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Nanook of the North
Naomi
Narnia
Johnny Nash
Matt Nathanson
Nationalgalerie
Nature
Jacqui Naylor
Ednita Nazario

Chris Neal
Nearly
Nebelnest
Nebulosa


N.Æ.  (Poland)  see:

N.Æ.

NHU  (Spain)

NHU, 'NHU'

NHU  (1978,  39.21)  ***½/½

Na Terra do Verde Chan
A Titritada
Friky & Alexo
Doente
Hay un Tren
A Trancas e Barrancas

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

From Galicia/Galiza, in the north-west of Spain, NHU were a psychedelically-inclined progressive outfit who released just the one eponymous album at the height of Spain's late-flowering prog scene. Its organ-heavy sound hasn't dated that well, to be honest, though the material's good; like so many progressive albums, there are no bad tracks per se, only varying levels of 'fairly good'. Unlike many of their contemporaries, there's absolutely no flamenco influence in NHU's sound whatsoever, their style being more early-'70s post-psych, but if you're a Spanish prog devotee, don't let that put you off. Highlights? Hard to say, although opener Na Terra Do Verde Chan catches the ear quite nicely.

The unknown organist plays Mellotron strings, briefly but forcefully, on Hay Un Tren, although that seems to be your lot on the Mellotron front. So; NHU's a good album without being at all outstanding. Put it on your prog wants 'B' list.

Nacka Forum  (Sweden)

Nacka Forum, 'Fee Fi Fo Rum'

Fee Fi Fo Rum  (2012,  54.55)  ***/0

Fanfarum for Forum
Borkum Riff
Jimmy
Buss 446
Dinner With Inner
Yasuragi
Gluck
Occasions
Fanfarum for Electric Forum

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Swedish avant-jazzers Nacka Forum (who appear to be a part-time proposition for four busy musicians) have been around for a decade or so at the time of writing. Their third album, 2012's Fee Fi Fo Rum, is pretty hard going for non-avant-jazzers, frankly; its more straightforward material (lengthy opener Fanfarum For Forum, Jimmy) is perfectly listenable for 'regular' jazzbos, but when they head off-piste (Borkum Riff, Buss 446, Gluck), it all becomes rather more, er, 'difficult'.

Saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar doubles on keys, including a MiniMoog (audible on Occasions and closer Fanfarum For Electric Forum) and the expected, the sleevenotes stating: "And special thanks to Opeth for letting us use your Mellotron!" Small problem here; I didn't know Opeth even owned a Mellotron; in fact, they've only just started using a real one. n.b. Jonas has written to tell me that they were recording in the same studio the day after Opeth had been in and were told they could use the MkVI. Although I initially thought it was inaudible, it turns out to have provided the heavily-pitchbent vibes on Yasuragi, treated by sticking it through a Roland Space Echo. As The Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band once said, 'Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold'.

Official site

Leona Naess  (UK)

Leona Naess, 'Thirteens'

Thirteens  (2008,  39.23/46.45)  **½/0 (½)

Ghosts in the Attic
Leave Your Boyfriends Behind
Learning as We Go
Unnamed (This Song Makes Me Happy)
Not the Same Girl
Swing Swing Gently
Heavy Like Sunday
Shiny on the Inside
The Lipstick Song
When Sharks Attack
On My Mind
[Bonus tracks:
Danke Schoen
Unnamed (mellow version)]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Leona Naess (actually Næss) is a truly multinational artist; Swedish mother, Norwegian father, born in the States, grew up in the UK, moved back to the States in adulthood... Her (admittedly enormously wealthy) dad even subsequently married Diana Ross, which, as claims to fame go, isn't a bad one. 2008's Thirteens is her fourth album, starting pretty well by modern singer-songwriter standards, although a purple patch halfway through knocks a half star from its rating. Better tracks? Gentle opener Ghosts In The Attic and the mildly jazzy The Lipstick Song, the only real stinker being one of two bonus efforts, Unnamed (Mellow Version).

