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XII ALFONSO

Symphonic Prog • France


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XII Alfonso biography
XII ALFONSO's "The Lost Frontier" is a great first album with an ambitious concept. These young musicians from Bordeaux (France) have built a superb work with long instrumental passages, some female vocals, and a Celtic-influenced atmosphere sometimes reminding of Mike OLDFIELD. "Odyssees" is the second album in 1999, presenting the same sort of beautiful and majestuous music that could have been heard three years ago.

"Claude Monet Vol. 1" is the first delivery of a trilogy dedicated to the last years of the french impressionist painter's Claude Monet life, for the French group XII ALFONSO. This first one surrenders it occupies from the years 1883 to 1889. The relative influences to progressive bands that are appreciated in the album, I believe that they would come mainly from French formations as VITAL MINIMUM or Jean Pascal BOFFO, besides others as Mike OLDFIELD and Steve HACKETT. Those that have not been satisfied with XII ALFONSO's first two albums, they can prove with this third that sincerely I believe that it is a great disk.

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Buy XII ALFONSO Music


The Lost FrontierThe Lost Frontier
Musea 2003
Audio CD$52.89
$51.72 (used)
Claude Monet - Volume Deux, 1889-1904Claude Monet - Volume Deux, 1889-1904
Musea 2005
Audio CD$15.89
$40.05 (used)
This IsThis Is
Musea 2003
Audio CD$72.05
$70.87 (used)
OdysseesOdyssees
Musea 2003
Audio CD$13.77
$36.50 (used)
Claude Monet - Volume Un, 1883-1889Claude Monet - Volume Un, 1883-1889
2002
Audio CD$12.81
$36.50 (used)
UnderUnder
Import
Musea Records France 2009
Audio CD$16.99
$14.99 (used)
OdysseesOdyssees
Import
Musea 1999
Audio CD$10.58
$5.86 (used)
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XII ALFONSO discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

XII ALFONSO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.83 | 21 ratings
The Lost Frontier
1996
3.22 | 20 ratings
Odyssees
2000
3.00 | 17 ratings
Claude Monet - Volume 1, 1883-1889
2002
2.74 | 15 ratings
Claude Monet - Volume 2, 1889-1904
2005
2.35 | 17 ratings
Under
2009
3.86 | 72 ratings
Charles Darwin
2012

XII ALFONSO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 15 ratings
This Is
2003

XII ALFONSO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

XII ALFONSO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

XII ALFONSO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

XII ALFONSO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Odyssees by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.22 | 20 ratings

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Odyssees
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Over the next years and through some significant line-up changes, XII Alfonso played live several times and were glad to welcome onstage many important figures like the Payssan brothers from Minimum vital.Their program even included their appearance in the famous Baja Prog Festival in 1998.Back in France the Claerhout brothers worked hard for almost a year to present the second album ''Odyssees'', finally released in 2000 on Musea.Again the list contains some well-known guest musicians, such as Mickey Simmonds, the aforementioned Payssan brothers, Dan Ar Braz and Julio Presas.

Over an hour of dreamy and etheral Prog Rock music with strong symphonic, Folk and New Age references is XII Alfonso's proposal in an album split in electric- and keyboard-led compositions.Influences are definitely acts and artists such as MIKE OLDFIELD, CAMEL, DAN AR BRAZ, while some tracks feature excellent vocal performances by Sandrine Rouge, Judith Robert and Laure Oltra in a very poetic way.''Odyssees'' is basically characterized by its laid-back, very sensitive and imaginery soundscapes created by the Claerhout brothers with the music being based on soft piano lines, synth explorations and delicate acoustic themes with a folky vibe.There are also lot of ethnic percussions among these New Age moments.On the contrary the group gives also rise to some excellent and ultra-melodic electric parts in specific moments, these have a nice refined sound with a bit of a CAMEL approach.Organs and synths are supporting instruments in these lovely instrumental pieces, which are definitely influenced by the Classic Prog era.Again the major problem seems to be the lack of some more energetic parts, as ''Odyssees'' sounds often like relaxed Soundtrack Music than an album created by a Rock group.

