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NIL

Eclectic Prog • France


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Nil biography
Formed in Annecy, France in 1997 but with its origins in 1994 (cover band "Bad Pingouin")

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


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

3.71 | 8 ratings
Nil
1999
3.72 | 54 ratings
Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
2002
4.38 | 99 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 | 3 ratings
Nocturnes
1999

NIL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.38 | 99 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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?

 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.38 | 99 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by proghaven

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 an excellent example of Crimsonian progressive evolutionary departed very far from King Crimson, Nil Novo Sub Sole is a new word in prog. While listening to Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai may be attended by an involuntary analysis of possible influences of other artists on Nil, listening to Nil Novo Sub Sole rather evokes thoughts and conjectures about possible influence of Nil on other artists. A very profound, philosophical and pessimistic concept album, perfectly conceived and perfectly done.
 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.72 | 54 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by proghaven

4 stars Nil is a very interesting French prog affair from late 1990s - mid 2000s, an excellent example (e pluribus unum) of Crimsonian progressive with a spectrum of sources and predecessors much wider than King Crimson. Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai clearly shows influences from the classic French prog school, first of all from Arachnoid, Shylock and Carpe Diem, much less from Acintya and perhaps early Pulsar. From the newer French prog scene, the most obvious are the influence of Michel Altmayer, Shub Niggurath and (in melody making techniques) Halloween. Echoes of early Runaway Totem (circa Zed) and even Dead Can Dance may also be heard. But most of all, Nil is Nil. As Mandelshtam said, 'the entire ship is knocked up of somebody else's timber but has its own state'. The album has an intricate structure, it is divided into 8 chapters with two intros, prologue and epilogue, and each chapter is in its turn divided into a few short tracks, so 29 tracks in total, but they follow with no pause and are taken as one giant epic, one musical drama if you like, so the track list seems null and void, all the more that sometimes a musical change does not correspond with the next track start.
 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.72 | 54 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This one's a real grower for me. This appears to be their third album, hard telling. What I do know is Quarante Jours sur le Sinai (40 Years in the Sinai) is a concept album on Egyptian mythology, not exactly new to prog. The CD was originally released in 2002 on the band's own label, then in Canada on Unicorn Digital in 2006. It's likely the Unicorn reissue that people even had any familiarity of the band. When I first hear this, I was thinking this had some really nice individual parts, and parts I didn't quite grasp. It was so long, over an hour long, and not divided into songs, but really two acts that on the CD is divided into 29 parts. I hear elements of King Crimson, but not a whole lot of the '70 French prog scene. At times the band can be pretty mellow, then suddendly burst into short metal madness before going back into something more calm. I've heard comparisons to Anglagard, which might not be the most useful, but like them, they play one thing, quickly move on to the next, occasionally return to an earlier theme. The keyboard playing is usually low-key with synths and a small amount of Mellotron, while guitar, fretless bass and drums more dominate. The occasional female vocals (in French) really give a nice touch. Some passages have that ominous feel to it that I really like. This is contemporary prog at its finest. I like how it never slips into neo-prog, nor do they sound like a '70s throwback.

I'm really glad to discover Nil. I look forward to getting their other CDs. The only thing preventing a five star rating is it's so long that it really required a few listens for me to get it, but once I did, I realized why many have been raving over it. You really do owe it to yourself to get this CD.

 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.72 | 54 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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.

 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.72 | 54 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinaï
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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

 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.38 | 99 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired 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.

 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.38 | 99 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!

 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.38 | 99 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...

 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.38 | 99 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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" 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)

2. "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)

3. "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)

4. "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)

5. "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)

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

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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