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NeBeLNeST - NoVa eXPReSS  CD (album) cover

NOVA EXPRESS

NeBeLNeST

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Greger
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars When I was hearing the young French band NeBeLNeST for the first time, I instantly understood that they have to be one of the most interesting avant-garde progressive rock bands today. "Nova Express" is actually their second album, but unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to hear that album. My first thought was that they had reminiscences to KING CRIMSON, but without being clones. Later on I could also hear similarities to MAGMA, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, MATS & MORGAN, THINKING PLAGUE, UNIVERS ZERO. The music is energetic and intricate with intense drum playing masterly performed by Michael Anselmi. His one of the most interesting drummers I've heard recently. All the members are highly technical top musicians and the album is not surprisingly released on one of my three favorite labels: Cuneiform Records. Without doubt one of the best releases this year.

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#5079)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Nebelnest's second album, while the logical continuity of their musical quest of the debut album, the surprise is gone and the group fails to explore new avenues as if their universe has shrunk to their neighbourhood. The same two themes (space and mythology) are again explored, but as the outside-gatefold artwork clearly indicates the space looks artificial (the fake electric effect supposed to represent a sun in full eruption) and the very real pictures of Mayan divinities screaming for vengeance and reeking violence are evident. As if roaming in the pre-determined perimeter meant finding the grunge/gunk of the gutter and the underworld of the sewer system.

Don't get me wrong, this album is not a carbon copy, but you are undoubtedly in the same vein, even if some tracks are harder edged (in this regard, a kinship with Guapo is obvious), but where the real difference occurs in the production. Rawer recordings, crisper sound, un-produced and aggressive drumming (this is close to Don Caballero's second album, but without the magic of that album), this nihilistic "prog" is close to an industrial unfinished state. The veer sheer heaviness and violence of the music makes this album very much of a "all or nothing" trip, either finding your deep-buried angst and has your roving along, or you find yourself completely repulsed by it of even crushed under the racket/chaos.

However, differentiating itself from the debut is the "songwriting" (if you can call it that), where it was mostly absent in the debut album, here there are sketches of songs (shall we say composed parts?), but the total lack of melody (not that their debut had much more of that) is certainly not making it easily accessible. Only the title track gats grace to my eyes, but it's little surprise as it is really the one that comes closest to their debut album