The Claerhout family affair seems like one of the best in creating minimalistic but trully outlandish music landscapes and this album is another major proof.Recommended, especially if acoustic textures and really atmospheric moods are among your preferences.

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 Charles Darwin by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.86 | 72 ratings

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Charles Darwin
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

3 stars Well this is a challenge for what it's worth. A few data at the first to prove something really uique - this opus contains not less than 52 episodes, divided in three volumes. While the band's core is composed of four like-minded French artists, more than 50 musicians are involved here though in total, and one could say a 'who is who' of sophisticated rock music. What immediately strikes is the wonderful package - featuring more than 70 pages the booklet belongs to the finest I've ever had in my hands, worked out with passion and love of detail. And finally roundabout 70 instruments are utilized, all pictured within the booklet.

Something superlative without a doubt. As the title implies, the album is inspired by Charles Darwin's legacy, constitutes a musical biography so to say. Philippe Claerhout (guitars, bass), Francois Claerhout (keyboards), Thierry Moreno (drums) and Stéphane Ducassé (flutes) took around two years to move along the footsteps of this naturalist, who had radically changed the understanding of biology in the 19th century. Unfortunately Moreno passed away in 2011 and could not witness the release of this album for what I know.

First CD covers the growth of Darwin, ending with his extended circumnavigation crossing the southern hemisphere, which must have been the most impressing experience in his life. Maggie Reilly, known for her collaboration with Mike Oldfield, was accorded the honour of opening the opulent guest vocal list with the first catchy song Earliest Collections - 'Goodbye Old England ' ... the optimistic HMS Beagle is highly melodic where the mystic Captain Fritz-Roy belongs to my favourites due to a psychedelic flow.

Second CD accompanies Darwin's theoretical phase and offers some lovely ballads like So many years and Downhouse for example. 'Deep in the sea, the body is dead ...' - The Coral Of Life thrills me a lot due to a slight hallucinative mood which passes over into a nice groove later, cool saxophone as well as fretless bass and wonderful vocals provided by Sand Roman Garcia again. I would also count the instrumental The Island Of Devil's Riding School to the highlights which shows the four protagonists nicely interacting, only accompanied by Mickey Simmonds on keyboards.

Third CD notes the release of Darwin's book 'On the Origin Of Species', the eponymous song strikes due to the lovely female voice of Vietnamese Huong Than. The dramatic Slace Makers shows them rocking yet again including full prog sentiment and nice electric guitar work, which also applies to Mysterious Illness where Francois Claerhout convinces with some nearly outraged synth contributions. And then the successfull Vision Of The Inner Mound bears a fusion vibe. 'Forever lying there, a simple man ..." - Darwin's burial in 1882 finally is represented by the closing song, missing any depression or pessimism though, just accepting this as the irreversible part of life.

An album consisting of three hours needs a lot of time and patience in order to assess. 'Charles Darwin' resembles a cornucopia of impressions - diverse native folk/ethno sentiment, pop, chanson, chamber, flamenco, rock - to name a few only - relaxed music in the majority which is suitable for background listening in the same way as for concentrated sessions. Take your time and you will dig a lot of details - for example synths which imitate frogs croaking aso. Lyrics and rants are given either in French or English.

Now this is made of an obvious cinematic vibe, cries for a spectacular movie. The ultimate sound for such a project is put on the table already. The rocking component takes a backseat here, you must know, and with some reason one might argue about the prog character in its entierety. Although not belonging to my favourites, it surely is an awe-inspiring work. Embellished by a fantastic booklet and the outstanding singer Sand Roman Garcia the album will find enough interest and fans ... if it can reach for the necessary reputation.

