Exposé Online banner

Tales — Marco Polo - A Life for a Dream
(Somewhere in Time SIT9904, 1999, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2000-10-01

Marco Polo - A Life for a Dream Cover art

For his fourth concept album, French sysnthesist Jean-Luc Hervé Berthelot turns his attention from outer space to Earthly history, presenting almost an hour of music inspired by the story of the famous merchant explorer. Since the music is all instrumental, however, it could be inspired by a Sahara sunset or even a pet iguana and not make a difference except to the person designing the cover art. There are a few musical touches that indicate the setting, like sampled sitar and wooden flute, but synthesizers provide the bulk of the sound, which is generally sparse and nearly lacking tempo. The production, which can make or break a recording this subtle, is excellent, with a pristine sound that seems to expand for miles. Berthelot seems to be quite adamant about the methods he uses to produce his music. The liner notes clearly proclaim that no sequencing was used on the project and all sounds were recorded in real time. My personal philosophy on this has always been that if the listener can't tell, it doesn't matter. I'm willing to accept it either way — it's the result that counts. One night I sat listening to this disc and reading the latest installment of Robert Silverberg's Majipoor science fiction epic, and found the music to be a perfect compliment to the exotic setting of the story. Under other circumstances, I've found the long sweeping chords, echoing textures, and wandering lack of energy to be quite annoying. For me at least, this music is great when I'm in the mood for it, but intolerable at other times.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 20, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Jean-Luc Hervé Berthelot / Tales

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Alpes - Patrice Moullet - Rock sous la Dalle – Haven't heard much from Patrice Moullet since he and singer Catherine Ribeiro fronted Alpes, the premier French underground band, in the late 60s and early 70s. Yet apparently he's been busy...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues