Lazuli: Nos Âmes Saoules

The French band’s new LP – 2016 just got sérieux…

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It begins with a piano emulating a ticking clock, before vocals stealthily sweep in. This is typical of Lazuli. The French band don’t follow any routes or routines, but appear to go on instinct.

And so, opening track Le Temps Est La Rage might gently sway for the most part, yet it suddenly blossoms into a more agitating groove. In the process, you’re hooked by their sublime individuality.

Their sixth release is a sheer delight. Nos Âmes Saoules (which translates literally into English as ‘Our Drunken Souls’) is an album on which every song has its own spin and weave, yet also fits into an overall style. La Lierre has an effectively pumping pop veneer, led by Dominique Leonetti’s high-pitched vocals and some really nice keyboard touches from Roman Thorel.

Vita Est Circus, meanwhile, brings to mind The Beatles’ Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds with its swirl of psychedelic embellishments. But it never gets completely lost in the influences, emerging with a flourish towards the conclusion as Géderic Byar unleashes a probing guitar solo.

Lose yourself in this journey with a truly gifted ensemble.

This leads into the short instrumental Fanfare Lente, which again has a connection to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, before Chaussures A Nos Pieds steals into a more electronically fuelled atmosphere. While certainly not a Krautrock exposition, in terms of construction, it does offer something not too far removed from Kraftwerk in the early 1970s. And the sentiment continues with Le Mar Du Passé, although this is perhaps more akin to Low-era Bowie.

Le Labour D’Un Surin is yet another soundcraft interlude, this time offering a sense of somnambulant eeriness as it sneaks into the whispering surrealism of Les Sutures. Here Lazuli process a style that acknowledges Peter Gabriel, though again they do it without ever being overwhelmed by his inspiration. The whole vibe is of a creeping edginess, a presence that’s fully exposed as the title track swoops along a rhythmic pattern set by Leonetti’s vocals interacting with Thorel’s dreaming keyboard passages. This is the sort of ambience one might expect Kate Bush to investigate.

Finally, Un Oeil Jeté Par La Fenetre develops into a slightly echoing piano refrain. It’s a short, intimidating way to end the album, but then this is typical of the way the band follow their own idiosyncratic road and let the organic flood of ideas dictate the direction of the music.

Nos Âmes Saoules isn’t an album that should be carefully dissected, or even translated. This is one to be enjoyed for its own merits. Just lose yourself in the journey, because it’s a special album that proves Lazuli are a truly gifted ensemble.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021