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NeBeLNeST – SeLF-TiTLed (1999/ 2023) (Cuneiform Records)

Hats off to Cuneiform for reviving interest in this brilliant album originally released on the Laser’s Edge label, following their two albums for Cuneiform, “NoVa eOReSS” (2002) and ZePTO (2006) before the band split up in 2013. Described in the ‘blurb’ as “one of the most adventurous and energetic young bands to emerge on the international post-rock/ avant-progressive scene in the late 90s” the presence of “dark symphonic rock” influences like KING CRIMSON, PRESENT, SHYLOCK and UNIVERS ZERO are there for all to hear.

They were formed in 1997 by Olivier and Gregoy Tejedor (keys and bass respectively), Cyril Malderez (guitar) and Michäel Anselmi (drums). Their debut, recorded on six ADATs, was rescued from a damp cellar and had to be professionally restored to get rid of mould. Miraculously, all that had to be restored was 10 seconds of the drum part on ‘Absinthe’, which was duly done by Olivier Tejedor, who also remixed and remastered the album.

If fluid guitar work, insistent rhythms and retro keyboards are your thing, then this album is for YOU. When listening to it, I noted down SOFT MACHINE (in some of the keyboards- MIKE RATLEDGE) and MAGMA on ‘Uncertain Journey’ with its zeuhl-like bass . ‘Etaude de Shimshot’ has some dazzling keyboard playing and coruscating guitars, arising in a blaze of fury from more melodic cadences and synthesised choruses. The album flows beautifully, and it’s hard to pick out any one track, but one adjective best describes it: intense. Another reference point to me is GUAPO. Despite the fact that the roots of some of the band was originally in ‘noise-rock’, it has to be said that while the all-instrumental music is ‘loud’ the band show a remarkable maturity and restraint; in short: it works, and another relatively unknown progressive gem has been revealed.

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