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 Charles Darwin by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.86 | 72 ratings

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Charles Darwin
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars XII Alfonso's 3CD, 3 hour concept album based on the life and beliefs of controversial naturalist Charles Darwin is an eclectic collection of 30 instrumental pieces with 22 vocal tracks, performed by over 50 musicians alongside the core band members. Over 70 instruments were used in the recording of the album, creating a very rich and colourful work full of emotion and mood. All the music is very accessible and easy to get in to without being simplistic, and it's carefully arranged, full of original ideas and clever variations. It covers virtually every genre progressive rock crosses over into, and there will surely be something for everyone here. Reference points might be Mostly Autumn, Pink Floyd (Dark Side-era onwards), Andreas Vollenweider, the romantic prog of Camel and Rousseau, and even a more sophisticated Alan Parsons Project on some of the vocal pieces. There's a heavy acoustic and classical sound, epic guitar solos, lots of synth/keys/Mellotron, male/female vocals and folk influences, with frequent world elements too.

Assume all tracks in this review are instrumental unless vocals are pointed out.

Vol 1: 1809-1835 - 60'14

`Collection One' is a gorgeous low-key piano and bass intro, while `Earliest Recollections' is a folk influenced rocker with female vocals in a similar style to Mostly Autumn. It has the same plodding beat as that band, with tasteful acoustic guitar and electric solos throughout. `Stolen Fruits' is a moody dramatic instrumental highlighted by cello, mandolin, classical guitar and recorder. `Physics and Hunting' is a very upbeat accordion driven folk jig in the tradition of Malicorne and Mostly Autumn again, with killer synth and guitar runs. `Silent Battle' is my least favourite track on this disc - a semi schmaltzy Beatles influenced ballad with a forced Fish-like vocal that is a little too cute for my liking. `Collection Two and Three' brings us back up with a gorgeous acoustic guitar solo backed with striking clarinet. The first longer cut `The Bump Of Reverence' is a jammy fusion improv full of evocative sax/flute and acoustic guitar, with a wailing but melodic electric guitar solo. The band are very relaxed and loose on this one! The two part `Leaving England ' begins with a short classical guitar interlude, then grand male vocals join in the heavier second half to continue the narrative. `The Letter From Henslow' has a quirky Mellotron/synth/keys heavy sound amongst some funky bass and percussion, with slight Canterbury influences in the flute. `HMS Beagle' has a very full-of-life male vocal in the chorus, with an upbeat dreamy quality to the acoustic playing. `Collection Four' is a 30 second reprise of an earlier musical theme played on glockenspiel. From here the album heads in a very different direction! `Captain Fitzroy' has a world-music style wordless sighing female vocal behind Gilmour-like guitar licks and Fender jazz-bass. `Straights of Magellan' has a very moody intro before electric piano, triangle and Spanish guitar rip into something Andreas Vollenweider might perform. Tasteful acoustic instruments, castanets, flute and strings weave throughout the dancing melody. After narration, the longer `Terra del Fuego' has an atmospheric and spiritual quality with drifting sax and percussion and delicate acoustic guitar. Then the drums and majestic electric guitar enter, with contrasting male/female vocals floating through the music with a choir at the end. An album highlight! `Darwin's Finches' is a nice come-down, a near-ambient Vollenweider-styled piece with female Oriental vocals in the first half, before an unexpected fusion-styled groovy bass, drums and electric guitar explosion in the middle! The disc wraps on `Homeward Bound', a short and pleasant ukulele and sax instrumental.

Volume One stands as a wonderfully varied and balanced combination of instrumental and vocal pieces that would stand as a successful single progressive album any artist could be proud of.

