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Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars The PiNioL world flooded with confusion and revolution. Needless to say, a new combo PiNioL were founded as a joint venture project by two French avantgarde rock act PoiL and ni. We've waited for their debut creation "Bran Coucou", finally that was released officially upon April 27, 2018. Already via their bandcamp we could listen to their sample "Pilon Bran Coucou" full of PoiL's cynical soundscape and ni.'s speedy, violent sound attack, and the album "Bran Coucou" has never deceived our massive expectation. Firstly the sleeve with crazy psychedelia in the design of the pics should knock us out completely. And yes, their songs upon the album sound more and more avantgarde, complicated, and delicious, pleasant for us.

The first explosion "Pilon Bran Coucou" is deeply condensed, definitely essential without expression. In this track are lots of powerful, fruitful melodic / rhythmic phrases seasoned with mischievous, jokey flavour, and amazingly all of them should be harmonized and crystallized without any deviation. Even their words / voices full of meaningless madness can be addictive really. Repetitive psychedelic footsteps let us dance over and fall down. Painful sound dissonance is rather than enjoyable for the audience. Followed by "Pogne" that would be more and more flexible and dissected. We can feel of something dangerous, critical via the former part of this track. In the latter are much rhythmic voice percussion, quite danceable (it's a liar). Even dreamy, sensitive texture e.g. in "Mimolle" sounds a tad of another dimension. Such a creativity of theirs can ring our bell, obviously. On the other hand, "Sh' Shin" is sorta mysterious stuff. It has apparent magic all around, for every fan. Sorry I cannot hear precisely but they sing vaguely in Japanese, and this atmosphere swaying to and fro should be charming I guess.

Their sound development might be effective for release of our inner mind. We PiNioL lovers as surrealistic voyagers, would like departure from our customary music scene. For an hour, we can fly away from such a ceremonious turf. Do enjoy.

Report this review (#1920646)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2018 | Review Permalink
Eclectic/PSIKE/JRF-Cant Teams
5 stars This writer usually tries to curb his enthusiasm when it comes to rating and reviewing new releases to allow for a cooling off period. It's not unusual to find myself coming to a slightly different conclusion about an album months, or even as short as weeks down the road . But the 2018 release of Piniol's debut album, Bran Coucou, demands attention. It has been eagerly anticipated by many in the RIO community. Unfortunately, I found myself in the dark regarding this release until quite recently. What a pleasant surprise to find out that this project was in the works.

Piniol is the conglomeration of French trio Poil, and French quartet Ni. For those familiar with the two source bands that comprise this ensemble it would come as no surprise that the sound produced by this project is large-and-in-charge. Poil's most recent album Brossaklit, contains an absurd density of music considering it's coming from just three players. Being only human, I find it absolutely impossible to not put expectations on something that I'm about to listen to when I have a known variable involved. But knowing how much sound Poil can generate made it virtually impossible to anticipate what I was in for with Piniol and the addition of Ni's performers. As I listen to the first half of the album, I did not fully grasp everything that was going on. I suppose this should not have been unexpected. For all the complexities of the musicianship in the aforementioned Poil album, there was quite a bit of it that was vocal driven. Bran Coucou has far more texturized vocal background than the in-your-face nature of Poil's vocals.

The sound is big and loud in most sections, but contains an astounding number of subtleties, particularly in the department of interwoven rhythms. I had commented elsewhere, partially tongue-in-cheek, that this was the album I've been waiting 20 years for Meshuggah to produce. Usually a comparison to that particular band will scare most people away. But it should be made clear that there's absolutely no vocal similarity and the opacity of instrumental distortion is comparatively quite subdued to allow clarity of instrumental rhythm complexity. And this is absolutely essential considering there are two drummers two bass players and two guitarist to go along with keyboards. No, this album is heavy, complex, and bone jarring, without all the grating aspects (growling, screaming or impenetrable distortion) of the compared to Swedes.

Bran Coucou is easily the best album the first half of 2018 and will be really tough for anything else to beat for the remainder of the year. It's the kind of album that's likely to remain in my play rotation for years to come. And extra credit for being my retroactive gateway to the works of Ni. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#1931859)
Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Featuring the current members of French bands PoiL, Ni., and Lunatic Toys, "Bran Coucou" is a long awaited debut album by PinioL from Lion, France. PinioL is a septet composed of two autonomous power-trios which are bound into the tight ensemble by a free conductor-keyboardist. From the very first movement in music, it becomes clear that these guys came to deliver complex, dense, ultra polyphonic and polyrhythmic, violent, loud and heavy Avant-Prog-Metal. The instrumental parts with multiple traces of RIO, Zeuhl, Art-Core, Math-Metal, Noise-Jazz, and other musical traditions are accompanied by gibberish singing which adds freakishly positive madness to the entire show. Don't be led astray by smooth and smarmy preludes or passages. This is a tough thing from the beginning to the end. But adventurous and open-minded music lovers will be rewarded for sure. If you enjoy brutal, deviant, and surreal Avant-Prog-Metal, "Bran Coucou" is a must have for you. P.S. Absolutely agree with the view that "Bran Coucou" is the best album (best of "Underground Prog") of the first half of 2018. Cheers to PinioL and Dur Et Doux label!
Report this review (#1939679)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's all the rave, combining two bands--this time two well-respected avant garde trios from France. The result of all the hype and anticipation is highly entertaining, mind-bogglingly complex, if sometimes a little drawn out and formulaic. I hear a lot of SONAR-like Math Rock in this music, despite the amazingly fun and surprisingly fitting made-up language (a Zeuhl version of Japanese?) vocals. The first half is highly engaging and then it gets a little old.

