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Life Line Project - The King CD (album) cover


Life Line Project

Symphonic Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A couple days ago I received a package from Erik de Beer (Multi instrumentalist of THE LIFE LINE PROJECT) with their third album "The King". The first surprise was the nice detail of mentioning this humble reviewer and Prog Archives in the booklet for helping him with the addition of the band to the database....The truth is that most of the work was done by Erik and his sister Dorinde, who wrote the bio and provided the photo....But thanks for the courtesy.

Now, lets talk about "The King", and it's interesting to say that the idea comes back from 1976 but it's only in 2009 when Erik was diagnosed with terminal cancer that he decides to finish this long time delayed project. But sometimes bad things turn into good, the doctors made a mistake and the diagnose was changed to a non fatal disease and the album is ready to see the light and for us to enjoy,

"The King" starts with the dramatic "Opening". From the beginning is obvious that this is originally a 70's project with pompous and strong organ sections perfectly supported by powerful drumming, the Moog solo and posterior organ are reminiscent of TRIUMVIRAT'S virtuoso "Jürgen Fritz". During 5 minutes LIFE LINE PROJECT gives no rest to the listener, jumping from frenetic passages to nostalgic sections, a great opener.

Is this the End? was planned to be Erik's musical goodbye, so the mood is softer and melancholic with a very nice acoustic guitar. The vocals by "Mauschka Kartosonto" are very unusual, maybe a bit too acute for my personal taste, but fit perfectly in the atmosphere of the song. Later the guitar and flute sections are delightful,. but the vocals are not my cup of tea.

"Free Passage" is a short and frenetic track in which Erik gives a lesson with the keyboards, again no rest for the listener, each of the 2:26 minutes is full of sounds and powerful music.

"Dusk is an atmospheric and acoustic song with Medieval moments, as in the case of a ravelling troubadour, the flute guides the band until about the middle, when "Erik de Beer" adds his dramatic guitar, still some soft flute passages appear once in a while, but the song turns nostalgic and stronger.

Now it's the time for "The King", a 38:00 minutes multi-part epic dedicated originally to Ceaucescu but which fits George W. Bush perfectly according to he inner notes.

There's too much inside this long track to mention every one of the 10 parts, from soft to aggressive sections that link perfectly as a puzzle, if I had to choose a couple of sections, I would have to go with the soft and acoustic "Defeat" (More or less in the style of Jan Akkerman) and the vibrant "Doom" with it's clear "Emersonian" sound, but to be honest, enjoyed all the epic.

Now comes the always hard part of rating, because translating all what you have heard during 55 minutes to a 5 points system is too cold and empty, but if I want to be fair, will go with 4 solid stars.

Report this review (#857696)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Strong and solid symphonic rock with a touch of folk, is would you get when you check out the album "The King" by my compatriots and friends from LIFE LINE PROJECT, a project built around multi-instrumentalist Erik de Beer, who is taking care not only of all the keyboard parts, but who also plays all guitar leads. For the riffs and chords he is assisted by guitarist Bram Vroon.

The album starts incredibly strong with the very symphonic and heavy "Opening". It has great synthesizer solos and an extreme virtuoso metal-like guitar lead. The rhythm section, consisting of bass player Remon Bergwerff and drummer Ludo de Murlanos make a solid basis, while the bass even fulfils a solo and melodic part. The song ends with a very beautiful symphonic theme.

The dramatic but subdued "Is This The End" should have been Erik's last song, because of a severe illness, but fortunately that turned out differently. It's a beautiful bad sad song with some very beautiful flute parts.

"Free Passage" is the shortest and the least strong song on the album, but it shows great Hammond virtuosities over a pulsating rhythm. "Dusk" is a very beautiful symphonic rock piece with important roles for the flute and the bassoon. The guitar solo sounds a bit like Steve Hackett and is great.

