Nooumena, with their odd name derived from Greek philosophy, hail from Caen in France and Controlled Freaks is their second album, the first, Argument With Eagerness, came out in 2011. They have close connections to fellow Caen avant-prog band Rhùn and having originally produced a demo as Nooumena back in 2006, after that 2011 debut album they spent some time with Rhùn’s various projects before concentrating on their own music once more. Other than that I know nothing about them, not having any PR info to go on. Suffice to say that Controlled Freaks is a rather fine maelstrom of dark prog with avant/RIO leanings, which is why it got my attention.
Seeds, Needs charges out of the traps foaming at the mouth, strident Zeuhl rhythms taking the thing out of sight down the track before it suddenly…stops, gets up off the floor muttering and cussing as it regroups its thoughts, lurching off again, slower and more composed this time, but gathering momentum as it goes. This is the world of Nooumena, and France is and has always been the go to place for this sort of brooding, heavy music.
Thibault Geay’s theatrical singing style, full of whoops and hollers, spoken/shouted parts, not to mention conventional singing, enlivens proceedings no end as the fabulous procession that is Bamboozled attests as it levels all before it.
Concealed has the feel of early Anekdoten gone Zeuhl, which is no bad thing, and the album as a whole is one heavy beast. That pervading heaviosity is leavened by passages of deathly dark ambience, in fact the track 7×6∞ is nearly five minutes of marvellously unsettling atmospherics that you won’t be playing with the lights out. Very creepy indeed, it ends with a tortured scream. Obvious debts to Univers Zero, Present, et al are there for all to see.
There is nothing particularly new here, thus proving that avant prog can be just as guilty of looking backwards as any other subset of Prog, but there is more than enough on this record to maintain one’s interest. At under 40 minutes it does not outstay its welcome, and Nooumena show no little talent in their swirling cacophonies, and produce music that is always lean and purposeful, and with very little fat, and for that I commend it to the house.
01. Seeds, Needs (6:38)
02. Bamboozled (6:07)
03. Death Toll (6:56)
04. Something Else (2:29)
05. Concealed (5:06)
06. 7×6∞ (4:46)
07. Dog eat Dog (5:28)
Total Time – 37:35
Pierre Blin – Drums, Synths
Thibault Geay – Voice, Guitar
Maxime Métais – Guitar, Sax
Simon Toralba – Bass
Record Label: L’étourneur/Decagon Records
Country of Origin: France
Date of Release: 28th February 2017