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NIL

Eclectic Prog • France


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A blend of JADE WARRIOR and KING CRIMSON with hints of ÄNGLAGARD, this French group treads everywhere from soothing melodiousness to sudden attacks of metal. Their music goes from free to hypnotic, wild, energetic and electric rock, but also pieces which sound like jazz-rock with a touch of Zeuhl or even melodious pop songs.

Their third effort, "Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï" ("Forty Days On The Sinai"), is a conceptual work dealing with Ancient Egypt and old gods....the music is a mesmerizing melange of Mellotron and organ laden dark prog enmeshed with flute, searing guitar runs, Chapman Stick, dreamy female vocals as well as dramatic commanding male vocals (all vocals are in French). There are lots of guest artists contributing a wide palette of musical colors - harp, soprano sax, cello and etherial vocals. At times the music is serene and dreamy and then it explodes with a blazing distortion laden guitar solo. This 66 minute work is a breathtaking experience that echoes classic bands like CARPE DIEM and ANGE. The CD comes with 2 booklets - with translations in French and English outlining the story. An overwhelming work and one of the best symphonic rock albums I've heard in quite some time.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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NIL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.85 | 4 ratings
Nil
1999
3.63 | 45 ratings
Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
2003
4.21 | 79 ratings
Nil Novo Sub Sole
2005

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

NIL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NIL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

NIL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Nocturnes
1999

NIL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.63 | 45 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Nil were found in mid-90's in Annecy, France by guitarist David Maurin and drummer Julien Paget, joined soon by Samuel Maurin on bass and Benjamin Croizy on keyboards.When Paget left, Frank Niebel joined in and the new line-up recorded two very rare self-produced albums, ''Bruismes'' from 98' and the EP ''Nocturnes'' from 99', at a time when the group was searching its own identity.By the start of the millenium they decided to collaborate with female singer Roselyne Berthet and along with several guest musicians and singers they recorded the album ''Quarante jours sur le Sinaï'', released in 2002.

In an act of great confidence and self-belief the French group offered two very long, epic tracks in this album, the 36-min. ''Acte I'' and its following 26-min. ''Acte II''.Both tracks are extremely tight and coherent with no particular dead holes and are great examples of dark, atmospheric Progressive Rock with strong hints from Orchestral and Soundtrack Music next to the standard Classical and jazzy inspirations, with enough complexity but also some very ethereal passages as well.Maybe you should imagine a cross between KING CRIMSON, WOBBLER and SEVEN REIZH to get an idea of how this album sounds, but again some very careful listenings is what is recommended to fully appreciate this style of playing.The album is characterized by some extemely complex guitar parts with a sinister touch, haunting Mellotron waves next to some edgy and nervous electronics and church-styled organs and a very solid rhythm section.This combination delivers very complicated themes, alternating between hypnotic grooves and loose performances, but there are also enough breaks to be found that lead to series of dreamy textures.The later are based on Berthet's superb, crystal-clear voice and the intelligent use of synthesizers, while parts of them even contain some beatiful melodies and delicate orchestrations.This amalgam of diverse themes works very nice and the album flows extremely well with no evident interruptions between the amount of short tracks, of which the two epics are composed.

Nice and recommended example of deeply atmospheric Progressive Rock with a variety of influences and soundscapes, starting from cinematic offerings and ending up in symphonic or jazzy arrangements.Great stuff...3.5 stars.

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 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.63 | 45 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

2 stars Originally released in 2002, this album has now been reissued by Unicorn due to the response that the band have had to their recent release on the label, 'Nil Novo Sub Sole'. As can be guessed form the title, this is a concept album, here comprising two tracks of more than thirty minutes long. All of the lyrics are in French but there is a very good booklet which provides lots of information in English. I have tried to get on with this album, but even though I have played it quite a few times, and am impressed with some of the instrumental sections , find that it is just too long and meandering. It never seems to be getting anywhere and although there is no doubting the skill of those involved there is the feeling that if they had stuck to shorter songs with more of a sense of direction then the end result would have been much better. Not one to which I will readily be returning. www.unicorndigital.com

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 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.21 | 79 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by 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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 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.21 | 79 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Kassimatis

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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 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.21 | 79 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by 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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 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.21 | 79 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

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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 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.21 | 79 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Nilman

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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 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.63 | 45 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Nilman

5 stars ''The day it is born to eternity is a beautiful day... [Book of the Aegyptian Dead]

NIL is a very highly, I mean VERY HIGHLY talented group from France, who's ambitiousness, perfectionism and talent could be described for example via the song in their first self produced record: There's a track Nogegon that is a palindromic song both in lyrical and in musical way; it took two years to complete it, they say! As their debut is a bit harsh especially in vocal parts, that are fortunalely few, the quality and brilliance in compositions and playing push strongly through making you certain that here's a band to expect something great to come. And that's for sure, because in their third record there's not a slighest hint of that harshness anymore, the vocals are in highest order now, and the band has matured into a full blossom! This album is a true and rare Masterpiece, one of a kind in progressive music!

