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5 stars IEM is Steven WILSON's (PORCUPINE TREE) solo project who continues his exploration into the arcane spaceyness of our deepest dreams. "Arcadia Son" is the second CD released under the title of I.E.M which takes the space of the debut album and takes us even deeper into the nebula. "Arcadia Son" is an eccentric mix of strange samples, speech, krautrock, jazz, space rock and psychedelia genres with some pretty trippy grooves. For those expecting something in the PORCUPINE TREE or NO-MAN or BASS COMMUNION theatre please note IEM is a very different beast. IEM is Steve WILSON's chance to really explore unique material and release something 100% his own. This is one of those ultimate headphone experience albums with some pretty lush sounds and atmospheres. On track 4, "Cicadian Haze",WILSON combines tribal bongos with flute and Rainforest sounds to create a highly ethereal song which also happens to be one of my personal favorites on the album. (Not unlike Edgar FROESE did on "Epsilon In Malaysian Pale"). Title track "Arcadia Son" reminds me very much of a psych'd out instrumental PORCUPINE TREE number. Epic track titled "Shadow of a Twisted Hand Across My House" clocks in at just over 20 Mins and would make a wonderful Horror movie soundtrack. If Blair Witch had this tune as its soundtrack, the world would still be sitting in the theatres ! 100% Self Indulgent music and 100% awesome !
Report this review (#29510)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is one of those albums where you will have to conclude if one reviewer gives it 5 stars and the other 2 that the truth is not somewhere in the middle but it's more of an either love or hate case. Because this is an album of extremes and then you get ratings like this.

This music must be coming from some dark corner of Steve Wilson's musical brain. Don't get me wrong, I think the man is a genius and I've always said that. But this must be just about the limit where someone of his calibar can get to. If you expect anything that has something to do with normal or melodic music: forget it ! Why I bought it ? This was because of the stream track Arcadia Son (to my surprise I see this track is no longer there, 2 others took its place) which sounded really acceptable to me. It wasn't even that far from style companions as HIDRIA SPACEFOLK and KINGSTON WALL and I quite like those bands. I also like psychedelic/space by Ozric Tentacles but it appeared that after listening the entire album this is a totally different ball game. You could call this extreme psychedelic or something because in my opnion it doesn't get weirder than this. The M (I.E.M.) that stands for Mind[%*!#] is really suitable here.

Arcadia Son was in the end the only track that came close to normal music but the rest: well, see (or listen) for yourself, because after all, this is only my opinion and I'm just a simple neo/metal progger who is just a little bit sorry he went for this one. Summarizing I would say: 5 stars for originality and 1 star for musical/melodic aspects. But I don't doubt there could be many who really favour this one. So I will leave it totally up to you. 2 stars for my taste (the extra star for guts).

Report this review (#160995)
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars IEM is of course a Steven Wilson project where he can explore his love for Krautrock and Psychedelic music. "Arcadia Son" was released in 2001 and features four longish tracks along with four short pieces. I must say the longer tunes are so amazing, I mean we're talking my kind of music, while the short ones I could do without. Oh well the short ones range from 25 seconds to a minute and 24 seconds so no big deal right ?

"Wreck" is the longest (and my favourite) of the short tunes and consists of chaotic sounds including horns and percussion. "Beth Krashky" is 25 seconds of Beth telling us she's a rocker and got a drum stick at an Ozzy concert. "We Are Not Alone" is very psychedelic as these mono-tone vocals speak over top. Flute joins in early. I like when the drums, bass and flute lead 4 1/2 minutes in.It turns spacey after 6 minutes. Great tune ! "Circadian Haze" opens with the birds singing as percussion builds and flute joins in. The birds are still chirping then the bass joins in. Great sound. Spacey synths before 4 minutes. Nice. Flute, synths and birds end it.