The title song is only a couple of seconds short of 38 minutes. It tells the story of the rise and fall of a dictator, who abuses democracy and religion to become the leader of the world. The music shows Life Line Project in a very original and captivating symphonic rock. Absolute highlight is the dark and very virtuoso "Doom" with great Hammond and Moog playing and a striking bass solo. "Defeat" is very beautifully sung by Maruschka Kartosonto, assisted in the second part by Yvette Vrij, a short but great sung female duet. The voice of Maruschka reinforces the folk character of some of the music and counterbalances the often massive and overwhelming symphonic rock, dominated by vintage keyboard parts and twin guitar solos.

In the heavy "World Of Steel" Maruschka teams up with Peter van der Stel, emotionally sung by both and another highlight of "The King". The song is preceded by a beautiful theme on the oboe of Dineke Visser, one of the trump cards of the Project. Renaissance dance music can be heard in "Reflections-Saltarello" with lots of recorders, lutes, antique drums and bassoon. Other subtle interludes are supplied by the soft and sensitive flute parts by Erik's wife Elsa.

With "The King" Life Line Project have dared to a create a true own sound. Everyone who loves pure symphonic rock with a touch of seventies' sound (the first version of "The King" dates from 1978), but with a strong character of its own, should try out this album, that captures from the first to the last bar. "The King" is a very original album, the playing is excellent and the sound quality, although produced in a low budget situation is good. The five stars are all well deserved.

Theo Schop

Report this review (#862829)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here we have a true seventies' sound, while the year of release shows 2009. Then, reading the booklet I saw that large parts of the title track (almost 38 minutes) were composed in 1978. At that time keyboard & guitar player and mastermind behind the Life Line Project, Erik de Beer, didn't have the means to record and produce such a large scale work. This time he did and although not everything went as smooth as he planned (he had to conquer a severe illness) and the original year of release (2006) wasn't made, here we have a true symphonic masterpiece.

Erik is taking care of all keyboardparts and most of the guitar leads and he may be held responsible for all compositions and lyrics. He is assisted by a rhythm guitarist (Bram Vroon), a bass player (Remon Bergwerff) and the excellent drummer Ludo de Murlanos. As a bonus there is a lavish woodwind section, consisting of Elsa de Beer ? flute, Dineke Visser ? oboe, Anneke Verhage ? clarinet, Ada Bienfait ? bassoon & Jessica ter Horst ? recorders. The vocals are taken care of Maruschka Kartosonto, whose sometimes fragile and gentle voice contributes to the folk element of the band's sound. At some spots she is assisted by Peter van der Stel and Yvette Vrij.

This is truly a symphonic rock album to get hold of. The first track "Opening" immediately shows us of what the band is capable of, a huge rhythm section putting up the proper scene for some great soloing, both on the guitar and the keyboards, while there is sufficient room for some bass virtuosities by Remon. This is genuine majestic symphonic rock.

"Is This The End" is an introverted piece, beautifully sung by Maruschka, in which Erik says goodbye to the world, which fortunately appeared to be unnecessary. Fluent melodical flute parts are altered with beautiful wailing lead guitars and solemn synth parts.

Freeway is an up tempo showcase piece for the keyboards, probably not the best composition, but an excellent proof of what Erik is capable of. The following "Dusk" is one of these beautiful pages of symphonic rock, that would be a waste to leave unread. The woodwinds create a beautiful ancient atmosphere, in which a languishing guitar can cry its heart out in a way that could be worthy of the great Steve Hackett.

The title piece "The King", the sad but only too well-known story about the mad dictator who doesn't winch for the greatest atrocities and who is prepared to abuse both religion and democracy for his own purposes, is the best proof, that LIFE LINE PROJECT have a true sound of their own. They are not just another Yes or Genesis copy, they have to offer the listener a true sound of their own. It's true, that the virtuosities of keyboardplayer Erik de Beer will make Emerson, Lake & Palmer fans drool, but the sound of L.L.P. (not E.L.P.) is truly different. Just listen to the dreamy beautiful introduction and to the powerful majestic main theme, solid as a rock, but subtle at the same time. The first vocal part is the same as the main theme and is obviously not that easy to sing, but then it's off: medieval sounding folk insertions, displaying the recorders and other woodwinds combined with instruments like the lute and harpsichord, sustained by medieval percussion instruments, a pseudo-gospel, that might not be just the right cup of tea for more fundamental believers, double bass drummed pumping twin solos, charming moments with only flute and classical guitar, everything is laid out at your feet within minutes in this great symphonic epic. I enjoyed so much the pumping "World Of Steel" in which the grumpy vocals of mad "King" Peter are taking turns with the imploring beautiful vocals of "conscience" Maruschka.

