Nova Express

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NeBeLNeST's debut album, the eponymous CD released in 1999 by Laser's Edge, packed a lot of promises and excitement weakened by insufficient production. For their second opus, the group recruited none other than Bob Drake, producer extraordinaire for the label ReR Megacorp and a pillar of the avant-prog movement (if one can speak of such a movement). Drake did a wonderful job, bringing all the details of the quartet's tortured prog rock much more in focus and adding his distinctive touch in the form of a wide, surprise-stuffed stereo mix. But the group did not deliver everything one could expect. The improvisational aspect of their first CD has been attenuated and the thunderous King Crimson-esque riffs that structure their compositions sound less dangerous than before. That is not to say NoVa eXPReSS is a bad album, on the contrary, but the music has lost part of its unique character, bringing it closer to an instrumental version of Anekdoten or Taal. The playing is still exciting, though. Michael Anselmi is one mean drummer, adding ferocity to Bill Bruford's stamina. The title track, after a long start, delivers the best moment of the album, a driving riff supporting great interplay between keyboard, bass, and guitar. For the sake of sonic properties start here, but if you like what you hear please do try to find the group's previous CD -- you'll be delighted.

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