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(60 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Time Has Passed 5:24 2. Do It Alone 4:05 3. Where Everything Is Dark 6:27 4. Face the Truth 5:31 5. Drops in the Ocean 6:18 6. Interlude 2:48 7. Where Are You 4:50 8. Somewhere Between Here & There 5:48 9. Lost 4:31 10. Disappeared 5:00 11. She Prefers Her Dreams 9:25 All tracks: by Grima, except 5: Grima / Jaubert, & 6: Jaubert. Produced & arranged by the band. Engineered by E Berliner. LINEUP: Jeremie Grima - guitars; vocals Matthieu Jaubert - keyboards; vocals Arnaud Rousset - drums Anthony Leteve - bass With: Katrin Waldteufel - cello Yogi - saxophone
Prolusion. THE BLACK NOODLE PROJECT was formed some three years ago in the environs of France's capital, Paris. So their debut album, "And Life Goes On", has become part of the musical market quite quickly. I see, the phrase is lame, as market and Prog are nearly alternative conceptions, nowadays. But instead of modifying it, let me use the proverb "the written word remains" as an excuse, and let's hope our beloved genre will again become a mainstream some day.
Analysis. It very rarely comes about that I like derivative music, but here is just the case. Sure, otherwise it would've been senseless even to start this talk. As it explains in the CD press kit, the band's primary influence is Pink Floyd indeed. It's hard not to notice what immediately comes to the surface. However, the influence is obvious not everywhere on the album. To be more precise, it mostly concerns the first half of the CD that the music is saturated with artifacts of the legacy of the most successful symphonic Space Rock act of all time. Four of the first five tracks: Time Has Passed, Do It Alone, Face the Truth and Drops in the Ocean are especially eloquent in this respect. Upon the first spin I perceived them like being patterned after Pink Floyd's latest, "The Division Bell". Next time, however, I understood that the band drew their inspiration mainly from "The Dark Side of the Moon" and, to a lesser degree, "Wish You Were Here" and "The Wall". (No one would ever encroach on imitating the brilliant "Animals"; it's just beyond anyone, and the history itself serves a strong evidence of that.) I had also to admit that regardless of its unoriginal nature, the music is certainly not devoid of genuine inspiration, has a surprisingly innocent sound and possesses a strong attractive power. The only instrumental piece, properly titled Interlude, is also in the vein of Pink Floyd, even though it was performed without drums. The band has managed to reproduce the spirit of the classic-era Pink Floyd in the best possible way, but as I have implied above, they didn't set themselves a task to spread the influence throughout the album. The third track, Where Everything Is Dark, is one of the most original compositions in the set and is Space Metal, whose intensity and heaviness rather sharply contrast with the contents of the neighboring songs. None of the vocal-based themes can be subjected to comparison, but the long instrumental part evokes rather vivid associations with classic Hawkwind and their "Astonishing Sounds Amazing Music" album in particular. If I were the producer I would have rearranged the third and the eighth track, which wasn't described yet. Then the songs above the album's equator would've been almost fully compatible with each other, as well as those below. Another symphonic Space Rock/Metal band that wasn't forgotten by these grateful legatees of the genre's glorified past is Eloy. The song taking that very eighth position can be regarded as the most convincing expression of respect to Frank Bornemann and pals. Titled Somewhere Between Here & There, it's musically somewhere between (the soft and beautiful) Carried by Cosmic Wings from "Planets" and (the hard-edged) Child Migration from "Colours". Most of the leads on the described tracks are shared between piano and electric guitar. Jeremie Grima and Matthieu Jaubert's leadership in the band is beyond question, but I have to say they should be proud of their rhythm section, particularly of a drummer. Unlike some of his craft-brothers, whose professional aptitude has been called in questions in some other of my latest reviews, Arnaud Rousset tries all his best to avoid simple meters, giving out highly diverse and multiple chops even when the music may seem to be too melodious and plain for such. The drummer's contribution to the album's overall progressiveness is solid, and I am certain it won't remain unappreciated by the other listeners. Like the Eloy-inspired song, the remaining four tracks are also a cohesive blend of spacey symphonic Art-Rock and Space Metal, but three of them: Where Are You, Disappeared and Lost are free of derivative features, to say the least. (Well, some Dave Brock-like vocal intonations can be heard on Disappeared, but I believe it was done unintentionally.) Musically, they're outstanding, especially the former two, both of which have a rich semi-chamber sound, due to the excellent appearance of cellist Katrin Waldteufel and Jeremie Grima's solos on acoustic guitar. The last and the longest track on the album: She Prefers Her Dreams is largely instrumental. It resembles Pink Floyd, but not everywhere and to a much lesser degree than those described first. All in all, these four, plus Where Everything Is Dark, are stunning compositions, showing the band's ability to be themselves and their huge potential in general.
Conclusion. This band has taste, and I wouldn't blame them for the absence of sense of proportion too. Although I can't give the album the full six stars rating, I must admit I am charmed with it, really. These guys aren't 'our' typical wannabes. The music this inspired is very rare for followers. By the way, the vocals are in decent English. So? This is such a felicitous recording that the talk of a market doesn't seem to be senseless regarding it.
VM: February 8, 2004
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