For those not in the know – which is most people – there exists an obscure, French nook of prog called Zeuhl. Zeuhl is fascinating; possibly the most purely exciting vein in the sprawling, sub-arterial mess of modern instrumental rock, tempestuous energy and purposeful technicality bolster a refreshing and notably open-minded approach to experimentation. What does zeuhl sound like? It sounds like how you might imagine prog would sound if you tried to piece it together in your head based alone on ignorant newspaper reviews and your dad’s opinionated rants, without any prior knowledge – and GLORIOUSLY so. Complex winding song structures; designedly alienating extended pieces; singing in made up languages, etcetera, etcetera ad infinitum – but broached with a sort of postmodern awareness.
Every bit as noisy and dissonant as they are writhing, somewhat nonsensical and technical, Ni’s approach is comparatively jagged, evoking Body Hound at their most twisting points or the violent unease of Town Portal.
New single, ‘Héliophobie’ prowls forward, disjunct chunks of guitar punctuating a quietly abrasive ambience of pick scrapes and feedback before lurching into a raw, doomy episode, bass suitably cutting and six-strings delightfully edgy. It bows out only after several sections of intense, time bending, harmonically challenging and precisely arranged riff workouts and a shriek-emblazoned regurgitation of the doom theme. Ni don’t screw about, if you hadn’t grasped yet; beyond incredibly enjoyable music, their work is a stimulating ode to the surreal – something encapsulated perfectly in the dark, absurdity of the track’s music video.