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Isildurs Bane

Symphonic Prog

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Isildurs Bane Mind Volume 1 album cover
3.80 | 100 ratings | 12 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Flight Onward - Phases 1-5 (12:05)
2. Ataraxia (3:27)
3. In A State Of Comprehension (4:24)
4. The Pilot (5:38)
5. Unity (3:31)
6. Opportunistic Walk - Phases 1-2 (15:15)
7. Holistic Medicine (14:51)
8. A Blank Page (3:08)

Total time 62:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Jonas Christophs / guitar
- Mats Johansson / synths, samplers, musical box, rainstick, Fx
- Joachim Gustafsson / violin
- Fredrik Emilson / basses (electric, acoustic & synth)
- Kjell Severinsson / drums & percussion
- Klas Assarsson / percussions, marimba, xylophone, vibes, bells, tubular bells, chimes, congas, djembe, dombak

- The Saltstänk Choir / chorus vocals
- Marit Zetterström / choir leader
- Jonas Christophs / lead & rhythm guitars
- Janne Schaffer / acoustic & electric guitars
- Magnus Gutke / classical guitar
- Lars Hägglund / grand piano, synth
- Peter Schöning / cello
- Jonas Albrektson / oboe, English horn
- Daniel Bruno / trombone, bass trombone, tuba
- Tora Stenar / flutes, piccolo
- Björn J:son Lindh / flute, recorder
- Erik Mattisson / trumpet
- Stefan Isebring / hurdy gurdy
- Gregor Reid (Spanker) / narrator

Releases information

Artwork: Fredrik Emilson

CD Svenska Unikum ‎- SUCD 197 (1997, Sweden)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ISILDURS BANE Mind Volume 1 ratings distribution

(100 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ISILDURS BANE Mind Volume 1 reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
4 stars A must have album coming from Sweden, an excellent chamber rock ensemble in the vein of such experimental symphonic neoclassical progressive music, which is well worth checking out along with the best issues by AFTER CRYING, a similar band from Hungary. The discontinuity of some harmonic passages prevents me to give it the top score, but this debut album is highly recommended in any case and it's worth a 4 stars and an half score!!
Review by Marcelo
2 stars Hard to categorize this effort from the Swedish band ISILDURS BANE. Essentially, experimental progressive music in the space jazz and neoclassical vein.

This album hasn't the typical prog rock melodies and forms, but it's plenty of long atmospheric soundscapes, very complex and elaborated sequences and lots of originality and experimentation. Easy to find some common points with Hungarian band AFTER CRYING, especially through the use and treatment of chamber instruments but, really, ISILDURS BANE simply sounds like ISILDURS BANE. "Mind I" doesn't admit comparisons with another prog bands from Sweden. Here, nostalgy or melancholy are replaced by space sounds, but keeping the emotive feeling.

It isn't an album for all progressive tastes (in fact, my low rate means that I don't enjoy too much this kind of music, although I recognize the musicians high skills and the courage to innovate). However, those who like to explore the jazzy, experimental and atmospheric side of prog music, will find this stuff, surely, very interesting.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Tough!

... that was my first impression when I first spun the CD. And I knew it from the beginning why I say so, because basically I'm more into melody even though I also respect arrangement. Let me put it this way: this album is excellent in terms of arrangement but it lacks the touch of melody (even though I sometimes found one in some segments, but it's very few touchy parts). Why do I say that the arrangement is excellent? It's because of the facts that the music is produced pretty clear and neat with excellent sonic quality. Each instruments being used in this album can be heard clearly, especially when I play it LOUD. The band member's virtuosities in their respective instruments are excellent. The music flow is quite OK as all transition pieces are manged quite well by the band even though there are some segments provide abrupt changes.

The music of this album is something that represents sound track of film because there are many variations for each passage of the music like changes in scene of a film. When I got trouble with the music the first time I listened to the CD I kept pushing myself to accept the music through an imagination of storyline that I created by myself. Each passage projects different kind of style but almost all of them can be categorized like avant-garde. My journey with the music starting from "The flight onward - Phases 1-5" (12:05) to "Ataraxia" (3:27) to "In a state of comprehension" (4:24) and "The pilot" (5:38) gives me a good experience about the music. The more spin I make, the better the process of digestion for my mind. There are passages that remind me to the music of FOCUS and there are parts that remind me to KING CRIMSON, ZAPPA, GENESIS and HATFIELD and THE NORTH!