A good comparison would be Anekdoten's first two albums: if the debut (Vemod) was filled with moody but energetic power (a very charming and universe-defining album), the second (Nucleus) is struggling to go beyond the outer perimeter and builds up in anger and inevitably it evolves in violence. Well, the same comparison is valid for Nebelnest's first two albums so far. I wouldn't really call Nova Express essential, and certainly would not refer you to that one. A much more difficult album, but I'm not sure it will ever be more rewarding than the debut.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#5080)
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars NeBeLNeST's second effort 'Nova Express' is their best so far. The frenzy energy feels less massive here, but by no means it is subsided: the fact is, that same energy is spread out through the repertoire so in its own not-too-hideous way, NebeLNeST's fire keep itself burning at the same level of intense heat. The skills are also as excellent as they were shown in their debut album, yet it's fair to point out that the ensemble sound is more polished and the compositional work is more refined. You can tell that from the first two tracks (my two personal faves, by the way): the work on the complexity and changes of rhythm patterns and the interplay between guitar and synth, well sustained by a very focused drum/bass foundation, are symptoms that these guys spent more time devoted to the writing process. It doesn't mean that the jamming is significantly diminished, it's just that there is an increased sense of order working here, allowing the powerful sonic deliveries of NeBeLNeST to become more solidly "orchestrated". More than orchestrated, I would say, diverse. The openere 'Blackmail' kicks off with a pulsating electric piano-based motif, very Can-ish indeed. Once the opening motif is over, follows a series of dark passages delieverd with total energy, going from the most incendiary RIO a-la Present to the densest ambiences a-la "Starless and Bible Black"-era KC, with added touches of Ozric Tentacles-inspired electronic textures. A special mention goes to Gregory Tejedor, whose bass lines steal most of the limelight in many of the track's various sections. Its 9 1/2 minutes just pass by fluidly while the listener allows himself to become mesmerized by the ordained sonic magma that surrounds him across the air. The more concise 'Stimpy Bar' focuses on disturbingly dissonant polyphonics on a mid-tempo pace. Olivier Tejedor's job is even more prominent, since he gets more space for some solos that rival with Malderez's ever-punchy guitar; Olivier also gets the chance to expand his efforts by adding some avant-garde jazz touches into the band's spectre (the latter factor reminds be a bit of "Udu Wudu"-era Magma). I find 'Redrum' and 'Cinema 1920' the most sinister numbers of the album, almost Gothic at times, always keeping that revived "Starless and Bible Black"-feel that the guys of NeBeLNeST undoubtedly worship. 'Redrum' comprises explosive build-ups to consecutive climaxes, the last one being a brief tribal closure.'Cinema 1920' is the least complex number in the album, but as I stated before, its compellingly sinister nature stops it from being unnoticed between the longer tracks. The closing namesake track is mainly an extended jam, a strong reminder of the dominating spirit of their debut: the ideas flow over a solid rhythmic dynamics that continuously feeds the guitar and keyboard inputs. Definitely, a track build on the spirit of teh debut album but delivered with the extra energy that is essential to the whole new album. The final section is epic, in a disturbing approach. A prog masterpiece of our times... from my current favourite prog act from France.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#5081)
Posted Tuesday, June 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Take King Crimson's Red move the time scale forward by 30 years, increase the complexity of the music, triple the speed and energy, subtract vocals and most strong melodies, voila you've got Nebelnest's Nova Express.

The album opens up with a song called Blackmail. Half way through the song I am thinking... if an army of huge scaly monsters crept out of a volcano and were slowly marching down on humanity then this would definitely be the background music.

Familiar sounding instruments and tones: moogs, Red era John Wetton style ripping bass, machine gun drums.

Takes time and effort to appreciate this album. If you persevere then the payoff is huge. I would suggest minimum of 5 sittings with full concentration. After reaching the point of familiar appreciation, the classic prog. records such as Close to the edge or Thick as a brick (both of which I love) feel and sound like kindergarten music.

Completely rooted in 21st century but gently swayed with the winds from 1970's.

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Send comments to spleenache (BETA) | Report this review (#89873)
Posted Sunday, September 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is outstanding instrumental music from France. I would describe their music as dark, complex Avant-garde music with the drums and bass being the most upfront in their sound. Bob Drake from THINKING PLAGUE recorded, mixed and mastered this album. He and band mate Mike Johnson get a thankyou in the liner notes, as well as PRESENT's Roger Trigaux. A good comparison to NEBELNEST's sound would be GUAPO's "Five Suns" album. A real bonus for me on this album is the abundance of mellotron.

In "Blackmail" the drums are outfront and leading the way while the bass and guitar are simply outstanding. Check out the mellotron though ! Some great atmosphere to this song too. Amazing 9 1/2 minute opener. "Stimpy Bar" is incredible as the mellotron absolutely soaks this song. Interesting sound early then the drums come pounding in with the bass. I like the way the guitar plays over top. The drumming is ridiculously good. It settles before 3 minutes and when the mellotron floods back in after 3 minutes and it reminds me of the great ANEKDOTEN. It brightens somewhat after 4 minutes then the mellotron storm returns. Incredible !

