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Nil Nil Novo Sub Sole album cover
4.34 | 121 ratings | 11 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Le gardien (20:16)
2. Linceul (3:23)
3. Dérégénération (14:30)
4. 198 (8:40)
5. Abandon (8:10)
6. Dérives (6:04)

Total Time 61:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Roselyne Berthet / vocals
- David Maurin / guitar, MIDI guitar, flute
- Benjamin Croizy / synthesizer, Mellotron, piano
- Samuel Maurin / bass, Chapman Stick, synth
- Frank Niebel / drums, percussion

Releases information

CD Unicorn Digital ‎- UNCR-5021 (2005, Canada)

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NIL Nil Novo Sub Sole ratings distribution

(121 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

NIL Nil Novo Sub Sole reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
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 !

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
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.

1. "Le Guardien" (20:16) 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. (40/40)

2. "Linceul" (3:23) 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)

3. "Dérégénération" (14:30) 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. (28/30)

4. "198" (8:40) 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. (15.5/20)

5. "Abandon" (8:10) 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! (12.75/15)

6. "Dérives" (6:04) 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 and one of my Top 25 Favorite Albums of the Naughties. More music like this, please! More, more, MORE!

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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...

Review by Guldbamsen
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.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Nil's final album reveals the band to have enjoyed a truly broad appreciation and mastery of a diversity of prog styles. Naturally, hailing from France as they do they've heard their fair share of Magma, and the rhythm section of Frank Niebel and Samuel Maurin get into the occasional pulsating sequence which has a distinct sniff of zeuhl about it. But wait, don't pigeonhole it yet - Roselyne Berthet's vocals are more emotionally haunting and delicate than the Klingon opera we're used to from zeuhl quarters, and David Maurin's flute and Benjamin Croizy's keyboards can take us down a pastoral path to gentler symphonic territory at any moment.

The title translates roughly as "nothing new under the Sun", and if that wasn't true of the prog scene before this album was recorded, it's certainly true by the time it's over, because Nil more or less cover all the territory a prog album could conceivably cover here - and yet, never does it seem like they are just meandering aimlessly or just dabbling here and there in subgenres they don't really understand or appreciate. Far from it - Nil are masters of all they turn their hands to, and perhaps that's why they wrapped it up after this album - from here, where could they possibly go that they hadn't already been?

Latest members reviews

5 stars Their best - and unfortunately their last. What probably was to become the first chapter of a new novel in modern French prog became a game-over instead. (Though I'm unaware of the band members' subsequent solo and other projects if exist, so maybe...) While Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai was just ... (read more)

Report this review (#1777787) | Posted by proghaven | Saturday, September 2, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 voic ... (read more)

Report this review (#299347) | Posted by Kassimatis | Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 Quara ... (read more)

Report this review (#168993) | Posted by Nilman | Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 choru ... (read more)

Report this review (#49420) | Posted by BGrosjean | Thursday, September 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#47536) | Posted by geezer | Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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