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Isotope - Deep End CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.44 | 41 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars I'm not sure how solid a line-up was the one that recorded Deep end, but it sounded like a group out for its last tragic effort, one for the glory, a sort of swansong. Indeed the group was in financial troubles that caused Hopper to leave and the situation was probably no better by the time of recording this album. I'm not even sure there was enough money to finish an entire album, as the group included Fonebone, a leftover from the Illusion sessions where both Scott and Hopper (he's the author) were present. So with Boyle and Morris again rebuilding the group, in came Dan Brown on bass (not spectacular) and Zoe Kronberger on keys and voices , but apparently Frank Roberts too on the pianos; most likely the two shared the playing time instead of playing double keyboards. Produced by Brand X's Lumley and released in mid 76, Deep End came with a variation of the diver hitting the water surface for artwork.

If you thought there was a huge difference between the debut and Illusion, just wait until you get your ears on this one. Many of Deep end's tracks have a profound jazz-funk groove, and when not they're closer to early Brand X, which is by no doubt courtesy of Lumley. Starting tediously on Picture with Zoe's bad synth, then on the boring ultra-funky Crunch Cake (Isotope aren't Head Hunters) and on the much slower Another Side (where Zoe tries some vocalizing, not strong enough in the mix, though), the album has us wait until Blacksand for a bit of excitement. The lengthy Pipe Dreams is another funky track that will make you think of the Head-Hunting Herbie Hancock (stuck in one groove and content staying in it), while Attila delivers many moods, but the production fails to be clearer in setting instruments apart. The album ends in better fashion than it started with Fonebone (mentioned from the previous album's sessions) and the album-longest title track are easily the best two tracks of the album, the first for reminding us of Illusion, and the latter for being the most-inspired song on the present album.

Please note that the label Line Records has reissued in the early 90's all three Isotope albums, and unlike some tenacious rumour, they're fine in terms sound, but on this last album, the label returns to their detestable habit of announcing the tracks on the back cover un-sequentially or non-chronologically, habit which they'd abstained for the previous two albums, so why do it here!?! Outside of that remark, even if the weakest of the three, Deep End is still quite a good album, coming in fairly late in the genre's history, and it was certainly bringing nothing new to it. So if you have the other two albums, I can't picture you without this one.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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