Exposé Online banner

XII Alfonso — The Lost Frontier
(Musea FGBG 4183.AR, 1996, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 1996-12-31:

The Lost Frontier Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 11 , 1996 releases

Related artist(s): XII Alfonso, Dan Ar Braz, Mickey Simmonds

More info

Latest news

2019-03-20
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

2019-03-03
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

2019-02-21
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

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
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


Previously in Exposé...

Calomito - Inaudito – Older people will surely remember Rock in Oppossition, an informal gathering of avant-rock groups initiated by Henry Cow in the early Seventies. They were from several European countries, including...  (2006) » Read more

Hugh Hopper Band - Carousel – For the past decade bassist Hugh Hopper has played bandleader to a number of different lineups, all of which have been oriented primarily towards live gigs. Carousel finds him back in the studio with...  (1995) » Read more

Cairo - Cairo – Having heard the Frog Pest sampler tape, I was expecting quite a bit, as Cairo's long 20 minute cut (that appears here as well) was very promising. The track was a cross between complex keyboard...  (1995) » Read more

Plus - The Seven Deadly Sins – One look at the cover and it should be clear that producers Simon Napier Bell and Ray Singer (who also penned about six of the tracks here) were trying to capitalize on the look and feel of Jesus...  (2001) » Read more

Deborah Martin / Cheryl Gallagher - Tibet – In 1999, composers Martin and Gallagher took a trip to the “land above the clouds” — so inspired they were by the experience that they composed an entire album which attempts to...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues