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NIL NOVO SUB SOLE

Nil

Eclectic Prog


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5 stars The new album by this French band is their 1st for the French label Unicorn Records after three self-released ones. I must say that it's a real pleasure to review this album because without any huge expectations (this was the 1st album I heard from this band) it has revealed to me to be a true masterpiece. Even though the album Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai was already considered a masterpiece by some, it is this album that really hits the bull's eye. Everything in this album is better and I feel that the band managed to take a huge step after the already excellent predecessor album. For a lover of this kind of prog there isn't really much more that could be wished. This group is playing really unique and haunting prog. Sure they have influences from many bands, like basically all bands have, but still they manage sound original. Their style is very dark (often typical for French bands) and evokes the mysticism of bands like Arachnoid. At times they also remind me of a less bombastic Anglagard and in these moments it is like the dreamy version of this Swedish band. However, this band is not exactly similar to that band and actually are quite far from that! The music is mostly instrumental but the vocals are still an important part of the music. This is also the 1st album where the female singer Roselyne Berthet is a permanent member of the band. The vocals are in French and I'm very happy that they didn't ruin it with English vocals (all prog bands should stick to their native language!).

The album opens with "Le Gardien", a 20-minute wonderful track with multiple parts. It already shows that this band manages to develop these kinds of epics fantastically. The 2nd track "Linceul" is almost completely carried with Berthet's haunting vocals and "whispers in the dark". It's very dark and I find it beautiful. The 3rd track "Deregeneration" is an instrumental (except for some haunting whispers) with some simply breathtaking moments and is the other highlight with the opening song. What an astounding track! It instantly became one of my favourite tracks of all time! Fourth track "198", also an instrumental, and a great one it is as well. After that the album continues with the excellent "Abandon" before ending with the track "Derives".

Does this album deserve a masterpiece status? It is especially easy to argue about this issue when it concerns the newer bands because most new great bands seem to carry the burden of the seventies scene. Indeed, the roots of this band are clearly in the seventies but they do spice the music with some modern influences as well. In today's world of progressive music I find this album truly essential.

Conclusion: Even though there has been many excellent prog releases in the last five years from many parts of the world, there are only a few, if any, other albums from this recent period of time that I'm willing to give full 5 stars. A masterpiece.

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Send comments to geezer (BETA) | Report this review (#47536)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is what White Willow should have become. Less melodic than Magenta. Great vocals and very interesting arrangements. Roselyne Berthet is not afraid to keep up with the load guitars and drums and holds the melodies among the noise. Long songs have a build and release format using a chorus of Berthet's overdubbed vocals to great effect. The snaking bass lines and metal crunching guitar rounding out the last three tracks are not as interesting. Very recommended.

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Send comments to BGrosjean (BETA) | Report this review (#49420)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This French band has released 3 previous albums and their preceding album was a remarkable achievement. A concept album made up of two acts over 40 minutes and without interruptions. Here Nil changes to an album made up of 6 tracks, two of which are instrumentals.

Le Gardien begins softly with a guitar playing two chords, accompanied by synth and the voice of Roselyne, the female vocalist. This goes on for 2:10 minutes and then the music becomes more dynamic and faster due to the synth speeding things up ad in come the drums and the rest of the band joins in. Roselyne does a very good job with her beautiful voice, creating some haunting melodies. Though her voice is more appropriate for plain singing in a low key, she manages to deliver the right emotions in all the ways she sings here. Le Gardien's sound and appealing sound owes it to her voice and the keyboards as well. The guitar part is good but a bit repetitive sounding, and it will change in the coming other songs. This songs spans over 20 minutes in length and as all other songs here, switches tempo and swings between slow, contemplative drum-less parts to more energetic guitar and keyboard driven parts. To me this is a beautiful song filled with much emotions, harmonies and good vocal parts. However, I suspect some might find this song boring, repetitive and going nowhere. While I can understand this criticism I do not agree with it and all I can say is that this is eventually determined by your taste and this song is to my taste. A criticism I accept about this song (which does not apply to the other songs here), is that it may sound hollow, as if it misses some more sounds filling it, like there are instruments not present, that should be. Maybe this problem could have been reslved in the making of this album. Another thing is that towards the 17th minute it sounds as if the songs ends and then it reemerges sounding like a different song altogether. This is not a problem, but why not separate it to two songs?

