Nosfell – Live @ La Défense
aaamusic | On 08, Apr 2014
Saturday 5th April, Paris
Nosfell is, by himself, a world full of poetry and imagination. As a child, this ill-at-ease boy developed his own world, Klokochazia, with its own language, Klokobetz. His full name – Labyala Fela Da Jawid Fel – meaning ”he who walks and heals”, is a fitting description for this young, unsuited but likable alien who managed to grow into an original and acclaimed artist. Nosfell is also a world of contrasts. Between oriental and occidental influences (he has Berber and South-European origins), acoustics and electronics, classical and rock, elitist and popular, low and high-pitched vocals, he is a complex chap with original stories to tell. As part of the Chorus Festival in Paris, from 28th March to 6th April, Nosfell has been invited to perform a two hour free concert, many of his songs taken from his newest album Amour Massif (Massive Love) released last month, dealing with the ever-changing feeling of love.
He starts with its first track, ‘Ij køliv…’, an exotic and dark introduction where he sings with his shrill voice, before tackling the main of the concert with ‘The Hazards of Wishing Wells’, showing his freakish wonderland as being out of Miyazaki’s Chihiro‘s world. However, at times, his use of his high-pitched voice adds some sweetness to the music. He continues with another one from his latest album, ‘Ile Mogador’ (Mogador Island, near Morocco). On beatboxing and a relaxed rhythm, the chorus is particularly dreamy and wavy; but even this fantasy mood is balanced with a certain obscure feeling due to dissonant chords here and there, rendering the whole truly captivating – that is another characteristic of Nosfell‘s work.
We are then taken on another journey through one of his Klokochazia’s fables, ‘Gouz Mandamaz’, via a rapid ska rhythm and hard beats that give a feeling of urgency, making more people gather from the exterior, intrigued by this energetic sound. It is to be noted that he truly performs everything live, up to the recording of his beatbox sounds on the spot. The following ‘Bargain Healers’ offers more experimental sounds and very deep, slow electronic bass: there is always this feeling of darkness lurking somewhere, as if you would expect your own old demons to burst out from this bewitching music. ‘Une Voie Divine’ (A Divine Path) then gives the room a more feel-good mood on a background of pounding beats. Nosfell‘s beautiful lyrics and arrangements perfectly convey his yearning for more poetry and innocence in contrast to our daily deepest anxieties, and it may be the song that speaks the most clearly of the inner conflict that led him to invent his own wonderland: “What if my real country was where I think? / I tell myself that here, I will find back childhood / My head is far up in the clouds, much more electric than storms’ lightnings / My feet anchored like roots, I have the legs of a man walking on a divine path.”
It continues with ‘Dans des Chambres Fantômes’ (In Ghostly Rooms), a very quiet, ghostly, song, where his high-pitched singing once more proves to be perfectly in tune. The public hold their breath throughout the whole song, not to miss a single bit of it. The next, ‘Cannibale’ (Cannibal), which brings back electronic heavy bass and clasping hands, plays on the same morbid charm as before: “I’m going to love you like the cannibal, you will want more”. Every bit of the song is absolutely precious and you don’t want to lose its thread for one second. Once the song has finished he loses the guitar and throws some jokes at the public – something Nosfell always manages to do well. Then ‘Rubicon’ starts, which sees him bringing a more “rock’n’roll” attitude, interacting more with the crowd and moving better on stage. The melody in the background is truly mesmerising and it is a very insightful song – the kind you should listen to at midnight when you can’t sleep and your head is full of thoughts. On ‘Fathers and Foes’, a calm ballad alternating between calm verses and road-song like choruses, he plays only with his guitar.
And finally, after a couple of groupies shouted their love from the crowd, he ends the performance with ‘Rainbowed’, also from his latest album. He conjures up some beatboxing and well done water drop sounds on background of low electronic beats, which play out really nicely in support of the overall lightheartedness of the song. On dancing rhythms and carefree lyrics like “You’ve been waiting for too long, embrace the soothing heat”, “mon amour tu es si belle (my love you are so beautiful)”, Nosfell promises you a real trip into paradise. An interlude of keyboards follows and his shrill voice and crazy face creates a disturbing atmosphere, where wonderland turns into nightmare, before resuming with a ska rhythm, in which he comes down into the crowd. The recently installed floor of the festival marquee is shaking ferociously! It ends the concert in apotheosis and will surely mark the mind of everyone present.
But the public are not satisfied and want more. Under never-ending applause, he finally comes back for one ultimate song not part of the programme: one of his classics, ‘Shaünipul’, cleverly mixing his own Klokobetz language with English. Tapping on his guitar with oriental tones here and there, he then begins the song properly, bringing the audience ecstasy, who all know the lyrics from heart and sing along. With this last track, where he uses only his guitar and his voice, he manages to produce something truly original and touching – proof that creativity is not always synonymous with plenitude – but most of all with emotion and honesty.