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ISLAND

Eclectic Prog • Switzerland


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Island picture
Island biography
Founded in Windlach, Raat, Switzerland in 1975 (?)

Good band which sounds pretty much Canterbury like. The band format includes keys, sax, drums and vocals. The biggest influence for ISLAND definitely seems to be VdGG, and the band certainly approaches progressive rock from the darker end of the spectrum. Sometimes the influence of GENTLE GIANT gets very clear in their music. Recommended!

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Chandler, David : Island Light CD USD $4.99 Buy It Now
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Island Time USD $5.95 Buy It Now 10s
Breakdown by Melissa Etheridge (CD, Oct-1999, Island (Label)) USD $2.99 Buy It Now 58s
Island 18 Track UK Promo Cd Rare 1989 Grace Jones Frankie Goes To Hollywood B52s USD $25.71 Buy It Now 59s
1984 Bob Marley/The Wailers "One Love" Island A4U/B1U press. (Vinyl Ex) USD $2.56 Buy It Now 2m 9s
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Timo Tolkki - Saana - Warrior Of Light Pt. 1: Journey To Crystal Island [CD] USD $18.01 Buy It Now 19m 3s
The Joshua Tree by U2 (CD, Mar-1987, Island (Label)) USD $3.99 [0 bids]
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19m 8s
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KEVIN AYERS - Falling In Love - Original 1976 UK Island 2-track 7" vinyl single USD $15.42 Buy It Now 20m 30s
Will Powers.......KISSING WITH CONFIDENCE...7" Single...1983 ISLAND Records USD $1.27 [0 bids]
22m 37s
Tom Tom Club....WORDY RAPPINGHOOD..... 7" Single.....1981 ISLAND Records USD $1.27 [0 bids]
22m 38s
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) SOLD OUT Ltd Ed 1,200 OOP CD Soundtrack SEALED! USD $24.99 Buy It Now 24m 15s
Island 10 Track UK Promo Sampler Cd Rare Early 1989 Release. USD $12.85 Buy It Now 24m 50s
KEVIN AYERS - The Up Song - Original 1974 UK Island 2-track 7" vinyl single USD $12.85 Buy It Now 24m 58s
STRAIGHT SHOOTER - BAD COMPANY - LP/ALBUM - ISLAND. ILPS.9304 USD $2.56 [0 bids]
26m 17s
Gasoline Alley by Rod Stewart (CD, Oct-1988, Island/Mercury) USD $12.95 Buy It Now 26m 49s
Arkansas Traveler by Michelle Shocked (CD, Jun-1994, Island/Mercury) USD $7.00 Buy It Now 28m 53s
Yes I Am by Melissa Etheridge (CD, 1993, Island) USD $4.29 Buy It Now 29m 39s
U2 WAR ISLAND RECORDS 1983 USD $9.98 Buy It Now 29m 58s
The Best Of Joe Dolan - Make Me An Island Album CD USD $2.57 [0 bids]
30m 53s
BAD COMPANY - BAD COMPANY - LP/ALBUM - ISLAND. ILPS.9279 USD $2.56 [0 bids]
31m 12s
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The Best of 1980-1990 by U2 (CD, Nov-1998, Island (Label)) USD $1.50 [0 bids]
32m 30s
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Exit : Home for an Island CD USD $6.98 Buy It Now 34m 23s
Views [LP] by Drake (Rap) (Vinyl, Oct-2016, 2 Discs, Island (Label) USD $22.63 Buy It Now 34m 47s
Various Artists : Island of Dr Moreau CD USD $6.98 Buy It Now 35m 7s
P J Harvey To Bring You My Love CD1995 Island Used USD $2.99 [0 bids]
36m 5s
Unknown Artist : Island Style Christmas CD USD $7.99 Buy It Now 37m 45s
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rare! ELAINE McKENNA cd GIANT IN A BIRDCAGE Rhode Island USD $25.00 [0 bids]
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38m 49s
On the Road [Remaster] by Traffic (CD, May-2003, Island (Label)) USD $8.99 Buy It Now 39m 52s
Lonnie Donegan - Rock Island Line - Singles Anthology 1955-1967 3 x CD USD $10.28 Buy It Now 40m 42s
