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(92:10 2CD, Progressive Promotion Records)
Prolusion. The French band NEMO was formed back in 1999. From 2002 and onwards this quartet has been among the more productive practitioners in the European progressive rock scene. As of 2014 they have one live album and eight studio productions to their name. "Le Ver Dans Le Fruit" is the most recent of these, and this double album was released through the German label Progressive Promotion Records in the fall of 2013.
TRACKLIST: 1. Stipant Luporum 2:00 2. Trojan 8:50 3. Milgram 1960 5:56 4. Verset XV 7:55 5. Un Pied Dans la Tombe 7:09 6. Neuro-Market 6:36 7. Le Fruit de la Peur 9:34 LINEUP: Guillaume Fontaine – kyboards; vocals; gaida Jean Pierre Louveton – guitars; vocals Lionel B. Guichard – basses Jean Baptiste Itier – drums
Analysis. Nemo have earned themselves a reputation for being somewhat eclectic in their take on progressive rock, and as the first part of this double feature unfolds I don't see any reason for that reputation to be altered in any substantial manner. Stipant Luporum opens this disc in a compelling, tantalizing manner, with layered non-lyrical vocals that bring forth associations to a kind of a cappella, with an almost sacral undertone to it, concluding with a fairly brief sequence where a short lyric is added on top of the vocal arrangement. This atmospheric laden lead in is followed by the majestic Trojan, a composition that explores a set theme beautifully in a variety of constellations, from harder edged, riff based rock, bordering on metal, to sparse vocals and bass arrangements only, as well as a number of variations in between those extremes. The chorus section on this track is arguably closer to hard rock or AOR in expression, albeit in an arrangement that is much closer to progressive rock than the more mainstream oriented hard rock style. That there's room for a sequence sporting a few funky guitar details and another with a blazing keyboard solo as the dominating feature does reveal a bit about the nature of this band, I guess. The next track out, Milgram 1960, strengthens an impression you should probably already have at this point: That Nemo follows long lasting progressive rock traditions in terms of always developing and reaching outwards, the compositions rarely sticking to formula or extended explorations of themes as a general rule. On this particular creation, which perhaps has more of a hard rock foundation at heart, an artist looking for compelling guitar based themes to explore should probably manage to find half a dozen compelling ones that easily could be expanded from the relatively brief run given here into a full song in length with only minor additions needed. And while we're taken to both folk-tinged material, mournful Mellotron-laden landscapes and some stunning piano driven, ballad-oriented escapades before this album side ebbs out; Nemo kind of sticks to the harder edged variety of progressive rock as their regular modus operandi. There's always room for gentler sequences of course, blazing and somewhat more dampened guitar and keyboard soloing runs have their place to impress, easier going passages of a more delicate nature as well as darker, menacing runs that at times will be fairly close to the borders of progressive metal are a natural part of the proceedings as well. Eclectic, in short, but with a certain emphasis on the harder edged variety of progressive rock.
TRACKLIST: 1. A la Une 4:59 2. Triste Fable 7:43 3. Allah Deus 5:05 4. Opium 9:04 5. Arma Diania 17:19
Analysis. The second part of "Le Ver Dans Le Fruit" rather firmly documents that Nemo as of 2013 is a band that thrives on a fair deal of versatility and a rather constant alteration of pace and intensity in their compositions. A la Une opens with a compelling riff and organ motif that reminds ever so slightly of Blue Oyster Cult, alternating with a lighter toned, less intense acoustic guitar and keyboards driven theme with some nifty, swirling and more intense soloing runs added for good measure. Triste Fable is, as the title suggest, more of a mournful affair, with plenty of room for Mellotron and digital strings in sparse and frail sequences just as much as harder edged and more intense movements. As far as alterations in pace, expression and intensity is concerned, the instrumental Allah Deus is a veritable smorgasbord of just that, while Opium is again a creation that pairs moods of a more delicate nature with passages of a darker, more intense and spirited overall nature. With room for a subtly jazz-tinged insert on this particular track. But the best is left for last. Arma Diania is the name of the concluding 17-minute composition, the greater majority of which is instrumental. The vocal parts are sparse in nature, supplemented by what sounds like a plucked cello initially, with one of them transforming into an elegant, light toned and more richly layered construction, while the instrumental passages include just about all manners of themes from the frail notes of a standalone acoustic guitar to intense, harder edged guitars serving as the foundation for soaring keyboard solo runs. The gaida, a bagpipe-like instrument, adds a Celtic-flavored atmosphere when utilized in the earlier parts of this creation, and frail psychedelic-tinged guitar leads are another charming detail that appears later on. As does a light, elegant instrument detail, possibly by an acoustic guitar, that adds an Asian-sounding atmosphere at some point, used both in one of the more tender arrangements as well as in the following one with compact, darker toned guitar riffs as the dominating feature. The subtly metal-oriented runs aren't much of a presence on this epic-length affair, but otherwise this is a song that showcases Nemo's versatility as a band in a fairly stunning manner. With more subtle developments and more dramatic alterations and developments in pace, intensity and expression than you'll be able to keep track off until you've given this one a thorough and repeated inspection.
Conclusion. "Le Ver Dans Le Fruit" is a solid double album by the French band Nemo, and one where they document their abilities to produce high-quality compositions where variety is the order of the day. Pace, intensity and expression are all elements that transform, develop or shift multiple times throughout, and even the recurring themes and motifs are subjects to alterations more often than not. The band does appear to have something of an affection for harder edged themes and arrangements, as well as a tendency to pair these off with sequences of a more delicate nature. A production well worth your time if you enjoy bands that will occasionally include everything and the kitchen sink, yet maintain accessible arrangements, incorporating elements familiar to fans of both hard rock and symphonic progressive rock.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 1 & 2, 2014
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