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Stabat Akish: Nebulos

Juxtaposing RIO with avant-garde jazz and a touch of fusion technique, French sextet Stabat Akish packs a staggering amount of ideas and instrumental trickery into their sophomore LP, Nebulos. Although it's dense, schizophrenic arrangements can be a bit off-putting (it's not the most accessible or catchy music around), the sheer intensity, originality, and virtuosity make it a fascinating ride in small doses. This is the kind of music that everyone should praise.

The title track opens the record, and it's immediately recalls the orchestral madness that The Mars Volta implemented so brilliantly on Frances the Mute's closing suite, "Cassandra Gemini." There's also a touch of Gentle Giant and Frank Zappa's 200 Motels as it barrels along, allowing timbres to antagonize each other with every rhythmic shift. It's quite masterful. "Un Peuplier Un Peu Plié" begins emotionally and simply with an affective vibraphone melody. Eventually other instruments complement the commentary before venturing off into abstraction (which includes the emulated buzz of a fly). There's definitely a story being told here, although I'm not sure what it is.

With the "Sprouts" pieces, the group showcases a frenzy led by many horns, while "Troïde" includes some playful female voiceover. "La Surrure" is especially sporadic, as well as melodic; its middle section, with interlocking horns and woodwinds, is wonderfully majestic. "Boletus Edulis," by contrast, is the closest audio representation of an African safari I've ever heard. It's wildly adventurous. Closing track "Le Chifre" is panicked and unrestrained, as if it's running away from itself. As with the rest of the album, the rhythm section deserves special praise for being able to keep it all together.

Nebulos is as intimidating and intricate as it is inviting and invigorating. Stabat Akish does things with its instruments that I've never heard before, which is justification enough to recommend it. Despite its sometimes overly long structures and self-indulgent excess, there isn't a dull moment to be had. Taken in small doses, Nebulos is an absolutely brilliant excursion into idiosyncratic creativity.

Track Listing

1) Nebulos
2) Un Peuplier Un Peu Plié
3) Sprouts
4) Sprouts (Continued)
5) Sprouts (Continued)
6) Sprouts (Continued)
7) Troïde
8) La Serrure
9) Soft Fate
10) Boletus Edulis
11) Dynamique Cassoulet
12) Fast Fate
13) Le Chifre

Added: June 21st 2013
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Official Site
Hits: 1479
Language: english

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