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Nimal biography
Created in 1987 by Marcel "Momo" Rossel, founder of experimental Swiss band DÉBILE MENTHOL, NIMAL were a kind of RIO supergroup that brought together an eclectic set of multi-instrumentalists from various avant-garde bands: U.S. artists Tom Cora from SKELETON CREW, CURLEW and Pippin Barnett from ORTHOTONICS, NO SAFETY, CURLEW; Jean-20 Huguenin from DÉBILE MENTHOL and Shirley Hoffman-Wolz from Swiss band L'ENSEMBLE RAYÉ; Slovenian artist Bratko Bibic from BEGNAGRAD, plus many others. Stylistically, they mixed their respective bands' styles with that of first-generation RIO bands (HENRY COW, UNIVERS ZERO, AMLA MAMMAS MANNA). Before their dissolution in 1992, they had toured throughout Europe and Canada and had released three albums.

Propelled by shifting folk-dance rhythms and wonderful sound effects, their style borders on world music. Their material is given a dictinct Eastern European, almost Gypsy flavour through the use of the accordion, bouzouki, hurdy-gurdy, cello and various percussion instruments in addition to the usual guitar/keyboards/bass/drum combo. A close comparison would be a slightly more frenzied version of SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA. All of their albums feature relatively short but catchy tunes (a rarity from an RIO band) and plenty of sonic goodies (yes, yodelling CAN be cool!). Of their three albums, "Dis Tanz" is the most varied and energetic but all are worth checking out.

Particularly recommended to SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA fans, especially those who like the band's later incarnation ("ZAMLA").

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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NIMAL discography

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NIMAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.35 | 12 ratings
4.14 | 17 ratings
Voix De Surface
3.29 | 12 ratings
Dis Tanz

NIMAL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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NIMAL Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nimal by NIMAL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.35 | 12 ratings

Nimal RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Swiss Avant-Rio misadventures

Nimal are described in our Bio as something of a Rio supergroup whose member's various groups were influenced by older bands like Samla Mammas, Univers Zero, and Henry Cow. They were together only about five years but managed to tour and release three acclaimed albums. This debut, which was apparently not released on CD, is said to be not quite as fully realized as the latter two. If true, it blows my mind, because this is some intensely creative music.

"Nimal" is like walking into a snowstorm. At first jarring as the freezing wind blown snow hits your face. But later as you acclimate to it, walking in the winter becomes serene, a little bit of contemplative despite the chaos.

The cacophony of standard rock instruments and exotic ones are seemingly being crashed randomly by children, but as with other good avant releases, a little patience and a few more plays will pay off. The most ambitious track is the 10-minute opener entitled "La semaine des quatre jeudis" which is all over the map, sometimes it feels like an insane wedding soundtrack, very cinematic. The odd feel is courtesy of the hurdy-gurdy and the bouzouki employed by Rossel. Equal measures menacing, exhilarating, confusing, and dramatic, the piece feels like a great drunk one moment and the hangover the next.

I also enjoyed "Animal Triste" where there are wordless choral vocals sampled over the intense noise. It's like a life boat. The same with the cello on the closer "Maligne" which is quite the departure. Its calming strokes and deliberate pace nicely bring one in from the snowstorm and allow you to sink in front of the fireplace.

While not my favorite album by any means, "Nimal" is the kind of discovery I still enjoy. It's wonderful something so rare can now be heard online by the next generation. Avant and Rio fans will love this group.

 Dis Tanz  by NIMAL album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.29 | 12 ratings

Dis Tanz
Nimal RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Third and last album from the third stage of the Debile Animal Rayé story. Still based on a strong European folklore music (usually heavily stamped onto Eastern European Circus-like music, this third album failed to take the previous Voix De Surface to a higher level. One must say the Huguenin is not part of this album, and this might be a definitively diminishing factor that could not be filled. Don't get me wrong, if you loved their previous one, you'll still find something to like here, but just not nearly as much. Multi-instrumentalist Rosset is still the leader, but Bratko Bibic's accordion is way too present - and I really don't appreciate accordion. Rossel also let Bibic write roughly a third of the album, and let's face that third is not my favorite either.

Indeed, the album is dragging its feet almost from start to end, with a few jolts of ideas here and there, but those never last long and are too few and rare in between. One must wait for the first real burst (outside the slightly interesting Grand Carré) until the ninth track to get some kind of enthusiastic energy but with the help of the electric guitar and some definitely trickier music a bit out of the ordinary of this album. From that moment, the album seems to pick up a bit more energy: the following Assault and Ba(a)l , the good closing Campagnes and the prophetic Ce Qu'il En Reste (what's left of it) tracks are semi- highlights (but déjà-vu from the previous album), it is too little too late to save the album, even if it ends better than it started.

Although I might appear harsh, especially after Voix De Surface, this album is way too filled with accordion for me to ever like it fully, so I'd rather not even try, past this review. Try thr previous one first, then if you really dig it, then you might want to check this ou, because there is worthy stuff in it as well.

 Voix De Surface by NIMAL album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.14 | 17 ratings

Voix De Surface
Nimal RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars If you thought you had problems distinguishing RIO from what the Archives call Avant- Prog, things are not about to be simpler if you pick this album up. This project is the second stage of Swiss Momo Rossel and JV Huguenin's (Rio-extraordinaire multi- musician) three-stage musical rocket. After Debile Menthol at the start of the 80's and before L'Ensemble Rayé at the start of the 90's, Nimal is has released three albums, of which this second one is the best-regarded by specialists. Half the album was recorded live in a festival, but you'd have a hard time guessing it, from the quality of the recording but also no public: the odd between tracks spot you hear applause. The live half is much better and livelier than the first studio part. Most likely, this was either two different Vinyls or two separate releases. There are a few new versions of tracks present on their first album.

Just like L'ER, this group uses predominantly acoustic instruments (only a few electric guitars), but the music is much more twisted, much wilder and more challenging for the casual listener. If it could appear that L'ER was a bit light on prog rock contents, Nimal certainly changed that and they sound a bit like a crazier Miriodor crossing Alamaailman Vasarat, the presence of the accordion helping on this last reference. The instrumental music (certainly not described by the album's title) veers from Circus music to atonal (even abstract at times) music to a rather positive (and happy) kind of Univers Zero. Interference Sardine is also not far.

Most of the tracks are quite energetic, some even reaching diabolical and frenetic pace with the cellos going nuts (James River), some even reaching infernal chaos (Animal Triste's start) others are radiant and happy (Le Soleil and La Marelle), but the huge majority of the Rossel-penned tracks are very impressive.

Personally if you ask me, I find Nimal much better than L'ER, even if they will be much less of a cup of tea of your non-prog entourage, but then again as most progheads come from a rock background, chances are that you will not really play L'ER or Nimal to your buddies, but your chances to get laid are better with L'ER. An excellent album, but not one to recommend to newcomers of the Avant/RIO realm, Voix De Surface is Nimal's best shot at Prog history. Haunting and just short of stunning!!!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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