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5 stars Solo release from PORCUPINE TREE's leader Steven WILSON who delivers one of the 90's greatest space-psych rock releases yet. IEM is designed to scatter your brain and most certainly after repeated lisitens can cause permanent cerebral damage. IEM does sound like the spacier sections of PORCUPINE TREE's work at times and is actually very symphonic. Tracks range in mood swings from the very slow and electronic suburbs to the crashing spaced out progressive rock numbers. The opening tracks (13 mins) "The Gospel According To The I.E.M." is one of the standout tracks for me which really kicks into some wicked grooves. This is really an instrumental album which has some background noise and spoken words but I think you must be in la la land to really understand them. I.E.M. 's packaging is weirdly nostalgic in that being void of any liner notes, has a handsome packaging. Throughout the fold out booklet are sepia colored photographs of some family snapshots which will keep you entertained for a mere 2 seconds. Instrumentation used by WILSON includes the Mellotron, organ, electric and acoustic guitar, drum, bass guitar, piano, tamboura, tape recorder, sewing machine etc. If you are a fan of PORCUPINE TREE's material then IEM is essential to add into your collection. Get ready to have your brain waves scattered though and don't tell them I sent you..

Report this review (#29509)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album casts Steve Wilson's quest for music exploration in addition to his collaboration with his band Porcupine Tree and other projects namely No-Man, Bass Communion and Blackfield. IEM which stands for "The Incredible Expanding Mind[%*!#]" is basically Steve Wilson's one man band because he plays all instruments by himself; exploring his capability in soundscape and space psychedelic. All four tracks plus one bonus track featured in this CD have indidually comprises music with basic repetition while sound effects from instrument used by Steve Wilson provides multitude of musical textures throughout the album.

The album opener"The Gospel According to the I.E.M" (12:56) is opened with approximately one-minute ambient music in silent mood followed with repeated drum beats and basslines overlaid by keyboard work and effects that brings the music flows. He music is similar with Ozric Tentacles with less variations in sound effects. The second track "The Last Will and Testament of Emma Peel" (8:08) is very eplorative in nature because it basically an experimental piece using the sound of keyboard and soundscape. "Fie Kesh" (8:23) is a song with an excellent rhythm section combining solid bass lines, percussive and keyboard sounds exploration. The music is enriched with acoustic and electric guitar improvisations that make the song is enjoyable despite repeated rhythm section. "Deafman" (9:01) is another track with keyboard melody and guitar. My CD has one bonus containing "Headphone Dust" (6:18) which basically combines simple acoustic guitar fills combined with soft keyboard work and guitar fills.

It's a very good album especially for those who like space psychedelic music and soundscape exploration. Sonic quality is excellent except bonus track. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Report this review (#41828)
Posted Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this CD because Steven Wilson is a god among men. I.E.M. is an amazing piece of work, but I must warn everyone, this is nothing like the rest of his stuff. I bought I.E.M. after hearing Porcupine Tree's Lightbulb Sun, In Absentia, and Deadwing, Blackfield's self-titled debut, and No Man's Together We're Stranger. After hearing five amazing albums that involved Steven Wilson, I knew I had to get my hands on everything he's worked on.

To my surprise, I.E.M. is nothing like Steven Wilson's other projects. It is ALL Steven Wilson, no one else, and it is basically a compilation of different arrangements he's thrown together. Every song is instrumental (no vocals) and Wilson uses mainly guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, and samples. Four out of the five songs are groovy beats and keyboard/sound effects, which Wilson blends together rather nicely, while he improvises a final layer of guitar over it. Each song has it's own unique character, which makes the album great to listen to the whole way through.

Overall, I recommend this album to any die-hard S. Wilson fans, like myself, who wants to hear what the genius can come up with in his most experimental state.

Report this review (#59275)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. Fans of Psychedlic / Spacerock and Krautrock will love this album. I'm not surprised to see "loserboy" rate this with 5 stars either, we defintely share a common passion for experimental music and Steven Wilson has had this love for a long time as well. This was the first I.E.M. album and it was released the same year as "Signify" in 1996.

"The Gospel According To I.E.M." opens with atmosphere galore,we can hear spacey winds as other sounds come and go. Drums a minute in. Mellotron after 2 minutes. Guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. This is great as he just jams for some time then it settles before 6 minutes and it becomes very spacey. It kicks back in before 7 1/2 minutes. A mellotron storm 11 minutes in as it calms down again to the end. "The Last Will And Testament Of Emma Peel" opens with different sounds coming and going including drums, piano, synths etc. It's spacey anyway. It becomes very spacey 2 1/2 minutes in. Quite dark and eerie at times. This soundscape gets quite loud before 5 minutes before settling back with mellotron. A real haunting soundscape late.

