Life Is All About Music

A personal view on music, all kinds of music.

XII Alfonso – Charles Darwin (2012)


charles_darwin_2012
Artist: XII Alfonso
Album: Charles Darwin
Year: 2012
Label: Self released

Thoughts: 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.

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, the album I’ll be reviewing in the next lines.

To say that Charles Darwin 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 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 http://www.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 (http://www.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 deserved my spot on my list of the best of 2012 (http://www.progshine.net/2013/01/progshines-top-10-2012.html) with all merits, if you don’t know the band/album yet you should. NOW!

Tracklist: Disc 1 Vol. I: 1809 -1835 – 1. Collection One – 1’41 / 2. Earliest Recollections – 4’58 / 3. Stolen Fruit – 3’14 / 4. Physics And Hunting – 3’51 / 5. Silent Battle – 4’38 / 6. Collection Two And Three – 1’47 / 7. The Bump Of Reverence – 5’32 / 8. Leaving England [Part 1] – 1’31 / 9. Leaving England [Part 2] – 3’05 / 10. The Letter From Henslow – 3’19 / 11. HMS Beagle – 3’52 / 12. Collection Four – 0’30 / 13. Captain Fitz-Roy – 2’50 / 14. Straits Of Magellan – 5’12 / 15. Tierra Del Fuego – 7’46 / 16. Darwin’s Finches – 3’54 / 17. Homeward Bound – 3’08
Disc 2 Vol. II: 1836-1858 – 1. Collection Five – 1’52 / 2. So Many Years – 3’42 / 3. Strange Fossil – 2’55 / 4. Emma And Charles – 5’55 / 5. The Coral Of Life – 5’07 / 6. Collection Six – 1’11 / 7. Down House – 4’32 / 8. The Island Of Devil’s Riding School – 4’00 / 9. Annie [Part 1] – 2’56 / 10. Annie [Part 2] – 2’02 / 11. Collection Seven – 2’33 / 12. Beloved Cirripedia – 3’56 / 13. An Ordinary Day – 3’55 / 14. Salting The Seeds – 6’24 / 15. Lenny – 2’36 / 16. It’s Time To Write – 2’30 / 17. Collection Eight – 0’56 / 18. Missing Links – 3’06
Disc 3 Vol. III: 1859-1882 – 1. Collection Nine – 0’53 / 2. Bound Together – 4’49 / 3. Descent With Modification – 2’36 / 4. On The Origin Of Species – 6’38 / 5. Controverse In Oxford – 1’27 / 6. Collection Ten – 0’56 / 7. Slave Makers – 4’01 / 8. Last Human Common Ancestor – 4’03 / 9. Sombre Thoughts – 5’27 / 10. Collection Eleven – 0’57 / 11. Mysterious Illness – 7’01 / 12. The Copley Medal – 2’46 / 13. Vision Of The Indian Mound – 6’23 / 14. The Descent Of Man – 4’53 / 15. Collection Twelve – 0’56 / 16. Struggle For Existence – 1’36 / 17. Darwin’s Burial – 4’40

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This entry was posted on 21/02/2013 by in Reviews and tagged , , .

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