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Nooumena – Argument of Eagerness

June 30, 2013

On first listen Nooumena’s (not to be confused with the  finnish Melodic Death Metal band Noumena) debut album Argument with Eagerness surely comes as a double-edged sword: unquestionable one can hear great talent and potential but on the other hand it denies to ignite the listener on the first go – well, the sensed potential dictates a second, third and forth round…and, as it turns out then, many more! But before diving into the music, let’s do some background research in the meantime.

Nooumena is a band from Caen, France, who doubtlessly adopted their name from the Greek νοούμενον, which in philosophy denotes the antipode of a phenomenon. Actually, as always in philosophy, notions undergo a certain change or fluctuation in meaning such that precision is blurred over the centuries. For example, Kant connoted noumenon with “the thing itself” whereas Plato, who’s definition in my opinion fits the idea of the band better, describes it as “what is to be seen (or understood) by the mind” in contrast to a phenomenon, which is something to be experienced by the senses.

The band recorded their first demo In Memory of a Next World in 2006 (free download by clicking on the link!) and after that, concentrated on getting other projects going (Les Yeux De La Tête, Rhùn) before in 2011 they finally came together to record this debut. Though their demo carried more metal influences with growling vocals and brutal, direct riffs they couldn’t deny their weakness for more complex structures and psychodelic postrock passages (e.g. Hail to the anomist).

However, having refined their idea of music and widened their pool of instruments over the years, the second and third and fourth spin reveals the enormous musical finesse presented here. The opener Nameless Reward quietly comes up with a threatening atmosphere built up by shimmering percussions, a minimalistic sawing strins and a voice like Toby Driver’s, heavily reminding of Kayo Dot! Bouncing guitars speed up the track and drums join in before ultimately wind instruments turn it into a disharmonious bombast best listened (very!) aloud. Actually, the vast variety of instruments allow for quick changes of styles, from claustrophobic avant to jazzy licks, from rolling drums to monolithic choirs in Decadence, from typical repetitive Zeuhl passages to Uli Jon Roth guitar licks to lunatic laughter in Le Plouc or the quiet, repetitive and oppressive Somehow this record contains every possible facet of avantgarde music without ever losing its incredible flow and intensity. The dominating depressive atmosphere is supported by lyrics such as “Boredom is no more a problem but reality” or “”How to reach harmony when bleeding to death…” to cite only a few lines. To include some more references, one may think of Time of Orchids, some more refined Opeth tracks or even King Crimson.

One of the highlights of this record besides the extremely tight Le Plouc is definitvely the closing track Taedium Vitae, a name which refers most likely to its usage in philosophy meaning vaguely distaste for life or in Freudian psychoanalysis where it is used for the abatement in lust for life in the context of a depression. Well, this feeling is perfectly transported by returning to the close similarity in atmosphere to Kayo Dot, which opens the track. Percussions, organically scratching sounds and again, a claustrophobic singing a la Coyote which ascends to monolithic, intense and disruptive disharmony.

All in all, what Nooumena present here is a tight, multilayer, complex record where one can completely immerse oneself in. Its pocketing atmosphere is certainly dark but not depressing. Its sheer opulence in ideas is overwhelming and after several runs the listener is convinced this is one of the best records discovered long since! But be aware, there’s always a blank spot you didn’t discover yet. Fabulous! Get it, dive in!

P.S.: the record was released by Antithetic Records in an digipack edition of 250 which are sold out as far as I know (there are some copies left at Wayside, though)! The digital version may be ordered on the band’s bandcamp site for only 4 $ (or more)!

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