Vol 2: 1836-1858 - 60'05

The more vocal/narrative heavy Vol 2 begins with another acoustic variation of the main `Collection' theme before mid-tempo acoustic rocker `So Many Years' kicks in, with a catchy melody and raspy male vocals. `Strange Fossil' is a mysterious ambient piece with flute and cello. `Emma and Charles' is an emotionally sung if somewhat overwrought duet. While it has an admirable lyric about accepting and loving another despite different beliefs and opinions, it's full of awkward clunky lyrics that are admittedly very difficult to work into a catchy and accessible song. Lovely acoustic outro though. `The Coral Of Life' is an experimental piece highlighted by disorientating keyboards and sax, stream-of-consciousness rambling vocals with a groovy middle section, the bass mixed nice and upfront too. A brief accordion reprise of the main theme, then the wordy and slightly overambitious acoustic ballad `Down House', full of warm playing and a passionate vocal. `The Island of Devil's Riding School' is a world-music Vollenweider-styled piece, with lots of xylophone and other obscure instruments! The two part `Annie' has evocative French vocals and delicate cello, before another interpretation of the main theme on sax and flute, dirty bass and guitar over a simple programmed beat. `Beloved Cirripedia' is a whirling instrumental piece in grand symphonic prog style, full of endless variety and stunning playing. `An Ordinary Day' is sumptuous mid-tempo adult vocal jazz with a lovely accented female performance. The dark jazz on instrumental improv `Salting The Seeds' has lonely wailing sax, urgent percussion and exquisite piano. `Lenny' is an upbeat acoustic jig with the voices of children over the top. `It's Time To Write' is a somber acoustic ballad with male vocals and a nice Mellotron/sax instrumental in the outro that sounds not unlike Pink Floyd. An Oriental variation on the main theme closes the disc with the darker acoustic `Missing Links' sounding almost like the sophisticated female fronted pop/prog of Magenta.

Volume Two is still a very strong piece, with several stunning instrumental passages, only sometimes let down by trying to incorporate difficult concepts into workable song lyrics on some of the vocal pieces. Still endless things to enjoy on here, though.

Vol 3: 1859-1882 - 60'15

After a strangely vaudeville interpretation of the main theme, the semi-comical vocal track `Round Together' has a quirky and playful sound with a wonderful sax solo. A complex concept is attempted to squeeze into a poppy upbeat track in a fairly successful manner. `Descent With Modification' is a dark and moody jazz instrumental. Except for some brief vocals from Huong Thanh throughout, the classy Oriental based `Origin of the Species' is a mysterious and subtle instrumental with more of that evocative sax and lovely piano. `Controverse In Oxford' is a brief droning choir chant with almost middle eastern elements. A classical reprise of the main theme, then the band rips through `Slave Makers, a super-proggy spacey instrumental fanfare not unlike early Camel! One of the albums highlights, filled with gorgeous Mellotron and piercing Gilmour-like slide guitar! `L.H.C.A' is a somewhat repetitive interpretation of a traditional Irish piece, however it's beautifully performed by female vocalist Sand Roman Garcia. The lyric heavy `Somber Thoughts' is a reflective acoustic ballad with accented male vocals. We now hit a big stretch of instrumental pieces! The flute and acoustic guitar combination of `Collection Eleven' would not have sounded out of place on Camel's `Snow Goose' album. `Mysterious Illness' has contrasting somber passages with uplifting lead guitar and dramatic saxophone, and a synth/Mellotron heavy blowout in the middle, powerful drum-work too! A knockout track, possibly the best on the album! Again that Camel sound can be heard on the lovely flute and classical guitar of `The Copley Medal', then the funky `Vision of the Indian Mound' has middle eastern elements/synth-orchestration, classical guitar, fluid bass and spacey keys, while an endless melodic electric guitar solo weaves it's way around the entire track. Dripping with so much emotion and feeling, it's an amazing piece. `The Descent Of Man' has male/female vocals with more complicated lyrics crammed into a slightly awkward poppy song with a very wordy chorus, but it's full of terrific guitar solos. A final cello/guitar variation on `Collection Twelve', then the very strange loopy electronics, gloomy bass and piano racket of `Struggle For Existence' comes out of nowhere! The album finishes on the Flower Kings and Genesis-like uplifting and thoughtful `Darwin's Burial' with warm vocal harmonies and a soaring guitar solo. Despite a very abrupt finish, it's a very nice way to end the album, and one of the best vocal pieces on the album.

