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Life Line Project - 20 Years After CD (album) cover


Life Line Project

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars A couple weeks before it's release, my good friend Erik de Beer sent me a copy of LIFE LINE PROJECT'S latest release called 20 Years After, but as usual I decided to wait until the album reached the stores in order to review it with some perspective and after several listens, and must say that this guys are improving each day, this is for sure their best album after Distorted Memories, which was a perfect 5 in my scorecard.

The album is opened by the frenetic There's a Crowd in which Erik has the chance to impress us with one of his almost trademarked Moog solos. It's obvious for the listener that this time the music is influenced by ELP, but with enough own characteristics to make it sound completely original, specially in the more melodic parts. It's always risky to start a long album with an instrumental, but being that the rest of the album is essentially vocal, it's a good option.

After a strong opening, comes Worries and things keep getting better, in first place it's always a pleasure to listen the unusual voice of Marion Brinkman-Stroetinga, and better if enhanced by a Baroque inspired piano and constant radical changes, this is the kind of music that a Symphonic Proghead wants to listen, elaborate, complex but full of memorable tunes. A special mention to Dineke Visser and her magic oboe. The pompous and dramatic 20 Years After works as an introduction to the main theme, and Erik allows himself to fall in the excesses that we love so much. We can listen several Moog, organ, harpsichord and Mellotron emulator solos that capture our passion for any instrument that has a keyboard. Really impressive, the peak of the album?.So far?.

Now it's time for The True Tale of Duplo the Equivalent, a 60 minutes and 14 parts epic that solves the question I have been asking myself about that little one eyed man with green hair that we can see so often in the LIFE LINE PROJECT sites?.Well, the story is told in a simple way but clear enough to understand the criticism towards the extremes of the political spectrum.

"Duplo" lives in the boring town of "Equivalencia", where everybody looks the same, has the same things and make the same work (One day they dig holes, the other they fill them), all have one eye, because they are allowed to have only one point of view. One day at work "Duplo" falls from a cliff and ends in a state called "Ridicula" where he finds the true love with "Unica", a young woman with two eyes who lives in a town full of hollow people obsessed with fashion and uniqueness, after some time "Duplo" becomes the flavor of the month, everybody begins to paint their hair green and even poke the left eye to look like the cool little man. At the end the couple move to a town where they are allowed to be themselves.

Unlike most Prog bands who place special emphasis in poetry and complex concepts, Erik de Beer has a different method,. Makes things simple enough to be understood without problem and goes directly to the point?.Simple and effective??..But this can only be said about the lyrics, because the music is a different story, during the more than 60 minutes of epics we can listen different moods, styles and flavors, the band moves from one genre to another (God even classic 50's Rock), from drama to frenzy and marvelous acoustic sections with Chitarrone and acoustic guitars, with the effective support of Ludo de Murlanos in the percussion and a competent team of musicians that combine orchestral with rock instruments?It's better to listen it than to talk about, so will shut up and allow the listener to have his own impression?Will just say that couldn't find a weak moment and was able to listen the whole hour without interruption several times, being that the Erik has managed to create a different tune for every character, location and situation. Really captivating.

Those of us who know Erik de Beer are familiar with his small Baroque orchestra called "Tempesta Consorte", so the marvelous adaptation of the 17th Century Italian Folk Song "Fuggi Détente Cuore" which the band called One Night in Mantua wasn't a surprise, but I'm sure most casual listeners will not expect the bonus track. In this grand finale, the musicians manage to blend the delicacy of late Peninsular Renaissance and Heavy Prog plethoric of Moog and distorted guitars, simply delightful.

It's always hard to rate an album released by a friend, because it's easy to fall in favoritism, but easier to be unfair with a good job to seem absolutely impartial?.Well, I believe that any rating bellow 4.5 stars would be unfair, but the system of Prog Archives only allows us to give full stars, so will go with 5 stars because I rather go higher than lower, and will also give a strong recommendation for fans of great music.