Samuel Dixon plays Mellotron, although all string parts on the basic album sound like the credited quartet, leaving the chordal strings on bonus track Danke Schoen as his only obvious contribution, assuming it's real. Well, I've heard a lot worse in this vein, although Naess' propensity for upping her tempos needs to be squashed post-haste. Not worth it for the Mellotron, of course.

Official site

Nagisa Ni te  (Japan)

Nagsa Ni te, 'Feel'

Feel  (2002,  62.28)  **½/T

The New World
Song About a River-Crossing Song

We
Strength of the Wind
Piho
Morning Glory
Speed of the Fish
Strength of the Waves
Song for Malo
Stars
Nagisa Ni te, 'The Same as a Flower'

The Same as a Flower  (2004,  50.39)  ***/T½

The Same as a Flower
Threads of Souls
River
A Light
Wife
Bramble
Beyond the Grass
After a Song
Hope
Nagisa Ni te, 'Dream Sounds'

Dream Sounds  (2005,  41.41)  ***/T

The True World
Anxiety
Me, on the Beach
The True Sun

Current availability:

Mellotrons/Chamberlins used:

Nagisa Ni te ('On the Beach') have been fêted for some years now as psychedelia's Next Big Thing, meaning that when I finally heard them, I was a little underwhelmed. They're basically the duo of Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda, who provide the male-female vocal dynamic, plus whoever else they need to realise their vision. Their music is probably best described as a modern take on 'weird folk', or the acoustic end of late '60s psych, complete with rather iffy vocal and instrumental intonation, unfortunately. There's Mellotron credited on 1999's The True World, which I'll review when I get to hear it.

2002's Feel is somewhat overlong for its content, causing this listener to run out of patience after forty minutes or so. I can only assume that considerable substance intake is recommended before playing, as the album crawls through ten tracks of tuneless acoustic psych, complete with dodgy recorder solos and the like. Best moment? The acid-drenched (sorry) guitar work on closer Stars, for what it's worth. Takeda plays Mellotron, while Shibayama plays Mellotron and Chamberlin (I've no idea where the band sourced one, assuming it's real), with strings on opener The New World and the oddly-titled Song About A River-Crossing Song, nowhere near enough to make this worth hearing on that account.

Their sixth full album, 2004's The Same as a Flower, has its moments, but a great deal of it's rather dreary, sad to say; maybe its rather downbeat approach can be seen as 'transcendent' if you're in the right frame of mind? It's mostly one-paced (slow), with little development of musical themes, concentrating more on its lyrical content, I suspect. Tape-replay credits are the same as Feel, with lush strings and obvious brass (complete with key-click) on the lengthy Bramble and flute and strings at the end of After A Song. My guess is that the instruments were added in one take, played together by the duo, which would probably mean that the strings are Chamby and the brass and flute, 'Tron.

The following year's Dream Sounds is a slightly different proposition, featuring just four tracks over its forty-minute length, one of them 'side-long', in vinylspeak, although it's more a collection of disparate bits than a 'proper' piece, to be honest. Said track, The True Sun, deviates from their usual template a few minutes in, when the drums and lead guitar kick in, although the pace remains as funereal as ever. Shibayama on Mellotron this time round, with strings on Me, On The Beach and The True Sun, although less vibrantly than on The Same as a Flower.

So; I can't comment on their earlier work, but these two albums will probably appeal to those with a high tolerance for fractured, folk-influenced psychedelia and out-of-tune vocals. While both feature some nice Mellotron/Chamberlin work, neither is essential on that front. I don't believe there's any tape-replay on their latest outing, 2008's Yosuga, but I'll review their first Mellotron album when I get hold of a copy.

