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The Bolland Project

(Darwin The Evolution)

Review by Larry Toering
This is a concept album based on Charles Darwin, composed by the brothers Bolland, and narrated by Ian Gillan. Bolland and Bolland are two Dutch brothers who have produced a staggering amount of artists since 1972, so many it's one impressive resume, including Falco. Often confused with electronica, likely because a lot of their productions fit under that heading, this is prog rock. There’s no mistaking it once you hear it and analyze it. There are several fine artists who put in great performances here. Joining Gillan and the Bolland brothers (Rob and Ferdi) are Colin Blunstone, Suzi Quatro, Falco, Barclay James Harvest, Robert Pot and Peter Hoffman. This is one fantastic project of near epic proportions. It also features some programming by Hans Weekhout, but only in a few necessary tracks, as the co-engineer of the project.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Overture

This is just some atmospheric sounds to set up the concept, clocking in at just a minute and twenty five seconds.

Way Of The Evolution
Starting off with some words from Gillan portraying Darwin himself, that portion (basically biographical about Mr. Evolution) is really just an intro into this lovely tune. The song itself includes vocals by Blunstone in a fantastic performance by one of my favorite singers. It does have a bit of an Alan Parsons feel to it, but then it is prog, not one note of electronica here. This is one of the several songs I return to, it's just so sweet and mellow. It's like cotton candy.
Stand Up
This album has a lot of variety on it, but it's still not right to call it something it's not, so limiting it to one of the styles or genres would do it a disservice. There is some tape looping on this, but still not taking over or anything, so all in all, no electronica here either. The vocals are handled by Harvest, and done very well, with a strong contemporary feel. He sounds as good as he ever did here. It’s amazing to hear him this way. It's a fine track with a great guitar solo.
Genie Und Partisan (A Fascinating Man)
Falco takes the mic, and this is of course going to have some electronica factors, as Bolland and Bolland were essentially Falco's backbone, being his producers. But this isn't your average Falco tune, so it does contain some other styles, and yes, there is a guitar in this, too. There are also some nice female backing vocals as well. Some of this is not in English, but it doesn't hurt it any. It's also nice to hear him this way, as the guitar gets featured a bit in the middle of the track.
The Beagle
This is a very commanding instrumental with a warbling synth and a real outdoorsy feel to it/ That synthesizer is played by Robert Pot.
Is It Really True
Starting off quite slowly, Rob Bolland sings this one very well. He has a great voice with very fluent English. He sings about questions of the validity of the theory of evolution. Often rendering it true, as expected concerning such a concept, it winds up being more of an homage to Darwin, rather than a real questioning concept. This is great stuff here, and it even refers to Darwin as “Charley.” Great melodies abound throughout this fine number, complete with a light sax and other embellishments.
Hey Charly
This one features Quatro on vocals, and it's not something you'd exactly expect from her. It’s also not really alien for her. It just isn't the sort of rocker she is famous for doing. Another fine performance is featured here and it includes an infectious chorus.
Emma My Dear (Lovetheme)
So far, the only thing on here containing anything electronic is the Falco tune, and this is no exception, as Blunstone once again puts in a great performance. Ther are plenty of piano and strings backing his powerful singing effort. This is another amazing track to say the least, and all I can say every time I visit this, is “wow!
After The Rain
This is another instrumental with some synth drenching factors, but nothing really electronic. It's just synth here, obviously being confused as hard core electronic music. This one is also credited to R. Pot.
Beauty Of Life
Peter Hoffman takes the vocals here, and it's an almost opera sort of thing, or perhaps Gregorian. It's a proverbial beauty, indeed. The backing track does have some tape looping and what sounds like sampled voices, but that's about it for the generally confused element. It's about the things that reflect the beauty of life, and how we dare to question the value of life. This is fantastic, and yes, another great guitar is added for texture.
The Jungle
Now this is actually electronically driven for the most part, but it's really only because of the beat loops. It's another instrumental from Pot, but this one does blend some guitar with the synth.
Metamorphic Rocks
This one features Falco again, and it's even more of a rocker than the previous track to feature him. Sure, there are a few electronic hooks, but a hard rock guitar is included to drown it all out. Electronica is never this authentic, this is much more akin to rock. But it does have a beat, and you can dance to it. Don't let that confuse, as it would be a mistake because the second you stop dancing you realize how real this music is. I'm not putting down that genre, rather explaining that it's not that kind of music. A song can contain some electronic instruments without being fully categorized as such. And that, in a nutshell is what's really going on here.
For A Moment In Time
This time Ferdi Bolland sings, and he, too, is very good at English pronunciation when he sings. It's another killer ballad, and all of the comprehensive lyrics here, never lose the listener for one second. It's all told in such an easy manner that it's not hard to follow.
Origin Of Species
Yet another instrumental, once again by Pot, this one is on piano, rather than synth. So it has sort of an acoustic feel underneath it all, and an orchestral sample takes it out, sounding so incredibly like the real thing.
Finale
Gillan once again takes the concept out with some more narration, done very well. It sets up the real grand finale of the album, which is the closing suite.
Suite – The Long Goodbye / The Final Curtain Falls
This features Gillan at his best, as The Long Goodbye is a prolific number that sends a shiver up the spine every time I hear it. I loved it the first time I heard it, and just had to give the rest of this disc a chance, and I'm so glad I did. It's basically two songs in one, with some blistering guitar work to add to the majestic lyrics and vocals. What a gem this really is, as is the entire recording.
 
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