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Thork - We Ila CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.11 | 36 ratings

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3 stars The true experience of being thrown around in a sonic washing machine

I´ve been getting into the French prog scene of late. Always been into Magma and their cohorts, as well as a lot of the symphonic and avant garde music to come out of the country during the 70s and 80s. The scene was very broad and eclectic, and what I indeed thought was a thing of the past, has thoroughly been refuted the past half year. I came across the band Nil and the album Nil Novo sub Sole. This record smashed open the doors to modern French music for me. I got extremely intrigued, and fantasized about other albums exploring more of these, up till then, unexplored sonic venues to me.

Thork is actually a sister band to Nil. The Maurin brothers, David and Samuel, feature on both - with Samuel credited as a writer. The similarities are obvious between the bands, though the female vocals of Nil Novo, here are replaced with a male front singer, that gives you that distinguish French spice. Reminds me a bit of the guy in Ange, but more mellow and somber.

The music contained herein is moody, complex, relaxing and at times grandiose like a rhino dressed in black. You´ll find everything spanning from symphonic textures, zeuhl, metal, jazz fusion - to small snippets of folk. I guess the folk tag was given to these guys due to the other albums in their discography, because this album is frolicking in a wonderful orgy of all the mentioned genres above, and feels eclectic above anything else. It´s a natural symbiosis, that either through the use of melodic stick playing, grooving thundering zeuhl like bass lines - or that of the ethereal and anxious keys, binds this music together. On top of this, you have choirs popping up in a very dramatic way, and makes your mind wander to Gothic churches, vampires and back to a time where you´d go down to the bar and order absinthe with a tiny touch of ox blood, and people around you´d say: I´ll have what he´s having!

To counterpoint my own words, I guess you can find folk traces here as well. The usage of the violin on some tracks slightly mimics European traditional music, with a rather staccato and skewed sound, whilst still remaining those acoustic characteristics. There´s a load of other instruments involved in this recording like dununs, djembé, guira, cloches, sitar, tabla and the cello, where most of these are on full display during the last track, which incidentally also is my fave. The Thork experience is more subdued here, throwing itself into Indian flavored rhythmic excursions with a tiny dose of electronics, and some wonderful bass work played on stick. It suddenly explodes into the characteristic Maurin sound, you certainly also will pick up in Nil and throughout this album, - and how exactly does one explain that? -Just to elaborate on the washing machine metaphor, which incidentally still remains apt. Picture this ferocious amalgamation of sound being hurled head first into a diamond shaped contour - with the music bouncing off all the different surfaces - only to be flung in a slightly off course direction. It never gets truly circular, but rather tumbles around in this jewel, whether it´s giving off soft and subtle sounds or breaching out in beautiful hellish structures. Music from within a diamond - yeah that sounds about right...

The only thing I feel letting this album a bit down is perhaps the absence of drummer extraordinairre Frank Niebel, which isn´t to say that Michel Lebeau is poor - only that Niebel in his jazzy outbreaks and off beat rhythms, had an original way of transforming and elevating all of the sounds around him into an altogether different kind of beast - one you couldn´t quite describe. I feel Lebeau tries duplicating that vibe, and he does so very well, but I just feel like something is missing. -And maybe this is the thing that, alongside Sébastien Penel´s vocals, separate Thork from Nil. This is of course just a preference from my side, but if you like Nil - you´ll certainly want to jump on board this black French steamboat.

This album is recommended to everyone with a taste for experimental music, that is propulsive like zeuhl, grandiose like a weeping symphony or beautiful like a ray of light shot through the center of our most precious diamonds.

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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