XII Alfonso - The Lost Frontier

Year of Release: 1996
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4183.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:27:00

One great track after the other, that's what you can expect on the debut by XII Alfonso. More a project than a band it is welded together by an array of guest musicians like Mickey Simmonds (Fish, Camel) and the legendary Dan Ar Bras. The Lost Frontier evolves around wonderful music with great melodies.

The "frontier" of the title is Hadrian's Wall, the wall running across the north of England that marked the last boundary of the Roman Empire when it was built in 122 AD. Emperor Hadrian undertook this massive feat of engineering to keep the Celts and Picts to the north out and provide the stable government of northern Britain with some security. As the wall weaves and undulates from Carlisle in the West to Newcastle in the East, the music weaves a path, too; through Celtic bodrahns to Northumbrian pipes, the many strands of British "folk" are intertwined.

The production is open and never over arranged allowing the wonderful voice of Catherine Lafue free reign to enchant on five of the 16 tracks. Those vocals and the use of rhythm box in "Wheels Of Change" give the album a strong commercial edge; like the music of Enigma - accessible but super cool and very, very effective.

Going deeper into the multiple layers, hear how the synths on "Mist" conjure the eerie drone of the pipes. The oh-so subtle guitar parts of Philippe Claerhout echo the highlights in the work of Anthony Philips, when Genesis were virtually unknown. The multi-tuned keyboard sound used in the past to great effect by The Enid, gives the "Hadrian's Wall Overture" the swell of a huge philharmonic orchestra.

This quasi-classical approach adds much to turn this debut into a lavish journey through a rich texture of atmospheres embellished with various sounds to extra underline the tale of this "Lost Frontier". That's why you'll find this album high on my summary list of '96! A beaut!

The original idea for the album sprang from a visit to a castle turned hotel next to Hadrian's Wall. The hotel's owner became the catalyst for the project. He ordered 2,000 copies of The Lost Frontier to sell in his "Centre Of Britain" chain of hotels. This special "hotel" version has the English lyrics plus a new booklet. The music is identical to the "normal" Musea release - wonderful.

Hadrian's Wall Overture (5:08) / Hello You (4:18) / Mist (5:06) / Minstrel's Tale (8:27) / The Ghost's Song (4:03) / Lazy Day In Haltwhistle (3:32) / Back To Northumberland (3:33) / Edges Of Empire (2:29) / Diving Into The Coal Womb (2:29) / Breathing, Scarcely (5:49) / Wheels Of Change (4:58) / Another Day In Haltwhistle (2:17) / Heath (5:14) / Revival (3:50) / Thirteen Winds (5:06) / Anthem (4:48)

Philippe Claerhout - guitars
Fran?ois Claerhout - keyboard programming
Stephane Merlin - keyboards
Caroline Lafue - vocals
Mickey Simmonds - keyboards
Dan Ar Bras - guitar
Bernard Auzerol - bass
Thierry Volto - drums
Caroline Monteil - flute
Laurent Sindicq - bass
Thierry Moreno - drums, percussion

The Lost Frontier (1996)
Odyssees (1999) This Is (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin FR

Added: April 9th 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.progressiverockbr.com/xiialfonso.html
Hits: 1850
Language: english


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