"Politician" is a short piece where we hear this woman making love with music playing in the background. "Arcadia Son" sounds so good when the drums come in before a minute with bass as the flute and synths continue. It stops 4 minutes in then this distorted guitar takes over loudly then continues with drums in tow. The guitar stops as the flute returns. "Shadow of A Twisted Hand Across My House" is the over 20 minute epic. It opens with these frequency-like sounds as mellotron rolls in then drums. Dissonant sax after 3 minutes. It stops as the drums become the focus. Synths before 7 minutes as choas follows. A calm after 8 minutes as it turns spacey. Mellotron 12 minutes in. TANGERINE DREAM-like 16 1/2 minutes to the end. What a song ! "Goldilocks Age IV" is a child telling that story for just over a minute. Cute.

Nothing less than 4 stars will do. I really like the way he impliments flute on this album, it sounds so much like some of my favourite Krautrock music.

Report this review (#276651)
Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I.E.M. served as a creative outlet for Steve Wilson's passion for kraut, space-rock and progressive electronic. Arcadia Son was released in 2001 and was the second full length I.E.M. album. It takes a different approach on kraut compared to the first album, which was a more upbeat rocking album full of Neu! adoration.

Judging from Arcadia Son, it looks like Wilson reserved Porcupine Tree to rock out and I.E.M. to explore more minimal and ambient realms. The result is decisively less catchy but all the more evocative and engaging. The best parts of the album really bring back the spirit of the first years of kraut-psych and electronic music.

We Are Not Alone is a great cosmic kraut fusion track. Free-jazz drums, fretless bass and lots of psychedelic flute samples. The silly "We Are No Alone" high and low-pitched vocal rant suits the occasion perfectly. Great alien atmosphere.

Cicadian Haze is another authentic kraut piece, very Popol Vuh with the oriental percussion and snake-charm flutes. Spacey mellotron joins at the end.

Arcadia Son brings us back to Tangerine Dream's Alpha Centauri, with celestial electronic effects and those crazed flutes again. A slowly pounding drum groove adds that extra bit of accessibility that makes I.E.M. so strong and relevant. This is not just a faithful reproduction of kraut rock. Instead it captures the creative spirit and mind-expanding sound of it but places it in a modern context, adding better production values and eschewing the indulgent sides of it.

Shadow of A Twisted Hand is the masterpiece here. It consists of 3 parts. The first has an electronically processed rock beat with psychedelic saxophone soloing and rising mellotrons. The middle part retreats to the alienated outskirts of the galaxy, joining Schulze's Cyborg and Tangerine Dream's Zeit with synthesised choirs and electronic effects. It gradually adds a sequenced part that measures up to the most captivating moments of Schulze's 70's discography.

There are some perplexing moments of beauty on this excellent release. I.E.M. only released 3 albums but each of them only adds more argument to call Wilson a real creative genius. The I.E.M. albums have been out of print for a while but are currently re-issued as a beautiful boxset that comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

Report this review (#286621)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steven Wilson's musical persona is said by some to be divided between his vast array of projects (more than 8, if you count Continuum and Storm Corrosion), but it is actually the equivalent of having eight musicians into a single body. All his projects, many of them being worked upon simultaneously, and spanning very different origins (Blackfield, for example is mainly based in Tel Aviv), reside in a world of their own, even if they share Wilson's compositional traits, and characteristic aspects of the kind of music they release.

IEM, as is known, is Wilson's Krautrock/Cosmic Jazz outlet, and one in he is virtually beyond recognition (if judged by Porcupine Tree standards). In it, Steven is completely uninhibited by any sort of songwriting theme, or structure, or time limit (precisely the reason why there were so few IEM albums). Not that this is unique to IEM, or that any of his projects sees him inhibited by anything at all, but this fact is the very driving force behind IEM, and Arcadia Son is a very good example of it.

Arcadia Son is an album that has a very clear path in terms of exercising IEM's influences, and in the kind of structure used in their songs. While it is nothing unlike IEM, it is perhaps the most "normal" IEM album by pop music standards.


WRECK: An intro? A teaser? Wilson starts off Arcadia Son in pure IEM fashion, true to its influences. A very random, erratic intro that has no seeming structure or sense at all. The tempo-less drums, the erratic notes on the sax and the purely chaotic feel to this minute-and- a-half opener is a very good description of the album, but it is rather vague, and thus invites you to listen.

BETH KRASKY: IEM is known to release things like this. This track is simply Beth Krasky (anyone know who she is?) speaking about her likes in music and her abilities therein. It's not really a song, but it does contribute to that uninhibited beauty that is customary in IEM.

WE ARE NOT ALONE: Anyone who doesn't like songs that aren't songs would have ejected the CD by now, just when Steven comes in greatly with this simply exquisite song. A song clearly inspired in 60s and 70s cosmic jazz, We Are Not Alone is a sort of jam that is bass- guitar-based, with a very catchy drum set line, and somewhat disturbing apocalyptic announcements carried by Wilson's voice, which is constantly tweaked with, high- or low- pitched, slowed and sped up. The musicians seem to really be enjoying themselves and the song has an awesome atmosphere to it, that sort of cosmic, empty feeling that is really relaxing and makes for a great listen.

CICADIAN HAZE: Theo Travis' flute is the big star here. Over a percussion and bass line, and on top of a vast array of pads and textures created by the masterful Wilson, Travis shines with his melodically beautiful but erratic flute tirades, and delights us with six minutes of his wonderfully proficient playing. Though the atmosphere is not as evident as in We are not Alone, Cicadian Haze does a good job of keeping you there and creating a very calm mood in the album.

POLITICIAN: Another rarity if you will, this is merely a minute-long track with a sort of Bossa Nova music and heavy breathing, moaning and groaning (which heightens itself to climax at the end of the track) that is clearly sexual, and reminiscent of old time pornographic movies. The music, again is kind of Bossa-ish, and could be labeled with "Elevator music". It's weird, but it's there to create the atmosphere IEM is known for.

ARCADIA SON: The title track is a very nice, structured piece of music in which the drums and bass serve as a seemingly monotonous and unchanging foundation to Wilson's effected guitars, the echoes and reverbs galore, and again, Theo Travis' masterful jazz inspired flute. Arcadia Son is very much in the vein of We Are Not Alone, albeit a bit more structured and less reliant on its atmosphere.

SHADOW OF A TWISTED HAND ACROSS MY HOUSE: Well it had to come. A 20-minute piece that is fast-paced and tension-plagued, with mellotron voices creating a sense of angst that is made into a pulsating urge by the bass and the drums. After eight minutes, we are left with an organ that starts to move around, and fades into a very suspenseful set of textures with pads, mellotrons, the organ itself, and several noises which are very much like Bass Communion, albeit much less chaotic. Then the tempo comes back with a melodic line that creates more of that tension and ends the song without resolving it. This is a dense and hard to digest piece, but it really is a good listen. I think it could have been shorter, but it is very good.

GOLDILOCKS AGE 4: Is this Steven Wilson at age 4 telling the story of that bear family? It seems like it. A rarity started the album, and a rarity ends it. This is simply that: a little boy telling the story of Goldilocks (the part when the bears come into the house and see everything where and how it shouldn't be), that ends abruptly and without prior notice, giving the album a very strange end. This is IEM, and this is something you have to get used to if you listen to their music.

OVERALL: Arcadia Son is a terrific album. It explores influences in a way that is so free and so careless that makes for an amazing listen (especially with those tracks that do have a musical structure). Wilson sets himself free in the studio by adding quite a lot of his production magic, sometimes even shadowing the instruments and the music itself. This is a very likeable album, although very unlike anything else Steven does (which can be said about any of his projects). Four stars for this. Not five because I think it is an album that really requires much concentration to analyse, and sometimes less density is good, especially in the minimalistic music it was inspired by (take Neu! as an example). But I love this album, and I love IEM. It is simply breathtaking in every aspect, and this album is no exception.

