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I.E.M.

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United Kingdom


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I.E.M. biography
Steven WILSON is best known for his work as PORCUPINE TREE's front man, but in truth he has a number of different projects, including NO-MAN, BASS COMMUNION and BLACKFIELD, just to name a few. One of the most overlooked of his assorted projects is probably I.E.M. An abbreviation for "The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck", WILSON's work with I.E.M is a continuation of the experimental psychedelic sound that he mastered with PORCUPINE TREE before they turned towards a rockier direction with "Stupid Dream". Every instrument on I.E.M albums is played by WILSON. Showing influence from numerous genres, his work here is the most experimental he's ever done.

The self-titled debut and 2001's "Arcadia Son" are the most worthwhile releases from the I.E.M discography, and for those who liked early PT and would have liked to hear WILSON continue in that direction, this is just what you'll have wanted.
: : : Bryan Adair, CANADA : : :

See also:
- Blackfield
- No-Man
- Porcupine Tree

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I.E.M. discography


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I.E.M. top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 41 ratings
I.E.M.
1996
3.61 | 30 ratings
Arcadia Son
2001
3.82 | 23 ratings
Have Come For Your Children
2001

I.E.M. Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

I.E.M. Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

I.E.M. Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 9 ratings
1996-1999
2005
4.16 | 23 ratings
The Complete I.E.M.
2010

I.E.M. Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.18 | 9 ratings
An Escalator to Christmas
1999

I.E.M. Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Arcadia Son by I.E.M. album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.61 | 30 ratings

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Arcadia Son
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by admireArt

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

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 Arcadia Son by I.E.M. album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.61 | 30 ratings

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Arcadia Son
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Juan.Pablo.Gonzalez

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.

TRACK BY TRACK

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.

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 The Complete I.E.M. by I.E.M. album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.16 | 23 ratings

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The Complete I.E.M.
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by The Truth
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars I was so excited to find a copy of this limited edition release available somewhere and was so stoked to have it arrive in the mail. IEM was always one of my favorite Steven Wilson projects because the music they produced was so innovative and nostalgic and I think nostalgia is what the group is really about.

The project's entire discography is here and within you will find some of the greatest psych jams ever released, and impressive blend of krautrock, space rock, free improv and electronic. I literally enjoy every single second of music this band put out and with good reason. This is the kind of music that will take your mind places, make you feel like you're floating and most importantly it just plain sound good. From the craziness to the ambience, Steven Wilson really had a high point with IEM.

And as an added bonus, the packaging is downright superb, a cool little box covered in a nostalgic World War II photo that comes with excellently designed mini-vinyls and 60 pages of more nostalgic photos that are incredibly enjoyable to look at while listening to the music.

If you can find one of these boxsets by chance, do not hesitate. I believe tonefloat has sold their every last copy so now they will be difficult to find.

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 I.E.M. by I.E.M. album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.79 | 41 ratings

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I.E.M.
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by progkidjoel
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 The Complete I.E.M. by I.E.M. album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.16 | 23 ratings

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The Complete I.E.M.
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars IEM's complete discography has seen a marvelous and final reissue on this 2010 boxed edition. The lavish photographic artwork alone already provides a reason good enough to spend some well-earned cash, but of course, the fact that this music has finally been made available for purchase again is the real reason to throw a party. Or to kick my lazy holiday head back into reviewing mode.

Apart from a few extra's on the expanded Escalator to Christmas album; the music collected here will be entirely familiar to the few souls that ventured out to discover the music of Wilson's most psych incarnation. All albums are presented in their original form, not remixed nor remastered (not that they needed any tampering), and they come in beautiful Japanese mini album sleeves, accompanied with a booklet full of early 20th century black & white photography. No band history or liner notes are provided, but given the mystery surrounding IEM, that's just fine.

If you're only familiar with the music from Porcupine Tree's second decade, IEM might come as a kind of a shock. Abstaining from anything resembling heavy riffs or poppy tunes, the long fluid improvisations, space explorations and the flirtations with early progressive electronic experiments in the vein of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze will be entirely unpleasant to many Porcupine Tree fans. So if you thought Metanoia was self-indulgent drivel, then you should sure stay clear from each of the 2.000 copies this box-set was distributed in.

