Now I would like to get the attention of our readers who like Symphonic-Neo-Prog. People who I want to reach will know what I mean. I don’t want to start again with a discussion about labeling our beloved music. The last month I discovered some great new bands that operate more or less in the above mentioned territory. Nemo is one of them, a French band leaded by guitarist Jean Pierre Louveton. The only thing I know about them is that “Les nouveau mondes” is their debut album and that Jean Pierre also released a solo album which I don’t have in my possession.
Pascal Bertrand – drums, marimba, percussion; Benoît Gaignon – bass; Guillaume Fontaine – keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitar; Jean Pierre Louveton – electric guitar, vocals
The band is using French vocals which in my opinion is the right choice. There are enough bands that spoil the atmosphere of their music with bad English vocals that are often sung with such an accent that you can’t follow and understand the lyrics anyway. So the positive thing is that they are singing in French but the bad thing is that there are no English translations in the CD booklet. Also their website is in French but maybe that will change as soon as they are discovered by the international press. The name of the band and the titles of the tracks give me the impression that they are inspired by the books of Jules Verne. Because I don’t speak the French language I will concentrate on the most important thing: Their music.
The album has 7 tracks with duration between 2:45 and 20:22 minutes. The album opens with “Abysses” (9:04). The first part is up-tempo and has a lot of power by the rocky and aggressive electric guitar work of Jean Pierre Louveton and the drums of Pascal Bertrand. But the track has several breaks and has a catchy vocal refrain. The vocals are sung with a lot passion. A good opener that gives me the impression the band has the power to play good live gigs. The next track “(Dr. Fergusson e les caprices du vent – Vol 1) Au dessus des toits” (6:19) begins like a ballad with acoustic guitar and beautiful melodic vocal lines. This part reminds me a little bit of a mellow Ange composition. But soon a screaming electric guitar solo pumps up the volume and rhythm again. This band rocks and has in the person of Pascal Bertrand a great drummer. Some breaks switch the music back and forth between the melodic vocal parts and the more rocky instrumental parts.
“Danse du diable” (2:45) is a small instrumental played in a very high tempo that shows the musical skills of the members of the band. To be honest with you I would like that the music slowed down a little bit so that I can catch my breath again. But the band follows again with the up-tempo opening of “Tempête” (7:11). This composition has however the breaks it need to get some variation and to develop into an interesting composition. I would like that Nemo gave Guillaume Fontaine some more (keyboard) space in the compositions. Because in the space he gets he fills it with mysterious sounds that give variation and atmosphere to the compositions. In “Danse la lune encore” (6:07) this already happens and for me it grows into one of the best tracks. And still this composition includes also heavy guitar work and great drums. But it has more variation and sounds a little bit more symphonic. Seamlessly this track flows into “(Dr. Fergusson e les caprices du vent – Vol 2) Au dessus des pyramides” (5:46) in which one of the previous themes of part one returns. The classical sounding keyboards are wrapping up the guitar solo and drum work nicely. The composition is in fact build around one long guitar solo. I have the idea the music gets better and better. And maybe the best has still to come.
The album finishes with a long suite called “Philéas” (20:22) which is divided in four parts. a) “Départ/Europe” (4:50) b) “Les fleuves sacrés” (3:18) c) “Luna” (6:05) d) “Nouveau monde” (6:09) This suite is indeed the Magnus opus of this album. “Départ/Europe” starts up-tempo with a happy guitar tune. This piece is build around great Hammond organ, drums and electric guitar work. “Les fleuves sacrés” surprisingly opens with marimba and has an Asian atmosphere. “Luna” also starts with marimba. Which is not only an original choice but it also fits nicely into the music. The tension of the music is slowly building up in this part. There is a lot of great percussion in the suite. “Nouveau monde” starts with a beautiful melody on piano, accompanied by tasteful keyboard strings. This is my favorite part of the suite and the album. As the complete band joins Guillaume Fontaine is playing some complicated rhythms on his piano.
The first part of this album has more rock influences then the second part. The second part of the album has more variation but is also a little bit more complicated. Nemo has surprised me in a positive way. For a debut album this album is very good. The band has a lot of power and can play complicated rhythms. The only thing that they can work on is to get a better balance in the compositions. I mean to mix the up-tempo and heavy stuff more with the more mellow or ballad like parts of the compositions. But maybe I have this impression because the album is constructed in a way that in the first four tracks a lot of up-tempo and the rockier pieces are situated. But somehow I have the impression that the first tracks are also the oldest ones. If this is true the band is quickly growing into maturity. The last tracks are also more or less band compositions. A nice surprise out of France.