The second song, Linceul, is a blurry hazy song made up of a synth playing continuous chords and Roselyne speaking/singing with it. This song functions more a border between the first song and the rest of the album which is different in style and so to allow us to understand that we are about to listen to something else. It may sound as filler and to me it is not particularly interesting. It is quite short (almost 4 minutes) and in comparison with the other tracks, it should get minor attention.

Deregeneration is an instrumental and it is a more dynamic track, original with much more active guitar and keyboards. The music keeps on changing moods and shape during this one and Nil comes up with new twists and adds more flavours to it all the time. The music switches from calm and heavenly to distortion guitar lead with a scary atmosphere enhanced by the keyboards. In this track you hear well all the instruments players and their playing abilities. There is no extravaganza and bombastic playing, but rather an elegant show of capabilities. This is also true regarding the next track. This track Nil shows a slight tendency towards RIO. This is varied and original music.

198 is another instrumental and here like in the first track they begin softly and quietly without drums and they switch to a full blown song after about 40 seconds. Like in Deregeneration, the composition here is original and varied with many contradicting moods within it. In its concept it resembles the previous track and it is as good.

Abandon is a good song and has a sort of free-jazz feel in some parts. What I appreciate most here is the shifts from disharmonic to harmonic tunes, greatly aided by Roselyne's voice. The songs' ending is superbly done.

Derives is a repetitive musical part, around which the keyboards, drums and Roselyne's voice revolve and add their enriching elements to it. She only sings at the very end, when the music begins to fade. It is a fitting closing track.

Nil knows how to create captivating original and interesting music. They put in it different ingredients that seem maybe to contradict each other, but the result is excellent and the music is beautiful. This album has enriched me and given me much pleasure and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#77199)
Posted Friday, May 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It's very hard for me not to give this 5 stars. After some more listens I may change the rating, you never know. This is beautiful, dark, haunting music with some amazing drumming and guitar work. The ethereal vocals of Roselyne Berthet only add to the atmosphere of this incredible album. Her vocals remind me of Synne Larsen's from IN THE WOODS... There is mellotron as well which only makes this even more ominous sounding.

"Le Gardien" opens with haunting synths with acoustic guitar as the female French vocals come in.Then there is a quirky sort of melody that reminds me of ANGLAGARD.This is followed by a big change in the sound.The vocals sound great as does the melody.The tempo and mood shifts continue as a dark, subdued mood moves in including mellotron. A tasteful guitar solo comes in after 14 minutes that goes on and on. Vocals are back late in the song. "Linceul" is a dark and ominous tune with vocals, synths and some brief piano, all moving very slowly.

"Deregeneration" is my favourite song on the album. It's an instrumental masteriece with mellotron and synths playing almost all the time. Organ and drums become the backdrop for the grinding guitar melodies. Keys replace the guitar as mellotron waves crash the scene. The guitar comes back and it's angry as we hear it rip it up ! Some riffing followed by wailing guitars as mellotron flows in. Some powerful guitar is followed by more mellotron. What a song ! Vocal melodies and some odd metered drumming arrive before the song starts to brighten after 11 minutes.This is caused by some uplifting guitar as drums pound away. Nice. Flute before this one ends. Whew ! "198" is an instrumental. Lots of energy a minute in with some incredible guitar playing too. Mellotron is back. Or did it not leave ?

"Abandon" opens with drums and vocals that give it a jazzy feel. A definite change in the vocals and mood though follows. Piano comes in then heavy guitar, then piano comes back. What a moody song ! "Derives" has this backgound of synths that comes in waves as the drums pound out a steady beat. The vocal melodies are cool. She actually starts to slowly sing after 5 minutes to end the song.

I just love this style of music. It has emotion, it's dark and the vocals fit perfectly. I really can't see how they can top this one !

