Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ni - Les insurgés de Romilly

       What an absolute disaster. We'll be tragically telling our kids, so stuck on whatever latest orchestral djent symphony is floating around (hopefully along with us on some sort of relaxing meditational chair), wearing strange visor bands on our heads, avoiding advertisements with our retinal movements, albeit poorly due to the unstoppable flow of tears clogging up the sensors caused by our offspring's decidedly mediocre taste in metal. We'll be thinking ever so fondly about the times of our youth:
when metal bands slowly started to unravel the 80s/90s framework for what ought to be considered metal or not.

      I'm not too worried about whether my future child wants to listen to ni. 2, I'll probably be far too busy ensuring he understands not to put each fathomable ounce of his faith and trust in anything other than himself,  hopefully to some avail. That being said, ni. will likely be bouncing around the walls of whatever gigantic floating stucco hive our immediate emergency area's populace will be forever dwelling in.

       This raucous four piece from France is likely turning heads with this album. I've never really heard a band work it out like this, they are as addicting as they are relentless. Their approach requires what I imagine to be an inordinate amount of rehearsals and time spent mapping out incalculably knottier sections. Give it another three years, and they'll (hopefully) have released another EP and a full length. Every time you think they're about to repeat themselves, they throw some Murphy-esque wrench into whatever metaphorically visual bike spokes are turning in your head as you listen. Songs like Rodomont and Flaquadin seem to have the band wrestling between tranquil atmosphere and momentary intensity, but I found the majority of the songs on the album tend to feature both of these aspects prominently as well as at the same time.

        Take Gringuenaude, which starts off with noises I could only interpret as a broken SNES system and a back masked Raga from some old Bollywood film playing to each other while someone watches Monty Python's Holy Grail in the background and leads to a very intense and wobbly 3/4 jangly guitar riff that is more or less the spinal column they build their atmospheric and rhythmic leads upon for the first 3rd of the song, until an introduction into the next part from what I assume is some sample from a conversation in an obscure (to us) French film propels it to grow up, maybe get a job in the real world of riffage. From there they adopt a very callous but decidedly expanded permutation of that riff, only furthering the perpetual build up to the climax where the band improvises and trades off solos until everything begins to crumble around them in a sonic storm that makes the whole thing sound like some tragic scene in a science fiction movie.

       Certain people, I feel, will immediately liken them to Meshuggah. Who do you think put them up to the task of usurping Meshuggah's fan proclaimed throne of groove metal? Nobody except fans with narrow outlooks on what they like, which is required by snob-law to apply itself to every possible musical exchange scenario. Who cares, they have slightly similar rhythmic vantage, and that's pretty much all the connection there is. As you'd imagine with a name like ni., there is not a whole lot out there to know about such reclusive and veritably underground musicians. Objects pertaining to former musical projects that are of potential interest to you, the reader, can really give some type of perspective on the music itself:

          Drummer Nicolas Bernollin also drummed in a four piece noisy bluesy kind of band called V13 who released two LPs, Overlook Hotel  in 2009 and Traqueur in 2012. The latter also happens to be produced by everyone's favourite coffee enthusiast and poker star, Steve Albini.

           Bass player Benoit Lecomte also plays bass in a very unique fusion band out nowadays, uKanDanZ, which basically is the sonic equivalent of a bunch of French Bungle-y jazz grads attending a Yared School of Music open mic night (That's in Ethiopia), as well as having played in a now defunct freak rock outfit by the name of JMPZ. The former is releasing their first full length, Awo, in February 2016 via the Dur et Doux label which is also home to both ni. and another band from France, the psychonautical rock (not noise, I've seen them labelled that, and I really don't know what the hell people are talking about) called PoiL, which members of ni. have been working very hard with to form a super group by the name of PinioL. There are a few live clips of them playing full songs, and believe me, this ain't your grandpa's cup of gin. These guys are really fusing their abilities in a cohesive and seemingly effortless manner, hybridizing even further into frenetic oblivion. The axiom here is: " time to rethink the game again".
             Not a lot is known about the guitar players. One of them  is bald, smokes a lot and has a name that bears intense similarity to another French jazz guitarist called JEAN Francois Mignot, while the other one has a huge afro and has a set of facial expressions like he's constantly winning and losing the lottery when he plays live. They balance each other out visually in this sense, and further give credence to my theory that men with hair are insecure about it, no matter how huge or good it looks. They will always be worrying about losing it, until they actually do. At that point, they can relax and smoke entire cigarettes while playing stupidly difficult riffs on guitar. It also seems, that it's quite likely that the one with the afro is now in another band on the Dur et Doux label called ICSIS. The names on the credits of ICSIS first album (released in 2013) don't match, but if you go to the Dur et Doux website and look at the artist profile for them, it's clearly the same guy.
          There's really not a whole lot to dislike about ni. They are in their prime in every sense, and there seems to be quite the little scene stirring up in France at the moment, which doesn't limit itself to math, or metal in any way. These guys are furiously jettisoning whatever calcified genre "rules" from this gleaming ship they are riding in, in a clear effort to warp to light speed.  Beam me up, Scotty.

-(review by Chris Harry ~ Toucan Slam)

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