue with their musical trilogy that began with Clouds because I truly believe they have the talent to be one of the best among the modern progressive rock scene.

Real rating: 4+1/2

Favorites: "Pawn", "Shelter", and "Olandese Volante"

Update: I've removed some stuff since this review's initial publication in an effort to streamline and remove loquacity.

Update 2: Typo fixes and rephrasing were done.

Update 3: Most of the initial review was scrapped, and a new one took its place.

Update 4: Typo fixes and the addition of missing words were done.

Report this review (#2278543)
Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | Review Permalink

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