Title: Fol Naïs
Format: 2xLP, CD, Digital
Label: Dur & Doux
Distribution: Broken Silence
Genre: Experimental Noise Metal
Release Date: 01/12/2023
For anyone already familiar with Ni, the title of their third album is bound to raise a smile. Fol Naïs, literally “born mad” in Old French, is the name given to the fools and jesters of history’s great rulers. This symbol of impertinence couldn’t be more appropriate for this new release from the most unclassifiable of Rhône-Alpes quartets. Renowned for their “silly and bouncy” (sic) sound, Ni tried their hand at darker, heavier music on Pantophobie (2019), reflecting the period the band was going through. The bells of Fol Naïs sound the hour for a return to faster tempos, but not without affirming an instrumental renewal:
“This is the great dilemma for any band: how to successfully carry a legacy from the past while renewing itself? With Fol Naïs, we consider it a success in this sense, as it’s an album that doesn’t feel like a rehash of Pantophobie. Pantophobie had run its course, and it was time to react. Re-accelerating the tempo could be the breaking point. We wanted to open even more doors. We wanted to tap into the energy of metal, without having the color of it since we also dipped into old formulas that unify our sound.”
Math Rock? Noise? Metal? Jazz? On these 10 new tracks, Ni delights more than ever in blurring the lines and confusing their audience, remaining true to their desire to go further in experimentation. A call to modernity, guitarists Anthony Béard and François Mignot exploit new pedals, driven by a desire for synthesizer-like sounds, deepening their alchemy with the anarchic rhythm section of Benoit Lecomte (bass) and Nicolas Bernollin (drums).
From “Zerkon”, as chaotic as it is jovial, we know that the ears we’re addressing are preferably the most seasoned. The tension is palpable on the following tracks, which are hybrids of Don Caballero and Meshuggah (“Chicot”, “Dagonet”), when they aren’t sprinkled with the breakcore of Igorrr (“Brusquet”) or the all-out rage of Botch (“Rigoletto”). Fortunately, Ni easily manages to incorporate relative breaths (“Berdic”, the triptych “Triboulet”), culminating in the slow, ambient “Cathelot”, with its hurdy-gurdy conveying a certain elevation. Pirouettes and nose-thumbing at musical convention follow one another. Which only adds to the meaning of each track on this new album, all named after real-life jesters:
“Historically, the jester’s spectacles were the moments when the masks fell off. The rulers and their courts accepted all frontal and openly declamatory criticism, mixed with art, mime, something that was lived. As artists and musicians, this is how we fit in. Our own buffoonery leads us to go against the grain of what’s expected of us. You want Ni to be a jazzy noise band? Well, we’ve failed!”
It’s all there, Ni is always complex, dissonant and shaggy. But their formidable inventiveness and unexpected danceability make them a leading light in the French musical niche. With Fol Naïs, Ni takes another step in their quest for the Holy Grail, displaying as much mischief as wrath. Demonstration on December 1, 2023!
Download press assets here