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Life Line Project - The Journey CD (album) cover

THE JOURNEY

Life Line Project

 

Symphonic Prog

3.99 | 72 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lifeline Project flew into my radar screen thanks to reading positive reviews on PA and the usual preparatory research on the Net. It sounded like something I would like and I took the plunge. I am happy to say that it was both a wise move and a smart investment as "the Journey" contains some astounding moments, all along its majestic symphonic course. The main man here is keyboardist Erik De Beer, a modern Rick Van der Linden (RIP) and the double CD is divided into 2 suites, disc One being "Journey to the Heart of your Mind" and Two "The Narrow Path". Now, 2 Cd albums that clock in over 100 minutes mean that there will be some "soft" areas that may not appeal to all but so be it.

CD1- "Blank Page" must be one of the finest prog overtures ever, a sweeping and sorrowful musical buffet with loads of synthesizer, harpsichord, church organ and piano, supplemented by assorted sonic effects, as if a score for some cinematographic screenplay. Guitars, bass and drums, as well as flute add to the formula nicely. "The Journey Begins" starts off with some introductory female vocals and then morphs into a massive rock guitar mode with zany synths, booming bass and a mood that works. Things get slightly corny with "Join Us" with some semi-operatic vocal stylistics that makes one chuckle rather than applaud, followed by the brief but lovely "Doubt" where the voice works nicely and the acoustic guitar weaves magic. "Fight the World" resorts to bringing back the raging symphonics with tornado synths and hurricane guitars (Miss Jody van der Gijze is really good!). The mood is tripped up somewhat with some inane vocal duets that do little to impress but the music is damn good! On the other hand, "Longing for my Childhood" is a winner vocally and possesses a cascading electric guitar solo that is jaw- dropping not unlike the Moog solo that follows and the serene oboe spot that stamps its exclamation point fittingly. This is a high watermark track and absolutely admirable. "Bright Spots" is a rockier piece, full of breakneck guitar speed and chugging organ bravado, while the synths swerve like a kite in a crosswind gale. This is another corker. The whisper-led "Envy" is entertaining, faintly spooky and diminutive. "Miss Fortune" is contemporary and quite amusing, well-sung and lusty. There are three interwoven interludes that are as astounding as anything else on the album, "Turn the Page", "Dark Page" and "Forgotten Page" are what makes this suite tick. I am not a fan of the next track as its vocally simplistic, quirky to the point of disinterest but at least the instrumental playing is great, as witnessed by a stellar organ solo, a blistering synth solo that would make Wakeman quake (oh my, wordplay!). At times the vocal work seems like a Meatloaf-like rehash (and I never liked Meatloaf, in music or culinary arts) and I find that style beyond boring. "Free!" has a kick-ass bass solo from Iris Sagan , a De Beer ivory romp once again, and some well-heeled drive that is most delicious. "Credo" is a flute-driven mini-symphony and happens to be gorgeously sung (finally), crowned by a shimmering guitar excursion and an elegant piano solo. All amazing stuff. The closing "The Last Page" is breathtaking in its intensity, range and talent, an inspired instrumental that would please any fan with progressive leanings, the same repeated glorious melody now reaching grandiose heights, oboe and bassoon joining the fret and key board fray.

So, if you temporarily omit the overt-erratic operatic vocal diminishments, the music on CD1 stands nicely on its own, with numerous outbursts of genius.

CD2- "The Narrow Path" is another kettle of fish, mostly instrumental by nature as per the blistering opening keyboard typhoon launch "Turn the Key" which overtly espouses the Van der Linden (Trace, Ekseption) touch, Erik's agile fingers racing over the keys, pummeled along by bludgeoning bass and deft drumming. ELP fans will pee their underwear, I assure you. After the storm, peaceful serenity takes over with the ornate elegance of the neo- classical"Miniature 8 La Melancolie", all piano and flute, utterly engrossing! Another change of pace is the epic title track, "The Narrow Path" a cinematographic suite that sounds like a soundtrack for a WWII movie, a heavy percussion laden doomsday thread that infuses a mischievously meandering oboe, colossal mellotron waves, bombastic guitar and enough twists and turns to qualify as a sonic pretzel factory. When the gurgling organ shows its startling face, the mood gets hot, heavy and sweaty to any progfan's delight. The fiery axe lays down a metalloid barrage, depth charge riffs galore and sizzling tracer fire that only swells the heartbeat, as the gloomy dictatorial lyrics contain references to jihad, dogma, fanaticism and hatred, as expressed by the final stanza "headscarves, signs of weakness become exploding hand grenades, the Cross, the sign of meekness has turned into a gun" Whoa, that's pretty heady stuff , quite in tune with the current tensions of social malaise churning through Western Europe. The music only heightens the desperate angst! A brilliant track indeed. Four short instrumental ditties are next in line, all flowing nicely into another with the playful "Monkey Business" up first where Erik's piano skills are fully developed, yet leaving enough room for the flute to flutter away. "The Happiness Theme" proposes a glittering oboe and electric guitar duet, each soloing mightily spliced by some trembling synthesizer snippets, a happy and exhilarating mood indeed. Amazing stuff! "Collage 11" reverts to a more bucolic theme, a banquet of acoustic guitar, flute and oboe that spirals sunnily into the azure sky, supercilious, lighthearted and windswept. Finally, the fourth piece is back to the neo- classical mold with another "Miniature 6 La Flegmatique" that is piano-driven, oboe- adorned and enchanting. These are all quite interesting and fulfilling interludes before diving into another vocal track "Does it Help?" an older 1991 track that was recorded for this album. Frankly, I find it strangely at odds with the rest of the disc, a spotlessly clean ballad that is at the very best cute but the hackneyed lyrics are somewhat childish to these ears anyway. Musically, the playing is lightweight and plodding, offering up no pizzazz at all but saved by a decent series of guitar solos and its synthy companion, only towards the very end is their any passion. Oh well! "The French Wrench" closes out this epic slice of symphonic album quite tastily, a traditional piece redone by Erik and it's a whoosher to say the least, a power-medieval prog keyboard extravaganza, something Par Lindh would create, with churning buttery organ, glittering harpsichord, ripping synthesizer thunderbolts and raging guitar('coustic and 'lectric) flashes.

I enjoyed this massive 2 CD album a lot, with 70 minutes of pure bliss and 30 minutes of dross. It is extremely rare to find a 2 CD album with 100% perfection, so what's the big deal in giving this release 4.5 rubber dinghies

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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