Smiarowski, Mike : Island Fantasy-Part Two CD USD $3.99 Buy It Now 41m 28s
ROBERT PALMER - RIPTIDE - ISLAND LP USD $3.86 [0 bids]
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Robert Palmer - Addictions Volume 1 (Island Records 1989) CD 91318-2 USD $5.99 Buy It Now 51m 23s
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TOM WAITS Swordfishtrombones Vinyl LP Island 90095 NM HEAR IT USD $59.98 Buy It Now 52m 15s
American Hi-Fi [PA] by American Hi-Fi (CD, Feb-2001, Island (Label)) USD $2.54 Buy It Now 53m 52s
Julian Cope - Charlotte Anne/Christmas Mourning 1988 on Island IS380 in Ex/Ex USD $6.37 Buy It Now 53m 55s
BOB WILLARD & THE SOUTHERNAIRES : FANTASY ISLAND PRESENTS (MC20016) - RARITIES USD $1.49 Buy It Now 54m 32s
CD U2: Rattle and Hum (1988 Island (Label)) Rock USD $3.35 Buy It Now 56m 49s
CD U2: The Joshua Tree (1987 Island (Label)) Rock USD $3.35 Buy It Now 56m 49s
CD U2: The Best of 1980-1990 (1998 Island (Label)) Rock Alt Indie USD $3.35 Buy It Now 56m 49s
MALCOLM MCLAREN - Fans (Vinyl LP) Island 90242 USD $9.99 Buy It Now 59m 35s
Notting Hill by Original Soundtrack (CD, May-1999, Island (Label)) 13 tracks USD $0.50 [0 bids]
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59m 41s
Claudia Brucken Absolute 12" Island 12IS471 EX/EX 1990 12 inch, Absolute/Whisper USD $10.28 Buy It Now 59m 52s
THE SUTHERLAND BROTHERS AND QUIVER ~ "DREAM KID" VINYL RECORD LP / 1974 ISLAND USD $19.99 Buy It Now 1h
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Various 90's Pop(Promo CD CD Island Records Conference 2001 U2 PJ HArvey [B3] USD $5.13 Buy It Now 1h
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Shamall-This Island Earth CD NEW USD $18.50 Buy It Now 1h 2m
U2 Discotheque/Holy Joe -45rpm (Single)- Island 1997 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
1h 2m
U2 Sunday Bloody Sunday/Gloria -45rpm (Single)- Island 1983 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
1h 2m
`BRIGGS, PASCAL`-ISLAND OF LOST SOULS VINYL LP NEW USD $37.83 Buy It Now 1h 2m
1960S EXC+RARE JOHNNY CASH Jeannie C. Riley Rock Island Line SYS 5288 LP33 USD $6.99 [0 bids]
1h 6m
Original U2 With Or Without You - 1987 Vinyl 45 RPM - Island Records IS 1130 USD $18.87 Buy It Now 1h 6m
45 RPM 7" Record U2 Hallelujah Here She Comes & Desire 1988 Island 7-99250 EXC USD $6.99 Buy It Now 1h 7m
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Island Earth Music-Close Encounters CD NEW USD $13.73 Buy It Now 1h 10m
In the Name of the Father by Original Soundtrack (CD, Jan-1994, Island (Label)) USD $0.50 [0 bids]
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1h 10m
Frank Tuma-Island Tempos (CD-RP) CD NEW USD $16.93 Buy It Now 1h 10m
Nightbloom-Flamenco Island (CD-R) CD NEW USD $16.93 Buy It Now 1h 10m
Perry Guy-Island Life (CD-RP) CD NEW USD $16.93 Buy It Now 1h 10m
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Frank Tuma-Island Escape (CD-RP) CD NEW USD $16.93 Buy It Now 1h 10m
Club 8 - Golden Island [New CD] USD $14.87 Buy It Now 1h 11m
MALCOLM X No Sell Out 7" VINYL UK Island 1983 Vocal B/W Instrumental (Is165) USD $2.57 [1 bids]
1h 11m

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ISLAND discography


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ISLAND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.19 | 167 ratings
Pictures
1977

ISLAND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ISLAND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ISLAND Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 10 ratings
Pyrrho
2005