Org Records site

Naikaku  (Japan)  see: Samples

Yael Naïm  (Israel)

Yael Naïm, 'Yael Naïm'

Yael Naïm  (2008,  51.48)  **/T

Paris
Too Long
New Soul
Levater
Shelcha
Lonely
Far Far
Yashanti
7 Baboker
Lachlom
Toxic
Pachad
Endless Song of Happiness

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Although born in France, Yael Naïm moved to Israel as a child, later moving back to Paris, where her eponymous second album was written and recorded, sung variously in Hebrew, French and English. It should really be titled Yael Naïm & David Donatien, I suppose, as her percussionist and musical partner actually gets a co-credit on the sleeve. She had the very good fortune to have New Soul chosen by Apple to advertise one of its products, giving her massive exposure in the English-speaking market that she could never have managed without this boost. Yael Naïm has its less irritating moments, but they're few and far between, I'm afraid; no one track offends, but their cumulative effect is enough to make the listener begin to lose the will to live.

Naïm plays Mellotron on the album, with a nice little flute part on New Soul and what sounds like a variably-tuned recorder-type thing playing over 'Tron flutes on Naïm's rather odd cover of the immensely talented Britny Spears' Toxic. This is all pretty dull; to accuse it of blandness would be far from unfair, but many millions of people love this kind of safe singer-songwriter stuff, so what do I know?

Official site

R. Carlos Nakaí & Cliff Sarde  (US)  see: Samples

Pete Namlook & Klaus Schulze  (Germany)  see: Samples

Nanook of the North  (Sweden)

Nanook of the North: 'The Täby Tapes' cassette Nanook of the North: 'The Täby Tapes' CD

The Täby Tapes  (2001/4,  37.37)  ****/TTT

Reaching the Shores of Arlanda
Karin Boye's Grave
Israel and Palestine - a Solution
Nanook's Ark
Phonecall
St George and the Dragon

Näsby Park
Hey Fragile
Where Will You Go?
Nanook and the Beast
The Explorer
Forget it Jenny, Love is Just a
  Privilege for the Rich

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Änglagård's Mattias Olsson's latest project, Nanook of the North, specialise in (you guessed it) slightly melancholy pop with a retro sort of sound and twin male/female vocals (see: Reminder, Geller et al.). The band are named after the 1922 film, an early filmic attempt at understanding other cultures rather than just wiping them out, and have been favourably compared to Björk in various online reviews. Unless I'm entirely mistaken, The Täby Tapes crept out as long ago as 2001 as a cassette-only release, although the CD took another three years to appear. The above scan gives little idea of the sumptuousness of the packaging; pictures of some of the grottier areas of Stockholm (?) in midwinter are overlaid with layers of translucent 'tracing paper' containing lyrics etc., knocking your standard CD booklet into a cocked hat (so what exactly is a 'cocked hat' anyway, and why would you wish to knock anything into it?). The album has some highly eccentric lyrics in places; what's all that stuff in Reaching The Shores Of Arlanda about "Mattias, play your omnichord", anyway? The odd stuff just adds to the album's appeal for me; who wants 'normal'? Well, most people, I suppose, but I can still dream, can't I?

Anyway, the mysterious "Nanook" (not Mattias, for what it's worth) plays 'Tron throughout, with the most overt parts being the flutes on Nanook's Ark, Phonecall and St George And The Dragon, the strings on Where Will You Go? and a brief choir part on Nanook And The Beast. Mattias assures me that there are also various vibes and 'Tron piano parts, not to mention the oboe in Hey Fragile. Apparently, the 'distant orchestra' on Nanook's Ark comprises multiple 'Tron overdubs, including flutes, strings, cello, oboe, vibes, church organ and choir, amongst others. Anyway, the album itself is probably not for prog fundamentalists (you know who you are), but if you've heard and liked any of the man's other projects, you'll probably like this.

