NORD: The Hidden Garden of Semiramis (2017)
“Nord goes rock! Progressive electronic rock? Yes and even psychedelic E-Rock. You have it all in one album!”
1 Aurora 15:39 2 The Lighthouse 10:54 3 The Hidden Garden of Semiramis 11:27 4 Petra 8:14 5 Colossus 12:54 6 Sunrize (Morning in the Hills) 7:40 Nord Music
(DDL 66:48) (VF) (Berlin School, Prog E-Rock)
I don't know if you are like me; but I rarely read the small notes at the foot of a page. I should have done it! Thus, I would have known what to expect from this last opus of Nord. Nevertheless, the adventure starts very well with a wind of mysteries which rises from nowhere. It blows with strength, as long as its breezes drill our eardrums. A beautiful movement of sequences wakes up immediately and makes its keys skipping in a delicious hypnotic swing of the pendulum. Effects and noises wrap this rhythmic harmonious from where escapes a wave from a hybrid synth with some harmonies of flutes which are getting lost in some hardly perceptible layers of voices. The movement of Aurora is waddling with perfection, adjusting its pace with an approach sensibly more inspired. Like if a threat was hidden somewhere! The ritornello of sequences swirls now like the dance of a viper without venom in a delicate spiral where the intensity remains hung on well on this introduction charmingly minimalist. This movement metamorphoses near the 6th minute point, showing a vigor renewed with this serpentine of sequences which became clearly more spasmodic. And that goes fast. Faster and faster! Layers of mist are sleeping at the door of this feverish movement. And it's there that we notice an electric guitar which spits heavy riffs and long resounding laments. The Rumanian synth man who is before all a keyboard player in a rock band had the sting for rock. For electronic progressive rock! But how to bring his legion of fans to it? And that's how came the idea to compose a title with a very electronic introduction and to bring it towards a furious rock with riffs of a six-strings which roars with the anger of the best guitarists of progressive rock and with a mad drummer who beats the hell with a solo as much furious which is sculptured by the Logic pro X software. The transition is perfect! The illusion is just as much. We are thrown all over the walls and floors with this violent phase of electronic rhythm in this Aurora which still remains in the territories of EM with a guitar versus a synth. That's less obvious here, that will be more in the title-track. Afterward, things get more complicated because THE HIDDEN GARDEN of SEMIRAMIS, an album dedicated besides to some of the most beautiful world wonders, dives into an infrequent universe where EM shares its effects with a rock as much progressive than psychedelic.
We like The Doors? We like these delicious languishing and suggestive movements where the perfumes of the East are making the hips waving with sensualism? I ask because the fragrances and the tone of The Doors are filling the next 2 titles which are sounding very much like in the time of Ray Manzarek's organ tones. Like the hopping rhythm of The Lighthouse which is also scented of the aromas from these psychedelic years to which Iron Butterfly hangs on its most beautiful coat of arms here. The structure of rhythm is divided between EM, for the sequences wild and quiet, and for a solid rock more psychedelic with keyboard chords which scroll at the speed of sequences. And there is this guitar of Kertész Huba, brilliant and audacious and whose presence here throws again the famous debate synth/guitar. His guitar spits incisive solos and heavy riffs in a musical saga that surpasses the quiet electronic and progressive rock of Axess. In the end, it's very good, even rather convincing, and this duel between Huba and Nord, in particular the percussive effects, is at the height of what we can hope of a fusion between EM and a more psychedelic rock. The title-track is even more convincing with an evolution which embrace the three dominant phases of THE HIDDEN GARDEN of SEMIRAMIS. The finale is very rock and very electronic, the sequences here are more furious than the percussions, and is going to ruffle your hair with a splendid and noisy duel between the synth of Nord and the guitar, more vicious on the other hand, of Kertész Huba. Petra a is title which stays more in the electronic style with a very beautiful structure which progresses like a cosmic bolero. Sequences are agile, lively and keen. Structuring a rhythmic which seems to go adrift they are the cradle of a kind of ethereal ballad encrusted by good solos of a six-strings and by beautiful harmonies which are sometimes tinted by the melancholy of Vangelis. After an introduction sculpted on the model of Wish you were Here from Pink Floyd, in the genre not in the tone, Colossus flies away like a solid progressive rock where this time the synths, the sequencer and the Logic pro X percussions dominate such as a pack of wolves starving for purely electronic rhythms. Sunrize (Morning in the Hills) concludes this surprising album of Nord with sibylline layers which float like morphic sound gases and with the fragrances of Vangelis, one of Sztakics István Attila's main inspiration. If the introduction marinates between the atmospheres of Chariots of Fire and of Blade Runner, the music will not stay in ambient mode for a very long time. A line of sequences tries to charm these synthesized tunes with a serpentine shape which makes its keys oscillate in a spasmodic way. The percussions arrive at the same time as the synth hesitates on the way of filtering the tones of its harmonies, carrying Sunrize (Morning in the Hills) towards a structure more electronic than rock and of which the rock aspect depends only of the electronic drum kit. Undoubtedly the weakest link of an album which amazes, knocks out and seduces with its skillful fusion between rock, psychedelic rock of the American West coast of the 60's and a very Berlin School EM. Recommended!
Sylvain Lupari (July 19th, 2017) ****½*
Available at Nord Bandcamp