ISLAND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ISLAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars How this exquisite and very theatric album from 1977 has flown under the radar for all these years is mystifying to me as I find here all of the elements that make prog epics by Peter Gabriel-era GENESIS and Ian Anderson-led JETHRO TULL present and polished in spades! Plus, the sound engineering and mix is among the best I've heard from 1970s releases--on a level with late-in-the--decade releases by National Health, Bruford, and UK. Drummer Güge Jürg Meier seems to be styling himself after contemporary BILL BRUFORD--sounding a lot like BRUFORD/UK-era Bruford. His playing is a definite and consistent highlight of the album. Keyboard player Peter Scherer is quite dominant with his array--with a skill level and variety comparable to RICK WAKEMAN and KERRY MINNEAR. The music and soundscapes are constructed more like those of Peter Gabriel-era GENESIS with a darkness that feels akin to that of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR with a little Crimsonian bent thrown in there for good measure. The bass duties are handled quite ably by the same Mr. Scherer--on his keyboards and with bass pedals! What makes this feat more exceptional is the fact that the bass lines often come across feeling like BRUFORD bass master JEFF BERLIN! This means that the band had no bass player! But more: it did not have a guitarist, either! Amazing! Vocalist Benjamin Jäger is gifted with great tone, range, and control as well as a theatrical acumen not unlike that of Peter Gabriel, Ian Anderson, and early Phil Collins.

The two complex, sophisticated, and dynamic instrumentals that open Side One evoke such promise that we are a bit surprised when the 17-minute epic "Pictures" opens with such spaciousness and with such a slow tempo. But it changes--and develops beautifully. In fact, this song is, thus far, the best "new" epic from 1970s albums that I've only recently discovered. The album feels as if it is trying to tell a story--a story that is, unfortunately, at times more domineering than the music--which is disappointing in that these musicians and their compositions are so strong on their own. This story-leading-the-music tendency is especially evident with Side Two's two epics, "Herold and King / Dloreh" and the several sections of "Here and Now." They both feel weakened by the fact that the music takes a back seat to the singing/story--a story that often meanders and drags on mystifyingly despite the wonderful and theatric voice of lead vocalist Benjamin Jäger.

1. "Introduction" (1:28) a delightfully ominous beginning. (5/5)

2. "Zero" (6:13) such a dynamic and intricately constructed song! Keys (including bass!), drums, and sax! Gentle Giant meets National Health and King Crimson! (10/10)

3. "Pictures" (16:51) as I said, one of the best constructed, designed, performed, and sounding prog epics from the 1970s that I have heard! Vocalist Benjamin Jäger's voice fit in like another virtuosic instrument! (10/10)

4. "Herold And King / Dloreh" (12:13) opening with two-and-a-half minutes of awesome classically-oriented solo piano, this one starts out on a super high, but the successive organ and sporadic percussion and sax founded "nightmare" sequence is far more story-oriented, far less a display of full-scale tapestry than that of a sparse Edgar Allan Poe poetry reading. The performances are all virtuosic, all theatric, all immaculate in the way they assist in the definition of the dark subject matter. The story--and its support music--may be a little too drawn out or too negligent to ever develop out of the deep abyss of the mid-section. Still, this one could very well have come off of a late 70s BRUFORD or UK album. (9/10)

5. "Here And Now" (12:15) seems to open up right where "Dloreh" left off--though the music is a little fuller and more dynamic from the get-go. I have to admit that the performances of all four musicians--and especially vocalist Benjamin Jäger and saxophonist René Fisch--reach pinnacle proportions on this one. There are few songs in Prog World on which the vocal achievements are so rarefied as on this one. The flaw to this song, in my opinion, is the unbefitting doldrums of the far-too-long middle section. The final three minutes of the song may contain the most dramatic points of the album, but it seems almost a little too little too late. (8.5/10)

Pictures is an extraordinary album of creativity commensurate of those of many of the all-time great "masterpieces" of prog history.

Five stars; an unquestioned masterpiece of progressive rock music.

