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Noa — Noa
(Soleil Zeuhl 26, 1980/2011, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2013-04-01

Noa Cover artThe original release of this album from 1980 was not known to me until Soleil Zeuhl's reissue landed in front of me, but it's definitely not from lack of quality. This could be regarded as a lost classic of RIO, especially influenced by Henry Cow, but with a style more original than derivative. Singer Claudie Nicolas doesn't have the abrasive edge that has made Dagmar Krause infamous in prog circles, though she's not at all a staid operatic type. Aside from the vocals, the band consists of Alain Gaubert on guitars and basses, drummer Christian Robard (who adds xylophone and vibes), and two woodwind players. The prevalence of flute and soprano sax tends to lighten the sound, resulting in a very different mood than a band like Univers Zéro, which features cello and other lower-pitched instruments. There are moments of squawking on the saxes, but they're kept to brief sections. The guitar is generally undistorted, so even at times when the rhythms and chords would seem ominous, the mood is not that dark. During the instrumental sections, for example on "La Mer," the band often veers toward jazz, with a busy walking bass line and tasty cymbal work on the drums. Get that going on with both saxes blowing and you've got yourself a good time! Recommended for fans of RIO, and even for jazz-rock fans who don't like RIO (or don't know they like it yet).

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 40, 2011 releases, 1980 recordings

Related artist(s): Noa

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Premier of New Echo Us Video

From the press release:

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.

“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.

“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)

As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.



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