Overall, it's a good album. It's recommended to those who can appreciate musical arrangement without having to consider the melody. It's not recommended for those who love melody in music. I don't think neo prog and / or symphonic prog lovers would enjoy this album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of the most exquisite prog releases in the 90s, and definitely, an absolute prog highlight from 1997, Isidurs Bane's "Mind Vol. 1" is a pure manifestation of the sort of renewed chamber-rock sound that the band, with a constant strategy based on creativity and sense of adventure, had struggled to be since the "Cheval" days. This aforesaid album had shown some obvious hints, but it was in the cornerstone album "The Voyage", that the band had reached a turning point toward the experimental symphonic trend that Johanssen and co. had had in mind for long time. No doubt that guitarist Christophs has become the perfect lieutenant for Johanssen in his pursuit of the definitive sound that he had in this first statement of the "Music Investigating New Dimensions" project. The magnificent combination of complex rock and chamber music comprised in "Mind Vol. 1" can be described as a mixture of "Uzed"-era Univers Zero, early Art Zoyd, avant-garde jazz, Zappa's academic side (without the burlesque thing), world-music and an "orchestral" King Crimson. The extra doses of colorfulness brought in through the use of some fusion-style sonorities serve as a proper counterpart for the tension and dynamics that can only be originated from a band heavily open to the reception of Varese, Prokofiev, Schoenberg and Bartok through the various filters that have already been mentioned. All in all, there is also a high profile of core symphonic prog sonorities, albeit not being the essential ingredient here anymore. Definitely, this is IB waving a final goodbye to the tentative explorations of standard symphonic and melodic jazz-rock in their early years. This is the new chamber-rock, hand in hand with After Crying (another big name in this sort of contemporary exploration in the prog genre). Lots of references have been mentioned, indeed, but beneath this thorough description, lies the undeniable truth of the Isildurs Bane sound. This music is complex and intelligent in its architecture, yet it remains vibrant and soulful. 'The Flight Onward' kicks off the album with flying colors, spinning in the sky as if thrown up and around by Catherine wheels of soaring lead guitar, splendid keyboard orchestrations, magical chamber interventions, dynamic rhythm section and clever woodwind ornaments. This is the sort of beauty and sonic richness that the prog genre had as an ultimate ideal. The musical flow is segued into the more serene trend of 'Ataraxia', a piece where the acoustic guitar sets a candid mood among the controlled explorations featured by the violin and the tuned percussion. 'In a State of Comprehension' sets a peculiar relatedness between the best Enid and the most lyrical After Crying: mostly, it completes the serene mood of the preceding piece. 'The Pilot' gets started with a fusion-oriented in its rhythmic basis, with the flute indulging on eerie lines and the lead guitar stating some constrained bluesy chops: the main body goes for an alternation of fusion and rockier passages, somehow similar to a marriage of Solaris and JT-meets-Oldfield. 'Unity' is a warm interlude centered about the piano and violin interconnections. 'Opportunistic Walk' is the second epic in the album, and also the first occasion in which the band (plus the orchestral backup) elaborate, in full frontal fashion, the kind of melodic tension that had only been delivered subtly and partially through the preceding repertoire. Listening to this one, you can feel how it is to bring melodic warmth to the inherently bizarre mixture of chamber and prog rock that I tried to describe on the first lines of this review. 'Holistic Medicine' is the third and last epic, and may I add, these two are my all-time favorite IB compositions never. 'Holistic Medicine' brings an increased air of mystery and distinction, bearing a more concise colorfulness and a more controlled development in terms of melody and rhythm: these factors help the band to emphasize the atmospheres and bring a more focused room for the stronger sections whenever they appear. The solemn recitation of chess moves increases the sensation of control prevailing in this track's development. Not that 'Holistic Medicine' lacks moments of lyrical candor, because it contains a few of them; anyway, they are momentary providers of variation. The sustained climax that begins pass the 11 minute mark (previously announced at the 6 and 10 minute marks) is simply formidable, irresistible, mesmerizing. 'A Blank Page' closes down the album on a melancholic note, bringing an effective combination of dense orchestral layers, soft ethnic percussion and constrained soaring guitar leads. The pounding percussive sounds are the heartbeats of prog rock at the top of its vitality. Isildurs Bane is king!!
Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars The chamber rock music band plays another of its usual albums.

It is true to say that I was never a deep adept of their musical style: too much of a combination between prog and classic (at least for their previous effort and this one). But this is the essence of the band ad this first volume of their minds is no exception.

The pace is set with the long opening number which is definitively not bringing any great feeling. A good piece of music, I reckon. But nothing more. It flirts more with the Eclectic genre than with the Symph one. So far so good, but the short and classical ''Ataraxia'' sounds really flat to my ears.

If you are ever interested in the jazzy atmosphere, no doubt that a track as ''In a State of Comprehension'' is bound to please you. But you might know that this is not really my cup of tea. The same mood prevails with ''The Pilot'' and the short ''Unity''.

Things are getting better during the long ''Opportunistic Walk''. Some fine and oppressive intro combined with smooth percussions are fine ingredients to start with. But to say that I am thrilled by the music which is proposed later on, is far from my taste. It is by far too much dominated by the classic flavours to really please me. It is complex for the sake of it.