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 195

Island is a progressive rock band from Switzerland. The band was lead by Benjamin Jäger. Island was loosely related to Brainticket, only because the band's vocalist Jäger was with a group called Toad, which featured Cottonwoodhill era members of Brainticket. Toad was supposedly a more conventional hard rock band and they had nothing to do with Island. Island was an unusual progressive rock band from the 70's, perhaps one of the most experimental at the time. We can see lots of wind instruments (particularly saxophones), keyboards (Hammond organ, Mini Moog and piano) and drums, percussion and Moog Taurus bass pedals. But, there aren't absolutely any guitars or bass guitars on the band.

"Pictures" is the debut and only studio album of Island and was released in 1977. "Pictures" is an album influenced by many and varied music styles, such as the Canterbury scene, the jazz rock/fusion and the RIO Avant/Prog. The sound of the band certainly approaches to progressive rock from the darker end of the spectrum. This is also an album deeply influenced for some of the best and most charismatic progressive rock bands of the 70's. The main influence we can find on this album is, without any kind of doubt, from Van Der Graaf Generator. If we take a look to the line up of the band we can clearly see it. They are also four and they have no guitars and basses. And they have saxophones and flutes and the keyboardist also plays bass pedals, which is the usual thing on almost all the albums of Van Der Graaf Generator. But their album is in fact even more complex and disharmonious than even Hammill & Co. were at their most weird. The influences from Gentle Giant are pretty obvious too, especially in terms of vocals. The King Crimson's influences are also evident, especially due to their album "Islands". Perhaps the name of the band wasn't really a coincidence. We can also see some influences from Emerson, Lake & Palmer especially on the keyboards. However, we can't say that Island is a clone of those bands. The band was able to have a very own sound and a truly original identity.

The line up is Benjamim Jager (lead vocals and percussion), Peter Scherer (keyboards, bass pedals and voices), René Fisch (saxophone, flute, clarinet, triangle and voices), and Guge Jurg Meier (drums, gongs and percussion).

The first track "Introduction" is a very short number. It causes an atmosphere which gives the mood to the album which reminds us the soundtrack of "Alien", which isn't really a very strange thing. This is one of the best prologues I know, a perfect prologue to this album. The second track "Zero" is based on a great organ and saxophone theme. It's an instrumental, jazzy track with a darker, long, very complex, and beautiful motif. This is the least complex track on the album in which vocals are used for the first time. This track goes through so many changes, it's not even funny, and somewhere you get treated with a great jazzy sax solo from Fisch. It's the most beautiful track on the album. Then comes the nearly 17 minutes long title track. It contains, perhaps, the most beautiful melody. It sounds medieval and renaissance, accompanied by harpsichord, which emphasizes some medieval atmosphere. In addition we have their very Van Der Graaf Generator's influenced sound where the band uses some very distinctive percussion. The track is loaded with great themes and instrumental parts. It has lots of saxophone and a very powerful organ. Any Van DerGraaf Generator's fan will love it. The third track "Herold And King/Dloreh" is exactly so weird as the title suggests. This is where the band starts singing in reverse. Not by playing the tape in reverse, but singing the words in reverse, such as "Dloreh" which is "Herold" in reverse. It's very energetic and powerful, and as I said, the complexity is unbelievable. This is a very dark and sinister track. The last track, "Here And Now", is more laid back but still is very complex and probably is the least accessible track on the album. It continues the dark and sinister atmosphere of the last track. I especially love the use of bass pedals here. The atmosphere here is a little bit more light and optimistic than before.

Just one more thing! The cover of the album was made by the Swiss artist Giger. He made the cover for "Brain Salad Surgery" and he was the man who made all the sceneries from "Alien". I love this cover. It was perfect for this album.

Conclusion: "Pictures" is an album with lengthy tracks and without weak points. I must confess that I was blown away with "Pictures". It surpassed all my expectations. I listened to the album several times and it never ceased to impresses me and it always grows on me with the auditions. This is almost a perfect album, a real forgotten and hidden jewel that needs to be discovered. It's a pity that they have made only this album. This is, without any doubt, one of the greatest progressive rock albums from the late 70's, and you have no other thing to do than just listen to it. In the punk and disco dominated world of 1977, it's nice and comfortable to see there were still a few progressive rock acts not willing to make compromises. And Island proved that. This is truly not an easy album to get in to it and it easily will have its detractors. But if you'll have patience and if you're a truly progressive lover of its dark side, maybe you can love it.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars A very dark, obscure journey into the deepest vestiges of prog's reaches.