Report this review (#560231)
Posted Sunday, October 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I am one; of the thousands of prog-audiophiles that greet Steven Wilsons´s arrival to the progressive scene. No one has done so much in so little time; for the new-next prog generation. I will accept that as a fact. And he also has touched lots of grounds within the same scene. His different oriented than PT works: No-Man , Blackfield, Bass Communion, his solo works and I.E.M. short for "Incredible Expanding Mind[%*!#]". So; not only has he become a valuable asset in general; but also to different "ProgArchives´s" prog sub-categories. So;.. if you really;..really, really like Steven Wilsons´s talents AND are really, really interested to find out how multi-talented he is? (for me it has been quiet clear by now; but anyway); and imagine how far can SW carry a whole experimental project just by himself; shutted-down inside his studio, alone, at his wildest ??? Well hard-core SW folowers and close-fans! this is for you. Some RIO followers also should find here the closest he gets to this prog sub-category. (besides the newer "Raven" subtle hints) Experimentation with all kind of tricks, of his vast, vast instrumental/recording/performance skills and pre-taped material; with no apparent direction but having fun for himself; for the sake of it;. in an almost "paradisiacal" environment... So I admire this guy as any progger does.- IF! I had NOT gotten this album as a gift... I will still think I was not missing any "obscure" SWs´s "jewel". The un-released-"Electronic Experimentations" album is by far; more fun and creative! ...This is like the Beatles´s "Revolution#9" song; but all the way through; as a whole album in XXs. So? if you really, really want to spend your own bucks on this; you have the right!.. I myself will save it, for some other SW project,.. but that is me!...**2 " fans, die-hard followers, some RIO/AG people" Stars
Report this review (#986518)
Posted Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars I.E.M. (Incredible Expanding Mind[%*!#]) is a project of Steven Wilson which mostly deals with instrumental music, specifically Krautrock, experimental and sometimes very strange. Wilson has said that he is not the only contributor to the music, but none of the albums have any listing as to who else is involved in the project.

This album, released in 2001, very retro sounding while utilizing updated recording techniques and etc. This was released sometime after Porcupine Tree's 'Lightbulb Sun' to give you an idea of where SW was with his most popular project. The music is very psychedelic and improvisational, sort of like Porcupine Tree's earlier instrumental works like 'Sky Moves Sideways' and 'Voyage 34', but more experimental and less polished. Wilson wanted to make music that was inspired by psychedelic and krautrock music from the 60s and 70s while trying to sound current.

The music on this album is made up of all instrumentals with vocal field recordings interspersed throughout. It starts out with a few short tracks of improvisational noise, and then finally lapses into a longer instrumental called 'We Are Not Alone' with a lot of flute and vocal samples. The topic seems to be the supernatural, ghost and alien related material. This is followed by 'Cicadian Haze' which is more experimental improvisation, with some interesting noises thrown in giving it that hazy feel.

'Politician' is a short track with psychedelic meandering under what sounds like moans of ecstasy from a female subject. Thank goodness this is short. The title track comes next. This one starts off in the same manner, but with nature sounds. A nice guitar solo comes in later and there are also many other processed sounds.

There is another short spoken vocal followed by 'Shadow of a Twisted Hand Across My House' which is a 20 minute track of instrumental music with a nice beat but some spooky psychedelic sounds going on around improvised instruments. There is a nice solo by what seems to be either a sax or alto sax under-layered by the persistent percussion and processed guitar drones. The brass drops out at about the 5 minute mark and the beat continues with more psychedelic meandering until a loud processed guitar interrupts everything and then the beat fades out so you are left with ambient tones and sounds. Things get a little more structured as a keyboard of some kind takes over the spotlight. This sounds is somewhere between a mellotron and an organ, but spookier, with drones going on underneath and percussive sound effects under all of it. Now we are souding less like Porcupine Tree and more like early Bass Communion. This style continues for the rest of the track, and it is quite a nice psychedelic and electronic style track with changing moods and textures throughout its duration.

The album is not the best put out by I.E.M., with only two strong tracks, however, these tracks do take up most of the album, so that is a saving grace. If you love electronic prog and krautrock, you will love this album. Also, if you like the early improvised music by Porcupine Tree, you will probably like this too. It's not for everyone, but it is still a good album, especially the title track and the long 'Shadow'' track. This is not SW's best recording either, but it is good enough for 3 stars at least.

Report this review (#1998808)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2018 | Review Permalink

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