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Nemo - Les nouveaux mondes (2022) CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A hearty thank you and a merci to Anne Claire of Bad Dog Promotions for sending me this brand-new reworking of French band Nemo's debut album, in order to apply some commentary. I latched on to this remarkable group with its "Si Partie 1" recording and have been faithfully owning all subsequent releases up to the final tour de force "Coma", which turned out to be the band swan song as far as new material and live shows are concerned. Leader Jean-Pierre Louveton marches onward with his wondrous JPL project, which keeps the Nemo style going. "Nouveaux Mondes" was recorded in 2002 with JP on guitar and vocals, Guillaume Fontaine on keyboards, Benoit Gaignon was the bassist and drummer Pascal Bertrand, who left right after this one. The 'classic' line-up featured the first two with Lionel B Guichard and Jean Baptiste Itier respectively, and this, until the end. As I have never heard the debut, there will be no comparisons offered but it did receive lofty praise upon arrival on the prog scene, as its an adaptation of the literary works of none other than the celebrated Jules Verne (Nemo?). As with most French prog, the language may be an issue for the anglophone only, perhaps also the theatrical style as 'le francais' is by its very nature a flamboyant, passionate, and often ostentatious expression of words and sounds. Just treat it as another instrument, sip on your goblet of Clos Vougeot and enjoy the ride.

The epic 10-minute "Abysses" sets the tone from the outset with crunchy riffs, clever flicks of the wrist and a driving beat. As the theme is all about the ocean's netherworld, the mood is deep and overbearing, as Louveton shows off his significant talent, a master stylist who has an immediately recognisable design, somewhat akin to Alex Lifeson in that he masters the contrasts exceptionally well, his rhythm work even flashier than his solos, which he generally keeps brief and to the point. From that opener on, the flow is well crafted between softer moments, atmospheric contrasts as well as bruising tracks, often within the same track. Nothing is ever boring or mundane, always some kind of surprise lurking around the corner. The second track, "Au Dessus des Toits" is a particularly expressive journey, with stimulating sounds, loquacious vocals, and endless pleasure. Relentless, resolute, undulating and persevering are some of the words that come to mind, as "Tempete" slams into your earphones, a savage and biting guitar directs the route, as the piano twinkles and the bass line weaves a reptilian furrow in the under growth. Gloomy power strums propels the musical submarine through the harrowing gale force winds, the thunderous swells, and the swirling seas. Up and down, we go, like a liquid roller coaster that knows no respite. Some believe the moon landing is an ongoing conspiracy, well Verne went there thanks to a huge cannon, saw the 'fromage' for himself while leaping from crater to crater and may have even planted the Tricolore on some ridge. Nemo just provides the expansive musical soundtrack for such a novel concept. His repeated guitar motif is full of romantic commotion, only to be slashed by a wicked roar that sears like a moonbeam. "Dans La Lune Encore" is pure magic.

How do you like ancient history? When Bonaparte conquered Egypt in 1798, he proclaimed to his soldiers" From the heights of the Pyramids, forty centuries look down upon us". Champollion was the first to decipher the hieroglyphs and subsequently Egyptology was brought to Europe. This dynamic track "Au Dessus des Pyramides" is the most appealing and bombastic track served up by the band, an exotic soundtrack, with a slight Middle Eastern tinge, especially in the persevering guitar leads as well as the swooping violin strings. A towering monument, among the eternal Gizeh shrines.

Ready for some extreme contrasts? Speed kills they say. "Depart-Europe" is a 'fly seat of the pants' acrobatic exercise with punishing organ work from Guillaume Fontaine, wicked drum patterns and unbridled power from the exuberant guitars. "Les Fleuves Sacrees" is the exact opposite, a Sino-Japanese cadence, delicately played as if the axe is a koto, with a marimba-like foundation undulating serenely along the rice paddies, intricately steering towards some kind of internal peace. This flows right into" Luna", where the xylophones continue their voyage, only to be taken over by an obsessive guitar foray, metronomic drums (Itier is a much-underrated stickman) and a rather brilliant moonlit jam session that is both clever and inspirational, check out the Magma-esque choir section, jaw droppingly unexpected!

The title track is a piano led etude that exudes persuasive elegance, a whistled melody amid the gentle shuffling drums, only to evolve into an electric guitar tour de force of the highest quality. Back to the serene keyboard pattern and a racing dash to the horizon, where the New World lies in waiting. Tired yet? How about a little safari? "Africa" shuttles forward with marimbas, binary tribal drum beats, all expertly interwoven, as Louveton sets up the rolling bass with some wicked guitar phrasings that are elephantine and gnarly like a baobab, while the sudden appearance of cascading mellotrons really give the arrangement a cinematographic grandeur, worthy the sub-Saharan wildlife, gently fading into the glowing sunset.

