Thomas Nola and O Paradis: Supergroup Paradise

Posted by Aaron Detroit, August 4, 2009 04:00am | Post a Comment

Les Paradisiers
is a musical power-marriage between American underground musician, author, and film director Thomas Nola (et Son Orchestre) and Barcelona-based Mediterranean-Neo-folk artist Demian, aka O Paradis. The duo’s first aural offspring, More Tales From The Garden, was recently released on LP with Free Digital Download Card via Nola’s own Disques de Lapin imprint. The LP features a dozen dark, uneasy and psychedelic trips through Thomas and Demian’s exotic and anachronous universe, where humid locales not only house jungle birds and cats, but also early 20th Century European speakeasies hosting American Vaudeville and Spanish Cabaret acts with 1980’s Goth sensibilities.

Tales’ atmosphere is helped along by the fact that it was birthed into one being in two very separate places-- Demian’s parts were recorded in Barcelona and Thomas’s contributions were captured in Boston, MA. Therefore, the album is also a bilingual affair, split between American English and Peninsular Spanish.

However, much like O Paradis’s collaborative efforts with the now-defunct Austrian neo-cabaret act Novy Svet, Nola and Demian are actually a logical pairing. Both artists are popular among fans of the Neofolk genre but neither of them carry or are weighted-down by any of the problematic dogma that exists within it. The pair’s main respective projects seem to strive to weave new surreal worlds out of the pieces and tatters of this one, rather then anchoring their songs in a particular part of real world history. Where many of their peers’ albums are academic in nature, Nola and O Paradis’s output is usually looser and takes itself less seriously. Les Paradisiers doesn’t stop this trend. 

On a Nola-led tune, “Don’t Be Afraid of Paradise,” a near-standard neofolk arrangement of martial drumming and samples suddenly shifts and then glides into an Exotica-swing complete with a croaking bassline and the gentle call of:

“Where are you little birds of paradise?
Doesn’t the moon get bright?
Are you stuck to the ground,
Are you in flight?
Don’t be afraid of paradise.”

By the time the subtle-but-catchy synths kick-in a third of the way into the track, it’s hard to believe Nola isn’t trying to inspire at the very least a wry grin out of the listener, if not an actual laugh.
On “Oui Oui, Je Suis un Paradisier,” Nola dryly declares, “I think I’ll dye my ascot black.” That isn’t to say Les Paradisiers is all playfulness and no bite. There is a languid cover of Death In June’s “Runes and Men” with its purposefully queasy production and uneven harmonies. On “A Little Moonglow,” the bird calls and jungle sounds that seem so impish at the beginning of the album turn ominous and the bird of paradise’s “wings are clipped.” There are also darkly blissful moments, “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” has Velvet Underground and Nico-Haze with a vocal melody cribbed from Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms,” whilst the slinky rhythms and sleigh-bells of “Mirame Otra Vez” are accompanied by the closing chant of the album: “We are so happy, we’re already dead.” Paradise Here and Hereafter, indeed.

More Tales From The Garden LP (+Digital Download Card), as well as catalog tiltes by Thomas Nola et Son Orchetre and O Paradis are available now from Amoeba Hollywood.

Video: Les Paradisiers Album Trailer, featuring album outro track "Ornithophilia."

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Goth (47), Les Paradisiers (1), Novy Svet (2), Disques De Lapin (1), Dark Wave (2), 2000s (40), Amoeba Music Hollywood (104), Death In June (2), O Paradis (1), Neofolk (4), Nick Cave (29), Thomas Nola (1)