"Defeat" is a beautiful acoustic piece, with touching two-voiced singing by Maruschka and Yvette and showing the woodwinds at their best, perfectly arranged and impeccably played. To me the dramatic climax of "The King" is "Doom", a piece that flirts with jazz-rock and shows us an unchained Remon Bergwerff creating the right atmosphere for some tremendous keyboard-soloing by Erik, a truly ominous piece, after which the epitaph of "The King" is spoken by Peter, accompanied by the "Dies Irae" , an ancient catholic church melody, to escort the dead to their destiny. Then the main theme returns and the peace and quiet return. Everything has been in vain, a beautiful ending of a brilliant composition.

The recording quality also reminds of the seventies, no cleverly compressed digitally polished tracks, but genuine breathing winds, some creaking strings and perhaps a bit too woody and dry sounding drums, but this shouldn't put you off. This is truly a great album, remembering the heydays of symphonic rock, without copying from any of the well-known bands and therefore I think, that this album deserves a place in every symphonic rock lover's collection.

Report this review (#864423)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The madness and megalomania of a demagogue, who is prepared to abuse both religion and democracy, form the basis for the story of this brilliant concept album by LIFE LINE PROJECT. Worked out in several stages, this is the final version of this symphonic rock epic. Mastermind and keyboard wizard Erik de Beer has gathered around himself 12 other musicians to record this album. Apart from the regular band line up, we find, as so often with Life Line Project, a flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and several recorders to embellish the arrangements. Other rarely heard instruments are the lute, mandolin, chitarrone, harpsichord and a baroque guitar. There are two beautiful majestic main themes, which return in several parts, throughout the work. The music ranges from harmonic symphonic rock to folk (Saltarello) and from pseudo-gospel (The Chosen Ones) to more metal like pieces in Democracy & World of Steel. Progressive rock highlight is the fantastic "Doom" in wich LIFE LINE PROJECT show everything they have got. The most beautiful song is without any doubt "Defeat", a tender duet, sung perfectly by Maruschka Kartosonto and Yvette Vrij, accompanied by acoustic instruments. The work ends with te same mournful theme as it started with. Thus everything has been in vain. The King is preceded by 4 shorter tracks. "Opening" is the pulsating and heavy symphonic starter and contains an incredible virtuoso tapping solo on the lead guitar. "Is This The End" is a more melancholic song, written by Erik when he thought he had a terminal illness and it was actually meant as a musical testament. Fortunately fate decided otherwise and Erik is still with us. "Freeway" is a very dynamic keyboard based composition, in which the organ and Moog are energetically accompanied by the bass and drums. "Dusk" is a more introverted symphonic rock piece, based on the beautiful flute playing by Elsa de Beer, accompanied by the other winds and leading to a very Hackett-like concluding electric guitar solo. I can recommend this album to every true symphonic rock lover and I will therefore reward it with five stars! Whistler.
Report this review (#875561)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars If I understand the liner notes to Life Line Project's The King correctly, Erik de Beer actually started the process of composing the 38 minute title track to the album back in the 1970s, but it was not until 2006 when he attempted to record it after a nasty health scare made it uncertain whether he would ever live to see it completed. Happily for all concerned, Erik's medical issues turned out to be much less dangerous than feared, and in 2009 (which must have been around the same time as The Finnishing Touch was being prepared for release) Erik got the mix and mastering on the King to a point he was happy with and unleashed it on the world.

The centrepiece of the album is unquestionably the title track, with the four previous songs being little more than a warm-up exercise, though a competent enough one at that, giving de Beer a chance to show off his multi-instrumentalist skills. The main epic is, I fear, mildly hit and miss - there's a lot of enjoyable passages, but also some points which kind of bug me. (In particular, there's a vocal section about 10 minutes into it which never fails to drive me up the wall.) It's a reasonable symphonic effort and certainly no major embarrassment, but I can't say that I feel it was necessarily worth the multi-decade gestation period.

