Lunear – Curve.Axis.Symmetry. Review
Earlier this month, we reviewed the 2018 Lunear album called “Many Miles Away”, which was a combination of pop, rock, and progressive influences of the trio. Due to the fineness of the first album, we also listened to the new album that came out last week and was thrilled by the fact that they have enhanced their sound and ideas. Lunear is a French pop-rock-progressive band with a very accessible style. Simple elements from pop songs and intricate details of prog-rock unify in one sound which is both distinct and something that deeply resonates in one’s heart. In their second album, “Curve.Axis.Symmetry.”, they went for new ideas both musically and lyrically. In this album, Sébastien Bournier put his idea of a concept album that contemplates whether immortality is a blessing or a curse. Nothing will last forever and after everything ends what will happen. This scenario becomes the starting point and the main focus of the album. Musically, they still have their proggy heavy synth use, pop sing-alongs, and unique way of singing; moreover, their guitar solos and acoustic guitar use crown this record.
Sebastien Bournier – drums, vocals, lyrics and music
Paul J. No – keys, lead vocals and music
Jean Philippe Benadjer – guitars, bass, vocals, music and mixing
The opening track “Lemniscate” directly creates the melancholic yet powerful atmosphere of the album with the distorted guitar and synth sounds. The machine drum sound adds the exhilarant feel to the song, capturing the listener for the whole journey of the concept album. Considering the whole soundscape, it is a blend of many different styles, bands, and genres – including Pink Floyd and 90’s drone music. We also hear the name of the album, “Curve.Axes.Symmetry.” vocalized by the niece of the keyboardist and vocalist of the band, Paul J. No. The whole texture and layers in this song build up to a perfect passage to the next song, “First Death”. An exemplary album opener.
Lyrically, the second track “First Death” shares the experience of the character after he died and came back to life. It is the starting point of this concept album, which is about people who can’t die. The general airy tone of the album was also captured in this song, with different experimentations on instrument use and song structure. The time signature between the bridge and chorus was a remarkable section in the song; and throughout the verse and after-chorus, we are able to see the Yes and David Gilmour influences, considering the synth-guitar tones and the emphasis that they put on the atmosphere.
After a powerful start to the album, “Same Player. Shoots Again.” lowers the tempo with an addictive tom groove, bass and atmospheric synth sounds, which is very similar to the song “Traffic” from another modern wonderful electronic music album that came out last year – ANIMA by Thom Yorke. As the 3 chord guitar riff enters the song, we hear the song changing direction to a more energetic direction by turning into a pumping rock song. In this part of the story, the character realized that he is not able to die, and this has become an existential crisis for him since he is stuck inside reality-boredom takes over one’s entire existence.
“Nothing Left To Do” describes the psychological state of the character, after he has done all of the things that can be done and still continues on living. After all the pain that he has gone through of losing his loved ones over thousands of years, experiencing everything that could be experienced and becoming the “Boredom of Majesty”; he tries to end his life many times, but still he is banned from dying. The acoustic and ambiance synth-based soundscape of the song sometimes creates contrasts with the darkness of the lyrics and represents the same shifting mood that the character has experienced over time.
One of the personal favorites from the album, the break song between the long compositions “A Passage Of Time” instantly captures the listener with its basic Genesis inspired acoustic instrumentation over the 70s mellotron sounds. It is certainly a reminiscence of the band’s prog influences, in the easiest and most intense way possible. The song is indicating how the character was lost in the non-ending passage of time, by making you get lost in the short duration of the song.
“The Rise and Fall of The Earth” slowly builds up with the layered percussions, creating the structure that the song has been built on. Being the slowest song since the beginning of the album, the romantic synth vocal reminds of the 80’s slow disco hits – especially “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. However, the song shifts to a more groovy melancholic piece, with the addition of the highly emphasized bass and funky guitar strumming. In the second part, the song gets even better by harmonizing all the instruments together on a flute melody. Especially the vocal parts in this track were very unexpected and experimental, considering the entire album. After all, the character has seen the ends and reborns of humankind multiple times, trouble with his never-ending loneliness.
After an immeasurable time has passed, our narrator is the only person left from the entire human civilization. On the track “Earth’s Population: 1”, he bewails about his current complete loneliness, obsessing around the empty buildings, lands, and the times when other lives existed. Starting with Alan Parson-ish highly tensioned distortion guitar riffing over delayed double synth riff, the song instantly changes rhythm to a 7/4, waking you up from your sleep. Then turns again to a 4/4, without even making you notice. Structurally, instrumentally and harmonically, the song can be the strongest track of the album – while also having the memorable Air(its a band) inspired synth and vocal melodies.
“Earth’s End” welcomes the inevitable doom of our lovely planet, Earth. Slow arpeggios with the atmospheric (even though there is no atmosphere left) sounds from the synth create the mood for this song. Heavy synth use presents the epic feeling of floating through space. While repeating the same chord unifies the song, the band manages to keep the dynamics interesting. With lyrics that reflect on the mental state of an immortal that loses his home, they create an immense environment.
After the depressing end of the previous song, “Adrift” starts in an energetic manner. With lively acoustic guitar and exciting bass and percussion, they imagine an interesting version of drifting through space. Then energy keeps on rising with a Gilmour-esque guitar solo which carries the bittersweetness of floating in space, being both lost and free. The song becomes bigger and bigger every second. The quality of the mixing of this album shines on this track. Just when you think that the song is over, it becomes richer with the additions of incredible guitar and synth work, and they carry the energy of the album to the top again while the main character contemplates his meaningless journey through space.
“From Its Sky” opens by showing that Lunear’s influence from pop elements is as beautiful as their prog elements. This emotional piano and vocal intro with its beautiful chords, this hard foundation of the chord progression in the song show the power of the two while the main character finds hope in his meaningless journey. As our main character’s hope becomes larger, music follows; it also becomes louder and more powerful. The melody is proof of the beauty of simplicity, and the chord progression is memorable. The vocal really shines in this song and helps the listener understand the desperation and the will of the main character while he wants to “fall from its sky.” This emotion gets even more impactful with a guitar solo and a bassline reminiscent of Pink Floyd. In the end, he has nothing to do but witness these changes.
“Forever” starts with arpeggios that have their own rhythmical cycle resembling a clock going round and round creating the sense of “foreverness.” The main character embraced the “forever” and tries to look at the past that was long gone. With the rhythmical dynamic and structure, this song tries to capture the infiniteness of forever, being 7 minutes helps :). This journey full of distorted guitar and heavy synths shows their influences from the prog by the song’s unique structure. It contains multiple highs and lows and resembles the full journey of the character. In the end, lines “Curve Axis Symmetry” creates a full circle in the album.
The final touch of the album “First Death (Epilogue)” leaves the story ambiguous. This acoustic ending, which is very similar in the way of its placement in the album to “Her Majesty” from Abbey Road, says that our immortal main character died and has risen from dead. However, from the full circle of “Curve Axis Symmetry”, this can be interpreted as the beginning of his immortality. Putting the beginning to the end shows the obscurity of the understanding of the time.