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Life Line Project

Symphonic Prog

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Another strong release by "LIFE LINE PROJECT"

A couple days ago the mailman rang the bell of my house and I knew he was probably bringing a couple albums of "LIFE LINE PROJECT" that my friend "Erik de Beer" had sent some days before, so after verifying I was correct, placed "The FINnishig Touch" in my CD player and started to enjoy the music of a relatively new band that I enjoy very much.

This time "De Beer" and company presents us some sort of conceptual album, because the band works on a melancholic anonymous Finnish folk song, now, the interesting aspect of this release is that they don't limit themselves to ethnic music, but explore variations on Jazz, Rock, Prog and even Classical arrangements, creating a very interesting and versatile atmosphere.

But probably the most surprising factor is that "LIFE LINE PROJECT" for the first time since I heard them, rocks and very hard, but manage to make the impact smother blending this new experiment with fluid Moog and sad,melancholic passages.

This time I won't dare to comment one by one the 17 tracks of the album, but only mention the ones that impressed me more, like "Tricky Dicky Finds The Rainbow's End", a fantastic instrumental that has everything, Heavy Prog with a killing guitar that blends with a jazzy piano, frantic synths and some acoustic" sections that satisfy all the tastes.

"Attical Problems" is another surprising track, starts acoustic and almost Flamenco (Lets remember that the Netherlands also have Flemish influence as Spain) but after a few minutes morphs into a fully Prog and frenetic piece of music, with radical tempo changes, simply brilliant and with a certain FOCUS (Mostly Jan Akkerman) influence.

"The Missing Drink" brings back the listener to Prog territory with an outstanding and breathless Moog performance that reminds of "Keith Emerson", but most important leads to an impressive contrast between the soft and Classical oriented "The 2nd Finnish Interlude" and the Flamenco inspired "The Finnishing Touch", two short tracks that in a few seconds prove how versatile this guys are.

Of course I couldn't close this thread without mentioning the pompous "Little Alice" and the amazing "Saudades de Sor" a track based in a 19th Century chord progression by "Fernando Sor" played in Jazz mood with a replica of the Palormo guitar of 1928 that the musician used more than a century ago.

Before moving to the rating I fell it's important to mention that the album has several short interludes, something I see with disrust, being that many bands use this short instrumentals merely as fillers, but in this case all have the important purpose, to work as links between different genres to soften the collision among absolutely different atmospheres that otherwise would sound contradictory. Something "LIFE LINE PROJECT" has achieved with dexterity, being that each and every song sounds as an integral and coherent part of the whole work.

In my opinion "The FINnishing Touch" deserves no less than 4 solid stars, being that it's original, interesting but most important, crafted with intelligence and passion, all the ingredients necessary for an album to be considered an excellent addition to any Prog collection.

As usual with this band, highly recommended.

Report this review (#857694)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Missing link

The completely instrumental album by the Dutch LIFE LINE PROJECT "The Finnishing Touch" can be considered as a sort of missing link between their classic symphonic rock sound as can be heard on their albums "Beyond Time" (1994); "Time Out" (1995) and 'The King" (2006) and their more fusion like sound as is displayed on their later albums "Modinha' (2008) and "Distorted Memories (2010). It's an album that shows far more instrumental virtuosity than their other albums.

The album is built around an anonymous Finnish folksong that returns in all sorts of styles. After a beautiful and mysterious sounding first version of this folksong in the very symphonic opening track ''The Finnish Overture", the band shift up a couple of gears in the Jazz-rock based 'Tricky Dicky Finds The Rainbows End", showing high level duelling between an unchained and aggressive playing Jason Eekhout on electric guitar and some very virtuoso but melodic soloing on electric piano and synthesizers by Erik de Beer. The composition comes to rest in a more quiet acoustic guitar improvisation by Jody van der Gijze, but immediately after that the band speed up in another jazz-rock orientated piece "Attical Problems" with an even more virtuoso Jason Eekhout displaying his skills between the beautiful and jazzy orientated keyboard parts of Erik de Beer strongly supported by the rhythm section consisting of bass player Iris Sagan and drummer Ludo de Murlanos again the more contemplative moments come from the classical guitar of Jody van der Gijze .

The "Theme Of James The Rover" the only compositional contribution on this album by Jason Eekhout appears to be an unleashed shuffle containing a dissonant but great piano solo by Erik and a really rocking guitar solo by Jason, played over a pulsating rhythm section.

The folksong returns in the "Finnish Interlude" in a beautiful classical sounding acoustic version played by Dineke Visser on oboe only accompanied by the grand piano. It's only a short moment of relaxation because 'The Missing Drink" shows again a more aggressive sound and contains a strong Moog solo.

