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IO Earth - IOEarth CD (album) cover

IOEARTH

IO Earth

 

Crossover Prog

3.88 | 118 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars IOEARTH's eponymously titled debut album is very likable and tremendously interesting for the total lack of predictability of its musical style from song to song. There are, in turns, strains and themes of chant, lounge, new age, jazz, trip-hop, hypno-trance, ethnic, space-synth, theatric, pop, and so much more! I find myself thinking of groups like ENIGMA, MINDFLOWER, ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, SYLVAN, IQ, FROST*, U2, SIMPLE MINDS, Hogarth-era MARILLIAN, VANGELIS, CHROMA KEY, XII ALFONSO, MIKE OLDFIELD, CAMEL, DAARGARD, DARK SANCTUARY, AYREON, ANNEKE VAN GEISBERG, DRUMS FROM SPACE, ELOY, HAWKWIND, during the course of a single song as well as the entire album.

1. "Introduction" uses whale sounds and Yanni piano/synth work to set up what becomes a very pretty MOSTLY AUTUMN or TARJA song--a rather auspicious start to a supposedly "progressive rock" album. Nice song. Simple. 7/10

2. "Storyteller" finds us shifting moods very drastically--not unlike Stéphane Desbiens albums--to an electric guitar rock ballad. Steve Vai anyone? 6/10

3. "Eeee" begins with some ominous acoustic guitar and piano arpeggios over which a male voice(s?) sing what could pass for some Latin chants. But wait: At 1:25 some drums and heavy electric guitar/bass chords intervene and even take over the song, pounding out a rhythm over which the male vocalist changes registers to sing his Latin chant in a falsetto (More "Climb Every Mountain" than Christian Vander). Interesting song. Could have come out of some post-Soviet Carpathian monastery. 6/10

4. "Interlude #1" is a collection of industrial sounds before:

5. "Smoky Wood"--a very smooth song with trumpet lead that Lucan Arjean could well have written (Including the chorale of female background singers that sound very much like Anneke van Geisenberg.) Very catchy, groovy, and artistic song. 9/10

6. Next we're off to some OAKENFOLD Ibiza rave in "Come with Me." Very ENIGMA-meets-IQ. Good electro-pop dance tune with a nice guitar solo somewhat reminiscent of Jon Mitchell followed by an amazingly brief section of background gospel singers a la "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and ending with some VANGELIS at Ibiza. 6/10

7. "Opus Ii" is a two-minute interlude of space-synth noises which are joined by a repetitive acoustic guitar riff and ENIGMA fem vox, bass pedals, and marching snare drums. Nice effect. 7/10

8. "Mountains Start to Fall" employs an intriquing combination of harp, bells, male and female choir "o's," string section playing some Far Eastern themes, over which a Rachel Jones (THE REASONING)-sounding vocalist sings. The song develops nicely (8/10) and then bleeds into

9. "Loops" which continues much of the rhythms and sounds from "Mountains" while vocals give way to jazzy lead trumpet, electric guitars, and pulsing string a la "When the Levee Breaks." Awesome climax! 9/10

10. "Symphony #1" sounds as if Mike Oldfield were commissioned to play/conduct Maurice Ravel's Hungarian Dances for a Greek dinner theater. Truly a theatric composition. 8/10 Followed then by

11. "Light and Shade" which is an up-tempo, mostly heavy Yes Zeppelin performance from Mabool Oldfield. 7/10

12. "Intro Reprise" is straight out of a New Age GOVI album.

13. "Home" begins with glockespiel and a French movie feel--even when the soulful female voice starts pleading with us (PATRICIA KAAS-like) to take her home--followed by some siren-like crooning--before resorting to some singing not unlike the WITHIN TEMPTATION/NIGHTWISH/THE GATHERING groups from Northern Europe. Decent song with some real power (in the singing). 8/10

14. "The Creation" begins with a similar tempo as the previous song, but high-hat, string synths soon yield to another rock ballad for guitar soli--though with a bit of a tighter snare keeping standard time. Then--surprise! (But then what's one more surpruse for this surprising album)--some woman chants in some Middle Eastern dialct before giving way to a guitar solo that is extremely reminiscent of some of REO SPEEDWAGON's Gary Richrath solo/sounds around the You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish-era. 6/10 15. "The Sun Is Going Down" begins with a simple electric piano chord riff before some trippy drumming and bass playing lay down the track's dominant rhythm. Then another somewhat falsetto-Gregorian monkish singing performance takes over despite the frequent interjection of accented whispers, foreign female and male spoken words. Actually a very cool song--very like a song from CHROMA KEY's Dead Air for Radios. 8/10

16. "Interlude #2." Buddhist harmonic chants with keening woman. Cool. 7/10

17. "Harmonix." Longest song on the album opens with a CHRIS SPHEERIS-like electric guitar solo over synths and piano. At 2:!5 drums and bass join in at which time the guitarist's soloing moves into the fretboard's highest registers before giving way to/alternating with our Falsetto Gregorian monk.

18. "Take Me" slows it down with a true ballad BRYAN ADAMS style. A female vocal yields to male (for the remainder of the song!) over piano, harp, synths, and some programmed percussion. 1:45 sees the rock pop element as the BRYAN ADAMS/KENNY LOGGINS comparisons become more evident. Nice pop tune/movie anthem. 5/10

19. "Come With Me (Reprise)" Acoustic guitar and piano break down what had been a trip-hoppy Ibiza tune into a JONI MITCHELL plays with GOVI mood piece. Nice late night beach music. Female vocal enters with one minute remaining to C & W us to song's end. 4/10

20. "Outro" closes out the album in a very theatric way by trying to replicate the sound of a full orchestra as if over the movie's closing credits. Fairly well accomplished; rather like ANTHONY PHILLIPS' grandiose keyboard pieces or VANGELIS' close to the Blade Runner soundtrack. 7/10

Overall a very interesting and mostly pleasantly listenable music experience which deserves to be listened to--which will make as excellent an addition to any prog lover's collection as, say, a CHROMA KEY or XII ALFONSO album.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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