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Since Nemo burst onto the French progressive rock scene with their second album, ‘Presages’ in 2003, they have made a name for themselves as being one of the most dynamic and important bands around. However, their 2015 album ‘Coma’ was the last one, and the band went on hiatus. Guitarist and singer Jean Pierre Louveton kept working and releasing some great albums, but no-one was sure if the band would ever return. The band came back together to perform a one-off gig in Madrid, and at some point, the conversation turned to the fact that 2018 was the fifteenth anniversary of their breakthrough album. How could they best celebrate that? Somehow the decision was made to completely re-record the album with fifteen years of added experience and make it available with an additional song and a sixteen-page booklet. Guillaume Fontaine (keyboards, vocals) and Jean Baptiste Itier (drums) played on the original alongside JPL, and they were all joined by new bassist Lionel B. Guichard. For some strange reason I didn’t come across Nemo until their fourth album, so actually don’t have the original to which to compare this, so have to treat it as a totally new piece of work. But given it was recorded in 2018, isn’t a “simple remaster”, then this is probably the best way to do it anyway. JPL and Guillaume were founder members of the band back in 1999, and although they haven’t been playing a great deal together recently, behind them there are the many hours of shared time in rehearsal spaces, concert platforms and studios, and it shows. The ideas bounce off each other, with a piano and acoustic guitar sometimes being even more dynamic and powerful than rock guitar, and there is plenty of that as well. Lionel has slotted right in and has a wonderful warm sound from his bass, which may not have the punch of some but contains a depth and sustain which fits in perfectly with the often-staccato approach of Jean Baptiste. They bring in classical moments (I love the marimba on the third part of “La Mort Du Scorpion”), jazz, progressive rock and very hard rock guitar, bringing them all together seamlessly. This album may be 15 years old, but with the re-recording it is fresh, vibrant and essential. Let’s just hope the band decide to record another new album, as music and performances such as this deserve to be heard.
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