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Nichelodeon - NichelOdeon





3.68 | 12 ratings

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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars Prog rock is a truly dynamic genre. While many believe it to only consist of pompous British men playing a 27-keyboard stack while wearing 4 capes, the breadth of the genre extends so much further than that. While the extravagant 70s ideal still exists, bands from all walks of life are continuously pushing the boundaries of prog rock to include so much more than the balladry of the bands of the past. Bands such as the two bands represented in this boxset, NichelOdeon and InSonar, certainly push these boundaries. Both are bona fide members of the robust avant-garde prog scene of Italy, and are led by musical visionary Claudio Milano. The bands, while both being led by Milano, have very differing visions. NichelOdeon, and the album seen here, Bath Salts is an emotionally dense and minimalistic musical expos', while InSonar's L'Enfant et le M'nure is an experimental and all-inclusive work or avant-rock. The four-disc split is an expansive release, running for over three hours, and features the sounds of dozens of respected avant-garde musicians. The album is incredibly difficult to listen to in one stretch, but broken into its respective albums and perhaps even further into each album's respective discs, this album is a treat for any fan of avant-rock.

The boxset itself is a sight to be seen ' the handmade set contains the four discs and two separate booklets. Each set is handmade by Claudio himself, which brings the listener even closer to the viscerally personal music that is contained on the four discs. The entire presentation is very clean with the only plastic being the slim lightweight sleeves for the CDs themselves. The booklets too are very clean and well designed, with Bath Salts's booklet containing a portfolio of art pieces and photographs to accompany each of the songs on both discs. The art is very much impressionist and almost surreal, with some pieces taking on an almost cubist look, which mirrors some of the atmospheres of the music very well. L'Enfant et le M'nure is similar, but lyrics accompany the more defined, fittingly childish works.

But what really matters, of course, is the music contained within the thin slivers of plastic and aluminium we call CDs. The sonic expanse presented is remarkably dynamic, including mellow vocal passages, experimental electronic sections, and well-orchestrated avant-jazz pieces. If it weren't for the shared vocalist, these two bands would seemingly have very little to do with each other. And because of this, this album needs two almost completely different reviews.

First, Bath Salts. This two disc album is easily the more mellow of the two, with the music predominantly coming from a Celtic harp, e-harp, or related device which creates a truly pastoral and relaxing atmosphere. Of course, the album is not solely a harp-vocal duo, with many of the songs also featuring a full sized avant rock band to flesh out Claudio's compositions. The songs, in general, are fairly mellow, slow, and emotionally dense. Claudio's vocals reminded me of a cross between Franco Mussida and Laurie Anderson ' spoken word to a degree, but with a degree of RPI melody. The fusion complements the carefully constructed instrumentation perfectly, giving the mellow atmosphere a subtly haunting effect. Overall, the album is an experiment in emotional, mellow avant-prog, and Milano pulls this fusion off very well.

L'Enfant et le M'nure, however, is not quite as mellow. On this album, Milano pulls all the stops on experimentation, and the album shows. Both discs are a rollercoaster of revolving styles, atmospheres, and avant tendencies. While some bands do this same method and go overboard with experimentation, InSonar is able to keep the avant-garde nature of their music in check for an avant album which keeps the listener entertained and not alienated. L'Enfant also follows a more thematic form than Bath Salts as if follows the story of, as the title suggests, a child and a bird. Overall, the albums is definitely aimed at the more adventurous listener, and it takes a more open ear to enjoy, but the album is littered with bits of avant-garde gold as Milano shows he can write a mean work of avant magic.

In the end, this is album is definitely something to invest in if you are a fan of emotion- packed, experimental avant-prog. The four discs contain a world of experimental music, and anyone who is a fan of the genre is bound to find something pleasing to their ears while listening. While some parts can seem a bit off-beat at times, the swaths of music almost completely drown out the minor detriments of the album. Of course, to some, this three hour release may be a bit too much, but enjoyed individually, the boxset provides a nice immersion in Claudio Milano's work. 4 stars.

Andy Webb | 4/5 |


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