Atantropa Project is originally a German musical collective that has existed since the seventies under
the name Waniyetulan (later: Galaxy). They were inspired by the ideas of the German engineer Hermann Sörgel. In 1920, shortly after the end of WW I, he had a crazy idea: building a huge dam in the Mediterranean. Due to the partial drying up of the sea,
new land would emerge, Africa and Europe would be united and there would be peace. This new continent would be called Atlantropa. Turned into music, it provides a special source of inspiration for a concept album, placed against the current background. Multiple
compositions, diverse in nature, complex themes, lots of melody and excellent musicians, it seems an excellent breeding ground for thought-provoking progressive rock. And that is what it has become, to some extent. The whole was partly realized through crowdfunding
and is released on the German Progressive Promotion Records label (Karibow, Quantum Fantay).
Hermann Sörgel was a visionary. Since the 1920’s and decades on, he fought
for his idea to build a massive dam between Gibraltar and the African coast, to separate the Mediterranean from the Atlantic and win new land. Some qualified it as “delusions of grandeur” and "absolute madness", others, including important persons
from politics and the economy in particular, were convinced of the scope and potential success of this project. They supported Sörgel and his institute which devoted itself to this task until after the end of World War II and the mysterious death of Sörgel
in 1952, at the age of 67.
Back to the music. The album contains nine pieces, suites actually, which are subdivided into 23 tracks in total. With a total playing time of almost
80 minutes, the capacity of the silver disc is optimally used. Protagonists/producers Heinz Kühne and Lothar Krell also take charge of guitars and keys, respectively, and both voices can also be heard in the background vocals. Another member of the collective,
Michael Wolff, is responsible for the lead vocals, he acquits himself in an excellent manner. A total of eight musicians are active on this album, with all of them participating in the vocal parts.
The Atlantropa project is therefore the creative result of a group of ambitious and highly experienced musicians and producers who are committed to exploring and honouring a large, almost forgotten idea of humanity. The visions of the brilliant
engineer Hermann Sörgel served as a source of inspiration from which the creativity and virtuosity of the compositions arose. The result is a rich and dynamic concept album with beautiful melodies, dramatic twists and especially old-fashioned good symphonic
The album starts with A Continent Of Joy in which we are quickly confronted with a narrator (Tony Clark) who tells the storyline, admittedly, it takes some
getting used to. The Great Maker has a heavy intro, a bit in the style of Frost*. Moreover, we get to know the pleasant voice of singer Michael Wolff who occasionally reminds me of Jon Davison (Yes/Glass Hammer). The first of three suites, New
Sky, is divided into three parts, the intro deceptively resembles Your Own Special Way by Genesis, a melodic piece with great vocals and instrumentation. Halfway we are surprised by African drums (The Bridges) after which the original
theme returns. References to The Alan Parsons Project, mainly due to the broad range of instrumentation.
Now Is Always Past is once again introduced by a voice-over, this
time it is the voice of Richard Kersten in his role as reporter. Why this distinction is made is not entirely clear. Time To Bid Goodye is also divided into three pieces. Genesis' Hold on my Heart seems to have been an inspiration in this
atmospheric piece including a vocal duet between Wolff and Elinor Pongracz, alongside tasteful, subdued keys, especially in Part III - Last Goodbye. They Want To Steal The Ocean is a melodic mid-tempo prog rock song with voice-over and lead
vocals by Pongracz. She does the same on Gotta Stem The Greedy Water, an atmospheric song in which her voice reminds me somewhat of Heather Findlay’s. Excellent keyboard solo by Lothar Krell.
Wolff's vocals sound very pleasing to me, he is featured on Walk Across The Sea, a strong song reminiscent of Barclay James Harvest. Quite a few references, true, yet the band has its own unique sound. Fine (slide) guitar
work by Heinz Kühne. Mare Nostrum Dream is a dreamy tune with female vocals and an acoustic 'feel'. When We All Speak Atlantropian is one of the best songs on the album, multi-layered vocals as we are accustomed to from Electric Light
Orchestra, African drums and singer Michael Wolff at his best. And the addition of a violin, after which a wonderful guitar solo brings the song to a good ending. During Dream My Dream, the mediocre voice of keyboardist Lothar Krell take a leading
role. Partly because of the monotonous rhythm and the voice-over, unfortunately not the strongest song on the album, while the theme itself is very promising.
is the last suite on the album, again divided in three parts, and by no means the worst. Clocking at about ten minutes total, the neo-prog of the band comes into its own here, both instrumentally and vocally. The story also comes to an end, as we know nothing
has been realized from Sörgel’s ideas. This brings the band to a hopeful conclusion in the form of the melodic Part II We Still Have A Lot To Learn with once again excellent and tasteful keyboard parts and beautiful guitar solos. Without
doubt one of the best tracks on the concept album. 'The future is a shining star called Star Atlantropa'. Part III Shining Star again has that distinctive ELO vocoder sound, after which Reprise repeats the original theme, played solo on an
The intriguing story of Atlantropa lends itself quite easily for a concept album. It takes some getting used to the fact that the story is led by a narrator
and a reporter. This makes the comparison with, for example, Rick Wakeman's "Journey Through The Centre of the Earth" or Jeff Wayne's "War of the Worlds" valid, but of course there are more bands who use a similar method. There are some beautiful melodies
on this album. The music has depth, diversity, partly through the use of both male and female vocalists. No complex or overwhelming progressive music here. But if you like the soft side of the progressive rock spectrum and beautiful melodies, this issue by
the German collective is absolutely worth your while. Recommended for fans of Eloy, Moody Blues, Renaissance, Barclay James Harvest, Electric Light Orchestra and, last but not least, The Alan Parsons Project.
Review: Alex Driessen © 2018