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Nichelodeon - NichelOdeon

NICHELODEON "BATH SALTS" + INSONAR "L'ENFANT ET LE MÉNURE"

Nichelodeon

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.68 | 12 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What makes progressive music so enchanting is the multiplicity of it's varied offerings, a wide palette of different possibilities that span the entire spectrum, from the concrete to the abstract, from song to noise and everything in between. While each fan has set their own personal parameters in what they enjoy, truth remains that most progfans relish more than just one style, giving them a greater grasp of sonic sensibilities.

No better introduction than this rather unique package from Claudio Milano, owner of a rare talent in our genre = a sensational voice, deeply rooted in Italian tradition of considering the lung/mouth alliance as an instrument all to itself. Previous reviewers have commented on similarities with Area's mythical singer Demetrios Statos, which to my ears is a too easy analogy. They both have stunning voices but Area's music was chaotic, at times gothic and mesmerizing, no hint of any harp anywhere. One can also name Alberto Piras of Deus Ex- Machina, another pyrotechnic rock band from Italy, but Milano is a totally different animal, closer to being a stage thespian merging with classical, avant-garde, opera and operetta than anything else. I cannot really think of anyone similar in North America or the UK. He has put together a massive 4 Cd package with copious artwork booklets that won't even fit in any conventional jewel box, creating a duality of works from the Baths Salts of Nickelodeon to the Insonar project named "L'Enfant et le M�©nure" .Being essentially a French schooled linguist, this last word was something new, so I researched it (I refuse to use the verb 'google' until they decide to end their world domination campaign) and it turns out it's an Australian bird! The stuff we learn in prog! Sheeeeesh!

Listening to 4 Cds is a gargantuan challenge for any audiophile especially when it's a style that is not devoted to an 'easy listen', so fans of Jouney, Boston, Asia and other more MOR styled artists should just bolt right now and head for the fridge to satiate their needs! The arduous audition will require patience, admiration for the sheer talent involved, solid reflection and profound introspection into the more ethereal inner world we all intrinsically possess.

The Nickelodeon 2 Cds as mentioned previously are under the Bath Salts moniker and are broken down in two distinct sections Capitolo I- D'Amore e di Vuoto and Capitolo II ? Di Guerre e Rinascite. We are immediately plunged into what is perhaps best described as modern-medieval, harp and voice in the forefront with a wide array of synthetic sounds and samples of the electronic variety. It's a beguiling listen, both complex and simple, easy and hard on the ear, turning hypnotic ("Un Posto Sicuro") and swathed in dense electronics. Milano has a wonderfully modulated voice, hitting various levels of tone and octaves. The underlying impression is one of disassociation with comfortable tendencies, a deliberate osmosis of styles and instruments (flutes, big beat drums, alto sax), some bells and whistles and sundry sounds. The entire side is the same avant-garde experimental music with a special twist and it's captivating only if you really involve yourself as a listener and let the sounds overcome whatever defenses you may set up. At times, Claudio makes noises with his lungs, mouth, tongue and lips that leap into the weird and the bizarre, which is surprising and fun. He yelps plaintive gulps of theatre, croons cabaret-style, grunts and groans, then dives into semi-operatic discourse, a voice that spans the gamut of emotions. Throw in some narration (semi-sung actually) and you get a prog-rock operetta with an encyclopedia worth of research. Yes, it's sung mostly in Italian but so is opera, so get over it! When he sings in English ("This Side of the Looking Glass"), the mood gets quite hysterical and creepy, as his plaintive rant gets washed in dense electronics. Other tracks have his voice multi-tracked into a mirror of a zillion tones, a flowery bouquet of vocal insanity. Some introduce cello to really extend the variety of sounds. Capitolo II is harsher, more war-like as the subtitle may indicate, still conducted by the mad voice and the eerie harp. I am reminded of some horror movie soundtrack, something the Italians did and still do quite well.

The 2 InSonar discs are quite different stylistically, closer to avant-jazz and even experimental rock, with classic covers of "Venus in Furs" (Velvet Underground), "Warszawa", David Bowie's stark classic from his Berlin days and Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren ", a standard torch song also covered by This Mortal Coil, a past (mid-80s) cousin with whom this music shares some common traits . All three are utterly interesting, mainly because they are quite recognizable yet aurally different. The first disc is titled "L'Enfant" , a coarse , exacting and punishing listen , though the final tracks are surprisingly intimidating, and the second CD called "Ashima" both literally soundtracks for the impossible movie playing in one's head, swanky Kafka-esque angst twirling into vocal vortexes that defy form and logic, yet they completely resonate and beguile. Experimental sonic workshops divulging extreme tendencies, ideal for the chaotic and urban vernissage your artist friend is planning next week, just make sure there is a lot of vodka on hand.

As stated by another reviewer, you need to queue up some heavy rock after this one, just to shake off the torpor of cocooned numbness that this music creates on any willing participant. At times gorgeous, intriguing, painful, mesmerizing and outer worldly, Milano is a talent that is completely unique and inspiring, boldly going where no one has gone before.

4 tortured ecstasies

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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