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Negra Linea - 2000 - "13 Visions"
TRACK LIST: 1. Introduction a la nuit 2:10 2. Premier Rivage 5:01 3. All-Night Cinema 4:34 4. Closeyes 2:40 5. Cogzebox 4:12 6. Intermede pour petite Tete 2:06 7. Eclairci avant la discento 2:39 8. Hullabaloo 5:05 9. Lugano Bar 5:15 10. Disconatra 3:03 11. Deep Into the Night 5:24 12. Kallo Boroka 4:07 13. Voici le jour 3:24 All tracks: by Comunello. Produced & engineered by Comunello. LINE-UP: David Comunello - guitars, bass; keyboards, programming; narration Nicolas Guillemet - saxophone With: Alexandra Prat - vocals Aude Combettes - accordion Julien Toussaint - percussion Arnaud Paquotte - bass; drums
Prolusion. "13 Visions" is the debut album by NEGRA LINEA from France. As far as I can figure out the band's name, it should be translated as Black Line, although I feel a bit confused recalling that "black" in French is "noir", and "negra" is in Spanish.
Analysis. The CD is one hour in duration, and there are 13 tracks, none of which exceeds five and a half minutes. Five of them feature female vocals with lyrics either in French or in English (according to the titles of the songs), and the others are instrumental compositions, even though there is some male narration on a few of them. The songs possess a rather strong mesmerizing effect, which to a great extent is due to the specific, kind of lazy, yet, really charming singing of Alexandra Prat, for whom the participation in this project is by no means the first experience in progressive music. The songs aren't homogeneous structurally, though this remark is topical regarding most of the album's contents in general. It seems the band initially has made a point of not sticking to some special rules when working on the material. There are only a few compositions whose morphology is obvious enough to cast doubt on it, while the others can be described only in a general context. Overall, the music appears as a complex exotic cocktail of maybe a dozen different genres and styles, the most prominent of which are quasi- and genuine Jazz-Fusion, guitar Art-Rock, and Minimalist music. The attendant forms include RIO, free jazz, some kinds of folk, ethnic, electronic and heavy music, to name a few. But while the structural constitution of the album seems to be exceptionally unstable, the arrangements do always have the right vector, which makes them both interesting and rather comprehensible already upon the first spin. The sound is also well balanced, with only the slight predomination of electric instruments over acoustic ones, among which acoustic guitar and saxophone often play the key role, on most tracks. As to the exceptions, all three of them are instrumentals and, what's central, are almost free of jazzy textures, unlike the other compositions. Those two that take the sixth and the seventh position aren't separated by pause. Besides, they are submitted to the same compositional concept, with the central theme played on accordion, and are just parts of the same composition. That's Folk, folks. Finally, there is the rhythmic Disconatra. The only straightforward and, thus, disappointing number in the set, this is somewhat of an electronic minimalism.
Conclusion. From my personal standpoint, keyboards should've been a bit more widely used, but it's just a matter of taste. "13 Visions" is an extraordinary album. It is excellent, but is not everyone's cup of tea. However, those with broad interests in progressive music will certainly give it its due, at least. Recommended.
VM: January 2, 2005
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