Millenia Nova – Slow E-Motion Sightseeing

Album Review by Mark Bayross

As you can assume from the title, this is not exactly Slipknot. You can’t get much more New Age than calling your band “New Millennium”, can you? And the album title hardly evokes the excesses of speed-thrash.

Nonetheless, after the Hamlet cigar ad-style intro to the opener (which also happens to be the title track), things do actually happen: beats, strings (guitar and violin) and twinkly washes of keyboard, underpinned by a jazzy bass, and there is enough to hold the attention for the duration of the track’s 8½ minutes.

SO BEAUTIFUL comes close to living up to its name, employing the same ingredients as above, but this time, making the bass and beats funky enough to be danceable. Guitars shimmer in a U2/Passengers vein, but, rather than becoming your worst prog-rock nightmare, they interact playfully with the bass to add colour and depth.

The promisingly titled PRELUDE AU PORNO is a pretty piano and string ballad with some suitably breathy vocals from Gallic temptress Coppé. After the minute-long A KIND OF BLISS comes a shift in theme, if not in musical style, although I’M DEAD has an edgier feel, particularly with the minor chords of the guitar (recalling U2 again, circa “The Unforgettable Fire”) and the child’s voice.

CAN YOU HEAR ME? is all dreamy, floaty stratospherics, while SPACE FOR FREE is lot more upbeat and psychedelic, sounding not unlike early Mercury Rev or The Telescopes. SANDMAN has more French singing, this time from Natalie Pho-Duc, whose soaring vocals lend the song a mood similar to Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber’s FLA-side project Delerium.

As the acoustic strum of bittersweet ditty LOOK LIKE A CLOWN (“I try to look like a clown till I’m down / I try to stay in bed till I’m dead”) leads into the throbbing ambient beats of TAKE A NAP, it becomes quite clear how diverse one formula can sound if a bit of imagination is applied.

Even more curious, the closing MILES AWAY is a slice of sugary pop that would make Ian Broudie proud. It’s all very European-sounding; unsurprising as Millenia Nova is the German duo of Matthias Neuhauser and Michael Meinl.

Cool, laid-back, imaginative Germans – who’d have thought it?

4 stars

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