Volume 3's quality level is still very high, though perhaps by now we've heard all the real surprises the album has to offer. But the late run of several instrumental pieces and lovely finale really brings the album home.

Special mention must go to the stunning hardback 76 page book that houses the three CD's, filled with endless photographs, illustrations and lyrics, as well as further explanations of Darwin's beliefs and studies. It helps the listener understand the man's motivations and discoveries, as well as touching on some brief elements of his family life. It really raises the bar in how original and special progressive rock can be presented.

As someone who has followed strong Christian beliefs all my life, I was concerned I was going to find an insulting and negative album with `Charles Darwin'. However, with a musical experience as rich and sophisticated as this, full of outstanding progressive rock music presented in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, put together with so much devotion and skill, I am perfectly happy to accept the album for what it is. Other listeners with religious and spiritual beliefs will have to decide whether it's for them or not.

I'm sure there will be some arguments that the album might have made a better double album than a triple, but overall most of the music is of such a high quality, full of truly stunning playing, arrangements and performances, that the 3 disc format is justified. Perhaps it might have been even better if each of the three discs had a unique sound of it's own, other than being three volumes of endless varieties and genres overall. Although the vocal pieces are all generally effective, you really notice how much the album picks up and comes alive in all the incredible instrumental tracks. But if you are a fan of thought-provoking, intelligent and lush symphonic progressive rock, and you have the patience to persist in giving the 3 hour album repeated listens, you'll find a hugely satisfying and rewarding listening musical experience.

Four and a half stars.

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 Charles Darwin by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.86 | 72 ratings

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Charles Darwin
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

5 stars XII ALFONSO is a French band formed in the late 80's but they just recorded their first album in 1996. To tell you the truth that's all I knew about them. That they were French and that they had an album called The Lost Frontier (1996).

I didn't like the album that much so I haven't really followed the band since I listened to it, but they have never stopped since 96. They had 6 albums before Charles Darwin (2012), the album I'll be reviewing in the next lines.

To say that Charles Darwin (2012) is a completely original project would be a lie. Many concept albums about famous characters were recorded during the years, especially within Progressive Rock music. The band itself already did that with their 2 volumes album about Claude Monet in 2002 and 2005. But here the band goes to a completely new level! Charles Darwin (2012) is not just a conceptual album, it is a whole big piece or art in music format. Based on the book On The Origin Of Species, written by Darwin itself, the album is divided into a 3 discs journey through the Naturalist life, every single move he made to accomplish his goals was covered with brilliant and involving music. Each album covers a period of Darwin's music and each one of them has one hour of music, 3 hours of music in total.

That's the one and only let down on the album for me, but let me explain first. I love this kind of conceptual albums and I love complex works, but 3 hours of music is a bit too much to focus on, so you'll have to digest it into pieces.

What makes the work even more amazing is the package, a digibook with hardcover material, just like a book, and it almost is, the booklet has no less than 76 pages in an excellent quality paper and press with all the lyrics, info, pics, notes about Darwin's life and a detailed part about credits and recording process (you can check this on their website - xii-alfonso.com/galerie-photos-livret-booklet/). 52 songs, over 3 hours of music and more than 20 special guests. Of course it was not an easy process, 3 years of the making.