Report this review (#857681)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This week I bought the latest album of Life Line Project. I think the title refers to two things: The title track '20 Years After' refers to the Alexandre Dumas novel of the same name, but this album also contains the definite recording of 'The True Tale Of Duplo The Equivalent'. In the early nineties there circulated a demo cassette tape under the name 'DUPLO', but here we have the fully arranged and new 2012 recording of this progrock epic that takes more than one hour.

Before this epic starts, there are first two shorter tracks to enjoy. The album starts with a short instrumental in which Erik de Beer displays all his keyboards, only accompanied by the bass and drums of Iris Sagan & Ludo de Murlanos. Then you get one of the finest tracks on the album, the fully acoustic 'Worries', beautifully sung by Marion with a beautiful chorus and with some subtle use of the flute, oboe and bassoon in the interlude parts. I also loved the piano part a lot. The title track is a solid piece of symphonic rock with a concluding melodic guitar solo, that is so characteristic for the sound of LLP.

On this album Erik seems to have opted for Marion Brinkman-Stroetinga as a sole lead singer and I think that this was a wise decision, because the use of too many vocalists, like on some previous LLP albums, damages the sound of the band a bit. Now the voice of Marion has become an integral part of the LLP-sound and I am very pleased with that. 'Morning In Equivalesia' is beautifully sung, accompanied only by the grand piano and a bit of acoustic guitar. The song is preceded by a subtle introduction, performed on the oboe, so beautifully played by Dineke Visser and so essential for the sound of the band. Parts like 'It's Fun To Obey' and 'Working On The Mountain', in which the life in a somewhat silly country, called Equivalesia is described give us a fully unchained progrock band, playing lots of tempo and character changes and displaying some great keyboard & guitar solo's all done by Erik de Beer, because guitarist Jody van der Gijze seems to be A.W.O.L. on this album. The strength of the LLP sound has fortunately remained unaltered.

Again one of the band's trump cards, the excellent section consisting of flute,oboe, clarinet & bassoon, is played in several interludes (Evening Thoughts & the beautiful introduction to Unica) and again the sound is enriched by ancient instruments like the harpsichord, the lute, the mandolin & the chitarrones.

On this album the piano has obtained a larger role, as you can find out in the bluesy 'The Guy Is Cool' with a rolling piano solo, or in the Finale with a great concluding piano solo. Highlights in the Duplo epic are in my opinion the extremely symphonic 'Happiness', 'Same Old Song' and 'Move Out' parts, both in vocal and in instrumental regard impeccable and overwhelming.

Again, as we can expect on most LLP albums, 20 Years After concludes with the adaptation of an ancient folk tune. This time 'La Mantovana', a 16th century Italian folksong is taken. There is even a string section (2 violins, viola & violoncello) added to the mandolin, lute & harpsichord ensemble. As with their other folk excursions, the band end their album in a sonic orgy, improvising over this charming folk theme.

The cd-booklet is well looked after, with a complete story line and the full lyrics. LIFE LINE PROJECT have struck again and I can advise this album to everyone who likes his symphonic rock very melodic and larded with folk elements.

Theo Schop

Report this review (#860075)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The title "20 Years After", by the Dutch LIFE LINE PROJECT, suggests that we might have to deal with a compilation disc, but nothing is less true. The title track "20 Years After", a short, almost 4 minutes lasting frenetic composition, revealing all instrumental skills of the band, seems to refer to the Alexandre Dumas 3 musketeers novel Vingt Ans Aprčs. We are seriously dealing with the eighth album by this prolific Dutch band, led by multi-instrumentalist and composer Erik de Beer, who is an absolute master on both keyboards and guitars.

This time all vocals are taken care off by Marion Brinkman, whose warm and pure voice is so characteristic for the sound of the project. Just listen to the second composition on the album "Worries", a beautiful and touching acoustic song of over six minutes with a beautiful chorus and a large role for the woodwind section, here consisting of the flute, oboe & bassoon, undoubtedly one of the highlights of the album.

