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XII Alfonso - Claude Monet - Volume 1, 1883-1889 CD (album) cover

CLAUDE MONET - VOLUME 1, 1883-1889

XII Alfonso


Symphonic Prog

2.82 | 32 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Norm Cash
4 stars This is the third studio offering from French proggers XII Alfonso. It's the first CD that I heard by the band, having previously been exposed to them via a snippet of a track downloaded from Ian Bairnson's (ex Alan Parsons guitarist and session man extraordinaire) website. The disc purported to be the first of a trilogy based around the life of French painter Claude Monet. Unfortunately, the subsequent parts have yet to emerge from the studio, and the lack of news relating to the band of late leads me to believe that they might never be forthcoming. That's a shame because this is really a terrific album.

So, what to expect if you give this a spin? Well, a wide range influences are apparent throughout the album. Start with a mixture of Mike Oldfield and Pat Metheny. Blend in some French traditional folk themes (similar to the way in which bands like Mostly Autumn and Karnataka use Celtic folk influences in their music), and just for good measure add a dash of George Gershwin. For the most part, the tracks are instrumental, with only 4 of the 16 tracks featuring predominant vocals. The overall story is held together by a narrator. I can't really comment on the quality of the lyric writing as both the narration and the songs are sung in French, and heathen that I am I can't speak a word. All I can say is that it all sounds right.

Highlights for me are Des Saisons Sur Les Toiles - a lovely little acoustic guitar instrumental following the rhythm of an old grandfather clock, and Les Arcanes De L'air Bleu - a 6 minute+ jazz-prog number featuring the aforementioned Bairnson.

All in all, this is a terrifically well produced, well written, and atmospheric piece which makes you wish that the band would get back into the studio and complete the job! On the strength of Monet Vol 1, I've gone on to acquire the remainder of XII Alfonso's back catalogue, discovering a further 2 fantastic studio albums (Odyssees and The Lost Frontier), and a live offering (This Is.). All well worth a listen.

As I'm writing this review in July, I'll just finish by saying that this CD is also the perfect piece of music to enjoy with a glass of wine and the daily Tour de France highlights.

Norm Cash | 4/5 |


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