It's hard to go into details, musically speaking, it is very, very hard. I've been sitting with this album for more than 6 months now, I have listened several times from the beginning to the end and for me, it's just IMPOSSIBLE to name songs and details. Why? It's simple. The whole work is a journey, a travel of mind, where you can put your phones on or drink your favorite beer and simply get into their world. If you take that apart, it will be very hard to understand their album. Of course that some songs, like 'Sillent Battle' that I already posted in one of our Podcasts (progshine.net/2013/01/podcast-3-020113.html) , 'So Many Years', 'The Coral Of Life' or 'Mysterious Illness' came into my mind. But the thing is, you really have to hear by yourself. The diversity is incredible. To help you to understand a bit many songs can be listened in this review that the band posted on their website and I advise you to do it, you'll not regret! Unfortunatelly, one of the head behind this masterpiece, the drummer Thierry Moreno passed away in 2011 after the group finished the recordings but before actually seeing the album being released.

But trust me, XII ALFONSO and Charles Darwin (2012) deserved my spot on my list of the best of 2012 (progshine.net/2013/01/progshines-top-10-2012.html) with all merits, if you don't know the band/album yet you should. NOW!

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 Odyssees by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.22 | 20 ratings

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Odyssees
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars I was not that enthusiastic about their debut album and the follow up is not particular impressive either.

XII Alfonso is a French symphonic prog/neo classic music ensemble with some albums on their conscience. They are known as a acoustic symphonic prog band. Which is a pretty accurate description on this album too. Long semi-acoustic based pieces based on their local folk music tradition with a wide variety of instruments. The list of contributing musicians is very long. I am at a loss to explain what the instrument "musical glasses" is and how it sounds like.

I am all for long symphonic pieces of music. But I also want a bit of variations too. There is not much variations on this album. There is not much happening here too and not much variations. That besides of some electric guitars and some electronic voice samples + the sporadic female vocals. The whole album seems very over ambitious and disjointed. It feels like the band has bitten over more than they can swallow. The album is in short far too ambient and too little symphonic for my liking. The quality I expect from an album like this is simply not present. It is a pity, because I think the band is onto something. But they ambitions is far bigger than the abilities on this album. A stricter quality control is sadly lacking on this album. Hence my lack of enthusiasm. Two points for the effort and some pieces of music here.

2 stars

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 Under by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.35 | 17 ratings

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Under
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The last album from this French band to date, shares as little properties with the symphonic genre than all its predecessors.

You can name it jazzy, ambient or whatever you like; but not symphonic prog. I have not been a passionate fan of their albums: from their debut ("The Lost Frontier") to the "Monet" saga; I have rated their albums with two stars. And this one falls in the same category.

Some synthetic electro beats during "Progress" aren't any of my liking to be honest and I was not really expecting this sort of music under the symph prog umbrella. But "XII Alfonso" is hard to categorize (eclectic maybe). This album is "under" expectations (although they were not high as far as I was concerned).

Repetitive and without passion: that's what we get here ("Knowledge I & II", "Memories" etc.). To name them all would be like naming each track of this work. IMHHO, very few fans form the symphonic genre could be coping with the music offered on this "Under" album.

Nothing worth more than two stars. As each of their previous albums actually.

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 Claude Monet - Volume 2, 1889-1904 by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2005
2.74 | 15 ratings

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Claude Monet - Volume 2, 1889-1904
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This is the second leg of the work dedicated to Monet (a French impressionist painter). There are no main differences between Volume and this one. One gets the same mix of classical music dominated by piano and jazzy elements ("Meules - Soleils Dans La Brume", "Vétheuil"). Same narrative "vocals" as well. Business as usual should I say.

This means that my perception for this (very long) CD is also the same: quite mixed actually. I have to say that it was quite a challenge to listen to these seventy-three minutes of music. There are very scarce passages of pure symphonic prog to discover in this album; but the band never showed too many so far to be honest (this is their fourth album). Some bucolic moments though are available ("Ce Que Disent Les Arbres").

The church oriented «Tout Change, Quoique Pierre» is also not very much of my liking. But to tell the truth, there are very few tracks that can blow me away ("Visite A Giverny" maybe). Most of this album leans on the symphonic jazz genre ("Au Pays De L'Hiver") but there again; "XII Alfonso" is familiar with this. A light touch of classical music is also noticeable ("Les Archipels Illusoires").