Guitar player Jody van der Gijze left the band due to school exams, so the basic band is reduced to keyboards (Erik), bass (Iris Sagan) & drums (Ludo de Murlanos). Proving their unbroken strength, the band open the album with a fantastic trio-instrumental, displaying all keyboards, ranging from several Moogs to Hammond, electric pianos and polyphonic synthesizers, solidly sustained by the bass & drums. The track was recorded in one take, so you get a nice impression of how the band would sound on stage.

The main part of the new album is reserved to the more than one hour lasting rock epic "The True Tale Of Duplo The Equivalent", a comic story criticizing both the communist system of equality and the capitalist system of free markets and fashion.

First of all, this huge composition has everything a true symphonic rock lover needs to survive: great themes on both lead guitars and keyboards. It's amazing how many beautiful and solid majestic symphonic themes Erik succeeds in producing throughout the album. In beautiful songs like "Happiness", "Unica" and "Move Out", Marion's voice blends perfectly with the music and every now and then the woodwind section enriches the sound with perfectly arranged interludes and intro's. A fine example is offered in "Evening Thoughts" where flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon supply a nice nocturnal atmosphere, before the complete band bursts out in "Working On The Mountain", with 7:40 the longest part of the Duplo-epic. An almost five minutes lasting intro shows it all, screaming Moogs, hurling Hammonds, a throbbing rhythm section and up tempo twin guitar solo's.

There are also some humoristic interventions, like "Love Is In His Eye", a short and funny parody on the fifties' rock ballad.

Another humoristic page in the Duplo story is "The Guy Is Cool", sung in a very jazzy way by Marion and supplied with a great blues piano solo by Erik.

The "Finale" shows again an unchained Erik on the grand piano, before the music enters in eternal gloom. Fortunately I can mention that all ends well for Duplo.

The album is concluded by an anonymous Italian folksong, first played by a mandolin and a genuine string quartet, before the band explodes in a final musical orgy.

It's undeniable that Life Line Project have a true own and original sound, without copying from the greats. All the same their music is firmly rooted in the golden years of the seventies, without sounding obsolete. This is probably their finest album up to now and it certainly is one of the best albums I heard this year and therefore I won't hesitate to reward it with five stars !

Highly recommended!!

Report this review (#870340)
Posted Monday, December 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Right in the opening track "Three's A Crowd" played as a trio, the band show their analogue muscles. After a short introduction on polyphonic synths, the screaming and fat sounding Moogs batter and tear up your eardrums, only accompanied in a simple but effective way by the bass and drums. The Moogs are alternated with a roaring Hammond and a hammering rhythmic electric piano. After a short reprise of the initial theme, the song evolves into a magnificent symphonic theme, dominated by a beautiful synthesizer lead over a solid string ensemble. A great way to open an album.

Following is a beautiful and touching acoustic song, giving room to a beautiful grand piano and a well-arranged section, consisting of a flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, excellently sung by Marion Brinkman-Stroetinga.

Again keyboard-player Erik de Beer leads the way on his monophonic Moog monsters in the title track "20 Years After", another pulsating song with this time also a role for a beautiful concluding melodic an wailing guitar lead.

Then it's off for the main attraction, an over one hour lasting musical epic telling the adventures of a one eyed little bloke, who has to confront both the setbacks of the communistic system of equality and the silliness of fashion dictated capitalism.

Throughout the story the beautiful voice of Marion is singing the adventures of Duplo and his true love Unica. This true tale of Duplo the Equivalent is a genuine oasis full of analogue keyboard sounds. To find out, you can check out the main theme right away, or skip to songs like "Working On The Mountain", "Life In The Individual State Of Ridicula" and "Same Old Song". To spice up the sound of the band the earlier mentioned woodwind section intervenes every now and then in perfectly arranged interludes. There is also ample room for the electric guitar to display some beautiful and very melodic leads.

