Regular progressive rock fans don't need an introduction when it comes to the name of Jean-Piere Louveton. As founder, composer and front man of the French progressive rock band Nemo, he already made fame. Besides Nemo JPL, as he likes to be called, he leads another band that leans a bit more towards the metal side of prog; Wolfspring. Two highly regarded albums are the result of this sort of side project. And still there is more; JPL regularly finds the time to work on solo albums, which led to the release of four JPL albums so far. MMXIV is his fifth and connects, like his previous ones, Nemo style progressive rock with heavy rhythms, medieval themes and furious guitar parts. On this album, JPL sees guests like Lazuli's vocalist Dominique Leonetti participating on two compositions, Welshman Nicholas James of 25 Yards Screamer lends his vocals to two songs, Terry Cooper takes care of some spoken words on the album and Nemo band mate Guillaume Fontaine plays keyboards on one composition.
The album has a concept that tells about the dark world and the taste for war, power and money and the difference between the wealthy and poor people. It all starts with the strong opener Je Suis Roi, a relaxed but still very intense composition with nice guitar solos and great vocals that provide an atmosphere that stays close to Nemo. Slightly out the box is the continuing Invisible Death, JPL's lyrics are in English this time. The strong French accent adds something special to this progressive rock song, with a funky base and interesting bass work. A furious, but tasteful guitar solo completes this mood-changing highlight. Absolutely fabulous is Le Dernier Souffle De Vent, where two of the - in my perception- best French vocalists lift the composition to higher spheres. A solid musical base of piano and bass drums lay a perfect base for a very strong guitar solo that builds towards a stunning end to the song. Atmospheric keyboards provide a strong background for Mad Science, a nice guitar part that gently grows towards a heavy riff, and when the quietness returns Terry Coopers' spoken words are nicely mixed over a relaxed, but powerful riff. JPL's vocals take over in a cool and smooth way, showing emotion, but are soon to be taken over by the returning power of the song. Did we just have one perfect combination of voices, both in the same language, now a different set of perfectly fitting voices meet. During Lifelines, Nicholas James perfectly complements JPL's vocals. Another highlight is the sound of the guitar during this absolute majestic song with theatrical keyboards hidden in the back. L'un Contre L'autre sees the return of Lazuli's main man, but this time the setting is quite relaxed and the guitar solo moves completely towards the style of Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, while the melodies and riff have a sort of softer post-rock feeling. I guess the co÷rporation of the two voices tastes so good, I can only beg for more; a duo album would be outstanding! Heavy guitars suit a real Superhero, so the intro is perfectly in its place. Nicholas James' extraordinary vocals return in a very strong way and that suits JPL; he gives other vocalists a chance to shine on his albums. This up tempo song sees oriental influences as well as Guillaume Fontaine's theatrical keyboards, alongside perfectly sounding guitars. The album's title track MMXIV is the final composition on the album and can be seen as the album's epic composition. After several listens, I come to realize this is a song that has no guests and is solely played and sung by JPL. Wow, kudos for that. After a smooth guitar and bass driven opening, power strikes and the melodies and riffs crank up the power and speed of the song, working towards a complete madman guitar solo. When the air clears, JPL's vocals take over: fragile, over a background of theatrical keyboards. Towards the end, JPL shows his qualities as a guitar player once more.
I guess Jean-Pierre Louveton deserves a lot of credits for this absolutely amazing album. Especially when you realize he leads both Nemo and Wolfspring, creativity must be pouring out of the man's head. The album really grows on you; after the first Nemo orientated song, the album really takes off towards a new frontier. Like I said: all my respect to JPL and his choice of super guest vocalists that make the album soar beyond musical borders.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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