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Isildurs Bane - Sea Reflections CD (album) cover


Isildurs Bane


Symphonic Prog

2.52 | 34 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first album from a peculiar era in Isildurs Bane's résumé, "Sea Reflections" happens to be a delicious a jazz-rock album with symphonic leanings spread around in places: it is conceived with genuine melodic creativity and performed with skill and taste. Right from the start, the use of brass and percussion is prominent (besides saxophonist Bengt Johansson's featured presence, there are some occasional guests on extra horns, plus Mats Johansson uses some horn-like sounds as part of his keyboard inputs), and so is the installment of strong jazzy grooves in the rhythm section. The result is partially related to the stylish melodic sort of jazz-rock that bands such as Spyro Gyra had come to master and put on the jazz mainstream's frontline in the 80s. But there are also elements of candor that may somewhat remind us of Brand-X at times; plus, the tuned percussion (a.k.a. mallets) bears a sense of majesty we can also trace in Maneige's jazz-fusion albums as well. Conceptually, the "Sea Reflections" album revolves around the images and customs of fishermen. The opener 'Blizzard' is a pleasant entry in the album's general framework. 'Batseba' is also a joyful piece, but this time the ceremonious undertone adds some subtle seriousness when compared to the opener. Johanssen's leads are usually on the symphonic side of things, being closer to Pete Bardens or Kit Watkins than, say, Chick Corea or George Duke. One who is really well integrated into the jazz thing individually is guitarist Mats Nilsson: his playing, while remaining melodic and well-constructed, has acquired a dynamics different to that he used in the band's first two releases (symphonic with extra touches of folk). 'Sea Reflections Part 1I brings back the opener's sense of joy in full swing. Wave crashing sounds connect this track's end to the beginning of 'Sea Reflections Part II', a lovely slow piece that brings something of the most lyrical portion of the album - it sounds pretty much like Happy the Man-meets-Maneige, comprising delicate synth solos and some mellotron chorale layers. 'Poseidon' states a total return to the jazzy groove, being a proper kind piece of music that contrasts the ethereal imagery inspired by the preceding track. 'Bilbo', in turn, brings back the lyricism in the shape of a slow jazzy tune on a blues tempo: the sax lead is beautiful, related to the sort of reflective magic present in Weather Report's softer material. 'Top Secret - UFO' is real funky, and now that WR has just been mentioned, this one seems inspired by the spirit of Zawinul's classic composition 'Birdland'. Starting with a powerful drum intro, 'The Story of Chester & Sylvester' closes down the album: it states a continuation of the preceding track's general mood, perhaps with an added touch of joy from tracks 1 & 3. While not being an essential IB album in itself, "Sea Reflections" is a very good item that prog fans should enjoy, besides using it to understand the artistic evolution of a band that is, nowadays, a staple in the prog genre's development from the 90s onwards.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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