The album ends with a catchy adaption of an Italian folksong, featuring a genuine string section and again the superb dazzling analogue synth leads by Erik.

Trump cards on this album full of straight forward and melodic symphonic rock, are the warm and touching voice of singer Marion and the fantastic seventies' style analogue keyboard wizardry by Erik and let's not forget the woodwind section. Highly recommended!


Report this review (#871969)
Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of my favourites of 2012. Album number eight by the Dutch Life Line Project contains a one hour lasting rock epic, called "The True Tale Of Duplo The Equivalent", a story full of humour and beautiful symphonic themes. Not a complicated story of interstellar conflicts and incomprehensible futuristic story lines, but a simple fairy tale about a little green-haired and one eyed little guy, who refuses to conform himself to the silly rules of equality of communism and the like wise silly rules of fashion dictated capitalism. The story line is told straight forward, is full of comic allusions to other musical syles and lyrics, but the main purpose has obviously been delivering a beautiful piece of symphonic rock, full of magnificent themes, to tell a simple tale.

The major role on 20 Years After is assigned to the keyboards of the mastermind and founder-member of the project, Erik de Beer, who once more is delivering a large quantity of Moog, Hammond and piano solo's. This time he is also responsible for all guitar parts. Some great Hackettian examples can be enjoyed in songs like "Happiness" and "Move Out".

Another instrumental feature of Life Line Project is the use of a rich woodwind section, consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, whose warm and folk like interventions are so important for the warmness of the characteristic LLP-sound.

The vocals by Marion Brinkman-Stroetinga are of excellent quality and underline the folk character of the project. Her voice is so appropriate for this type of melodic and straight forward symphonic rock.

Another highlight on this album is the beautiful acoustic song "Worries", to me one of the most beautiful Life Line Project songs, well sung and with a great piano part.

This is an album that confirms the individuality of the Life Line Project sound and I can only advise those who love their symphonic rock melodious and harmonious, to take the time to listen to this album.


