XII Alfonso — The Lost Frontier
(Musea FGBG 4183.AR, 1996, CD)
by Henry Schneider, 1996-12-31:
XII Alfonso is a French band whose debut release The Lost Frontier is a concept album about Hadrian’s Wall. Similar to Musea’s other Celtic inspired band Kadwaladyr, XII Alfonso weaves a cinematic tapestry of ambient sounds and contemporary, Celtic, and medieval themes. Mostly instrumental, the music is relaxing and perfectly played at times reminding me of Anthony Phillips. Unfortunately XII Alfonso chose to include three vocal tracks by Caroline Lafue that detract from the music. Her voice does not have the depth necessary to deliver the lyrics and she occasionally slurs words. That minor gripe aside, The Lost Frontier is the perfect companion to snuggle up with in a blanket and a good book. Or you can close your eyes, let your mind drift with the music, and conjure your own “documentary” images of Hadrian’s Wall.
by Peter Thelen, 1997-02-01:
It's unclear from the booklet notes what actually constitutes the band proper, but it seems to be centered around two brothers François and Philippe Claerhout, on keyboard programming and guitars respectively, and keyboardist Stephane Merlin. Two bassists play on different songs, as well as two different drummers, while Caroline LaFue seems to be the de-facto lead vocalist, although she only appears on a few tracks. Laure Oltra contributes lyrics on those tracks which have them, although better than half of the album is instrumental. The music could be characterized as dreamy Celtic symphonic, perhaps a bit like Iona meets Minimum Vital, with heavy atmospherics, and a slight Oldfield-ian feel throughout many of the pieces. LaFue is a powerful singer, and certainly brightens up the music whenever she is utilized. The guest list is pretty impressive too: Mickey Simmonds (ex-Fish / Camel) contributes to several tracks, and guitarist Dan Ar Bras contributes to at least one. In all this is a fairly ambitious and successful debut, one that I'm certain most will enjoy.
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
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
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 Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more