"Fie Kesh" opens with a gong before we get a beat with percussion, bass and knocking sounds as spacey sounds swirl. Acoustic guitar comes in.Trippy stuff. Electric guitar 4 minutes in.The beat stops late and it becomes quite eerie. "Deafman" opens with spacey winds as the guitar comes in . Drums join in as winds continue.This is uptempo and drum led. Vocal sounds come and go for quite a while. It becomes powerful before 5 minutes as the guitar lights it up. "Headphone Dust" is the only track that made me think of PORCUPINE TREE. Relaxed acoustic guitar to open as synths join in. Electric guitar joins in as well. Nice. Great track !

Of the three I.E.M. studio albums Paul Thompson from PlanetMellotron feels this is the best one. Hard to disagree. A must for all you space cadets.

Report this review (#230175)
Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars The early Porcupine Tree albums Up The Downstairs and Signify list among my favourite albums ever. So you will not be surprised that I am entirely fascinated by this first I.E.M. album, an instrumental project where Wilson fully indulges in his obsession with kraut, space-rock and progressive electronic.

Some Highlights.

The Gospel According to IEM is a most exiting tribute to the sound of Neu!, Can and early Hawkwind. A classic Neu! groove sets the pace for this wonderful upbeat trip into space-rock anno 1996.

Fie Kesh is very different, with strong astern influences created by percussion, acoustic guitar improvisations and a looping bass that sits somewhere between Pink Floyd's Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun and Wilson's own Waiting Phase2. It's a great tune but I think that Ozric Tentacles and Djam Karet have done this better before.

Deafman veers back into Neu! mode, with a guitar loop that can't differ more then two notes from any of Neu!'s own riffs. Together with some stirring drum beat it serves as the vehicle for layers of backwards guitar noises, synth bleeps, oscillators, kraut nonsense vocals, reverby guitar solos, you name it. It builds up to a euphoric climax of noise and chaos. The works!

The album ends with Headphone Dust, which consists of beautiful quiet acoustic guitar strumming and eerie slide guitar. Overall, this a splendid homage to space-rock that you should give a listen if you're into the instrumental side of the bands listed here. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#250706)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars An incredibly interesting experimental outing from Steven Wilson.

After months of waiting, the long out of print I.E.M discography finally became available to fans in a limited edition boxset, composed of the original 3 album releases and the EP. Simply buying this on a whim (and a strong Steven Wilson fanboyism) I had no real idea what to expect, and this is the disc which I consider to be the strongest of the bunch.

I.E.M is essentially another Steven Wilson experimental project. I.E.M. is an abbreviation for 'Incredible Expanding Mind[%*!#]', and on repeated listen, this name seems to become somewhat more sensible. I.E.M. is heavily influenced by the Krautrock scene of the 70's, by artists including, but not restricted to, Neu!, Faust and Amon Duul II. The psychedelic influence is also incredibly prominent here. It is fair to say that Porcupine Tree fans may not enjoy this project as much as they would other SW projects, such as no-man and Blackfield, as this is really nothing like Porcupine Tree whatsoever, which is a credit to SW as a writer and a mutli-talented musician - you don't walk into one SW project expecting it to sound the same as the last, and this is especially true with the curiosity in Steven Wilson's musical history called I.E.M.

I.E.M. opens up with 'The Gospel According To I.E.M.', a delicious extended jam track composed of a thumping bass, rockin' drum beat and an improvised guitar solo section. There is also background noise, whistles, synth noise, scratches and other such oddities adding to the depth of the track. The track slowly descends into a mist of flute, haunting vocals and deadening silence, and shortly after, the drum track and guitar jam from before return in greater force. Eventually, the guitar picks up additional distortion and becomes an all-out electronic mess, yet remains incredibly controlled and balanced within the context. The last two droning minutes of this track drift into the follow up...

...'The Last Will and Testament of Emma Peal', which is a droning, foreboding synth based journey. The use of stereophonics in this track are wonderful and really help to create a mental journey. The drums are panned to the right ear and far in the background of the overall noise, as if they were being played by someone in your attic in the opposite end of the house - quite spooky in parts and incredibly interesting none the less.

Fie Kesh is track seeping with tribal drums and guitar with a nearly middle-eastern overall sound. The guitar solo is another welcome addition, and at times, it's difficult to believe that this is a one man band, and no less, the one man who wrote other brilliant tracks and albums within entirely different fields. The thumping bass rhythm is intrinsic to I.E.M., as a listener will begin to notice on further listens, and plays wonderfully throughout this jam, sporadically disappearing and returning.

Deafman is an incredibly uplifting and different track from the rest of the album, and stands out as the most relatively poppy. The wonderful rhythm guitar, bass and drum combo nearly make it sound like an early Porcupine Tree demo and the lead guitar solo which later joins is a wonderful closer to both a brilliant track and an album.

This album is easily worthy of 4 stars, although I feel doesn't quite reach up into 5 star territory - there is absolutely nothing wrong with this album, and it is indeed fantastic, although I don't quite feel like it pushes into masterpiece territory. None the less, a brilliant album in it's own right which stands out as the strongest within the I.E.M. discography. Highly recommended to all listeners who are looking for great experimental music which doesn't fear paying homage to its influences, but never becomes a tribute. Fantastic.

Report this review (#347079)
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | Review Permalink

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