See: Änglagård | AK-Momo | Geller | Molesome | Pineforest Crunch | Reminder

Naomi  (Germany)

Naomi, 'Aquarium'

Aquarium  (2006,  47.57)  **½/TT

Personal Big Bang
Gone
Another Bite of the Apple

Perfect Day in Hell
Relax She Said
Anything Can Change
Nothing
Needle on the Record
Just a Habit
How Many Loves
Sorry Mister Please
All I Need
I am Here

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Mellotron used:

Naomi isn't a person, but the German electro-pop duo of Bernd Lechler and Nico Tobias, whose third album, 2006's Aquarium, combines mainstream pop, hip-hop and R'n'B, with an unexpected hint of psych thrown in. Apparently, their first two albums relied more on instrumental work, but this time round it's songs all the way, for better or worse. To be honest, I've heard a lot worse in this vein, which is why it doesn't get a lower star rating, although it's hardly what I'd call essential listening.

I've no idea who plays the Mellotron - either member of the band or an outside musician? Anyway, we get faint strings and flutes on Gone, with much more upfront flutes and choirs on Another Bite Of The Apple, volume-pedalled strings and flutes on Relax She Said and finally, more of those flutes on All I Need. Amazingly, it actually sounds fairly real, although I'm not sure what that means any more, as the clones get better every year. You don't really need to hear this, but it does feature a surprisingly amount of the ol' 'Tron.

Official site

Narnia  (UK)

Narnia, 'Aslan is Not a Tame Lion'

Aslan is Not a Tame Lion  (1974,  36.32)  ***/TTT

You'd Better Believe it
Muddy Ground

The Juggler
Agapé
To a Fountain

Miracle of Birth
In the Forest
Boogie for Narnia
Living Water

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Mellotron used:

Narnia were a one-shot female-fronted UK outfit, operating at the lightweight, folky end of the progressive spectrum, on 1974's Aslan is Not a Tame Lion. It has a Christian bent to a few tracks, notably Miracle Of Birth and In The Forest (hardly surprising, given their whole C.S. Lewis thing, I suppose); I don't personally find the music especially enthralling, but if you like the quieter, simpler type of '70s stuff, you may be into it.

Keyboard man Peter Banks (no relation to the ex-Yes/Flash guitarist) plays Mellotron on four tracks, with solid strings throughout their cover of Tom Paxton's You'd Better Believe It and Muddy Ground, with flutes and strings on Agapé and To A Fountain, making this quite a Mellotron album, on the quiet. As I said, don't expect anything wildly exciting, but it's all competent enough and the Mellotron stuff's worth hearing.

Johnny Nash  (US)

Johnny Nash, 'I Can See Clearly Now'

I Can See Clearly Now  (1972,  34.10)  ***/TTT

Stir it Up
That's the Way We Get By

Guava Jelly
(It Was) So Nice While it Lasted
Ooh Baby You've Been Good to Me
You Poured Sugar on Me
I Can See Clearly Now
Comma Comma
We're All Alike
How Good it is
The Fish and the Alley of Destruction
There Are More Questions Than Answers
Johnny Nash, 'My Merry-Go-Round'

My Merry-Go-Round  (1973,  37.18)  **½/½

My Merry-Go-Round
Nice Time
You Better Stop (Messing Around)
Gonna Open Up My Heart Again
Ooh, What a Feeling
Love is Not a Game
Loving You
Yellow House
(Oh Jesus) We're Trying to Get Back to You
Salt Annie Ginger Tree

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Mellotrons used:

American Johnny Nash was the acceptable face of reggae in the early '70s, which isn't to dismiss his place in its history; indeed, he helped The Wailers out in the late '60s after visiting Jamaica and recorded enough Bob Marley songs to help him on his way. Of course, Nash was, at heart, a soul singer, and a bloody good one, but he's known to this day for his incursion into the world of reggae in the '70s.

I Can See Clearly Now is best known for its catchy title track, but most of the album's material is pretty much on a par, including four Marley compositions. John "Rabbit" Bundrick plays keys on the album, including Hammond, MiniMoog and, of course, Mellotron, with flutes and strings (under real recorder) on Marley's Stir It Up and orchestral-ish strings on every other highlighted track, sounding very much as if it was used as a string section substitute, rather than as an instrument in its own right.

