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.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more