Report this review (#872754)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Erik de Beer knows like no other to make difficult music sound simple, fluent and natural. The hardest synthesizer, piano and guitar runs sound natural and smooth. The same goes for the themes and chord progressions he exposes in his songs. The often very elaborate arrangements make his compositions sound natural and warm. If you listen for example to the bass parts, you notice that most of them are fully fledged counter melodies, so well executed by bass player Iris Sagan, who combines rhythmic playing to adding melodic lines. There are not many albums on which you can so clearly distinguish the bass parts. On this new album "20 Years After" Erik drives his arranging skills beyond the limits to support the story line, exposed in the major composition on the abundant filled disc "The True Tale Of Duplo The Equivalent", a funny story, told both in music and lyrics, lasting more than one hour. The composition starts of with a sort of overture displaying the main theme, representing the main character of the story, Duplo, a funny little guy with one eye and green hair, who lives in a land where everyone looks the same. Every time when Duplo is on the loose, the theme returns. In the first parts, life in Equivalesia is described, how every day is the same and how life is regulated by a huge computer, to prevent the Equivalesians to get jealous. Erik employs all his arranging and playing skills to underline the events and the moods of the story in a brilliant way. For example in "Evening Thoughts" when Duplo thinks about the meaning of his existence, a beautiful ensemble of woodwind instruments ( flute, oboe, clarinets and a bassoon) play a sort of bucolic lullaby, subtly accompanied by acoustic guitar, lute and harpsichord. Then it's off for "Working On The Mountain", with a large instrumental intro with which LLP hit us with everything they've got, ferocious Moog solo's, an aggressive Hammond and fine melodic twin lead guitar solo's, before Marion enters, to tell the story of how the Equivalents dig holes on odd days and fill them up on even days. This time there are no guest vocalists present on the album. All vocal duties rest on the shoulders of Marion Brinkman and I think she is by far the best singer the Project had so far. Listen to her singing the lovesong "Unica", which reminded me so much of that beautiful Latte e Miele album "Papillon". Very funny is the rock ballad "Love Is In His Eye" in which Duplo's love for Unica is described. In the instrumental "Together" there is an exciting arpeggio acoustic guitar part to be enjoyed and the middle section contains a fantastic Moog solo. In "Life In The Individual State Of Ridicula" the habits of Ridicula, a country where everyone is different and where fashion dictates life, is described. "Happiness" is one of the most beautiful symphonic songs on the album, with a leading role for a fantastic wailing Gibson, playing a great solo, alternated and sustained by the Moog. This great symphonic theme, which will appeal to lovers of the old Hackett sound, returns in the equally beautiful "Move Out". A funny intermezzo is provided with "The Guy is Cool", in which the inhabitants of Ridicula stab heir left eye, in order to be more like Duplo, jazzy sung by Marion and provided with a bar piano solo by Erik. "Same Old Song" is an impressive piece of progrock with some dissonant themes on synths and bassoon and again the twin guitar solo's over a solid rhythm section. In the end you get a fine example of what I meant with making difficult things sound simple. Here Erik plays a short, but incredible fast two voiced two hand tapping solo. The story ends with sombre and dark sounding synth sounds and a voice reminding us, that computers are only manmade, the conclusion of a story that is trying to expose the harms of both communism and capitalism. The album contains four shorter compositions. Track one is an instrumental performed only by keyboards, bass and drums and it underlines once more the virtuoso capacities of Erik on all his keyboards. Probably the most beautiful song on the album is the touching and fully acoustic "Worries", sung in a pure and serene way by Marion, with again these beautiful woodwind arrangements over a grand piano and an acoustic guitar. Title track "20 Years After" appears to be another solid instrumental, with screaming Moogs and in the end a great electric guitar lead. This is truly a mature album and despite the humoristic interjections, it is one of the finest symphonic rock albums I know! Whistler.
Report this review (#876707)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I looked at the booklet I thought, hey another humoristic story spoiling the music, but after having listened several times to this new album of the little known Dutch band Life Line Project, I had to admit, that the music is just great. Here we have a band with a true original sound, straight forward warm and well chosen melodic lines and often baroque sounding harmonies. And what is more: we are offered a well conceived story with a clear beginning and end, a thing so rarely encountered on most progressive rock albums where free-floating supposed intellectual and incomprehensible stuff is interwoven with so often exaggerated complex music. On 20 Years After we get a simple but effective story about the silliness of communism and the exaggeration of capitalism as seen through the single eye of a little green haired guy called Duplo, who desperately tries to find his own way. A charming and original story, well sung by Marion Brinkman-Stroetinga, sometimes funny but always touching! Erik de Beer may be held responsible for all of the music and I was amazed by his keyboard- playing, which is truly way above the average.

I almost fell in love with the short but extremely beautiful interventions by oboe player Dineke Visser, most of the time assisted by a likewise excellent woodwind section, consisting of flute, clarinet and bassoon. Also liked a lot the very symphonic electric guitar solo's in parts like "Move Out". The bass playing by Iris Sagan is solid, but very melodic as well: the right connection between the drums of Ludo de Murlanos and the sumptuous keyboard parts on Moogs, Hammond and piano by Erik de Beer. Recording quality is reasonably well succeeded, with perfectly recorded acoustic parts. At some spots the more heavy parts sound a bit thin (too little punch on the bass drum and lower toms).

An album I liked a lot and advisable to everyone who likes his symphonic rock warm, melodic and straightforward without superfluous complexities!! Rating is somewhere between 4 & 5 stars, but since this is impossible and I think the album is closer to 5 than to 4, it will be 5.

Report this review (#906470)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 | Review Permalink

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