When The Black Noodle Project first started many years ago it was in many ways a one-man project, that of Jérémie Grima, and now here we have their latest studio album and, in many ways, it has reverted back to that, just with a different person at the helm. Jérémie left after 2017’s ‘Divided We Fall’, and this is the second album since then with guitarist Sébastien Bourdeix now providing all instrumentation apart from drums (which are by Tommy Rizzitelli) while female singer Sab Elvenia provides lead on three numbers. Rizzitelli had been in the band for the 2017 release, but with the departure again of bassist Anthony Létévé as well as drummer Fabrice Berger the only tie back to the band’s career is Bourdeix. I must confess to finding it somewhat strange that Bourdeix has continued to use the same name, as musically this has nothing in common with their other releases, but I guess TBNP is one which progheads recognise, even if the music is quite different to what one would expect from that band.
There is a much heavier use of guitar in this version of the band, and musically it is far removed from what I expect, and consequently there is no doubt it has flavoured my opinion of it. It is hard to be fully objective about this as while my brain is telling me there are some excellent moments contained within, and I particularly like the use of acoustic guitar and the production is sublime throughout, this is not music I ever expected to hear from this band. Elvenia has a nice voice, with an interesting edge which has some similarities with Steve Nicks, but we very much do not have a band influenced heavily by Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd. I know bands change over time, and the core singer/writer can depart and they continue (Genesis, Spock’s Beard etc), but in terms of this band, they were originally signed by Musea due to a multi-instrumentalist’s demos, there literally was no band apart from Grima. Not only will this possibly not find favour with those who enjoy the older material, there is also the risk that potential new fans will not investigate given they did not like the old band, so it will be intriguing to see what Bourdeix does in the future. There is no doubt this is a much better album than the last one, but what will the next one bring?