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Not content with being a driving force behind eclectic, yet always interesting French Proggers Nemo and the sometimes heavy, sometimes Proggy, sometimes Heavy Proggy Wolfspring, Jean Pierre Louveton delivers solo album number five, MMXIV, under the name JPL. Known for his guitar work in both those other bands, Louveton somehow manages to highlight that aspect even more acutely in this guise, while keeping both eyes firmly fixed on the goal of making sure the six-string never overly dominates. It's a smart starting point and one utilised through eight tracks which sometimes meander and on other occasions positively romp across ideas and approaches, leaving a remarkably cohesive trail of eclecticism in their wake.

Impressively Louveton not only provides all of the sumptuously energetic guitar excursions, he also handles everything in ear shot with the exception of a few lead vocal slots and the keyboards to the song "Superhero". The latter aspect is provided by his Nemo-mate Guillaume Fontaine, while some of the singing on "Le Dernier Souffle De Vent" and "L'un Contre L'autre" comes from Dominique Leonetti of Lazuli and "Lifelines" and "Superhero" from 25 Yard Screamer's Nicholas James. Add to that, spoken word sections on "Mad Science" from Terry Cooper and what might be seen by some as a weakness on this album, namely Louveton's native tongue vocals, are augmented to such an extent that they actually help to give a CD part sung in French, part in English, even more character; something all of the songs have in abundance musically. What they also contain is individual identity and while the album is conceptually based round man's basic stupidity and inability to exist without war, poverty, power and division, each track takes on its own very distinct personality. In fact, so much so that as you experience MMXIV, it begins to reveal a very personal side, in the sense that listening to each track feels like unravelling the complexity of old friends as they reveal their innermost secrets - especially the lengthy and excellent album closing title track.

As mentioned, across the whole album it always remains Louveton's guitar which drives the themes to their conclusions, yet intricate beats, pulsating bursts of keyboards and the ever changing vocals often catch the imagination. Allowing things to steer well clear of Prog's almost ever present hallmarks, while firmly falling somewhere between traditional, Neo and Metal Progressive territories. It's a clever place for everything to land, for while JPL sounds familiar, he and this album never simply rely on aping "usual suspects" for inspiration.

If you've encountered Nemo or Wolfspring, then the casual classiness of what this album provides won't be a shock. However if this is your first outing with JPL, then the forceful, yet at times reserved, nature in which it is presented may be; but then we all like a good surprise, don't we. MMXIV is just that and so much more.

Track Listing
1. Je Suis Roi
2. Invisible Death
3. Le Dernier Souffle de Vent
4. Mad Science
5. Lifelines
6. L'un Contre L'autre
7. SuperHero

Added: August 20th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: JPL online
Hits: 1998
Language: english

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