Don't look for any fantastic melody as some other Nordic bands can play. ''Isildurs Bane'' plays cold and feeling less music IMO. Still: with talent and skills, that 's a given. But I can not be enthusiastic about this music. The experimental and loose ''Holistic Medicine'' is another example of their style. Not mine, to be honest.

In all, this is not an easy work to get into. If you are looking to some emotional and vibrant moments, this is not the type of album you should listen to. Two stars as far I'm concerned.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars The world has been without a Frank Zappa for far too long. And because of that, I welcome those that try to replicate the splendor of his music with open arms. And Isildurs Bane succeeds magnificently. While creating original music of their own style, this band manages to also capture the spirit of Zappa's best instrumental work.

The flight onward - Phases 1-5, available for listening on this web site, perfectly captures the spirit of Zappa's best lineup from the mid-seventies. It sounds like it was inspired by songs like Inca Roads. And Opportunistic walk - Phases 1-2 mixes Zappa-like classical with the big band sound of The Grand Wazoo with the fusion of Pierre Moerlin's Gong added as well.

I can't thank this web site enough for introducing me to this amazing masterpiece.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars ISILDURS BANE are a six piece band at this point but we get another ten guests helping out plus a choir. So yes they do have a "big" sound. As usual this is very orchestral and classical sounding with some "Rock" elements thrown in the mix. Many of these tracks blend into one another.

"The Flight Onward-Phases 1-5" is almost spacey with classical sounds coming and going.The spacey vibe fades away after a minute. It all kicks in after 2 1/2 minutes. A very classical sounding tune. "Ataraxia" features violin and vibes standing out on in this mellow sounding song. "In A State Of Comprehension" does get fuller before 3 minutes with guitar, drums and bass to end it. Violin comes in late. "The Pilot" has some sampled words to start as the music kicks in. It turns fairly heavy 2 minutes in and the flute is prominant playing over top. Guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. A calm before 3 1/2 minutes and those sampled words return. It does get fuller and the sampled words end it.

"Unity" opens with piano before violin and a beat join in. "Opportunistic Walk-Phases 1-2" opens with piano and violin. Drums after 1 1/2 minutes. Drums and vibes dominate after 3 minutes then a classical flavour takes over with aboe and more. A change after 8 minutes as the guitar and drums take over. Orchestral sounds come and go before 13 minutes. "Holistic Medicine" opens with violin as this guy yells out chess terminolgy. It's like he's describing a chess match.This will come and go throughout as the music changes and evolves from heavy to mellow to classical. "A Blank Page" features melancholic violin and guitar leading the way.

A good album no doubt, just not the style of music i'm into.

Review by Warthur
4 stars I see a lot of reviewers here referring to this album as chamber rock, and I guess I'd agree with that definition - but dial it back a bit, don't jump to the conclusion that this is the sort of horror- influenced RIOish chamber rock practised by the likes of Univers Zero, Present and Art Zoyd. Instead, Isildurs Bane approach the idea of adapting the principles of chamber music to a rock context from the perspective of a symphonic prog band, yielding an atmosphere of intricate beauty as opposed to the jagged horrors of the other bands I've cited - the most avant touch here is the occasional use of Zappaesque percussion.

By and large this is an all-instrumental affair, aside from Holistic Medicine, in which the narration describes a complete chess match, the action of which is reflected in the music (much as on Gryphon's Red Queen to Gryphon Three), and which is probably my favourite track. But there's plenty to enjoy here with these epic, sweeping compositions, and on the whole this is the album where things really came together for Isildurs Bane. I'm inclined to try and pick up a few more pieces of the extended Mind series to see if they measure up to this one.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Not many progressive rock albums achieve perfection. "Mind Vol I" does, bigtime. All the next albums by this remarkable Swedish group have not come close, except maybe "Vol II" which is way too long for its sake. Combining amazing sonic quality with fantastic melodies and exquisite playing from ... (read more)

Report this review (#260955) | Posted by uribreitman | Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "MIND Vol. 1" is a remarkable album by this Swedish group. It proves new prog music can be just as good as the music of the 70's. The sound is by no means retro or dated. This music is very modern in sound and in composition but retaining the same creativity and beuaty as the old stuff. Rarely a ... (read more)

Report this review (#75971) | Posted by terramystic | Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A wonderful album from this veteran Symphonic-Prog band from sweden. The album is one great 62 minutes unit, with 8 parts, each part containing a whole new different type of melody and music. Each song has a different mood - some parts are very calm and classical, others - powerful, even metli ... (read more)

Report this review (#39988) | Posted by | Friday, July 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars With some of the most accomplished prog musicians anywhere who are willing to put their reputation on the line with every release, this band never ceases to amaze. This album clears the way for the future of Prog Rock, in terms of quality and best of all, songwriting, a feature much on the wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#3902) | Posted by BGrosjean | Thursday, January 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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