Nemo – Les Nouveaux Mondes – 2022
Tracks: Abysses (10:03), Dr Fergusson Et Les Caprices Du Vent Vol. 1: Au dessus des toits (6:39), Danse du diable (2:48), Tempête (7:18), Dans la lune encore (6:23), Dr. Fergusson Et Les Caprices Du Vent Vol. 2: Au dessus des pyramides (5:58), Phileas (20:41): a. Départ/Europe (4:57), b. Les fleuves sacrés (3:16), c. Luna (5:54), d. Nouveau monde (6:34)
Bonus Tracks (CD/LP only): Africa (5:51), Bataille Navale (11:05)
A few months ago I favorably reviewed the third album in a trilogy by French guitarist and singer Jean Pierre Louveton (JPL). JPL is better-known for his work with Nemo, one of the bigger names in French progressive rock. The band has been around for twenty years now, and although they have essentially been on hiatus since 2015, they decided to re-record and re-release their first album (2002), Les Nouveaux Mondes, a couple months ago. I haven’t heard the original recording, but I can say this new version certainly sounds fresh.
This new version features the band’s classic lineup of Jean Pierre Louveton (guitar, lead vocals, bass, virtual instruments), Guillaume Fontaine (keyboards, vocals), Lionel B. Guichard (bass), Jean Baptiste Itier (drums), along with Benoît Gaignon (bass) and Pascal Bertrand (drums) on the final bonus track.
The guitars really stand out to me on this record, with intricate riffing and shredding backed by detailed layers of drums, piano, and bass. I’m reminded a bit of Rush with the guitar-work. JPL’s rhythm playing really drives the album. His style borders on both jazz and metal, with a little middle-eastern flair on “Au dessus des pyramides.” The bass seems to shine most during the guitar solos, oddly enough. Perhaps because some of the synths are pulled back during the solos, allowing the bass to be heard more clearly.
The 20-minute final track, “Phileas,” is divided into four parts, and it grabs you from the get-go with its fast pace, driving drums, and riffing guitar. The organ gives it a retro vibe without making it sound lost in time. The second and third parts move into more unique territory, with “Luna” featuring what I think is a xylophone. This is balanced by heavier guitars that definitely have a bit of early 2000s prog metal influence.
The album’s story (sung in French) relates to history, exploration, and travel. The album leans on the instrumental side, however. The new album artwork also features the “Nautilus” – Captain Nemo’s ship from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” which gives a bit of a hint to the lyrical content.
The CD/LP-only bonus tracks are worth picking up the CD or vinyl. The guitar riffing on “Africa” makes for an enjoyable listen, and the mellotron in the second half was an unexpected but welcome surprise. The percussion in this part of the song also has some unique flavor to it. “Bataille Navale” is a live track with a very 70s retro vibe. Heavy hard rock guitars, bass, and drums with prominent organ dripping with Deep Purple and Focus influence. JPL’s guitar solo has a very bluesy feel, which is rather different than his playing on this album. It shows the range of his playing and how he excels in various styles.
This re-recorded record was my intro to Nemo, and I have to say I’m impressed. I don’t know if it means the band plans on making more music together in the future, but this fresh take on the band’s first album definitely piqued my interest in them. The French prog scene clearly has much to offer, both in the present and past. Les Nouveaux Mondes offers a little bit of both.