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Atlantropa Project: Atlantropa Project

I must admit that I'd never heard of Herman Sörgel, but through Atlantropa Project his story is told, and expanded upon. Seen by some as a visionary, Sörgel had, in the 1920s, begun a long fight to build a massive dam between Gibraltar and the African coast, so as to separate the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. The purpose of this being to drain the Mediterranean and 'win' new land in order to create new farms, feed the many, create employment, unite nations and do away with borders. Unsurprisingly, many dismissed the man and his vision as 'delusions of grandeur', 'hubris' or simply 'absolute craziness'. However, other figures from the political classes and the world of economics became convinced by the potential success the project could reap and supported Sörgel and the institute he created in hope of bringing his idea to life. Sörgel would die in 'mysterious circumstances' in the early 1950s and the Atlantropa Project would also pass into history…

And it is this story which is examined and imagined by the progressive German outfit who take their name from Sörgel's vision. Ambitious in scope and equally ambitious in execution, the core band features an eight piece outfit with Heinz Kühne, Ralph Brandmüller and Tony Clark on guitars, Lothar Krell on keys, Wahrmut Sobainsky on drums and Michael Wollesky on bass, while the vocals are expertly supplied by Michael Wolff and Elinor Pongracz. Key to the journey however is the deep compelling narration from Clark, while Richard Kersten plays the part of a 'reporter' with both moving the story along, while explaining Sorgel's motivation and the manner in which it did, or didn't unfold.

Sound wise things are varied and satisfying throughout, a neo-prog attack supplemented with touches of Alan Parsons and Saga, while never being quite so obviously melodic rock based or commercial – even if this album still takes place in the mellow, melodic end of the prog spectrum. With the voice of Wolff sometimes reminding of the theatrical attack from Dennis DeYoung (ex of Styx) and at other points possessing the timbre of Klaus Meine (Scorpions) there's also a strong stage-show feel to proceedings. While the strong, confident contributions from Pongracz add hugely to the almost rock opera feel. Cleverly however, the music works in isolation. The story is deep and involved but if you're simply looking for some remarkably fine musicianship and an occasional chorus to sing along with, you'll also find these aspects here as well. Repeat listens, especially in quick succession, can find some of the excellently executed narration feeling slightly long in places and a little like sitting in a lecture hall as geographic and economic details are explained. But it's a minor niggle mostly negated through the sympathetic manner in which everything is put together.

Is has to be said that Atlantropa Project is quite some undertaking and one delivered with a satisfying mix of sympathy and grandeur. The story itself is hugely interesting and well told, but albums like this stand or fall on the music they contain and you can rest assured that this debut is one that thrives through excellent compositions and captivating performances. The only worry? That with a 'band' name so closely pertaining to the album they've created, will there be a follow up? I for one certainly hope there will!

Track Listing
1. A Continent Of Joy
2. The Great Maker
3. New Sky Part I - The Plan
4. New Sky Part II - The Bridge
5. New Sky Part III - Atlantropa
6. Now Is Always Past
7. Time To Bid Goodbye Part I - A Key For Peace
8. Time To Bid Goodbye Part II - Unknown Waters
9. Time To Bid Goodbye Part III - Last Goodbye
10. They Want To Steal The Ocean
11. Thinking Further Than A Generation's Life
12. Gotta Stem The Greedy Water
13. At The Mercy Of Progress
14. Walk Across The Sea
15. Mare Nostrum Dream
16. To Understand What Understanding Means
17. When We All Speak Atlantropan
18. It's Time For New Dreams
19. Dream My Dream
20. Star Atlantropa Part I - Look To The West
21. Star Atlantropa Part II - We Still Have A Lot To Learn
22. Star Atlantropa Part III - Shining Star
23. Reprise

Added: March 24th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Atlantropa Project online
Hits: 2063
Language: english

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