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T-Bo - 2010 - "Connected"

(74:11, ‘T-Bo’)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Looking at the Sky 7:00
2.  Reach out and Be Connected 7:58
3.  A State of Mind 3:15
4.  Union 6:46
5.  Real Moments 4:30
6.  As a Prayer 3:49
7.  The Messenger 4:58
8.  Just for You 6:10
9.  Spiral of Lives 3:06
10. The Blue in My Sky 3:05
11. From the Other Side 3:50
12. Life Is Not in Vain 9:15
13. Nothing Is Finished, Everything Goes On 7:39
14. Follow the Spirit 2:50


Philippe Laloux – guitars; drums, percussion
David Epis – guitars 
Mano Fauville – bass 
Hughes Gillard – strings 
Charles Loos – keyboards 
Jean Pierre Mouton – sax
Pierre Gillet – flute 
Jerry Dunson – vocals (1, 14)
Adrien Legrand – cello (8)
Fasli Kamberi – violin (7)

Prolusion. The Belgian project T-BO was formed in 2003 as the creative vehicle of Philippe Laloux. The first effort issued under this moniker saw the light of day in 2007 as "We Stay Together", released by Musea Records. "Connected" is the sophomore effort by this outfit, self-released in 2009, and like the first album it is dedicated to Laloux's late son Thibaut, who was killed at age 19 by a driver under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Analysis. Listening to music is a preoccupation employed for a number of different reasons. As background music for relaxation or to enliven the mood, as a source of inspiration when working or taking care of the daily chores at home, as a source of energy and inspiration when tired or as enjoyment as a sincere form of art, to name a few contexts some might recognize themselves in. Others use this form of art to tap the soul of negative emotions, the music functioning as something of a reagent to release emotions. How common the latter example is I don't know, but I most certainly utilize music as a tool in that manner from time to time. And I suspect something of the sort can be said for the art of creating music. That some create music to relax, others may be inspired and energized by the creative process itself, with a distinct need to use this as a creative outlet, while some may use this process in much the same manner as I do, to release emotions. And I suspect that this may at least partially be the case for Philippe Laloux, naming his musical project after his late son and outright stating that the music is written and played in his memory. And with that backdrop in mind, I regard this production less as a musical creation and to a larger extent as an emotional one. If I'm wrong I'll most likely be corrected, but my reaction to this production is that the music crafted is a tool to convey certain moods and feelings to a much greater extent than it being made to document compositional and instrumental skills. I get a deep sense of sadness and longing when listening intently to these compositions. Not in a dramatic or despairing manner - the emotional impact is of a more sophisticated nature, one of acceptance perhaps - but more reflective of the feeling of someone looking back at what once was and perhaps thinking of what might have been: The possibilities never realized, but also occasional joyful glimpses into the good memories of what was before. In short, emotionally I connect to this effort. If it is the right connection is probably another matter entirely. In strict musical terms many of these compositions make much less of an impact. Most of the compositions are similar to Camel's less daring efforts, with an emphasis on gentle harmonies created by way of melodic solo guitars and flute, supported by steady rhythms and a dampened but rich symphonic backdrop. Nice pieces in themselves, but from a musical point of view they don't come across as captivating or thrilling experiences as such. But some numbers have stronger qualities to them, and most profoundly so when Laloux incorporates more distinct influences from classical music in his creations. This is showcased at its best in Just for You, a piece that opens with a stand-alone harp motif evolving into a harmonic chamber piece with cello, lute and flute added in, with digital strings providing a majestic tinge to the proceedings in the second half. As a Prayer is another effort sharing some of these traits, with jazz-tinged tendencies added to the palette. The latter is also utilized in a nice manner later on in From the Other Side, but on that occasion blended with a dampened symphonic art rock expression. All in all a well-made album, but from a strictly musical point of view not one that I'd describe as remarkable in any way.

Conclusion. While those who enjoy the more atmospheric-laden parts of Camel's back catalogue might fancy having a go at T-Bo's latest production, I believe this is a CD that might have a much broader potential audience: People who have experienced a profound loss, who have managed to live through the most dramatic parts of such a life experience, and have a need to listen to music reflecting emotional loss in a subtle, reflective manner.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 6, 2010
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