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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

NORD: The Tree of Life (2017)

“The more he moves forwards and the more Nord is turning into a one member band of Electronic prog-rock”

1 The Wise Man 13:09 2 The Deer and the Horse 10:38 3 The Falcon and the River 8:38 4 The Tree 12:49 5 Trance 10:06 6 Completion 11:36 Nord Music

(DDL 67:00) (VF) (Electronic Progressive Rock)

Fisrt album of Nord in 2018, THE TREE OF LIFE is inspired by an ancient Hungarian mythology; Életfa or the Tree of life which is considered to be the center of the world. And like in his last albums, Sztakics István Attila keeps on going and even accentuates his bend towards a fusion of progressive rock and of Berlin School which seduced his new legion of fans since The Hidden Garden of Semiramis. Genesis dipped into Opeth and\or Strawbs marinated in Dream Theater, Nord uses more and more his electric guitars plug-ins on this album. Structuring thus head-bangers rhythms between phases of atmospheres or as complement to a rising electronic rhythm. In the end, THE TREE OF LIFE ends to be more a progressive rock album decorated with a touch of EM than of its opposite. Exception made of the synth solos which abound on every title with some very esthetic choreographies.

It's moreover by a very Jeff Beck guitar (Roger Waters-Amused to Death) which roams in ethereal atmospheres that The Wise Man, one of the main characters of this mythology, is opening. Slow caresses of violins try to float with the suave lyrical harmonies of a splendid Goddess voice that is raised in order to give us the shivers with his poignant crescendo of emotionalism. The synth plays on the depth of an Elvish choir for Angels and Devils, while injecting patches of mist in this luxurious decoration where even the twist reverberations have a beautiful tonal tint. Crystal-clear sequences liven up these spasmodic movements of rhythm unique in the arsenal of EM with two tones which head for the same tangent. If songs of a virgin flute tickle our emotions, the heavy riffs of a rock guitar make counterweight. The fluty airs become piercing whereas the rhythm pursues its zigzagging road, a little like Tangram played in speeded-up, with sequences which remove their shadows in order to accelerate a pace which collapses now under the weight of heavy and resonant chords. This rhythmic instability is whipped by percussions which lead the finale of The Wise Man towards a furious mixture of heavy and ethereal. Theatrical progressive rock and electronic which is now the trademark of Nord since some albums. The Deer and the Horse are other elements of this Hungarian tale. In music, this is translated by an intro fed of glaucous reverberations and synth riffs which coos nice little melodic solos adorned of sound prisms which remain suspended in this very aerial decoration. Bass pulsations form a structure of rhythm which waves discreetly in this introduction fed of reverberations, of solos to uncertain forms, of tonal prisms … and of guitar riffs a la David Gilmour (Animals). The door is now open to a rock approach which becomes rather a heavy rock a la Uriah Heep with synth solos and layers of Hammond organ which are running on a structure in madness. The Falcon and the River follows the same rules, exception made of an introduction blown by celestial voices and also for a rhythm which is slightly slower. The riffs are also sharp-edged and monstrous! And so is also going The Tree which adopts the shape of the previous titles with an opening where reverberations, electro-cosmic effects and layers of celestial voices spread a panorama of an idle serenity. A circular movement of the sequencer goes out of these ambiences where a crescendo pursues its ascent with these big jerky riffs and very rock percussions which perturb the ambiences here while preserving a level of rhythmic uncertainty convenient for good synth solos which sound very Rick Wright. Trance is a good electronic ballad which turns into a Power Ballad. The same goes for Completion which concludes THE TREE OF LIFE with the very theatrical rock vision heavy and incisive from Nord.

Sylvain Lupari (May 15th, 2018) ***¼**

Available at Nord Bandcamp

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