Nash's follow-up, the following year's My Merry-Go-Round, waters the reggae down to the point where it's pretty much a soul album played on the offbeat. Little of the material matches the best of its predecessor, opting for slushy ballads instead of statements of (admittedly fairly bland) intent like Stir It Up or The Fish And The Alley Of Destruction. No specific credits again, but a 'thanks' to Rabbit makes me heavily suspect he plays keys this time round, too. Most of the strings are real this time (bigger budget?), but it's definitely 'Tron on Loving You.

Johnny Nash seems lost in the early '70s, despite his timeless voice and major role in the propagation of reggae, probably as his material sounds determinedly lightweight these days, in comparison to the biggest Jamaican names. Anyway, loads of Mellotron on I Can See Clearly Now, very little on My Merry-Go-Round, which may or may not affect your decision re. purchase.

Matt Nathanson  (US)

Matt Nathanson, 'Still Waiting for Spring'

Still Waiting for Spring  (1999,  30.15)  **½/T

Parade
Wings
Lucky Boy
Loud
Answering Machine
Then I'll Be Smiling
More Than This
Everything You Say Sounds Like Gospel
Amazing Again
Little Victories
Matt Nathanson, 'When Everything Meant Everything'

When Everything Meant Everything EP  (2002,  17.31)  **½/TT

Pretty the World
Fall to Pieces
Princess
Weight of it All
Bent

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlins used:

It seems Matt Nathanson sidestepped the 'join a band' thing and went straight into a solo career (how do people do this?), releasing his first album as far back as 1993. '99's Still Waiting for Spring is his fourth, best described as chirpy pop/rock alternating with ballads, of the kind that irritates non-aficionados after, well, usually a couple of minutes, to be honest. It's harmless, as far as these things go, but it drags rather, which is a harsh accusation for an album only half an hour long. Counting Crows' Charlie Gillingham plays Mellotron and Chamberlin, with what sounds like (Chamby?) cellos under the real one on Loud and a major ('Tron?) flute part on Everything You Say Sounds Like Gospel.

Nathanson's next release was an EP in 2002, When Everything Meant Everything, essentially more of the same, or should that be less? Jason Borger on Chamberlin this time round, with a string part on Fall To Pieces and upfront flutes on Weight Of It All, making it more tape-replay heavy than its full-length predecessor. So; all rather dullsville if you're not into this stuff, but one great tape-replay track in Everything You Say Sounds Like Gospel.

Official site

Nationalgalerie  (Germany)

Nationalgalerie, 'Meskalin'

Meskalin  (1995,  42.12)  ***/TT

Tränen in Mein Herz
In Wien
Tütensuppe
Zombie Hungrig
Alles
Star
Entmaterialisieren
Sperrangelweitoffen
Immer Wieder Sonntags
Hier und Übermorgen
Bis Ans Andere Ende der Welt

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Mellotron used:

As far as I can work out, Nationalgalerie were a German (-language) alt.rock outfit from the early '90s, who released four albums over a five-year period. The last of these, 1995's Meskalin, is one of those inoffensive, strangely characterless albums that rarely actually inspire anyone to really like or dislike them, which might explain why the band split soon afterwards. The nearest it gets to a standout track is the Oriental-esque Tütensuppe, but, despite its sensible length, it still rather outstays its welcome towards the end.

Christian "Reverend Ch.D" Dabeler plays Mellotron, with skronky strings on In Wien, a similarly cracked flute melody on Sperrangelweitoffen and cello and strings on Hier Und Übermorgen, the album's top 'Tron track. This really isn't a very exciting release, if truth be told, but its Mellotron tracks are perfectly pleasant, if rather undemanding.