This type of music is obviously not for everyone. As I have said previously, their style is difficult to depict and this band is rather confidential.

Two stars for this second "Monet" work (just as the first one).

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 Claude Monet - Volume 1, 1883-1889 by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.00 | 17 ratings

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Claude Monet - Volume 1, 1883-1889
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars So far, this French band was unable to catch my attention with their first two albums. Let's see if this "Claude Monnet Volume I" is going to be different.

In a way, it is. Different I mean. The music is intimate, peaceful and almost all instrumental (even if there are attempts to vocals, or better to spoken words). Some Hackett, as usual, ("L'oeil Cannibale") or even Oldfield feeling can be distinguished ("Giverny").

At (many) times some accordion is featured, and I can't say that I am overwhelmed by the sound of this instrument. It conveys an old fashioned sound that is not my cup of tea ("Un Jardin Qui Nous Ressemble ", "L'Échappée Belle" and a couple more). The use of this instrument is probably meant to project us in the period of Monet (the French painter who is the artist that has inspired this work).

The track "Conflits" is dark and hesitates between classical and eclectic music. It is quite special indeed. The "chanson française style" combined with classical piano of "Les Beaux Jours De Giverny" also offers little prog feel. The pastoral and moving "La Fantôme De L'île Aux Orties" is breaking the overall mood nicely. It is my favourite track on this album. The last couple of songs are truly in the symphonic jazz vein.

If you like the combination of folk ("Les Cathédrales Immergées"), classical and eclectic music, with a jazzy touch this album might deserve your listening. But my rating is two stars for this work. I am not convinced with their musical style which is hard to categorize.

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 Odyssees by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.22 | 20 ratings

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Odyssees
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "XII Alfonso" is quite a discreet band from France.

I was not exaggeratedly enthusiastic about their debut album, and this follow-up effort is of no other texture. Quite conventional symph prog during the good opening number ("Eclipse") but the soufflé falls dramatically during the soft jazzy "Odysée". To tell you that the "lyrics" are rescuing this track is beyond my feeling.

Things get even worse when the next "tribal" tracks are under the laser of your CD player: if "Lithophonia" should have remained unreleased; I wouldn't have complained. "Message 95" starts almost the same, but fortunately it features some fine guitar break during the second half.

There are some improvements for "Où Vont les Amants » which is a fine and melodic track but vocals are almost not understandable (and I'm a French native speaker). Pleasant sax (very much Floydean-like) and moving piano are completing the picture. The closing guitar section is also very good and the whole is the best song available on this second album.

The new age oriented and long "Révolutions Des Oeillets" is a rather uniform and flat song. The acoustic "Nil" almost starts as "Jeux Interdits" and develops a fine mood even if not very personal. On the contrary, I am quite skeptic about "Invisible Links": the song evokes more Springsteen than prog (especially if you consider the vocal part).

The bonus tracks are not of great quality and can easily be skipped. As a conclusion, I can hardly rate this work with more than two stars.

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 The Lost Frontier  by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.83 | 21 ratings

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The Lost Frontier
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This debut album is quite?long to listen to. It has its ups for sure, but hey! It is difficult to be fully concentrated throughout these seventy minutes of this album. After a couple of songs, I just wonder: what's the point or interest.

I can't find lots of thrilling moments in here. The whole of this album sounds quite flat, with little expression. Even the few vocal passages are not helping too much. It is just an average breakthrough. Some Hackett moments ("Lazy Day In Haltwhistle") are of course enjoyable but won't make it my day.

No great songs, no highlights, no passion. This album is just a succession of average prog tracks: decent acoustic guitar, decent keyboards, decent? you name it! But, frankly, I just expect more than decent from a professional band.

Inspiration seems out of steam after a short while and I am quite reluctant in terms of rating this album. Five of out of ten. Reduced to two stars. No more.

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