Dug up from the absolute bowels of music, the sole studio offering from an obscure Swiss band, "Pictures" is a bit of an oddball release. Like its chilling album artwork, the album is bleak and cold, and inhumanly intricate. The music is keyboard-heavy with saxophone touches, a la Van der Graaf, and is primarily instrumental. There are some English vocals, but they're unconventional to say the least. As in, singing backwards, and waxing poetic about gastric juices. Many reviewers are quick to note heavy influences from other eclectic and jazz-based prog artists but the atmosphere of this album is really like nothing else out there. The first time you listen to this album it's generally hard to take in more than the first 10 minutes or so, as the music is often very dense and technical, but with each listen you slowly begin to appreciate it more and more. Having said that, this seems to be an album that you put on for the experience, not necessarily for the music.

While there are truly riveting, and frankly haunting, moments on the album, and the atmosphere is extraordinarily eerie, I would not recommend this to just anyone. This is certainly not an album for newcomers to prog but more something for the listener who's heard anything and everything and is craving for something a little (read: a lot) different. While I would normally assign a high rating to music as interesting and original as this, I feel that 3 stars does "Pictures" justice not only because I find (even after repeated listens) that many of the instrumental passages overstay their welcome, but also due to the incredibly niche appeal of the album. So if you like your prog headspinningly kinky (Mmmm - gastric juices, anyone?), then this should be right up your alley.

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by tmay102436

5 stars How in the world can an avid lover / fanatic / caused a divorce (many years ago - happily married now) / devotee of progressive rock have missed this fabulous album!? But, I did. I just got this through Synphonic Music, and what a surprise.

Very complex, and yes, as others have mentioned there's Van der Graaf, Gentle Giant, ELP, avant prog, RIO, etc...influences. But also, a similarity to USA's, Fireballet, actually both fabulous albums from them. Of course another point of reference might be their fellow Swiss, Flame Dream.

Still, this is so very unusual, personal, yet extremely professional and well recorded and remastered. And that combination is what makes it 5 stars for me.

I just love the addition of woodwinds, and the sax here on Island's "Pictures" is what takes them to another level. The keyboards (oh my gosh, on this third listening I just noticed that there's no guitar - not even missed) are the predominate, with the bass pedals sounding like there supposed to, just in the right spot. Very cool through a surround decoder, with the subwoofer slightly pinning the whole tapestry down. I usually don't like the "extra track(s), but this one is quite good, although maybe not necessary. Still, nice to hear sometimes.

OK, I'm gushing now, but again, what a pleasant surprise. May there always be these nuggets of pure inspiration and performance to be found. And as always, thanks to this wonderful site, Progarchives.com for being able to share our love of this musical miracle, Progressive Rock.

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars ISLAND was one of a handful of eclectic progressive rock bands to emerge from Switzerland in the 70s and managed to release this sole offering PICTURES in 1977 well after the boom of the early prog years but still managed to pack a major punch with the intensity. While somewhat based in symphonic prog with crazy synth runs dominating the soundscape, the Van Der Graaf Generator-esque passages emanate from a deeply darkened end of the prog spectrum that includes Gentle Giant complexities, jazz-fusion sensibilities and uncompromising prancing through overtly complex time signature workouts. While mostly instrumental there are vocals performed by Benjamin Jäger that probably remind most of Colin Goldring of Gnidrolog. Everything about PICTURES is off-kilter and progressive as [%*!#]!

Living up to their name, it really seems like this band was stranded on an island somewhere far away for a really long time and had nothing better to do except create this otherworldly (based on earthly alchemy) music. This sole release is some of the most demanding prog workouts to be experienced. Yes, influences of Van der Graaf, Gentle Giant, ELP, avant prog, RIO and the rest are here, but this music really doesn't sound like anything else that exists in the musical universe. It is utterly eerie, spectral and spooky, crazily complex, pungently powerful and brashly bizarre! The decision to leave out the inclusion of guitar adds and focus on percussion, crotales, saxes, flute and clarinet really add to the uniqueness and sets it apart from virtually everything else of the era.