Now I'm about to review this Stunning record and it should be done as proper way as this beautiful music deserves, but forgive me for my words will not do the justice - anyhow, I'll do what I can... Quarante jours sur le Sinai is actually a live album even if it's impossible to recognize as one. It was recorded live over two years between september 1999 and september 2001 including church organs recorded at st Pierre's cathedral in Annecy. Besides the band members, the group consisted of several additional musicians - including the forthcoming band member Roselyne Berthet - no wonder why they took her as a full time member because of her magnificent dark and beautiful soprano voice.

''The desire for perfection is that desire which always makes every pleasure appear incomplete, for there is no joy or pleasure so great in this life that it can quench the thirst in our soul'' [Dante]

I wonder if Nil feels pleasure from this piece of perfect work? And yes, it is perfect. I cannot name a single thing they've should done differently. The album is a thematic tale from the ancient Sinai and the lyrics and the story is based mostly on ancient texts like Dante, Plato, Bible, some papyrus and so on, that are all written up and there's even a bibliography of them. And the tale is more like a collection of minor tales and wisdoms than a story of forty days. Well, lyrics may appear incomplete in English - a lots of stuff written in French is missing from the English translation. A pages of lyrics exist, but they are not sung. Berthet sings only some verses from here and there and it accomplishes the mysticism of the tale - it's nice to read pieces from it, but I really don't mind not to get it completely.

Quarante jours sur le Sinai is not only a theme album but a theme song, consisting of two acts creating together an hour of total pleasure. The main musical theme of the album, telling the ancient tale from Sinai, is somehow always constant and present, while the texture is wild and changing. The Egyptian, or Arabic influences can be heard throughout this album, but it's more like a flavor than a subject. The music is carried on mainly with a beautiful quitar picking of David, stretched and very moody fretless bass / stick of Samuel, spacey keyboard playing of Benjamin and very accurate percussion of Frank added with some extra instruments. It's mostly instrumental, but Roselyne joins in with her beautiful vocals occationally, sometimes adding only ethereal background voices. The group plays together amazingly well and the composition is superb, which can be heard from perfect passages that are numerous.

''I am all that Hath been, Is and Shall be, and my Veil, no mortal hathever yet uncovered'' [Plutarch]

The word is ''developing''. Quarante jours Sur Le Sinai is a continuous flow of pleasure, made from intelligent pieces and parts that come and go and joins together in a manner hard to comprehend. One cannot tell how the music changes and develops, it just does and it does it all the time. This is Sneaky! I have ever never heard so smooth and stealthy changes - after this you can point another view for those! So, if you're listening to 43'00 or 06'35 you can instantly tell they're strongly connented to each other, but you cannot tell what's the similarity! And that's amazing! How in hell they can play it live, remember the whole thing? And This Is Not Just About Jamming, It's something brilliant my brains fancy about! An ever demanding piece of puzzle, impossible to solve, that's NIL!

Now what it comes to individual parts... If you're expecting fast solos, guitar heroism and things like that, you're in a totally wrong place! Here you get some stunning interplay, co-play, not even forgetting brilliant individuals of picking of bass, guitars, drums or vocals, but their purpose, the thing is All for one, one for all. Here you can hear the utter commitment to the music they play, the music is not for them, but they are for the music! All my respect to this brilliant group for that! But Oh Boy, how well this all are performed! The base is the very impressive bass playing using fretless bass and stick and I believe there's quite some overlayed bass lines there. the border between the bass being a base, rhythmic or solo instrument is blurred and sometimes it's being played like it was a mellotron! Actually all the instruments are used in the same very variable and creative way and always elegantly and style - including Berthet on vocals that goes from fast speaking parts to high operatic soprano vocalese.

''In the world of magic, it was believed that the representation of an object or of a being could easily be brought to life if the name of the object or being in question was used properly'' [Enel]

Well Quarante Jours is alive already! You may think that a song one hour long might be dull, but you wouldn't be more wrong, for it's so complex, offering details, small and big in quite a many level, you just cannot get used to it - It sounds new and fresh after years of listening - and that's a relief and a banner forever! This is no easy music: If you'll purchase this album, don't expect you'll like it right away! It first may sound only 'promising' and it will get quite some spins to get into. For NIL has created a perfect combination of complexity, fusion, rio and avant prog... metal, ethno, classical music with all the soprano works and chamber... and their main influences are... Oh, well, maybe there's no actually main influences and maybe I even cannot name the genre of this music because it's truly original, but complex and unpopular it is, that's for sure.