Report this review (#898027)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favourite Life Line Project album: true 70's style symphonic rock with long instrumental passages, filled to the brim with beautiful themes, tempo changes and nostalgic keyboard sounds. Several woodwind instruments embellish the grand eloquent LLP sound.

The album starts with 4 shorter compositions of which I particularly liked the fantastic dynamic "Opening" and the more introverted "Dusk" which put you right back in the mid-seventies.

Title piece "The King" is almost 38 minutes long and tells us the dramatic and tragic events of a madman who wants bo be king and doesn't hesitate to abuse democracy and religion to reach his purposes. In the end he is killed without honour and all has been in vain. The music follows perfectly all stages of the rise and fall of the king, there is the dreamy landscape theme, the majestic main theme, reflecting the king, the gospel-like "The Chosen Ones" describing how religion can be used to mobilize a crowd to fight and a village party, full of medieval instruments with flutes, lutes, recorders and percussion instruments. Parts with bassoon, oboe, clarinet and flute are alternated with the densely arranged symphonic parts with solid keyboard parts and beautiful melodic guitar solos.

My favourite is "Doom", a fantastic & dramatic instrumental part, that sounds aggressive and sad at the same time. The album ends in quietness with the beautiful landscape theme.

PP (Patty)

Report this review (#1196481)
Posted Saturday, June 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The game of life is present on Life Line Project's next work.After being diagnosed with cancer and told to have only months left to live, Erik de Beer wanted desperately to finish an ambitious suite, which he started working back in 1978 with his first group J.S. Quasar and then with Zoundworks.The more serious attempts came upon Life Line Project's formation with an early version clocking at about 23 minutes.His backing group now was Ludo de Murianos on drums, Ramon Bergwerff on bass and Bram Vroon on guitars with three guest singers and a small orchestra, featuring classical instruments like bassoon, oboe, flutes and clarinet.By the end of the recording the diagnosis had changed from cancer to sarcoïdose, but de Beer had also to face his wife depression after such an intense period of pressure.He was convinced to release the album, so this would be launched in 2009 after so many years of working and an emotionally very hard period.

''The king'' had now reached the mark of 38 minutes, a long Symphonic Rock opus, divided in 10 variations, presenting the already familiar style of the band, now showered by lovely acoustic Classical sections, which even have a slight MIKE OLDFIELD perfume due to the surprising use of mandolin.Instrumentally ''The king'' is extremely tight and well-composed, some straight rock tunes are a bit out of place, but most of it is solid Symphonic Rock with beautiful keyboard parts, performed on synths, organ and harsichord by de Beer, and a new guitar hero found in the face of Bram Vroon, an excellent player, which could add some furious chops and memorable melodious lines in the process.While the music is pretty great, I can't say the same thing about the lifeless vocals, both male and female, propably de Beer needed a more professional team to sing the lyrics, because the present vocalists had not enough range to support the music.The drumming is also a bit robotic, but fortunately de Beer and Vroon will dominate the composition with their influences from CAMEL, FOCUS and even THE ENID, creating a powerful and talented duo of guitars/keyboards, flavored by the small Classical injections of the suporting orchestra.''The king'' is not the sole piece displayed in the album, there are four more songs offered in the opening minutes, somewhere between Neo Prog and dark Retro Prog, always guided by de Beer's keyboard acrobatics, especially his organ parts are impressive, much in the vein of E.L.P., with his synth flashing showing strong links to the sound of ABEL GANZ and MARILLION.

Had ''The king'' been recorded with a more expressive vocal team and lacking the few yet present straightforward lines, we would be talking about a great Symphonic Rock fest.The album still comes warmly recommended, because de Beer is an excellent composer and player, while Vroon is definitely the most accomplished and passionate guitarist he ever had in his group.Some great dramatic passages and charming orchestrations are the best highlights of the album.

Report this review (#1325425)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | Review Permalink

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