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Supersister - Iskander CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.55 | 129 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Following the usual public fave Pudding album, Iskander produced a concept album, one describing Alexander The Great building of his Greek Empire over much of the mid-east and IMHO went in over their heads with it. I am always a little wary of historical concept ala Triumvirat and others, much preferring a full blown concept of the Brick or Selling England type, because it sounds cheesy, hollow and incredibly pretentious at "adapting" music to Alexander's endeavours some 25 centuries ago. I don't think much more of rock operas of JC Superstar or JJ Savarin's works much either?. Preferring to these Townshend's Tommy or Quadrophenia or eventually some of The Kinks' deliriums, which are entirely invented.

Iskander is the Turkish name for Alexander The Great and it is a bust of him on the cover and much of the music (produced by Georgio "Jools & Trinity" Gomelski) is instrumental, especially early in the album. After a short unconvincing "eastern" Introduction on clarinet, the album jumps on the Persian side to describe Darius (or Dareios if they wish) whose sparse vocals are imbedded into a frenzied sax-led jazz-rock. A happy synth then an "eastern" clarinet marching to war open up the 7-minutes Alexander track, but the whole things gets a bit blurry once the slow sax almost stops the tune, leaving the electric rekindle the flame, until an organ comes in to an almost ELP fashion, but the tracks veers dissonant for a while? I never knew Alexander did drugs!!

Thunderous drum rolls announce the 8-mins The Battle and right after them, the tracks slows to a near-stop with an interesting lo-freq slow tempo crescendoing sometimes abruptly to reach a very fast movement that will fall back to the slow tempo again, this time building back up quicker. Rather impressive, but it's not sounding like a war, Crimson doing much better in the Lizard suite. Bagoas is probably the weakest track on the album, the finally-present singing not helping much?. This thankfully short track is not only too loud; it's simply sticking out like a sore thumb from the rest of the album. I can't say much more of the following flute-filled Roxane, preferring her in a red dress at night, but it fits the album a tad more. Babylon is an 8-mins track that relies on a descending riff, broken in different places by several interludes, some jazzy, some dissonant, almost free. The closing Looking Back is probably Alexander looking back at his travels and conquest, wishing he was in Egypt instead of Babylon, but the atrocious eastern sax is just cringing, once more.

While Iskander is still a worthy album, I personally find it paling in comparison to the group's previous works, the group failing to convince when they need to be exotic or ethnic, this being mainly the fault of the wind instruments, but the group as a whole does not fare well in that department. Iskander is filled with small cringing moments that sort of ruins mthe pleasure of listening, so you'll have to understand that I can't be generous, despite some impressive passages as well.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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