This is probably the Best Progressive Rock Album Ever Recorded! This is one of my most played album ever and there's no signs of boredom yet - just the opposite: After a thousand times of hearing I cannot write a proper review of it, there's still a lot to explore in Sinai, it's such a big place - What more a progger like me can ever hope for?

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 Nil by NIL album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.85 | 4 ratings

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Nil
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Nilman

4 stars NIL was formed by David Maurin and Julien Paget somewhere in 1994. After performing covers they were now on to compose their very own songs. Soon Samuel Maurin joined the band as a bass player, even he was totally unfamiliar with the instrument! Actually he had never played any instrument before! ''Still, he is really motivated!''* Then Benjamin Croizy is after all a hich-hiker that Samuel Maurin picked up in Grenoble one day and it revealed he was a keyboard player - why not to join the band! Then Julien Paget left and in need of a drummed David Maurin called his old schoolfriend, a jazz-rock drummer Frank Niebel to join the band... Now who would have quessed this band was to become such a great group? Their debut album is a re-recorded demo album from somewhere 1995:

1. La Misere

''It's probably the song that gave us the biggest difficulties in order to achieve it. Frank had just joined us, and we were starting to generalizethe use of asymmetric time signatures, and above all, complex changes! The title came from a plain obrervation: it has been a real misery to write and play this song''*

La Misere starts with an intro of curious sound effects and keyboards and then with a nice melody led by a strong low slashing bass and drums until heavy guitar riff joins in taking the lead. At the same time the music below the guitar starts to change...

And instantly we are in it, in the center of NIL's musical philosophy, in its undermost being: Constantly changing, complex and variative music with a very rhythmic nature where all the instruments are equal and mostly used in rhythmical purposes. The melody is carried on by a most imaginary and clever manners fooling totally the unconcentrated or inexperienced listener by being pseudo-chaotic. Instruments are at the constant interplay throwing the 'ball' to each others while instruments without the ball are sneakily changing places. At this debut NIL however uses surprisingly much lead guitar.

... and it goes through the end, being a complex metal-fusion track led by several layered guitars and melodies that come and go.

2. First Passage

''This song invites you to a journey, the whole song builds itself up into a tale that each of us is free to interpret in his own manner.''*

First Passage change the mood into more dark and beautiful direction with ethereal keybs and cymbals in the background while beautiful guitar picking gets faster and faster till' the song truly begins at almost four minutes. An absolutely great beginning! A female vocalist takes the song while the dark ethereal background with guitar picking goes on at the back... and suddenly the air is filled with noises from children playground and happy organ and major playing! What a fantastic song!

3. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldriritch (Locked in Syndrome, part 0)

''David wanted Frank to play a really linear part on his heavy 15/8 guitar's riff. It has been a real challenge to convince him to do so. Still now we avoid to mention even just the name of the song in front of him! At the end of the song one can find a Russian text told by David. This language has been chosen in relationship with Philip K. Dick physics experiences he had, involving the Russian's secret services.''*

This song takes us back to the first songs metallic atmosphere with some male vocals and spoken words. Again almost zeulish bass is very notable and guitars go from chronic riffing to howling soloing while the chameleonic theme wanders around. Again Nil vomits a song that is almost disgusting at the first hearing but that soon grows on you. No easy listenin', no.

4. Bön-Glå-Glön (Locked in Syndrome, part 1)

''We all are really proud of this one. Benjamin wrote the introduction after all the song has been written. It has such an Anglagard feeling, that we decided to name it after the famous swedish band! There's also a theme from ''Hybris'' that you can hear if you really pay attention.''*

It's Anglagardic flute that takes us to the song, like the intro reveals. But Anglagard is soon left behind and the band moves more into King Crimsonian oddity and away towards new territories they fly... This is the only song on the album that has some influences, despite they're passed very fastly while they rush into their own ''avangardish fusion doom prog''. No easy listenin either!

5. Inner Mazed (Locked in Syndrome, part 2)

''...For a lot of persons this one is considered to be the most listenable of our songs... the fact that you can find two almost identical verses in it has probably a lot to do with it!''*

Well I'm apparently not included in those lot of persons, because this is the weakest song of the album for its vocals that feels weak, thin and irrational. The music and playing is assured anyhow.

