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(62:58, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Zepter des Narren 6:01 2. Ronces et Iconoclasme 9:01 3. La Lyre Cornue Pleure 3:35 4. La Dune Bleue 7:28 5. Au Bal des Larves 7:35 6. Cephalee Neptunienne 6:41 7. Murenes du Lethe 6:28 8. Ruisselle 4:17 LINEUP: Clement Werner – bass; synthesizers; vocals Marti Ilmar Uibo – drums, kannel; vocals Kalevi Uibo – guitars; backing vocals Laurent Lefebvre – flute
Prolusion. The French act NARR was formed in 2003, originally as a solo venture for bassist Clement Warner. But just one year later he met up with other musicians interested in his project, and it ended up becoming a band from 2004 and onwards. In 2007 they hit the studio and the next year several recording sessions followed. In early 2009 Musea Records issued the finished product: Narr's debut album “Oxymore Dans la Chrysalide des Reves”.
Analysis. When reading up on this act, I did become somewhat surprised to find out that the musicians involved in this creation are active in other bands exploring a large variety of different stylistic expressions ranging from jazz to black metal. Not that this is something uncommon in itself of course, but because there are so few elements directly related to these types of music present on this recording. If any metal fans familiar with Narr's members from other bands were to buy this effort they would probably be highly disappointed – to put it that way. Jazz enthusiasts may find some familiar elements though, in particular in some of the quirkier drum patterns, but first and foremost this album resides in the art rock family. The bass guitar is the main and dominant instrument throughout this venture. Insistent bass patterns set up the foundations in all compositions, setting up thematic formations as well as the pace from start to finish – with wandering patterns the expression of choice for this instrument. Undistorted electric and acoustic guitar textures are added on top, and somewhat unusually for a rock album the guitar has more of a secondary role on this creation. Rather than contrasting with the bass it provides the finer details to the themes explored, first and foremost adding subtlety. You won't find any riffs on this album or any regular guitar solos either. Wandering patterns is the name of the game here, mostly on the mellow side even in the more energetic passages. Synths are added in at times in the back of the mix and a flute provides some neat soloing on occasion, the latter mostly in use on the tracks with a more folk-oriented sound, strengthening this particular aspect of the music. The drums provide a steady rhythmic foundation to the proceedings, adding in some quirky patterns from time to time as previously noted. And as vocals go, both theatrical gothic-tinged ones as well as a much more regular delivery are utilized, very much depending on the mood of the song or passage in question. This adds up to a dark and dreamy soundscape, at times with ominous and almost nightmarish moods constructed, but always in a subtle manner though, staying well put in calmer musical territories.
Conclusion. Narr manages to create a highly distinct sound on this first effort, and while it arguably isn't amongst the most challenging of affairs it is both creative and innovative. The album does become somewhat repetitive in sound though, and I get the feeling that their musical palette is a bit too limited at this stage of their career. It is a good and promising effort though, and if dark and dreamy music from the calmer side of the art rock family sounds interesting Narr is most certainly a band you should get familiar with.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 21, 2009
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