1. "Pilon Bran Coucou" (14:02) controlled chaos. It's even melodic and highly engaging! And what musicianship! (9.25/10)

2. "Pogne" (7:15) odd time signature with some catchy melodies and wild fake-Japanese-Zeuhl vocals. It's awesome! (9.5/10)

3. "Mimolle" (4:29) avant even math rock in its rhythm section, the tremolo picked guitar in the opening section speaks "Post Rock" a la MONO, but then things go totally Avant Math Rock in the second minute. As it builds and wails into a frenzy, the music just sucks you in (instead of repelling). (10/10)

4. "Sh' Shin" (14:37) is this song just a Hamiltonian set up for an American swear word? (MF/WTF) (Who knows if the pseudo-Japanese is also of a similar extraction and meaning?) (8.5/10)

5. "Fran'ois 1er" (9:11) the bonny king is an historical favorite of mine, so my first listen to this comes with expectations: (It better be good!) Slow, sliding tremolo guitars pan across our listening horizon before synth, basses, and drums enter and establish a slow methodical rhythm track. At 2:30 a guitar steps forward as a "lead" instrument--but it's all SONAR-like Math Rock weave. (Though I hear SEVEN IPALE and KARNIVOOL in this song as well.) Maybe I've been spoiled by the opening song, but this one feels too sedate or as if it never gets off the ground--they just keep testing the engine and special features/apps. (8.5/10)

6. "Kerberos" (6:05) the band has gotten too tight and too formulaic--the subtleties and idiosyncracies (other than a few belly laughs and xylophone sounds) are all but absent from this one. (8/10)

7. "Orbite" (12:05) slow and very sparse for the first four and a half minutes, it's not until the nonsense pseudo- Japanaese vocals enter that something really interesting begins to happen--and even then it's minimal progress. At 6:20 we finally get some power, some force, some energy and emotion as bass and guitars bash out some heavy chords and metallic arpeggi. I'm reminded of something from King Crimson's Red/Starless period, but this is a little too drawn out. Still, it is better in the second half. (8.5/10)

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music. Adventurous as it begins, it becomes a bit too formulaic and predictable.

Report this review (#1999253)
Posted Friday, August 24, 2018 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Eclectic Team
5 stars PinioL have been one of the most anticipated new bands to appear out of the hugely entertaining Lyon scene. There are so many bands combining the same pool of musicians its often dizzying to keep up but even within that when it was heard that PoiL & ni had combined to produce a 'supergroup' the avant scene got quite giddy to say the least.

As you would expect with type of combination you get two guitarists, two bassist, two drummers to go with one keyboardist. This line up produces a much more groove based sound compared to their parent groups who are more punky and vocal based. They tend to focus on getting into a groove and driving it with increasing and reducing energy levels.

Loads of fun and one of the most addictive albums of the year.

Report this review (#2080373)
Posted Sunday, December 2, 2018 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars This 2018 debut (and so far, only) release from septet PiNioL was the result of two bands who were both working in the same area of RIO-oriented progressive rock coming together as one, namely the trio PoiL and the quartet ni. This means we get more duplication in certain areas than is normal, so while two guitarists is common, and two drummers not too out of place, it is certainly unusual (although not unheard of) for there to be two bassists in the same band. Keyboard player Antoine Arnera must find it quite lonely not having a mate to play with although he makes up for it by also providing lead vocals, and five of the other guys also provide backing vocals.

This is avant garde music, challenging, yet to my ears also strangely inviting and compelling. It is jagged, abrasive, complex yet beautiful with sharp edges. Even though there are many singers in the band they are quite content to go off on long instrumental passages as they channel Art Zoyd, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Present and so many more into something almost indefinable. The two drummers are having a blast at the back, often matching each other stoke for stroke, providing that intensity which only comes from having two drummers (something which both Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan full understood in the heyday of ELO, which is why he always double-tracked his drums). Often staccato, with mathcore also having an influence, this is unsettling music as the band(s) refuse to accept any compromise and keep pushing boundaries while also having their own rigour around what is the correct way forward.

The result is an album which can only lead to listeners asking one question, 'when is the next one?'

Report this review (#2408124)
Posted Saturday, May 30, 2020 | Review Permalink

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