Intro: Thomas Sarakintsis
13 / 03 / 2019
Over the years, the Australian bands from Spectrum and The Master’s Apprentices up to Karnivool and Caligula’s Horse had special artistic suggestions, regardless of the fact that they did not deviate in essence from the rock and metal aspects of the West drawing influences from Britain and later from America. Numidia comes from Australia, and particularly from Sydney. However, their name refers to the ancient kingdom of North Africa, in a region inhabited by nomadic populations. Indeed, the time for the Australians hopes to start from older sounds that are faintly or not at all related to European culture. Or at least this is what they are trying to succeed to some extent.
Musical osmosis from down under
The abstract and somewhat surrealistic cover makes us suspect sounds that are at the opposite side of Numidia’s real relationship with music. In fact, it’s not a pseudo-space / stoner rock band, but something radically different. The quintet is made up of three guitarists, a bassist-keyboardist and a drummer. The question that arises is whether it is an instrumental band or not. Here is where one element of differentiation in relation to the current trends in progressive rock (and not only) is found: in most parts of the compositions the three guitarists undertake the vocals together.
The most characteristic feature of the band is found at the level of influence blending. Numidia share a range of heterogeneous influences, where they encompass the musical specificity of three different continents. The Australians blend influences from Middle Eastern, African and American blues and bridge the gap between Tinariwen, Led Zeppelin III regarding their folk style, the post-Roger Waters period of Pink Floyd and the genuine guitar moments of ’70s jam bands. Moods and atmosphere are mostly trippy and smoothy, while some minimal fuzz bursts interfere with two out of the six songs.
The compositions are memorable, some songs are masterpieces and there are parts within the songs that sound very pleasant. In particular, the guitars and the lead vocals are enjoyable. First of all, the cover on Erkin Koray’s song is the definition of rewriting rather than re-performing, since it has been shortened and has been infused by the band’s touch. Oriental orchestrations and heavy as it is needed. Azawad, Red Hymn and Te Waka are charming compositions. Especially what is happening with lead guitars both in the introduction of Azawad and the other two songs, where David Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster can almost be heard, cannot be described. It can only be experienced. In Azawad, the multiple vocals from the second minute onwards, in verses that probably recall some Berber dialect spoken in Numidia, take action, while the rhythm is built on the basis of a Tuareg desert guitar tempo. This desert bluesy element is evident much more in the next songs. The lengthy A Million Martyrs begins with a very interesting oriental riff, with the lyrics in English this time. The lyrics do not cover much of the content, as the independent instrumental parts are numerous. The guitar work in A Million Martyrs is also excellent. In this song also a very heavy point with 1970s aura intrudes as it was played in the 1990s. The title song is full of hooks and gorgeous vocals. This one along with Red Hymn could be part of a live repertoire of Tinariwen. The epilogue with the wonderful Te Waka travel is just ideal.
The general impression can only be positive, both qualitatively and in terms of diversity. Space and time is expanded for the Australians and how can it not be, on a record, you meet a cover on a song of the highly charismatic Erkin Koray, while you experience western -and not only- guitar leads. Or when you listen to the music of a band that in moments makes you feel like you are roaming in the North African desert. Undoubtedly, this artistic osmosis, the fusion of sounds, is capable of attracting the interest of prog-friendly audience. We look forward to more of the same in the future.
8 / 10
Somewhere between the psych / prog reality of the 70s with intense folk and blues elements and a strong dose of oriental and African sounds, Numidia shine in a contemporary light. With directness in its melodic and rhythmic stigma and alternations between ranging between calmness and explosion, the Australian band builds a wonderful atmospheric soundscapes. As if photographing with a lot of lyricism a daily routine outside of today’s cities, where daydreaming is not utopian. And there are plenty of moments you’ll enjoy their developments, wanting to keep them in mind after listening to this debut album. Something that eventually becomes a reality, if you consider that this is where exciting compositions are included, such as the cover of Koray’s Turku with eccentric guitars with Middle Eastern footprint, the elegy A Million Martyrs and Red Hymn, led by an exuberant sensual blues sensation with Pink Floyd touches.
8 / 10