The music of The Black Noodle Project (TBNP) cannot be qualified as 'standard progressive rock', whatever that may be. This French project definitely seeks the edges of the genre and even beyond. They blend a kind of psychedelic art rock with post rock and film scores. Initially TBNP was the one man band of Jeremie Grima, who played all the instruments and did all the vocals. Over the years he became close with guitarist Sebastien Bourdeix, who became a permanent band member. Together they were also involved in a side project called Stereoscope which can be regarded to be part of the TBNP heritage. Other musicians didn't stay that long with the exception of drummer Fabrice Berger, who joined after the album Play Again (2006).
So, basically Ghosts And Memories, the seventh (!) official studio album of TBNP, was recorded as a trio but the band will recruit some new musicians when they take their music on the road. I think the new album is their best one to date. Jeremie Grima and Sebastien Bourdeix have been working on new songs over the past two years. These seven new compositions show coherence and are pleasant to listen to. The first song The Wanderer Of Lost Moments starts instrumental with a cool post rock part, which gently shifts into a piano part followed by soft but very intense Pink Floyd influenced vocals. An emotional guitar solo separates the vocal parts and then the song returns to the initial post rock style, but this time with more progressive elements.
They Live, We Sleep is an instrumental composition that blends elements of Pink Floyd with the kind of post rock recorded by Porcupine Tree. The Owls (Are Not What They Seem) has an ingenious part of spoken words which gives you the impression that you're watching a movie. This feeling gets only strengthened by the soft middle-section, which is strongly influenced by Steven Wilson's music. This song would perfectly suit an art film or a film noir. In Shades Of Tomorrow elements of Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western music are mixed with a pleasant vocal style and adventurous and impressive acoustic and electric guitar work. Voices From Yesterday is an instrumental piece that flows from a gentle piano and a soft guitar to a stunning guitar passage followed by a heavy part.
Ghosts also can be regarded to be the perfect music for an imaginary movie. The dark and grim atmosphere is captured perfectly and you only have to close your eyes to really see ghosts. The final song on Ghosts & Memories is A Purple Memory, which has that typical hypnotizing post rock drone. When the vocals start, the early Pink Floyd elements return followed by several mood changing guitar passages that take the album to its end.
Like I wrote before, TBNP is not an average progressive rock band and in the past I didn't pay much attention to their music, but this album really surprised me in a positive way. The combination of psychedelic post rock, film score music and very intense singing is kind of unique. If you have an open mind towards music and you like post rock than Ghosts & Memories is definitely worthwhile to check it out; I think you won't be disappointed.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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