6. Nogegon

''After reading Luc and Francois Schuitten's book, David suggested to the others to write a palindromic song! This was a hard one to complete... it took us over two years to finish it! The Schuitten's book is written in a certain manner so that in the middle of it, the story goes backward, as well as the strips. Palindromes in music is not new: Bach wrote a piece called ''The musical gift'', and even before, around the fourteenth century, Guillaume de Machaut wrote ''My end is my beginning'', using the same proceeding. For nogegon, the excercise had to deal with several aspects: The song is 8' long, themes are numerous, The sound charasteristics are also reversed and the inversion works also with the stereo.''*

NogegoN starts forward with space and guitar accompanied with moody bass... till the backward vocals or spoken words and the music changes to rhythmic guitar driven picking and moody bass and keybs. At the half way through there's a change of stereo channels: right becomes left and vice versa... and forward they come...emoc yeht drawrof dna ...asrev eciv dna tfel semoceb thgir :slennahc oerets fo egnahc a s'ereht hguorht yaw flah eht tA .sbyek dna ssab ydoom dna gnikcip nevird ratiug cimhtyhrot segnahc cisum eht dna sdrow nekops ro slacov drawkcab eht llit ...ssab ydoom htiw deinapmocca ratiug dna ecaps htiw rdawrof strats NogegoN

Summary Nil's debut is their album most to zeuhl and RIO since they've moved more towards elaborate and beautiful expression. It's also their most metallic album - guitars and even keyboard sounds are occationally even unnecessary metallic - yet it's also very dark and anxious but really complex too, both in compositions and in playing... Does it sound like a nice pop album? :) It's extremely demanding piece of work but it awards the listener at the end... To complain about something: Sometimes the overall sound and production feels somewhat harsh and hollow. Accented male singing in English is a bit fruitless and amateurish, yet the spoken words and narrations here and there are sometimes very adaptive. Without these lows this album would rate even higher. Recommended ecpecially for Zeuhl-RIO-lovers!

Nil's debut as well as their second Nocturnes are totally sold out and not available anywhere. A reprint of them would be a very nice deed indeed.

*NIL

David Maurin - Guitars, flute; Samuel Maurin - Bass, fretless bass, stick; Benjamin Croizy - Keyboards; Frank Niebel - Drums. And additional: Jean-Luc Feirrera - Flute; Marion De Saint Vaast - Voices; Jean-Michel Gaude - Voices.

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 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.63 | 45 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Dreams from the desert

A very deep expanse of sounds. An unfathomably wide open and uncompromising piece of music. Stylish, modern, exploratory progressive rock. "40 Days in the Sinai" is one long dream of 65 minutes divided into but two "acts" as they are denoted, though the disc does chapter them into about 30 short pieces not individually titled. They can sound a bit like Crimson at times, a bit Karcius, Lost World, Gabriel, and at times, Durutti Column. But these are mere suggestions, in reality NIL has produced a work that is quite visionary as it merges themes of past ages with music looking to the future. It's a work that is bold and complex but not quite perfect.

Tracks are often without much traditional structure but grow from moody textures of winding guitar notes, keyboards, or perhaps the harp. Often present is an unpredictable Tony Levin style of bass playing, at times mellow and other times aggressive. Some tracks will be augmented with dreamy and delicate female vocals, others with cello or sudden bursts of raging loud guitar in the surprise manner employed by Discus. There are gorgeous acoustic guitar sections and wistful passages of flute. Track 8 is the first one to mention. After some relatively calm openings, they contrast those notes against bursts of angular near-shred to good effect. Roselyne Berthet's smooth-hazed vocals instantly put you into trance on even the brief track 11, they make me feel like I'm floating on a pool of water. The next track gets quite disturbing with sinister organ over distorted male vocals and electric guitar. Track 16 is one that we stream on the site and is fairly representative of the album, except that most of the tracks do not have the female vocals. So as you listen to it, if it would interest you without the vocals, then it should be a safe bet for you to shell out the money. Track 17 is a favorite of mine, just the distant guitar notes with the wordless ethereal voice and without the constant busy bass. Track 19 features the wonderful harp over serene synthesizer with cello.very lovely.

As fascinating and beautiful as this work often is there is definitely something missing for me on the emotional level. It earns 3 stars immediately for being bold and intricate, but I can't give it more stars because it is one of those many albums that I love with my head but not with my heart. My head may do cartwheels over the many technically astounding parts but my heart is somewhat indifferent to the album as a whole. Nevertheless I do recommend this fine work to anyone interesting in quality modern prog. Unicorn did a very nice job with the artwork, providing a brief foldout booklet with a thicker lyrics book in English and French.

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