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Island - Pictures CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.13 | 156 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!!

One of the best things to come out of Switzerland (musically speaking, no offence to Chocolates and Cheeses), along with the fantastic CIRCUS, with which it shares a few points: they both are Alemanic, have no electric guitar, where winds instruments play a vital role and they were recorded around 76/77. The group's line-up is basically a keyboard-sax-percussion fronted by a singer that sometimes sounds like Blasquiz. Recorded in Northern Italy over the summer of 77, the album's is noteworthy in prog circles for sporting a HR Giger artwork (of ELP's BSS fame), and Laser's Edge made a superb reissue in the late 90's. In fact, it's still probably their catalogue's highlight, along with Secret Oyster's first two albums.

I was intrigued by some reviews, not only on this site but also Guts Of Darkness site, which were quite dithyrambic about the music on this sole album. From reading them again, before writing this review after four weeks of spinning in my deck, I can tell you that most of the review are fairly accurate ( the ratings, however, are ...... somewhat over-rated) but there is one very obvious influence that has not been mentioned before or elsewhere. Before mentioning the group, I would like to say that there are much ZHEUL leanings on this record. Zheul, you said? You mean MAGMA? Well certainly as far as the bass is concerned, but the overall style of the music on this album, this all yells out Zheul. Right from the semi-cosmic & atmospheric Introduction and leading into the 6-mins Zero track, the moods are definitely oscillating between ELP and Magma's type of JR/F. However with the title track, we're close to Gentle Giant, and Jager's vocals sounds a bit like Circus's Roland Frei at first, but Blasquiz-like chants return quickly to the fore. On the flipside, Herold is more disjointed, dissonant and challenging. The following and closing Here And Now is very much in the same vein as Herold, and even more challenging and there is few comparison possible to describe Island's rather unique and almost Gothic musical realm, sometimes not far from RIO's dogma.

I often found the singing perfectible, the KB a tad too Emersonic for my taste, but the Magma, VDGG and GG influences just finely crafted and nothing too hard to comprehend and like and while this is not-overly complex music, it is an acquired taste, unless you're a dedicated proghead. While their original album was interesting enough but am I ever glad that they added that Empty Bottles bonus track "of unknown origin" and of "non-studio quality ", which is more in the line of the album's A-side, still quite correct soundwise and it might arguably just be the apex of the CD reissue. Twenty-six minutes of sheer insane Zeuhl, impeccably played shows the best side of this group.

Definitely worth your time and money, and despite not reaching their countrymen Circus' apex of Movin' On, you might first want to break open your Swiss piggybank to fork out the dough for an original vinyl. I still don't get what this album is doing in any other genre than Zeuhl on PA's database.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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