Pensées Nocturnes
Nom d’une Pipe !

If there was a musical equivalent to vaudeville (late 19th century variety entertainment) it would be represented in the form of the fourth album from Pensées Nocturnes, Nom d’une Pipe! Like the theatrical genre of years past, this album cobbles together classical, swing, bal-musette, reggae, and jazz in a bleak, disturbing black metal skin. The entire album plays out like a perverted vaudeville and will have you questioning your sanity from the opening Middle Eastern style instruments to the last few notes of applause. Even the album cover harkens back to that turn of the century era with a small band being played like a marionette.

Pensées Nocturnes is the brainchild of Vaerohn, the one-man mastermind who performs all instruments (except for the saxophone and trumpet and accordion and woman vocals) and vocals. As mentioned earlier, the album opens up with “Il a mange le soleil” which combines Middle Eastern music with a cacophony of black metal and some trumpet, accordion, and piano accompanied throughout. The tortured vocals of Vaerohn mixed with the dissonant instruments create the feeling of a perverted and disturbing vaudeville performance. Nom d’une Pipe! feels very much like an eerie stage performance.

“Le Marionnettiste” has a slow bal-musette beginning and reggae rhythms sandwiching the Leviathan-esque black metal. Imagine sitting at an outdoor café where the waiters are dancing headless corpses and the meals are of entrails and maggots. That’s the general imagery of Nom d’une Pipe! “Les Hommes à la Moustache” commands the listener with its Soviet style military march before settling into something a little bit more melancholy, perhaps because the man with the moustache was finally defeated in battle. Or just fell out of his chair, drunk and smashed his head against the floor board.

There are moments on the album where Vaerohn focuses a bit more on black metal such as on “Le Berger” and “Le Choeur des Valseurs”. Given the context of the music, this helps create the oppressive and disorienting atmosphere.  However, “Le Choeur des Valseurs” does keep it fresh with a weird circus style riff.

I feel that this album could easily be the soundtrack to the Terry Gilliam directed film, 12 Monkeys. “Le Marionnettiste” is quite evident in that feel as it starts off with bal-musette. “L’Androgyne” also opens up in a similar manner. Granted not all of the songs are heavy on the bal-musette style, but it’s because of its inclusion and just the general mind-fuck nature of the music which makes me feel like it could be an alternate soundtrack to 12 Monkeys. Maybe if it was synced up like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was to Wizard of Oz, we would hear something truly profound about the music. Or just some musical pareidolia that humans commonly exhibit.

Honestly, without the wild explorations of genres, this would be a mostly average black metal release. It is this salmagundi of music that makes it special. I have heard better mixture of genres in other bands like Diablo Swing Orchestra, Unexpect, or Sigh, but what Pensées Nocturnes does is done well and worth listening to. If you’re feeling adventurous want something off kilter and somewhat bizarre and feel as though you’re ready to be committed to an insane asylum, then you might want to check out Nom d’une Pipe!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Travis Bolek
May 27th, 2013

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