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Isildurs Bane - Mind Volume 1 CD (album) cover


Isildurs Bane


Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 88 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of the most exquisite prog releases in the 90s, and definitely, an absolute prog highlight from 1997, Isidurs Bane's "Mind Vol. 1" is a pure manifestation of the sort of renewed chamber-rock sound that the band, with a constant strategy based on creativity and sense of adventure, had struggled to be since the "Cheval" days. This aforesaid album had shown some obvious hints, but it was in the cornerstone album "The Voyage", that the band had reached a turning point toward the experimental symphonic trend that Johanssen and co. had had in mind for long time. No doubt that guitarist Christophs has become the perfect lieutenant for Johanssen in his pursuit of the definitive sound that he had in this first statement of the "Music Investigating New Dimensions" project. The magnificent combination of complex rock and chamber music comprised in "Mind Vol. 1" can be described as a mixture of "Uzed"-era Univers Zero, early Art Zoyd, avant-garde jazz, Zappa's academic side (without the burlesque thing), world-music and an "orchestral" King Crimson. The extra doses of colorfulness brought in through the use of some fusion-style sonorities serve as a proper counterpart for the tension and dynamics that can only be originated from a band heavily open to the reception of Varese, Prokofiev, Schoenberg and Bartok through the various filters that have already been mentioned. All in all, there is also a high profile of core symphonic prog sonorities, albeit not being the essential ingredient here anymore. Definitely, this is IB waving a final goodbye to the tentative explorations of standard symphonic and melodic jazz-rock in their early years. This is the new chamber-rock, hand in hand with After Crying (another big name in this sort of contemporary exploration in the prog genre). Lots of references have been mentioned, indeed, but beneath this thorough description, lies the undeniable truth of the Isildurs Bane sound. This music is complex and intelligent in its architecture, yet it remains vibrant and soulful. 'The Flight Onward' kicks off the album with flying colors, spinning in the sky as if thrown up and around by Catherine wheels of soaring lead guitar, splendid keyboard orchestrations, magical chamber interventions, dynamic rhythm section and clever woodwind ornaments. This is the sort of beauty and sonic richness that the prog genre had as an ultimate ideal. The musical flow is segued into the more serene trend of 'Ataraxia', a piece where the acoustic guitar sets a candid mood among the controlled explorations featured by the violin and the tuned percussion. 'In a State of Comprehension' sets a peculiar relatedness between the best Enid and the most lyrical After Crying: mostly, it completes the serene mood of the preceding piece. 'The Pilot' gets started with a fusion-oriented in its rhythmic basis, with the flute indulging on eerie lines and the lead guitar stating some constrained bluesy chops: the main body goes for an alternation of fusion and rockier passages, somehow similar to a marriage of Solaris and JT-meets-Oldfield. 'Unity' is a warm interlude centered about the piano and violin interconnections. 'Opportunistic Walk' is the second epic in the album, and also the first occasion in which the band (plus the orchestral backup) elaborate, in full frontal fashion, the kind of melodic tension that had only been delivered subtly and partially through the preceding repertoire. Listening to this one, you can feel how it is to bring melodic warmth to the inherently bizarre mixture of chamber and prog rock that I tried to describe on the first lines of this review. 'Holistic Medicine' is the third and last epic, and may I add, these two are my all-time favorite IB compositions never. 'Holistic Medicine' brings an increased air of mystery and distinction, bearing a more concise colorfulness and a more controlled development in terms of melody and rhythm: these factors help the band to emphasize the atmospheres and bring a more focused room for the stronger sections whenever they appear. The solemn recitation of chess moves increases the sensation of control prevailing in this track's development. Not that 'Holistic Medicine' lacks moments of lyrical candor, because it contains a few of them; anyway, they are momentary providers of variation. The sustained climax that begins pass the 11 minute mark (previously announced at the 6 and 10 minute marks) is simply formidable, irresistible, mesmerizing. 'A Blank Page' closes down the album on a melancholic note, bringing an effective combination of dense orchestral layers, soft ethnic percussion and constrained soaring guitar leads. The pounding percussive sounds are the heartbeats of prog rock at the top of its vitality. Isildurs Bane is king!!
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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