“Putting The ‘Solo’ In Solo Project!” – ‘Clair Obscur’ by Nicolas Willot

Nicolas Willot is a 22 year old solo artist from France who was introduced to music through learning the tuba, trumpet and piano. But at the age of 16, it was the guitar that Willot favoured initiating his interest in prog rock, in-particular Pink Floyd and the 60s psychedelic scene. In 2016 with his creativity sparked by these influences, Willot started to compose his own material; fast forward four years later and his debut EP ‘Clair Obscur’ is the end product, a home-made project composed, recorded, mixed and mastered entirely by Willot. Although entirely instrumental, the EP tells a story of a dream beginning at night time with ‘Prayer to The Moon’ and then finishing at the start of the day with ‘Dawn’ – Willot’s Gilmour-esque guitar takes the lead on this journey.

If you are in need of something soothing to calm you down, I’d suggest you go on this journey! Characterised by ambient rhythm guitar parts, drenched in delay and often flange/phase effects, and soulful, warm lead guitar interjections, the music perfectly encapsulates the dreamy concept. ‘Prayer to The Moon’, in true psychedelic fashion, jams on the same chord progression for its entirety, allowing Willot’s lead guitar to scream and wail over the mellow accompaniment. The opening to ‘Clouds From The Past’ communicates a similar mellow feeling with more lead guitar over the accompaniment. A bold acoustic guitar chord signals a modulation to a different key, with this new chord progression introducing some very interesting chord changes. The lead guitar plays with the harmonic minor scale in this section, adding a lovely Middle Eastern flavour. The final section of the piece is slightly more uplifting but still ambient in nature; the rhythm guitar is swamped in delay and includes a flanger effect to give this section a very spacey feel. The ten minute title track features some lovely fingerpicked guitar work: in the accompaniment at the start where we hear a crisp acoustic guitar solo, and then a very delicate fingerpicked guitar part later on at the halfway mark. Together with Willot’s lead guitar, this makes for a very sweet sounding moment in the piece. Its sweetness completely contrasts the dissonance and sense of foreboding in the preceding section which sounds like it is building towards something menacing when in actual fact we get the exact opposite. ‘Dawn’ is again mellow in sound, perhaps the most calming on the EP, initially flipping between just two chords as the lead guitar works its magic. This relaxed atmosphere doesn’t outstay its welcome as the final moments feel more energised, ending Willot’s EP on a euphoric note.

A promising start from a young composer utilising what he has at home to bring his creations to life. I hear that he is working on a second album that will be more blues influenced and will feature some vocals – so there is something to look forward to! It will be interesting to see how he develops his music, whether he sticks to being a fully independent solo artist, or receives help from fellow musicians and producers that may possibly further his music career – we shall see. A great start Nicolas!

Written by Dominic Sanderson

You can find Nicolas Willot on Facebook and Instagram! ‘Clair Obscur’ is available on all major streaming platforms!

Published by Prog Rock Review

Nik is a musician and music journalist. He serves at founder and editor of Prog Rock Review, a community-based platform highlighting progressive rock, old and new. Dominic Sanderson is the chief writer for Prog Rock Review. He is currently studying music and literature in university, and has a huge passion for prog. He loves composing and performing, with his main instruments being the guitar and vocals. He also enjoys writing music reviews and is working on building a portfolio of written work on the music of various prog bands.

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