For the 22nd time since 2002, French singer/guitarist Jean-Pierre Louveton has delighted the prog community with an impressive album. He has done this before with the bands Nemo and Wolfspring, while in the meantime (and especially afterwards) he gives free rein to his amazing style in his solo project JPL. In my Progwereld days I have been able to review many CDs by this man and he always gives me inspiration, simply by never repeating himself. That is almost impossible since he almost touches tout le monde with his characteristic playing. Louveton likes prog rock that sparkles like fairy dust and then again has the power of a Belgian heavy horse. In addition, he always cheerfully sprinkles with elements from psychedelia and funk, while he has also plays folk and even pop-like things. Nothing is beyond him and he has also given his kaleidoscope a good sweep on “Actum” as discussed here.
“Actum” is the third and thus concluding part of the Sapiens trilogy, the ambitious triptych about the history of humanity, for which Louveton has released an album every year since 2020. The album features five songs totaling 45 minutes, four singles and the epic Memento Mori, split into five tracks. The atmosphere of the piece is generally quite dark and psychedelic, a darkness reminiscent of Lunatic Soul but mixed with the sounds of Rush and Lenny Kravitz. “Actum” has a predominantly authentic rock sound without too much studio whistles and bells. A look at the credits clarifies exactly what I mean. In addition to Louveton himself as a singer, guitarist and bassist, his Nemo buddies Jean-Baptiste Itier on drums and Guillaume Fontaine on keyboards plus a few others make guest appearances, a small line-up.
Although the music of JPL shows clear similarities with that of Nemo’s, it is precisely the differences that stand out the most. Nemo made music with a vibrant eagerness, while Louveton is looking for depth and maturity in his solo work. He still has some oats to sow in spite of his serious tone. Just listen to opener Paradis Perdu. You can hear the same catchiness with a blissful sound of something like an electronic piano combined with a voluptuous bass guitar. The bombastic chords also give the Nemo jitters and yet the setting is different. This is clearly shown in the lingering Mon Cercueil, which has an emotional solo in blues style. It’s moments like these that can get you over the moon. That Alias (La Machine²) may count as the most genuine Nemo-tinged album track is not an issue at all, in my modest opinion. This lump of condensed energy comes from the primeval man that is Louveton. Dansez Maintenant is a swinging example of how prog can be made. Louveton has an eye for a catchy riff and in the meantime he also makes room for a nice piece of folk. With this song (which has nothing to do with Dave’s eponymous hit song from 1975) the imaginary first half of the album comes to an end and the focus is entirely on the epic Memento Mori.
The first two movements, Marche Vers l’Inconnu and Tempus Fugit, are instrumental with a sound image dominated by virtual instruments. The atmosphere is both classical towards Ravel and modern with the occasional guitar chord or riff. In the following La Mort Du Roi a Lazuli-like tenor can be heard. It is menacing, intriguing and ominous. Louveton takes a different approach in Paria. Here it is Sylvain Haon’s frivolous soprano sax that colors the canvas in a jazzy way. It’s amazing how synchronized everything sounds. By the way, towards the end of the song there is a twist towards prog that will make you smile. In the closing Acta Fabula Est, which has only three lines of lyrics, Louveton once again gives good value for money. I’m not going to describe the song, just listen to it and judge for yourself.
All in all, Jean-Pierre Louveton has added another fine album to his discography with “Actum”. It is also the perfect completion of the Sapiens triptych. Making the entire workpiece available as a three-piece box set would be a great feature. For me, Louveton, with his adventurous yet conventional vision, is one of the best musicians of his generation. Don’t know him yet? Then click on the button and have a listen. A whole new world will open up to you.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022