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#125705)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars NIL's fourth studio album Nil Novo Sub Sole is ''Nothing New Under The Sun'' - that's literally the case here: As expected after it's marvelous predecessor, Nil has made again an absolutely stunning album - Nothing new under the sun - it wouldn't be a surprice for anybody who have heard the Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai. And just like the predecessors, this albums quality reaches also the sleeve that is a beautiful work of Samuel Maurin. But unlike the predecessors overhelming atmosphere in the principle theme, gigantic and pseudo-chaotic stucture of the album, here NIL takes a quite different direction for the album consists of six songs, of which ''Le Gardien'' would be the main work with it's twenty minutes length:

1. Le Gardien

''With the apogee of a civilization, the wheels of the madness await only one occasion to engage and release humanity...''

The song is composed together from seven individual parts, telling the tale of the end of the civilization, the end of the humanity... At once the music begins with Les Faits after the Prelude, you notice the dark pressure they're at and as soon as they begin the presentation of wacky song developing, you're certain of the great complexity of NIL as ever, it's just the same - you cannot get grip on it, for it's so tricky - you're almost there, you almost get it but not just quite! The French language gives it another complex tone for it's more hard to follow a song this big if you don't get a word of the lyrics! For a while consecutive, twisted parts roll over you and you think this is a masterpiece like the mighty predecessor which it certainly is! The song remains in slow tempo representing tricks, theme changes and Roselyne's dark howl until the time of about 7 minutes when the song starts to take more sturdy form, direction, then slowly turning into a long rise and you'll getting a brilliant upward ride! Until the last part Post/prelude sums it all up, like a collage of the song themes, melodies and rhythms used.

2. Linceul

''Waked up with the caress of the winds, Its naked body does not tremble, It cries. A deaf noise thunders in wood... The heavy shower, its tears, its shroud. Its cold tears, its paleness....''

Le Linceul, a song of the dead is a vocal masterpiece of Roselyne Berthet with a minimal background of atmospheric keyboards and few piano notes. It's slow, very dark and incredibly beautiful haunting melody creating some odd harmonies that make you lay back and Feel the song, feel the stimulative vibrations in the back of your brain. Delectable! This song balances the album and it's forthcoming instrumentals like

3. Dérégénération

''The Universe will be empty, desperately empty''

Deregeneration is a stunning instrumental that smashes your brains out already at the beginning with a dark and energetic entry! Here this incredibly talented group is on their own playground amusing themselves with a multithematic, twisted prog floating from beautiful, slow moments into smashing, powerful, heavy bursts of prog I've never heard before! This song represents greatly the richness of these compositions and group - brilliant ideas are almost wasted here! For example at time 9:42 comes a stunning bass-riff-rhythm-thing, a total blow-out, lasting only 10 seconds! A lesser band would have made a whole album from that! The universe is empty because this song has sucked it up!

4. 198

''The ground will fall, the sky to tear, and the stars will be inclined...''

Another instrumental of the album, 198 arrives slowly... with a dark feeling and a hint of explosion. And the explosion comes, for this is a total killer track! NIL goes to aggressive, dark territory like never before, maintaining the incredible interplay and complexity that actually takes the lead... and NIL is more stunning than ever! I almost cry every time when listen this song! Cry for craftmanship! Cry for the emotions it delivers! How the hell can anybody create this brilliant music! After 198 it might be a good time to take a break, cos' you'll be exhausted!

5. Abandon

''Iron enters my flesh, opens to me and exposes me naked, Streaming of sweats... Crying what I have one day believed...''

Abandon takes a lead with Roselyne's dark vocals, frightening beauty, despair and hints of explosion, again... and there it goes, slowly turning from shivering dark beauty and elegance to more powerful, aggressive brilliance! This track is the same as the preceeding instrumentals, but added with an extra instrument delivering extra feelings: vocals... The beauty of Nil's music is very hard to describe, but if you see a beauty in math for example, you may know what I'm after. Or open a swiss pocket watch or some other complex apparatus for instance - you may admire the craftmanship how all the cogwheels are joined together and how all those little pieces can work together, but break it apart and you'll never could assembe it again... The ending of this song is the most brilliant ever: a sudden STOP of every instrument leaving only a note of piano behinnnnnnn....

6. Derives

''The city falls asleep, the lights waver... Each life dies out without a future. Wounded sparkles, a deathly hush...''

