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JPL: Le Livre Blanc

With French progressives Nemo seemingly on what might be terminal hiatus, the outfit's guitarist, Jean-Pierre Louveton, continues on with his JPL band alongside fellow Nemo men Jean Baptiste Itier on drums and Guillaume Fontaine on piano. The band completed by Ludovic Moro (who splits drum duties with Itier), lead vocalist Steph Honde and Sebastian Delestienne on bass. Louveton handles much of everything, guitar, bass, keyboards, programming, percussion and vocals all being part of his remit, while Lazuli's Dominique Leonetti adds his considerable vocal prowess throughout. With Louveton the lynchpin in the Nemo song writing machine, it's no great surprise that he continues down a similar neo-prog path with JPL, a striking mix of accessible and virtuosic prog served up in mainly chunk sized bites. Most of the tracks are happy to come in around the five to six minute mark, although a couple of pieces do run to ten and beyond. However that doesn't curtail the expansive outlook on the fifth all new album from JPL (and seventh in total) for one second, Le Livre Blanc a vibrant and rounded experience from start to finish.

The album, while mainly sung in French, does contain one English language cut, the proud swagger of "Joker" an almost eighties piece of heavy rock strut and pout. It's possibly the most surprising track on the album, Honde just about unearthing a Coverdale pout and howl, although the gentle acoustic and hand percussion breakdown reminds us of exactly where we are. It may not be the most representative song of this album and yet it does illustrate the diversity on show, "Trompe La Morte" taking the acoustic themes from the middle section of "Joker" and expanding upon them, while "L'Etoile Du Nord" brings a bolder strut to proceedings, a deep riff bouncing off some fine drumming and enigmatic vocals. As its name suggests "Condoléances" brings a more remorseful mood, clipped but echoing drums and biting, yet tamed guitars reminding of latter day Genesis. Although even with the shorter cuts vibrant and varied, it's still the lengthier "Jehanne" and "L'Ermite" which provide the most rewarding examples of what JPL are capable of. The presence of Leonetti adding a real depth here and elsewhere, his ability to draw you in to a song, whether you understand his words or not, a rare skill indeed.

I can't pretend that I'm not sorry at the probable demise of Nemo and yet with JPL creating a similar musical landscape and, vitally, doing so just as convincingly, it's not as tough a loss to deal with as it might have been. Any of this band's albums are worthy of investigation, however I'd suggest that in terms of accessibility and quality, Le Livre Blanc is one of their best yet.

Track Listing
1. Un Livre Ouvert
2. L'Ermite
3. Joker
4. Trompe La Mort
5. L'Etoile Du Nord
6. Convoléances
7. La Peste Et Le Choléra / L'Antidote
8. Jehanne
9. Le Livre Blanc

Added: April 22nd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: JPL online
Hits: 1246
Language: english

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