Nos Âmes Saoules is the seventh album of the French progressive rock collective Lazuli. The album has been recorded in the same line-up as the previous two albums. That's why the atmosphere is a bit similar to Tant Que L'Herbe Est Grasse (2014, see review) and the very impressive CD [4603 Battements]. Over the years the new band members Vincent Barnavol (drums) and Romain Thorel (keyboards, French horn) have settled and their input helped to define the distinctive sound of Lazuli. An important part of that sound is the Léode played by Claude Leonetti. This self-made instrument surely is the trademark of the band together with the expressive guitar playing by Gédéric Byar and the passionate French vocals of band leader Dominique Leonetti.
Nos Âmes Saoules contains ten compositions, that is to say seven songs and three short instrumentals. (Fanfare Lente) is a short bombastic combination of the French horn and the sound of the musical saw made by the Léode. (Le Labour D'Un Surin) is a kind of soundscape with a dark unidentified sound palette. The last instrumental (Un Oeil Jete Par La Fenêtre) is a rather emotional part containing only piano playing in the same way as the beginning of the album. The opener Le Temps Est A La Rage is an amazing song built up in the traditional way: a smooth start, then emotional vocals, a subtle increase of power and ending with solos from guitar and Léode. Next is Le Lierre which demonstrates that they aren't afraid to add different elements to their progressive rock sound. Both the drumming and the overall arrangement sound very accessible and together with the vocal lines this song tends to pop music.
Vita Est Circus contains nice arrangements, acoustic guitars, the sound of the Léode and Dominique Leonetti's fine vocals. These all guarantee another great and impressive track. Strong percussion playing is another element of Lazuli's sound, something you can enjoy during Chaussures A Nos Pieds which also contains a most fantastic solo by Byar with a brilliant groove. On Le Mar Du Passe Thorel's keyboards add a modern, electronic element to Lazuli's sound, which perfectly suits the music. Les Sutures is another track in which the emotional singing is really outstanding during the first part. Towards the end the power increases while the Léode and the guitar take over. The title track is a typical current Lazuli song: intense, haunting and highlighting all the typical elements of their music.
In my opinion Nos Âmes Saoules is the next highlight in Lazuli's career. The songs are slightly more condensed, but there's still enough room to let all the individual musicians show up well. You need to play this album through a big set of speakers in order to fully enjoy the bombastic sound.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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