MySpace

Nature  (Sweden)

Nature, 'Earthmover'

Earthmover  (1974,  37.21)  ***/TT

Lookin' for Rock'n'Roll
Going Home
Summer in the City
20th Century Kid
Mystery Brew
Midnight Dreamer
Meating
One Room Country Shack
Follow My Heart
This Wheel's on Fire

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Mellotron used:

Sweden's Nature were one of those mid-'70s bands who tried to be all things to all men, going by their second album, 1974's Earthmover. This has a bit of everything; rock'n'roll-by-numbers (opener Lookin' For Rock'n'Roll, Midnight Dreamer), pop/rock (20th Century Kid, Meating), blues-rock (One Room Country Shack) and contemporary covers (The Lovin' Spoonful's Summer In The City, Dylan's This Wheel's On Fire), not to mention the odd, percussive Going Home and by far and away its best track, psychedelic mini-epic Mystery Brew, complete with a superb, properly ripping guitar solo. Perplexing.

Björn J:son Lindh (a man with his own lengthy history) plays Mellotron, with string and flute parts on Summer In The City, Mystery Brew and Follow My Heart. Is this worth hearing? Just about, mainly for Mystery Brew and some of the Mellotron work, although an album this short containing this much filler can't really be called a success.

Nautilus  (UK)  see: Samples

Jacqui Naylor  (US)

Jacqui Naylor, 'Smashed for the Holidays'

Smashed for the Holidays  (2007,  45.51)  ***/T

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Santa Baby
Celebrate Early and Often
Happy Xmas
What Child is This
Thank You Baby
We Three Kings
The Christmas Song
Winter
Father Christmas
Silver Bells
Christmas Ain't What it Used to Be
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Although Jacqui Naylor fits loosely into the jazz field, her chief musical contribution to date seems to be her invention of 'acoustic smashing': fitting the lyrics of one song to the music of another. I'm sure this has been done before, if only for comic effect, but Naylor clearly takes the technique very seriously, at least going by her 'holiday' (i.e. Christmas) album, 2007's Smashed for the Holidays (ho ho). On the smashing front, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town is set to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama and an unidentified boogie, Silver Bells is a mutated take on The Police's stalker's charter, Every Breath You Take and we get no fewer than three Zeppelin tracks: D'yer Maker (Santa Baby), Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You (What Child Is This) and When The Levee Breaks (We Three Kings). Not every track fits that description; her jazzy take on The Kinks' Father Christmas is played relatively straight, but it's a rarity here.

Art Khu plays a (real?) Mellotron cello part on Silver Bells that, while nice to hear, doesn't especially enhance the song, to be perfectly honest. I'm not sure whether or not I can really recommend this; Naylor pitches too low for her already deep contralto on several songs, while the actual styling is unusual enough that you'll either love it or... you won't. Definitely a brave experiment, but possibly not an entirely successful one.

Official site

Ednita Nazario  (Puerto Rico)

Ednita Nazario, 'Real'

Real  (2007,  50.54)  **/½

Alguien Más
Todavia
No
Me Quedo
No te Mentia
Puedo
Después de Ti
Hoy
Cuestón de Tiempo
Cuando No te Queden Lágrimas
Azul
Days of Innocence
Real

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Mellotron used:

Ednita Nazario, a child star in the early '60s, is still performing and recording today, having notched up over fifty years in 'the biz', but have you heard of her? Nope, nor me; such is the fate of Latin American artists, although their own market is large enough that I'm sure few of them are too fussed. 2007's Real is something like her nineteenth studio album (it's hard to say for sure), a fairly typical Latin pop/rock effort, sadly more pop than rock, although Después De Ti cranks it up ever so slightly.

Armando Avila (Avila Boys, many others) supposedly plays Mellotron, although, as with all his other album credits, it's hard to tell exactly where, especially given the preponderance of real strings here. The background strings on No? Who knows? Or, frankly, cares? You're not going to bother with this, anyway.