The folksong returns again in the second interlude. This time the oboe is accompanied by a subtle classical guitar The title track "The Finnishing Touch" is the shortest track and shows a very virtuoso classical guitar version of the Finnish folksong.

"Little Alice" and "I Miss You More" are two oldies taken from Erik's past with symphonic rock band BRANCARD, the first piece showing a multitude of keyboard sounds only occasionally alternated with some guitar parts, while the second one is a very beautiful symphonic rock ballad with ample room for the classical guitar and a beautiful languishing electric guitar solo. "Nimbo" continues this more symphonic sounding part of the album and contains everything progrock fans like more complicated rhythms and tempo changes.

"One Finnish Jazz Minute" is a very jazzy version of the folksong with a main role for the nylon stringed guitar. Another acoustic and jazzy gem is "Saudades de Sor'' with again the classical guitar taking the lead and a short but effective piano solo.

"Without Tears" is another song from Erik's past, this time taken from his "Zoundworks" period. It is a very melodic piece with a latin feel and an excellent flute part played by Elsa de Beer.

"Pulsar" is another up tempo Jazz rock piece, while the Finnish folksong returns for the last time. In "The Finnish Finish". in my opinion the best succeeded version of this simple folksong. It starts with a subtle classical guitar part, supported only by some chords on the keyboards, before it evolves into a compelling folk metal piece with unbridled keyboard playing. After a more solemn lead guitar part, the song turns Into a pure folk song, leaded by the mandolin and supported by a renaissance drum and a harpsichord.

Mostly the bonus tracks are songs that could easily have been left out, but this time the bonus track "Desire" a very beautiful symphonic rock song, is one of the highlights on the album. The main theme of this more than six minutes lasting piece is played in a very touching way on the oboe by Dineke Visser and the song also contains some beautiful themes, played by the flute, guitar and keyboards.

I liked "The Finnishing Touch" a lot and I think it's one of the best L.L.P. albums and therefore I will give it a five star rating.

Theo Schop

Report this review (#864424)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Finnishing Touch is the LIFE LINE PROJECT album closest to jazz-rock. Like their 2008- album "Modinha" this album has a returning theme, hand-picked from the world folk literature. This time the leitmotiv consists of a simple, but charming anonymous folksong from Finland. After a short introduction in which the folksong is displayed for the first time in a beautiful melancholic mood, the band start off like a rocket in a number of jazz-rock orientated compositions, which give us high level duelling principally between the lead guitar of Jason Eekhout and the keyboards of Erik de Beer, all over a pumping rhythm section supplied by bass-player Iris Sagan and drummer Ludo de Murlanos. The chord progressions in these compositions, all written by Erik de Beer, sound warm and inviting, while the beautiful Spanish guitar, played by Jody van der Gijze gives us the necessary moments of relaxation.

After an inflamed shuffle, the only track on the album composed by Jason Eekhout, in which he proves to be a true master on his guitar, the music is quieting down in a very atmospheric and beautiful version of the Finnish folksong performed on the oboe by Dineke Visser and the grand piano by Erik de Beer.

The Missing Drink gives us once more an unchained LLP with some splendid Moog & Hammond solos opposed to some sharp-edged guitar leads. Again the oboe brings peace, this time accompanied by the warm acoustic guitar of Jody. The title track "The Finnishing Touch" is a virtuosissimo short gem on the Spanish guitar.

Little Alice & I Miss You More, two compositions dating from the late seventies, show us the more symphonic side of the Project, while Nimbo brings us a well-succeeded fusion of symphonic rock with jazz-rock influences.

The pressure is lowered in two short acoustic jazz pieces. The first one is a charming rendition of the Finnish folksong, principally played by a classical guitar. The second one is built over a chord progression by 19th century composer Fernando Sor and it's played on a copy of Sor's Panormo guitar.

Without Tears brings us a tad bit of latin with a beautiful flute part by Elsa de Beer. The Finnish Finish is in my opinion by far the best version of the Finnish folksong. It has it all. It begins quiet with a beautiful Spanish guitar, only accompanied by the keyboards, before it bursts into an unleashed folk-metal orgy. Then it slows down to a beautiful melodic symphonic electric guitar solo and it ends as a happy jig played by the mandolin and the harpsicord over a droning renaissance drum.

The bonus track "Desire" is one of the finest compositions on the album. It begins very melancholically with acoustic guitars before the oboe enters with the main theme. The song develops into a beautiful wailing electric guitar solo, alternated with flute and Moog solo's , perhaps the most symphonic composition on the album.

The Finnishing Touch is a great opportunity to discover a bit different sounding Life Line Project and I think considering both the level of the playing and the level of the compositions, that four stars are well-deserved!