Warning! This eclectic stew takes a few listens to grow on you. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, most likely neither will PICTURES jump to the top of your prog appreciation list. This is approaching a 10 on the progometer but will reward those who have the patience to let its secrets unfold. I have grown to love this! I heard this several times on YouTube ( where it is free and still expensive to track down on physical format) before I tracked down a copy and after several listens I only love love love this more each time. The bonus track "Empty Bottles" on the CD is definitely no throwaway. It fits in perfectly with the rest of the album and clocking in at over 23 minutes adds a huuuuuge chunk of time. Surely it would have been included if time lengths had permitted in the day as it actually exceeds the complexity of the actual album in many ways. So what are you waiting for? Go out and find this! It's the perfect soundtrack for cuddling up to H.R. Giger's Necronomicon!!! :P

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Not much is known about this legendary Swiss Prog band, but it seems certain that Island evolved from the disbanded Deaf, as the very early mid-70's five-piece line-up included drummer Güge Jürg Meier and guitarist/singer Dany Ruehle (also a member of The Shiver).However their sole album ''Pictures'' would only see the light in 1977 on the unkown Round Records (propably Island's members had some involvement with the label), featuring from the original line-up ex-Toad Benjamin Jäger on vocals and percussion, Güge Jürg Meier on drums, Peter Scherer on keyboards and bass pedals along with the newest addition of wind-instrumentalist René Fisch.

The album is a British-influenced experience of dense and complex Progressive Rock along the lines of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, GENTLE GIANT and GNIDROLOG, very unpopular for the time of its release but definitely well-executed and offering plenty of interesting material already from the opening minutes and the superb instrumental ''Zero'', a milestone of rich and frenetic Progressive Rock with fantastic interplays between piano, organ, saxes and clarinets as well as some excellent drumming.What follows is a dark, haunting and complicated trilogy of three long epics, clocking between 12 and 17 minutes, where Island's sound reaches the top of its complexity but also where the VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR is trully apparent.What really shines in these compositions is the perfectly balanced sound of the band between the instrumental madness and the intense lyrical parts as well as the dreamy, almost fairytale atmospheres and obscure, dark soundscapes.The instrumentation seems also greatly measures.Lots of sax and clarinet interventions next to some lighter flute parts but also plenty of keyboard attacks, including Avant Garde-like piano textures and tons of organ orgasms.Pretty tight stuff and what makes ''Pictures'' even more charming is the absence of guitars and the use of bass pedals instead of a bass.Count in the numerous wordless chants and you get ''Pictures'' abnormal and schizophenic atmosphere.

The Laser's Edge CD reissue contains also a rare 23-min. jamming of the band, which is also attractive and very solid.A must have for all fans of complex and dark music of the VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR school of Prog and warmly recommended for all the rest...3.5 stars.

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A very, very, very strange slice of avant-garde-cum-canterbury-style progressive rock from the rather obscure Swiss four-piece Island, this 1977 release, right down to the techno-biological artwork of renowned Swiss artist H. R. Giger(him of 'Alien' fame) really is an 'acquired' taste. Practically impossible to get hold of(certainly at the time of writing) this is one of those exceptionally singular albums that both confounds and delights in equal measure, though after initial listens one does wish that the group had simply focused more on developing the album's various quirky melodies instead of just being deliberately weird. Featuring five tracks - the final three of which each break the ten-minute mark - 'Pictures' kicks off with strange moanings, hushed whispers and crashing gongs on the aptly-titled mini-prologue 'Introduction' before a cacophony of sonic squalls lead into the impressively jazz-flecked follow-up 'Zero'. It's on 'Zero' that the group's canny ear for delightfully intricate melodies really shines through, as brisk keyboard patterns and skittering drums dance an oddly-timed avant-jazz jig that brings to mind the more complex meanderings of both National Health and Hatfield & The North. However, 'Pictures' really starts to amp up the weirdness factor on the three epic closing compositions, each of which drags the listener bemused and kicking into the Swiss group's wholly eclectic musical world. Mainly instrumental - bar from some genuinely creepy vocals courtesy of percussionist and ex-Toad member Benjamin Jager - the title- track, 'Herold & King' and 'Here & Now' really need to be heard to truly be (dis)believed. At times, a slight medieval feel permeates the dizzy madness, and whilst frequent needless wanders into overly dissonant territory prove frustrating, it's almost worth the effort when Island do manage to concentrate on the actual music. If you can take over forty-minutes of whacked-out prog(sample chorus line: "Gastric Juices! Gastric Juices!") 'Pictures', an album almost perfectly summed up by its freakish cover art, may actually be worth exploring. However, you have been warned... STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by Bj-1
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Dark, sinister and closer to avantgarde progressive rock than any other variation of the genre, I've been aware of this gem for quite some time now but haven't got a chance to listen to the whole album until recently. This is an unique, complex and very adventurous album and while the music is constantly interesting (at least for a weirdo like myself) the best thing about it is the absolutely eerie, almost chilling atmosphere that just get tenser as the album progresses. The music is strangely melodic and elegant but simultaneously uneasy that usually relief itself into some really deranged or spooky sections. The best thing is that it's all very effective, at least if you can appreciate this kind of dark music cause it is not easy listening. Musicianship is absolutely stunning and right on time even in the most bizarre and demanding sections, these guys really know how to play and peform and I was mindblown by their unique approach to their instruments. As you probably figured out the songs are dangerously complex so it requires a good ear and slight insanity from the listener to fully grab it all. The lyrics are odd and the vocalist might be an acquired taste for some but the rest is brilliant all the way. I'll leave it to the excellent cover art explaining the rest for you..