Derives is the closer track to show some composing skills of the group. From the very beginning a strong rhytmically thematic multilayered music takes you within and begins to change and develop taking you from layer to layer with your head spinning from confusement till you get it, and then granting some orgastic moments: The song starts with a short repetitive theme represented by bass and guitar together followed by the other instruments accepting the rhythm and theme still being somewhat tentative and hesitating. Within a minute all settles down and the theme begins to work... But suddenly keyboards announce a contradiction and there emerge some doubts; a new fretless bass joins in and guitar puts a new riff in, a rival theme and drums are lost... it's all breaking apart till near two minutes they click together, only drums are still hesitating till it all melts into perfect harmony lifting the listener to clouds! But as soon as the common theme is found a new bass rushes in and a third one and you are in heaven! But not for long! Nil does it always: As soon as you think this brilliant pleasure goes on forever, it stops. And so it does here too - all the instruments turn to silence except ethereal keybs... and suddenly the theme and rhythm comes back with high operatic soprano voice of Roselyne! It's one of the greatest moments of musical history! Then the music slowly fades away leaving only some quiet quitar pickin and keyboards for at least three Roselynes to take care of a beautiful ending of the song.

Conclusion

When you go to NIL You'll have to purify your mind - There's no such music or band already - Don't waste your time in searching for relatives or references - just enjoy this very complex and brilliant music performed in such a quality and manner one can only hope for. These songs are so full of tricks in compositions and in playing they'll never going to bore you. They're for example messing with things that doesn't exist: They first make you think that after something comes something else, and then it doesn't! A howling guitar solo becomes a secondary for the peculiar bass pattern... These songs are full of details to find. And Nil has this amazing ability to throw some themes into the air where they float for a moment, may change a bit, may fade away for a moment and then come back to unite into the other themes, collaborating into a perfect harmony... and the ultimate pleasure is granted! All in all, this was easier album than Quarante for it's song oriented way of intercome, but don't get me wrong, still this is one of the most difficult and complex records there is and takes some time to get it! This one only did show better the brilliance of it all that is still partly hiding in Sinai! And if the predecessor is one of the greatest moments in progressive rock ever, so is this: NIL has made another Utter Masterpiece of progressive rock!

Nil has announced in their website they're on to a new record that should be available before 2010 - almost five years is a displeasingly long time to wait for a new album! Fortunately one cannot get enough from a Nil album in 5, or even in 10 years, so I happily wait it with great expectations while playing their older albums with please.

[Reference: The Album with a help of Babel Fish and Eurotranslator]

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Send comments to Nilman (BETA) | Report this review (#168993)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an album I've just stumbled upon and absolutely blown away by! Having just read all of the reviewers above, I have nothing really new to add except for "ditto" to all of the kudos and superlatives lavished upon this group--and that I agree: there really is no one else out there that this is really like (though there are obvious KING CRIMSON influences). Amazing song writing, amazing performances and virtuoso instrument playing and singing! I am especially fond of the two longest pieces, "Le Guardien" and "Dérégénération," but find myself playing over and over the last song, "Dérives," cuz it reminds me so of KC's amazing skill and discipline as displayed on their "DIscipline" LP.

"Le Guardien" is a prog masterpiece that uses the extraordinary voice of Roselyne Berthet as another key instrument in the magical weave. This song surpasses any and all standards I've held prog rock to before. 10/10

"Linceul" is a haunting, beautiful, theatric song in which Roselyne Berthet's beautiful voice is accompanied by only a very slow synthesizer arpeggio from the lower (bass) registers and, later, single notes from the upper octaves of a piano and synthesizer. This song feels to me like the 'calm between the storms' or the 'eye of the hurricane.' 10/10

"Dérégénération" is an instrumental that masterfully weaves together the sensitive and virtuoso play of the four instrumentalists. The electric guitars vascilate between sounding like Robert Fripp's edgiest to Steve Howe's shredderest. The drums are BRUFORDish, The Chapman stick is barely treated and, thus, sometimes shallow--could be 'fatter'--but always the most melodic and anchoring sound. The keyboard playing and sound choices are unusual and multiferous, with an almost-church-like organ being the only constant. An awesome song that grows on you with repeated listenings. 9/10