Report this review (#874261)
Posted Monday, December 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Excellent instrumental album built around a simple, but touching Finnish folksong. This folksong is appearing and re-appearing in all sorts of arrangements and settings and dominates this album of the Dutch Life Line Project. A beautiful overture in a subdued mood, a subtle duet by a piano and oboe, a guitar and flute version, a classic jazz version with acoustic guitars and a very dynamic and a catchy folk metal version are all based on this simple Finnish song, a perfect leitmotiv!

In between there are instrumentals in several styles, but always linking in with progressive rock. Brillantly executed compositions, "Tricky Dicky Finds The Rainbows End", "Attical Problems" and "Theme Of James The Rover" are a flirt with jazz rock, while "I Miss You More" and the very beautiful "Desire" (great oboe part!!) present a more melodic symphonic rock. "Without Tears"even shows a touch of latin.

All arrangements are very detailed and well made, the sound may be a bit thin, but shows all details of the music and does justice to the perfection of the arrangements.


Report this review (#974709)
Posted Sunday, June 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars ''The finnishing touch'' was the third official release by Life Line Project, written by Erik de Beer during a time he thought was dying of a terminal disease and featuring the same line-up with ''Modinha'' at the time of the recordings, which took place at de Beer's GitaarStudio between October 2007 and May 2009.The main music concept is based on a sad Finnish traditional song, reworked by de Beer, while parts of the composed material is credited to guitarist Jason Eekhout.Moreover a few tracks on the album date back to the days of Erik de Beer with his premature bands Brancard and Zoundworks.

According to de Beer, ''The finnishing touch'' belongs among the most jazzy efforts of the band.Actually the first few tracks contain strong Fusion touches in the guitar parts and, yes, some jazzy influences on the piano parts.I would say though that this was one of the most Neo Prog-sounding albums the band ever produced.Unlike ''Modinha'', ''The finnishing touch'' is heavily relying on de Beer's work on synthesizers, which are executed on flashy solos and very sharp interventions, but the true problem is that the album sounds very thin and ''plastic'' at moments, especially the drum parts and the orchestral keyboards sound extremely fake.There are still plenty of organ and piano runs in here, but the focus remains on synthesizers, bass and drums with an E.L.P.-kind of style mixed with melodic guitar touches.As the album is structured around Finnish Folk, there are also some folky references at moments with the acoustic guitars in evidence, which de Beer cleverly adapted in a Classical-like enviroment.The second half of the album is much stronger with a turn towards a FOCUS-like style, featuring dramatic guitar playing, smooth flute drives and more balanced use of keyboards.The overall sound recalls of acts such as ELEGANT SIMPLICITY, pretty much synthetic, struggling to offer its true symphonic atmosphere, fortunately the music is well-composed and a few tracks really stand out based on their grandiose sound.

A good Neo/Symphonic Prog album, which could have been even better if some instrumental parts did sound a bit more natural.Recommended to anyone who loves melodic, rich Prog Rock and does not care about a heavier dose of synths.

Report this review (#1165934)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Web information, written by multi-instrumentalist/main composer Erik De Beer: 'This is the re-mastered version of 'The Finisshing Touch'. For this official release some of the songs have been remixed, while three new tracks have been added. The main theme on this album is built rather freely around the charming anonymous melody of a sad Finnish folksong entitled Tuoll On Mun Kultani. The harmonisation of the song is made by me, thus leaving me all possibilities to change it to the different styles of music.'

After a few listening sessions I conclude that the sound on The Finnishing Touch (nice play of words) is in the vein of Modinha: the focus is very much on melody and the harmonic interplay between the musicians, especially Erik his keyboards and Jason his harder-edged guitar work (heavier and more omnipresent than on Modinha). Erik De Beer his way of composing reminds me of other classically trained musicians in progrock bands like Ekseption (featuring Erik's hero Rick Van Der Linden) and Sky (at some moments Life Line Project even sounds similar to Sky like Saudades De Sor).

The music range from mellow atmospheres with instruments like the piano, oboe, classical guitar and flute to catchy and swinging mid-tempo rhythms. And to more heavy and bombastic climates, with biting and distorted electric guitar leads and spectacular keyboards sounds (Emersonian Moog flights and powerful Hammond organ runs). The short title track strongly evokes Steve Hackett his classical guitar sound. While Andy Latimer fans will enjoy the more sensitive and moving electric guitar play in compositions like I Miss You More, Without Tears and the beautiful final track Desire (also featuring warm contributions on oboe, flute, classical guitar along jazzy piano and fat synthesizer flights).

Life Line Project have very pleasantly blended classical, rock, jazz and symphonic, embellished with a lush instrumentation and good work on keyboards and guitar.

My rating: 3,5 star.

Report this review (#1952155)
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2018 | Review Permalink

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