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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Shub-Niggurath

Les Morts Vont Vite

Review by Gary Hill

I first heard about this band when I was doing research for my book The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft. I was never able to get a copy of the disc before publishing, so they were one of the big question marks of the tome. Well, now I’ve got the CD and they are still a bit of a question mark in that this music is hard to categorize. Sure, the easy label is RIO and that comes close, but jabbing, jarring music is merged with shrill operatic vocals in a soundscape that is often difficult to endure, but just as often musically compelling. This is definitely not for everyone, but if you’ve got a heart and taste for musical adventure, then I recommend it heartily. Fans of the RIO movement would be the most likely audience.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Incipit Tragaedia

They open the disc with this nearly sixteen minute epic. Dark jazzy tones start off. As they carry forward we get some vocals amidst this oppressive soundscape. They build up and the vocals becomes almost operatic and this gets quite noisy. Around the two and a half minute mark this motif goes away and they drop it back to a more pure jazz approach that’s not so insistent. This grows gradually and starts to become more ominous. Thus begins a massive journey. This is organic and powerful as it keeps altering and shifting modes without making any real hairpin turns. It’s not until after the six minute mark that they revisit territory they’ve already conquered. Around the eight minute mark they take it out into noisy chaotic cacophony that’s loaded with dissonance. The vocals return and then they take it to a false ending. Ambient weirdness is interrupted by short stabs of bass soloing. They work this up into further strange territory and then the vocals return nearly unaccompanied. Instruments are added and we’re taken on another ride through mysterious and rather dark territory. It gets quite intense at times, but doesn’t move anywhere near anything anyone sane would call “beautiful.” This is music for the insane. It’s unsettling and disquieting. As it carries on it moves through all kinds of weird territory. Fans of RIO should find themselves at home here.

Cabine 67
Weird musical elements serve as the backdrop as drums create the tension and movement of this piece. While this is noisy and cacophonous in many ways, it’s also more accessible than the opening piece. At around six minutes in length, it’s also considerably shorter. This is far closer to some of the more adventurous music from King Crimson than it is to pure RIO. It gets quite involved and has a lot of energy to it. I really like this quite a bit. 
Yog Sothoth
Dark and dire, yet still somehow pretty, this starts quite sparsely. This has a tendency to be dissonant, yet it’s not jarringly so. Just before the two minute mark they power it into rock territory and this is given a more powerful arrangement with a plodding sort of tempo. Elements come and go over the top and this is possibly my favorite piece on the disc. There’s a sense of dark majesty to much of this composition. It works out into noisy dissonance later, but then is moved towards more King Crimson-like territory. At around twelve and a half minutes this is the second longest cut on the CD.
La Ballade De Lénore
Weird ambient tones, much like the soundtrack to some horror film, starts this and builds with ominous tones. When the vocals enter they dance around jazz stylings in a weird sort of choreography. Then a little before the three minute mark they fire this out into Crimsonian heaviness. The bass seriously drives and dominates this section. After it works through, though, they move out into something closer to the earlier vocal section. Then we get a more free form kind of jam after that. This is replaced after a time by more movie soundtrack music, this time louder. Then we get a jazz jam that’s fairly fast tempoed and rather noisy. They just keep reinventing this thing. 
Delear Prius
At just over four minutes in length, this is the shortest piece on show. A stark arrangement serves as the backdrop for more of the operatic vocals and this is built upon in classic RIO fashion. It’s classical in texture. It’s also noisy. 
J'Ai Vu Naguère En Peinture Les Harpies Ravissant Le Repas De Phynée
Perhaps more like twisted jazz, this has some nearly chanted vocals at times. It’s another dissonant and odd ride through RIO-land. It’s another shorter cut at just a few seconds longer than the one that preceded it. Before they end it, though, it becomes an orgy of noise.
 
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