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Nouvelles Lectures Cosmopolites - 2004 - "Friesengeist"

(59 min, Gazul@ Musea)

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Ballade d'Ambroise le Malchanceux 3:29 
2.  Out of Mind 5:52
3.  Des Picrres Sous la Lune 1:49
4.  Sismes 5:31
5.  Der Geist des Waldes 4:48
6.  Decomposition Poetique 1:15
7.  Limmeuble Desappeere 2:03
8.  Dance of the Frozen Spirit 6:12
9.  Les Egouts 8:56
10. Nut Ne Sappronte 3:25
11. Ballade d'Ambroise le Malchanceux-II 3:26
12. A Place For Me 3:11
13. Forbidden Spaces 2:47
14. Une Gravure Fantastique 2:02
15. De Linteret Decre un Hydne 4:41

All tracks: by Ash. Produced by Ash.


Julien Ash - keyboards; flute; vocals
Pierre-Yves Lebeau - bass & guitars
Liesbeth Houdijk - vocals
Frederic Truong - vocals
Agent MS - violin
Angusterre - synthesizer
Laurent Esmez - percussion
Cyril Herry - sound sculptures 

Prolusion. "Friesengeist" (Frozen Ghost, I suppose) is the third album by the French studio project NOUVELLES LECTURES COSMOPOLITES (NLC hereafter). I've heard their previous album, "Les Grand Saules", and also the debut CD by A Sparrow-glass Hunt, another project led by Julien Ash and featuring some of his past and present partners: Pierre-Yves Lebeau, Frederic Truong and Liesbeth Houdijk.

Analysis. The presence of a "sound sculptor" in the lineup quite negatively influenced upon my initial attitude towards the album. Thankfully, only one track here, Sismes, is made up exclusively of stupidly droning products of tape manipulations, most of which are not unlike the sounds that DJs elicit from their discotheque kitchen. (Why the hell are all these sound sculptors and sound cooks identifying themselves with music if clay and grub is their destiny?) This is a territory, which has been usurped by computer technology and has nothing to do with music. "Computerous God is a new religion", huh! Overall, however, the music of NLC is a whopping departure from modern ambient and related styles and is saturated with a much deeper sense of classical than most of the other works in this category I've heard. Instead of concentrating on drone- or percussion-based electronic music, they produce a tasty quasi-acoustic symphonic Ambient, usually with acoustic guitar and piano at the fore and with distinct melodic lines almost throughout. Well, two more pieces, Out of Mind and Forbidden Spaces, reveal for the most part an electronically minimalist approach and are overextended, but they at least don't have that terrible dead feel which is a symbol of Sismes. All of the other tracks reside deeply symphonic ambient textures. Besides the passages of piano and acoustic guitar, the other instruments inhabiting there are as follows, by the line of descent: flute, harmonica and, rarely, light programmed percussions. Although there are less orchestral arrangements on "Friesengeist" than on the previous NLC album, the overall picture is similar. Only five out of the fifteen tracks: Out of Mind, Der Geist des Waldes, Dance of the Frozen Spirit, Ballade d'Ambroise le Malchanceux-II and A Place For Me feature some real, male and female vocals, while on the others the lyrics (in French, English and German) are either narrated or whispered. The music is almost exclusively slow and reflective, and due to its pronouncedly dramatics I would call it symphonic Doom Ambient.

Conclusion. While there is nothing groundbreaking on "Friesengeist" from a progressive standpoint, the distinct symphonic nature of the album makes it a winner in comparison with most of the other works of Ambient I've ever heard. It is hardly much inferior to the previous NLC effort, not to mention "Le Journal du Dormeur" by A Sparrow-grass Hunt. So if you like these, you will like "Friesengeist" too.

VM: February 22, 2005

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