"198" is another instrumental founded on a rather banal drum-supported keyboard arpeggio, but actually only hits full stride and once the keyboard riff is shed. The song, however, never really seems to be able to fully climb out of its kind of standard metal format--in fact, sounds as if it could be a RIVERSIDE or AYREON song. 6/10

"Abandon" sees the band returning to its own form: odd, shifting time signatures, alternating spaciousness with KING CRIMSON-like moments of frenzy and dissonance--and the return of vocals--though the vocals here are less like the band's fifth instrument and more like the French torch song singer's lyrical display. Wonderful singing and theatric presentation--not unlike some WITHIN TEMPTATION, EPICA, or NIGHTWISH song presentations. It makes me want to listen and figure out what she's singing about. The song has a lot of timing, tempo, and dynamic shifts and strangely benefits from the central section's "Exoricist"-like piano arpeggio and odd/eerie keyboard sounds. The intended overall effect is somewhat lost on me, but who cares! I just love listening to all of the many layers of interesting sounds and riffs. Great prog dénouement/ending! 8/10

"Dérives," like an ANEKDOTEN song, is not the most exciting musical journey, but can be extremely rewarding if one pays attention to all of its subtleties. The beautiful bass melody and keyboard washes begin to carry you away as you listen to all of the subtle nuances and flourishes occurring over the top. And then bang! It's over and you're mystierously left with the last minute of in which Roselyne's voice seems to be washing you off. "Donnes-moi"! I just play this song over and over and over! What a trip! 10/10

Five stars for this true masterpiece of progressive music. More music like this, please! More, more, MORE!

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#288064)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Nil is a far too obscure modern prog band from France that mixes some of my favourite tastes in prog: the spaceyness of Floyd, the quirky song development of VDGG and the fascinating dark guitar progressions of King Crimson. There's a hint of free jazz improvisation and everything is firmly held together by the daunting hand of Zeuhl.

The band displays a daring ambition and confidence right from the start. After a gentle intro, Le Garden goes for a very avant-garde type of rock that veers off in all sorts of directions. The female vocalist sings very original and jazzy vocal lines, not as weird as those from Magma but they sure don't make the music any easier to digest. The interplay between all musicians is very dynamic and original. After a reprise of the intro with some very Gentle Giant alike parts with dazzling musical interplay, an emotionally charged space-rock part follows that captivates us wit its entrancing dark mood for a good 7 minutes.

The dreamy Linceul allows us to catch our breath. It forms quite a contrast with the unsettling harsh intro of Erégenération, a track that explores the cold and dissonant sound of King Crimson's late 90's material, also known as the ProjecKt albums. The band balances it with more laid-back atmospheric and spacey sections, but generally this track is very urgent and frantic.

198 is one of the most aggressive pieces on the album. It sounds very much like the alien rock of Guapo and Nebelnest, offering similar dark and challenging avant-garde rock that borders on RIO. Nil have that little melodic extra that might make them a good introduction to this style for more melodic oriented listeners. Abandon is more gentle and jazzy, featuring those slightly unusual but tasty vocals. Also Dérives refrains from aggression and lets us submerge into this bands exceptional feel for dark space soundscapes.

If you are sceptical about the existence of challenging, intense and explorative music in our 21st schizoid century, then this album should convince you otherwise. It's a most challenging listen, but one that has turned out to be one of the greatest of the many discoveries I made on PA during the past year. So it's not without reason I kept this one in the closet to celebrate my 1000th and last PA review, for now...

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#288718)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really love this album!!!!!

I was listening to a prog radio station online and I heard "deregeneration" and immediately thought "woah I have to pick up this record!"

Everything you love about KC, notch up the pace a bit, plus great vocals. I think I'm falling in love with Roselyne, her voice is like an angel..

The fluidity of the French language adds great flavour to the sound of the music.

Undoubtedly a group of talented musicians - lots of creativity and attention to detail in this one! My favourite tracks are Dérégénération, 198, and Abandon.

I feel only one weakness (if you can call it that) - every track is very dark.

Excellent excellent ++. The band deserves recognition!

4 and a half!

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Send comments to Kassimatis (BETA) | Report this review (#299347)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Guldbamsen (BETA) | Report this review (#653785)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2012 | Review Permalink

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