Official site

Chris Neal  (Australia)

Chris Neal, 'Winds of Isis'

Winds of Isis  (1974,  41.39)  ***½/TTTT

Prelude
Into the Valley of the Ancients - a Glimpse of Isis
Full Moon Lightning - the Field Test
Ritual Eternal - Initiation of the Searcher
The Legend
  From the Castle the Winds Arose...
  Through the Corridors of Time, Including the March of the Undead - Temptation to Turn Back

  Carnival of the People - a Brief Respite
  Nightmare - Isis Unveiled
  Dance of the Astral Shadows - Beyond the Point of No Return
  Flight From the Unknown
  Ashes to Ashes

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Mellotron used:

These days Chris Neal seems to be mainly a composer of film scores, but three decades ago, he produced one of Australia's first symphonic progressive albums. Winds of Isis is instrumental, with more than a hint of psych-throwback to it, and an unusual melodic approach, quite possibly influenced by his interest in film music and probably Hollywood musicals, too. He's more of a keyboard player than anything else, although he plays most of the instruments on the album, proving himself a capable guitarist and drummer. He lists all equipment on the back cover, which reads like a wish-list of mid-'70s keys and effects, using various Mu-Tron devices from the States, through which he sticks just about everything in sight.

Neal's Mellotron work is well over the top, with every track heavy with very raw-sounding 'Tron; don't expect a two million buck production here... He lists choir/cellos/strings, and uses all but the cellos extensively, usually in great chordal slabs stomping all over whatever else is going on at the time; almost the first sound you hear on the album is choir chords, and he only ever lets up for a couple of minutes or so before slapping some more on. I've had to guess which parts of side two's The Legend contain 'Tron, as there's no timings for parts, so apologies if they're wrong.

All in all, a good, if unusual prog release, with very healthy doses of Mellotron, so if you don't object to something a little different, I can heartily recommend a purchase. I've no idea if Neal produced anything else in the progressive field; there seem to be several Chris Neals who've made their mark somewhere down the line, including an Abbey Road engineer, a modern country artist and a Mike and the Mechanics collaborator (collaborators usually get shot, don't they?), so Web research is extremely difficult. Anyway; worth the effort. Buy.

See: Marshall Brothers Band | Bob Hudson

Nearly  (US)

Nearly, 'Reminder'

Reminder  (2005,  41.24)  **½/T½

One Day I Was Gone
Straight to Nowhere
All is Lost
Liars Day
Prins Hendrik
Mary Vincent

Blackwing
Step Into the Light
Wrong
Up in the Trees
Tributary

Release

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Nearly (or, irritatingly, nearlY) are ex-Nine Inch Nails drummer Jerome Dillon's occasional band, who've released just the one album so far, 2005's Reminder. A pretty downbeat record, it contains pointers towards NiN's sound, not least the gothic soundscapes of Blackwing and Up In The Trees, although Claudia Sarne's vocals on most tracks (Dillon also sings on four) separate this from your typical NiN copyist outfit.

On the tape-replay front, Dillon adds background Mellotron strings to Straight To Nowhere, Step Into The Light and Tributary, plus Chamberlin strings to Prins Hendrik, Sarne adds very background Mellotron strings to Mary Vincent, while Jeff Ciampa plays Chamby strings on Up In The Trees, although none of it's that overt, sadly. Generally speaking, one for NiN fans, I think; I'm not sure the rest of us will get too much out of this. Reasonably good at what it does, but really not my personal bag.

Official site

See: Nine Inch Nails

Nebelnest  (France)

Nebelnest, 'Nova Express'

Nova Express  (2002,  46.53)  ****/TTTT

Blackmail
Stimpy Bar
Redrum
Cinema 1920
Nova Express
Nebelnest, 'Zepto'

Zepto  (2006,  46.14)  ***½/TT½

Pillars of Birth
Majnuns
The Old Ones
The Thing in the Walls

Fabric of Reality
De Thriumpho Naturae
Do What Thou Wilt

Station 9

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Nebelnest (or, as they seem to prefer, NeBeLNeST) released their first, self-titled album in '99, using Mellotron samples. An excellent record, sitting firmly in the Crimson/Anekdoten camp, it's a mixture of improvs and arranged pieces, well worth hearing. Three years on, they followed up with Nova Express, on Cuneiform (amusingly spelt 'CuNeiFoRM' on the spine), where the band have noticeably tightened up their style, although the overall sound remains the same. This is wild, frequently improv'd music which whips up an impressive sonic maelstrom, with all four musicians pushing themselves to the limit; I hear distinct comparisons with Britain's Guapo whose new album is, coincidentally, also out on Cuneiform.