"Redrum" might be the best track on here. It has a spooky intro with lots of dark atmosphere. Mellotron waves blow in before the drums start to pound away. Bass and guitar join in the fray. Some fat bass here. More mellotron 4 minutes in as it calms down some. Killer drumming 5 1/2 minutes in and another calm a minute later. Check out the mellotron 7 1/2 minutes in as it pulses. The bass is huge as the guitar plays over top. ANEKDOTEN comes to mind here as well. I'm not worthy ! "Cinema 1920" features relentless drums and raw sounding guitar. Oh yeah and some growly bass. Keyboards in this one too. The title track is the 15 1/2 minute closer. It opens with an ominous 2 minute intro. That melody stops then different sounds come and go including some weird noises. Drums and a melody return after 4 minutes. Mellotron before 5 1/2 minutes with some nice bass. Check out the drumming that follows ! The guitar makes some noise 6 1/2 minutes in then turns angular. Mellotron 8 minutes in. The song continues to go back and forth. It's chaotic 12 minutes in. This is such a ride. Actually the whole album is.

This is such a find for me, it's dark and heavy with mellotron. What more could you ask for ?

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#102298)
Posted Saturday, December 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tapfret
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars How to use a Mellotron

This is one of those rare "buy on a whim" purchases based only on the retailer website description. It is even rarer to be completely blown away by such a purchase. Nova Express is one of those few albums that made me feel that everything else has led up to this. Nebelnest incorporates elements of virtually every progressive sub-genre in a thick instrumental stew of aural dark matter.

Perhaps the strongest element of Nebelnest is keyboardist Olivier Tejedor. His style is a retrograde blast of piano, church organ and Mellotron with a hint of Moog squares and saws. Its his sounds that harken back to the symphonic days. The tasteful yet exuberant slightly overdriven bass of his brother Gregory combine a style of deep smashing chord and octave sounds with surgically precise walking lines. The most modern sound that comes from Nebelnest is the powerful drumming of Michael Anselmi. The beats, never overly complex, range from slow and deliberate to almost hardcore thrash beats to pedestrian, all the while holding true to the overall message in the composition. Guitarist Cyril Malderez adds further width to the sound with frantic chord patterns fused together with atonal noisemaking and spacey echoes, all equating to a timeless, extraterrestrial sound. The recording and mix of the album is typically lower volume (a disclaimer is even printed in the liner) so as to prevent distortions in post-production and encourage all the instruments to hold equal footing.

The feel of Nova Express is DARK, VERY DARK (but not Metal dark). The opening track, Black Mail opens by scaring the listener into thinking the album is going to be much more mainstream than it will turn out to be. The up tempo pedestrian beat is is eventually cut through with craggy guitar morphing to a tremello sound as the band settles into their spacey darkness with crushing bass undertones. The album wavers little in its opacity from that point forward, conveying in musical terms the vastness and oppresive vacuum of space, while retaining the beauty of its cosmic completeness.

When comparing sounds to find a frame of reference for Nova Express, it is not hard to think of King Crimson when considering its textures. Nebelnest does not display the individual technicality of King Crimson, nor do they venture far into KC's improv territory on Nova Express. The musicians are very composition and texture driven.

This is a very essential part of my collection, an easy 5 stars.

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Send comments to Tapfret (BETA) | Report this review (#143279)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This French quartet can COOK! NeBeLNeST's second album, NoVa eXPReSS, just might be my favorite prog album to come out in the last ten years.

NeBeLNeST's sounds mixes a range of progressive styles. One thing that I find interesting about this band is that it seems that each member of the band was a fan of a different style of music. The keyboardist clearly was influenced by symphonic rock, and he is not afraid to let it show in his mellotron (!) parts. The guitarist seems to be largely influenced by psych/space rock, evidenced by his use of every stomp box imaginable except distortion. The drums reek of heavy metal influence, complete with (subtle and tasteful, not machine-gun) double-kick and roaring fills. The distorted and rolling bass shows a zeuhl influence. What is most remarkable, though, is the way it all blends together in one cohesive whole.

The music is dominated by the rhythm section, as the aforementioned rolling distorted bass and heavy-metal drums run you over with the melody section going nuts on top. If you are looking for beautiful, hummable, and uplifting melodies, look elsewhere, as everything EXCEPT that is represented by the band. The bass and drums just pound away in constantly shifting patterns, seemingly unable to repeat themselves more than once. Every time signature you can imagine is used on this album, but it is done so with startling ease; I had listened to this album several times before I even realized that the music was in odd time sigs.

