Chris Béya Atoll — Illian, J’entends gronder la Terre
(Musea FGBG 4531.AR, 2003, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2005-09-01
There are several reasons to expect the worst from this release. Many “reunions” and “reformations” of bands from the 70s have not turned out well; a look at the credits shows none of the other members of Atoll in spite of the name on the cover; and Atoll guitarist Béya has not really done anything of note since Tertio in 1977. On the other hand, Béya’s guitar playing was one of the best things about Atoll, and he had a hand in writing some of the band’s best material. Well, the proof is in the hearing, and I was pleasantly surprised – there’s quite a bit to like on this CD, and I’ve enjoyed it more the more I’ve listened. The music varies widely, from delicate acoustic numbers nicely arranged with flute and strings to energetic fusion workouts featuring Béya’s great playing. The only real drawbacks are the vocals, which are thin and undistinctive (it’s a pity he didn’t recruit his old Atoll bandmate André Balzer), and the keyboard sounds, which have the slick sound often present in digital instruments. It’s some sort of concept album, but the music works aside from that. The bottom line is that this is a worthy effort perhaps more likely to appeal to fans of good neo-prog than to fans of the old Atoll. Beya’s backing band navigate the complex arrangements well, though it is the guitar that shines, whether based in rock, blues, folk, or classical.
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more