However, if you love mind-expanding kraut and space-rock, then you will find some of the best music in that field in this box set. Even if Wilson considers IEM as something of a not too serious indulgence, his passion and talent for this type of music shines all the way through. Each individual IEM album rates four bright stars, all of them together is a supernova.

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 Arcadia Son by I.E.M. album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.61 | 30 ratings

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Arcadia Son
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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.

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 Have Come For Your Children by I.E.M. album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.82 | 23 ratings

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Have Come For Your Children
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. This is my favourite IEM album but also the most experimental and therefore most difficult to digest. This has Krautrock written all over it. It's close to 73 minutes of mind bending music, and it's one of the best trips i've had in music. Steven Wilson never ceases to amaze me with not only his talent in the studio but his creativity in making music. This album would have fit in perfectly with those early seventies Krautrock classics.

There are no song titles just 6 untitled tracks. The first song is over 35 minutes and opens with spacey electronic sounds that come and go. This is haunting to say the least. I like the mellotron that comes in before 2 1/2 minutes. Guitar after 4 1/2 minutes starts to come and go. We start to get a beat then the guitar becomes prominant. This is so good. Flute-like sounds before 12 minutes that stop before 14 1/2 minutes then the guitar returns making noise. It's dark and experimental. A calm before 20 1/2 minutes. Flute comes in then the guitar returns before 22 minutes. It kicks in at 22 1/2 minutes. Nice. The mellotron is back then the flute at 25 minutes. The guitar takes over for the flute around 28 minutes. Mellotron is back late with guitar. An incredible ride !

The second song opens with deep bass sounds that slowly pulse as an eerie sound sweeps over top. Drums before 2 1/2 minutes. A heavy atmosphere can almost be felt. Sax after 5 minutes. Track 3 features these loud and strange sounds to start. The guitar comes in just ripping it up as the drums pound. Nothing melodic or accessible about this (haha). Horns 3 1/2 minutes in replace the guitar. The fourth tune opens with a beat as other sounds come and go. Horns come in and there's this dark and powerful atmosphere as well. Incredible ! The guitar takes over and echoes 7 1/2 minutes in. It settles right down 9 minutes in. The fifth song is noisy and loud as horns and drums come in. The noise stops before 2 minutes as drums and horns continue. The noise is back again as it comes and goes. The final track opens with mellotron choirs (gulp) then the hammered dulcimer joins in before 2 minutes. This track is so majestic as the mellotron flows beautifully.

I really think this is a must for Krautrock fans as also fans of spacey Psychedelic music.

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 Arcadia Son by I.E.M. album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.61 | 30 ratings

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Arcadia Son
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 I.E.M. by I.E.M. album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.79 | 41 ratings

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I.E.M.
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator 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.

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 An Escalator to Christmas by I.E.M. album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
3.18 | 9 ratings

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An Escalator to Christmas
I.E.M. Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This was the second recording from Steven Wilson's I.E.M. project. A short EP that included "Headphone Dust" from the first album.

The title track here is quite different from the debut as Steven uses a lot of samples and humour to go along with the great music. I guess you could say this is more experimental but it's a lot of fun too. It opens with a child saying the alphabet up to the letter "Q" then Wilson comes in talking (acting) as the leader of this "legendary alternative poetry band" called BORIS THE COW (haha). The music then kicks in and it sounds great as we get a heavy beat and then the guitar comes in ripping it up. A brief humerous vocal section takes over around 4 minutes.Then a change again as we get percussion with organ. Another change as what sounds like synths and mellotron flood the soundscape (nice). It ends with the child picking up where he left off at "R" as he finishes the alphabet to end it. Interesting to say the least. "Headphone Dust" is such a great track. As I said in my review of the debut it does have a PORCUPINE TREE flavour to it. I just love the synths and guitar on this one.

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Thanks to B Adair for the artist addition.

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