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Nyl - Nyl CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.49 | 18 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 'Nyl' - Nyl (45/100)

Listening to Nyl, I get the strong mental image of a group of talented French prog musicians getting together one evening for some drinks and jam, to see what they might be able to come up with at a moment's notice. The result, of course, is something that doesn't feel particularly meticulous in its design, but manages to stay afloat in large part thanks to the group's innate musicianship. Having released only this one album in 1976, Nyl crosses me less as a band proper than an unpretentious, one-off collaboration between musicians, not least of all being Jannick Top (of Magma fame). Nyl offer a varied hour of jam-oriented space rock, jazz fusion and occasional Zeuhl influences with their self- titled; more often than not it feels aimless and underwhelming, but some sharp performances and mild historical significance may be worth the check out to psychedelic aficionados and Magma adepts.

Outside of jazz, space rock might be the only style where an improvisational format may serve to bring the style to its full artistic potential. I cannot know for certain how much work went into preparing these compositions prior to the performance and recording, but the songwriting feels mostly like a vessel to sport the musicianship, rather than the other way around. As a result, almost all of Nyl's strong suits are found within the longer-form instrumental jams. The shorter and more concise Nyl get with their songwriting, the more underwhelming they become. There are only a handful of takes here where Nyl go for a more condensed rock format, often emulating late 60's psych rock aesthetic in the process. Although the impressive standard of musicianship is virtually everpresent, Nyl's composed ideas are generally bland and unassuming. With that in mind, the best material here is seemingly improvised; the opening track "Nyl" gets a fantastic groove going for it; the soloists each take their turns, and individually prove themselves to be as skilled and talented as the one before them. Nyl themselves seem to have been aware that this title track was the best groove they had going for them, as it's repeated twice as the variations "Nyl II" and "Nyl III". A tad overkill perhaps (especially considering the album's hour-plus length), but it helps to give the album a touch of coherence and flow it would otherwise lack.

At least on the first title track, Nyl conjure quasi-operatic vocalizations pretty closely drawn from their compatriots in Magma; the influence certainly isn't surprising, given Jannick Top's participation here. Jannick's contributions are minor, but the martial aggression of his bass playing is certainly apparent. The occasional use of saxophone is a nice touch, although they're rarely used in such a way that seems integral to the music.The vocals are scarce thankfully, but serve to hit the music wherever they are; no amount of flanger of spacey effects can improve a vocal performance if it's weak to begin with. Whether Stephane Rossini is singing in English or French, the performance feels halfhearted. This weak point in the execution can be forgiven due to Nyl's clever decision to focus on instrumentals throughout. If Nyl are most often defined for their inconsistency, it's Stephane Rossini's drumwork that holds it all together smoothly. Especially during their most longform jam grooves, his rhythms feel incredibly lively and energetic.

Even for 1976, Nyl feels outdated and anachronistic. Where progressive rock had moved forward, Nyl seem to have taken solace in the decade prior, drawing upon late '60s psychedelic tropes and space rock aesthetic. It's a decent, albeit lo-fi and barebones take on the style, but strong musicianship can't entirely make up for what it lacks in style and songwriting. Whatever potential that was here is left half-baked; fans of space rock should dig this little niche of obscurity, but the patchy, thrown-together feel of the album keeps it at bay from a solid recommendation.

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |


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