If you like Gnidrolog, Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson and have a taste for zeuhl and avantprog then check it out, but be open minded. You either get it or get run over by it, so take your time.

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Island's "Pictures" is a vicious jazz attack and quite unsettling at times but never less than creative. The band are an inventive jazz RIO and may be described as Gentle Giant meets Van der Graaf Generator. It is strange and compelling and slightly sinister. The instrumental 'Zero' is one of the most virtuoso in terms of musicianship and experimentation. Scherer is a wizard on keyboards and the drumming of Meier is phenomental competing with one another yet oddly amalgamating together. The time sig changes are wondrous, really making the music more dynamic than it already is. It is bold and daring and challenging.

Fisch is an incredible sax player and shines on the lengthy 'Pictures' with Jager's vocals and massive dollops of avant jazz hyper strangeness. It is almost Zappa meets Hatfield and the North, a weird combination of psychotic jazz and Canterbury. The sigs are all over the place and chaos reigns supreme. 'Herold And King' is a disturbing track with drones and jolts of sax and silence, and it does sound as though the musicians are just tuning up but they are actually playing dissonant jazz. The piano on this is spine tingling and really is not one I would play at night.

'Here and Now' is a dark piece with VDGG sax squeals and Tull like flute. It is rather scary but the vocals are warm and inviting. The music is incredible and off the scale as far as time sigs, the meter changes and the percussion is always maintaining an odd pattern. It ends the album on a highlight. But there is a bonus on the Cd and it is a huge jam session called 'Empty Bottles'. It is really a manic jazz feast, with dissonant sax, drums and other instruments basting up a storm.

A word about the cover. It is an HR Giger artwork 2 years before he became famous for "Alien" and yet it looks very much like the Alien in Ridley Scott's classic. It certainly drew me to the album. Giger of course provided the artwork for many albums such as ELP's "BSS" and Debbie Harry's solo album "Koo Koo", even being involved with the clip to her 'Backfired' and appearing in 'Now I Know You Know'.

Overall Islands' "Pictures" is a bold inventive album that is really going to challenge listeners and for those of us who want to hear odd time meters, jazz weirdness and Canterbury all in one package, look no further!

 Pictures by ISLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.19 | 167 ratings

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Pictures
Island Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Few bands deserve the "eclectic" descriptor more than Island. Pictures presents extended compositions that are generally based on symphonic conventions, but include heavy doses of fusion (often of a Canterbury nature), theatrical lyrics influenced by Peter Gabriel and Peter Hammill in equal portions, avant-garde Gentle Giant-like moments, and the occasional hypnotic rhythm reminiscent of Zeuhl. The highly complex and technical material is let a little by the fuzzy sound quality (at least on my copy), and whilst the band undeniably possess fearsome chops, the album does rather meander, with the epics dragging out some musical ideas well past the point where they stop being interesting. A good album, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it essential by any stretch of the imagination.
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