Keyboard man Olivier Tejedor wrote to me to confirm their Mellotron use on the album, although they used samples of some sounds, too. The choirs, cellos and flutes are played via a Kurzweil, but the strings, string section and vibes (strange combination!) are 'real', with particularly powerful strings on the excellent Stimpy Bar. For the record, there are more strings on Redrum, string section and strings on the title track and what must be vibes on Cinema 1920, although they're played at the sort of speed you wouldn't normally associate with the instrument. The flute samples turn up on Nova Express, sounding remarkably realistic, I have to say, although the few seconds of 'cellos' right at the end of the album are a bit manky.

All in all, an excellent album, well worth shelling out your hard-earned for, with plenty of real 'Tron action. Mellotron highlight? Probably the choppy pitchbend work on Nova Express, where Tejedor goes completely off the rails, to the point of possibly being guilty of 'Tron torture. There's a pic of him playing their M400 on their site, although it's written in Flash, and is a complete bitch to navigate. The 'Tron is also incredibly hard to spot, being painted black and shot against a black background; watch for the shot of Tejedor sitting behind an undistinguished black box, facing the camera and wearing yellow slippers (!).

Three years on, and Zepto is, essentially, more of the same, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because it's a good sound, and bad because it seems the band haven't progressed very much in seven or eight years. I'm sure they'd argue that they have, but to the casual observer, Nebelnest and Zepto really aren't that different, with all three of their albums being semi-improvised instrumental jazzy Crimsonesque stuff with more than a dash of RIO. Fabric Of Reality is the one track where they step outside the box, being a quiet, if unsettling piece, dominated by Tejedor's deliberately screechy violin glissandos, and no Mellotron. Assuming Tejedor's using the same setup as on Nova Express, there are 'Tron strings on most tracks, with the odd flute sample thrown in and what I take to be his string section tapes on Majnuns, although I couldn't hear the vibes anywhere.

So; Nebelnest may possibly be beginning to hit the law of diminishing returns after three albums, although all three are perfectly good. Their debut may just be the best of the lot, but if you want real 'Tron, you'll want both Nova Express and Zepto.

Official site

See: Samples | Bob Drake

Nebulosa  (Sweden)

Nebulosa, 'Nebulosa'

Nebulosa  (1977,  43.21)  ***½/TT

Dagen Gryr
Strezz-Rock
Mörka Tankar
Digital
Det Vackra Folket
Undergång

Ensam
Nödrop
Mittpelarna
Tryckvåg
Ödestrand
Verklighetsflykt
Apokalyps

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Nebulosa were your typical prog one-off from the '70s, Swedish division this time, rather than the usual Italian. Nebulosa is a reasonable enough album, although the band seemed to have trouble deciding what exactly they wanted to play, making for a slightly disjointed end product. Even in Sweden, 1977 wasn't exactly the height of the progressive movement, either, so it's not especially surprising the band didn't get to record again. Much of the album's material is actually very good, with the near-seven minute Undergång being a highlight, although the white-boy funk of Nödrop and Mittpelarna really don't work in the context of the rest of the album.

Thomas Kascó's Mellotron doesn't rear its head until the choirs on track four, Digital, after which he can't seem to stop using it for the next few tracks, with particularly heavy use on Undergång, with an almost constant strings backdrop, plus flutes and choirs. Faint flutes on Verklighetsflykt are the only other use on the album, but with three 'Tron-heavy tracks, this is borderline 'worth it for the 'Tron' territory. A reasonably good album, which appears to be available in a limited edition with a 'hand-painted sleeve', which appears to be a splash of paint in various colours over the design you can see above, which isn't quite the same thing.


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