"Bataille Navale" is an original 2002 bonus live track, a whopping 11-minute midnight rambler, with Gregg Rollie-like organ, Gaignon and Bertrand at the command, while Jean-Pierre lets it rip, an extended, bluesy, technical and complex solo that is very much in the blues rock tradition, with unmatched dexterity, searing passion, and articulate determination. The middle section favours a more sedate environment, all melody and atmosphere, both vivid and expressive. JP puts his foot on the pedal once again as the players are introduced with typical Gallic flair and the guitar swells into the tornado that it most certainly is. A glimpse into the beginning of this band. Lovely 77 minutes of classic science fiction themed musical adventure, 20,000 leagues under the sea.

4.5 new worlds LA FIN

Report this review (#2840842)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2022 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Back in 2002. Nemo released this their debut album with a line-up of Jean Pierre Louveton (electric guitar, vocals), Guillaume Fontaine (keyboards, acoustic guitar, vocals). Benoît Gaignon (bass) and Pascal Bertrand (drums, marimba, percussion). Some 20 years later and the current band have recorded a new version of their debut as a thank you to their fans, with the rhythm section now Lionel B. Guichard (bass) and Jean Baptiste Itier (drums). If that were not enough, there are also two additional tracks to the original in "Africa", which is the original 1997 demo from which "Luna" was taken, rearranged and re-recorded plus "Battleship", which is an unreleased track recorded during Nemo's first concert, March 16, 2002 (so features Gaignon and Bertrand).

I had not previously heard this album, not coming to Nemo until a little later, so I have no idea how this compares to the original, whether it is a note for note replication or if they have adjusted the songs to take into account how they will have changed over the years. What I do know is that it is massively diverse, and while solidly symphonic there is also a lot going on with the guitars while the vocals are also obviously incredibly important given the focus provided to them (but as they are all in French I have no idea what is being said). However, although I do not understand the lyrics it does not really matter as I am captured by the music, which certainly does not sound as if it was recorded at a distance due to Covid, as here we have a band who are incredibly tight, with a guitarist who is happy in a rock setting as he is in prog, and consequently plays as if he is in a neo/melodic rock setting while Itier bounces around the kit, Guichard is tight on the bass with some lovely runs and Fontaine holds it all together. I know the guys are not saying this is a comeback of any sorts, but one can dream there is a new Nemo album around the corner, as this is a blast from beginning to end.

Report this review (#2901826)
Posted Sunday, March 26, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars 1. Abysses is worth for its energetic intro which demonstrates once again the progressive drift at JPL, setting fire with a Zeppelinian atmosphere, eye the 'Kashmir' 2. Dr Fergusson and the whims of the wind, vol.1: Above the roofs to listen just to decipher the typical JPL or NEMO sound; yes sometimes we cannot transcribe 3. Devil's Dance for the cool interlude which shows the extent of its progressive grip and poses the listener, we begin to sink under the water 4. Storm for the latent piano bringing far; the voice slightly breaking the prog atmosphere, yes the louvetonian sound so intense that the voice hooks me back to the old world and puts me back on earth, 5. In the moon again for this imp guitar solo that I listen to over and over, in which I tell myself that it is one of the most musically beautiful in the progressive world, nothing less. The text holds up but is not sufficiently integrated into the melody in my opinion; maybe too keen to look for an instrument voice 6. Dr Fergusson and the whims of the wind, vol.2: Above the Pyramids for the second piece and the piano arpeggio intro, the magical slide guitar, an air again in the style of 'Kashmir' which comes and goes over the course of the album; it is pompous and effective, an Arabic violin arises and the progressive sensation is at its height; it's objectively fabulous, quite simply with this guitar which bewitches me; the finale reminds me of 'The Knife', well jerked by the drums; in short with JPL, excuse NEMO you have to know how to sink into your albums so as not to stay on the surface

7. Philéas and his 20 minutes on the clock; 4 drawers with the guitar beginning with an air of the gadget inspector, energetic, tortured, enjoyable; 'in these cobbled streets lit with lanterns', yes the voice I get used to there, the phrasing bewitches me, a latency period where the voice goes in harmony; well we left and the Japanese interlude, the gong that sends shivers down your spine, yes we are in the new worlds, the prog spirit is there; the time, the notes make me integrate the vocal into the musical framework; so with prog you have to know how to hold on and persevere; 4'15 and this sublime moment, time has contracted, we almost forget it; the voice returns for a time, with Zeuhlian folk phrasing; the linked title which passes over the enjoyable drifts of the JPL sound, a rock, electric guitar which allows itself to guide on the prog shores, unrelatable, just suggested with this unique guitar which made me prick my ears a long time ago almost 20 years old, a straw in the prog universe; the finale with the birds to go back down, perfect

2 bonuses with 11. Africa for the walk in the middle of the safari with the Mellotron which appears, ah why not put one on before, it's too beautiful, too hot; the guitar seems to talk alone and brings you before the waning day 12. Naval battle and the organ, magnificent, that little extra which could have made a major French group, yes I weigh my words, there is (was) possibility; the guitar goes on a bluesy side, and it merges after the LED ZEPPELIN on a frenzied DEEP PURPEL, the panard; 5 minutes and a dreamlike space break; note this live finale where JPL presents its musicians, stunning; what can I say in conclusion: a Plant voice and we had the French group of the beginning of the millennium, no less.

Report this review (#3033084)
Posted Tuesday, March 26, 2024 | Review Permalink

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