This album actually manages to stand out with its production. Ordinarily, I don't care much about production, but the production on this album is good enough to make me notice. There are only a handful of albums that I think have a true "atmosphere" to them, and this is one of them. Despite all of the rapid twists and turns he puts into the album, Bob Drake managed to maintain remarkable consistency in the overall "feel" of the album.

This album single-handedly restored hope for me that the world was still producing good music. I cannot recommend this album highly enough to anyone who is a King Crimson fan (particularly the Red-era), an RIO fan, or simply someone looking to hear something you haven't heard before. If you are looking for a symphonic orgy of melody, this is not the place. Otherwise, you owe it to yourself to hear these guys.

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Send comments to rileydog22 (BETA) | Report this review (#152984)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I had high hopes for this album due to the great reviews that I've read about this particular release. I must have played this album at least 5-6 times before acknowledging that this just wasn't the type of music that I am capable of appreciating to its fullest.

Although the compositions have a great deal of ideas and skilled playing I tend to feel that this band is missing that little extra that would take them from the realm of an average Prog/Avant-garde band to become one of the best original acts out there. One possible reason for this is that I tend to prefer bands that put much greater effort in writing great compositions and are not necessarily the most skilled musicians out there i.e. Genesis, Pink Floyd, The Residents etc. I mean, there is just so much you can do with the instrumental work before the listener becomes tired of the same jam work shamelessly recycled on one track after the other.

Although I have no real objection to NEBELNEST's current direction non of these compositions are memorable enough to even make me remotely interested in exploring their future output which is really a pity. I'm sure that there are enough supporters of this type of music out there that can fill in the void left by my absence from the band's fan base.

**** star songs: BLaCKMaiL (9:35) ReDRuM (11:03) CiNeMa 1920 (5:00) NoVa eXPReSS (15:32)

*** star songs: STiMPy BaR (5:12)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#258614)
Posted Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
5 stars I have to join the ranks of praise for this space-zeuhl-drone-rock masterpiece. Nebelnest is the product of a collision between King Crimson and Magma that took place in the deepest outskirts of space back in 1974. At least that's what this sounds like, so forceful are their rhythms and heavily pulsating bass, so chilling are their chromatic guitar riffing and eerie keyboard sounds.

Nebelnest continues in the vein of the darker sound of Anekdoten's 90's albums. Especially the instrumentals on the excellent Live In Japan come to mind. Also the avant-garde of Univers Zero is a welcome influence in their nebula, but Nebelnest sure rocks a whole lot harder. Closest of all is of course the blasting avant-rock of Guapo.

Nebelnest don't write your average pleasant rock song. If you look for melodic splendour and tunes you can hum along with, you won't find them here. Their long instrumental suites are driven by the rhythmic energy and muscular bass guitar. Layers of dissonant keyboards, mellotron and guitar flippertronics complete the anxiety attack. The production is perfect for their music, very organic, rocking and harsh. Despite the battery of keyboards the sound remains solid and raw, the atmosphere is dark and alien.

Nova-Express is a perfect modern prog trip, it's intense, bleak and nihilistic, but at the same time it's energizing, inspiring and full of vibrating creativity. Not for everyone obviously, but highly recommended if the above description and bands doesn't frighten you away.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#281936)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Second NEBELNEST album, possibly, most representative for their sound. Dark, almost with Magma-influenced rhythms and cold totalitarian atmosphere, at the same time this album contains plenty of different elements, as metal guitars, symphonic keyboards and even jazzy drumming.

Very professional, well balanced, but as often with French bands with over-arranged and too polished sound, music which I can accept by mind, but it doesn't stick with me. Not real zeuhl, avant-jazz or chamber music, there is all in one for everyone's taste.

Still sounds too empty for me, more external sound constructions, but without filling. Very competent album, just not my cup of tea.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#353446)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Review Permalink

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