I.D. Company [Germany]

I.D. Company (70)

Obscure German rock with two female vocalists: Inga Rumpf (ex-City Preachers, pre-Frumpy) and Dagmar Krause (pre-Slapp Happy/Art Bears).

I Drive [UK]

I Drive (72)

British-band based in Germany. Pre-LP member Geff Harrison was also in 2066 And Then.

[See 2066 And Then]

Ibio [Spain]

Cuevas De Altamira (78)

Excellent prog one-shot who released the very culturally influenced Cuevas De Altamira. Good stuff.

Originally touted as "the Spanish Strawbs," it's a comparison that fits if you remember that Ibio was not a Strawbs clone, but instead a band that combined elements of Spanish folk music with rock, much as the Strawbs did with British folk. There the similarities end, as in actual musical style Ibio falls closer to some of the '70s Italian folk-rock groups, but with Spanish thematic content. Very worthwhile.

Spanish progressive with delicious keyboard work. The vocals are a bit overwrought, but very much in the traditional Spanish style, so it adds to the charm of the music, which is supposed to be based on Spanish folksongs. But the music is 100% prog, albeit with a strong acoustic guitar presence. Very much worth your while. -- Mike Ohman

Ibis [Italy]

Sun Supreme (74), Ibis (75)

Hard rock band where the best album is Ibis with the great Nico Di Palo on vocal and guitar.

Ibis were another member of the Italian prog rock contingent of the mid- seventies, more inclined toward the "heavy" side of that genre, with songs structured around organ and guitar. The closest comparison would be to groups such as Osanna or Focus.

[Ibis were apparently also known by the name of Nico, Gianni, Frank, Maurizio; See New Trolls | New Trolls Atomic System]

Ibliss [Germany]

Supernova (72)

Percussion-heavy fusion/prog.

Icarus [UK]
Updated 9/19/02

The Marvel World of Icarus (71)
More of the early British scene.
The Marvel World of Icarus was a sort of concept album in as much as all the songs were about Marvel Comics characters. I seem to recall a sort of gravelly voiced singer, and the album was pretty ordinary if I remember correctly. I had a copy in the late '70s but it disappeared somewhere along the way ... -- Neil Gregory

Ice [Netherlands]
Updated 6/9/06

The Saga (06)
Ice - (Not in photo order) Hein van den Broek (lead vocal, guitar, harmonica), Chris van Hoogdalem (guitars, backing vocals), Hennie van Mourik (bass, backing vocals), Ardie Westdijk (keyboards and synthesizers) and Rob Boshuijzen (drums and percussion)

Ice is a direct descendent of Maryson, comprised of all the members of that band except for keyboardist W. J. Maryson. He is replaced by Ardie Westdijk in Ice, who also graces the album cover and booklet with his (excellent!) artwork. The Saga is their debut album, a concept album about an ice age caused by an alien conqueror and the rebels who fight them. The story line and several of the lyrics were written by a "sixth band member" René Sterk. The band also take their name from this story.

Though I disdain the word "Neo-Prog", it is perhaps appropriate for these guys, who play a type of '80's-style prog with large hints of what I would call Arena Rock and sax solos that could come right out of a Pink Floyd album. It's dead serious and pretentious even when the story and lyrics become a bit trite, sorta like the musical equivalent of a low-budget sci-fi film. Still, there's something engauging about the music, and it's certainly an agreeable listen, though it will probably never be the everlasting prog epic it seems to hope it will be. The Saga will never be on my top-40 album list, but if I had heard this album when I was 18, it might have been. Not bad. -- Fred Trafton

[See Cirkel | Maryson]

Click here for Ice's web site (mostly in Dutch)

Ice [UK]

Ice (74), Import/Export (75), Saga of the Ice King (79)

Late 70's superb flowing prog, ex-Affinity. Saga of the Ice King is perhaps the rarest album from 1979!

[See Affinity]

Iceberg [Spain]

Tutankhamon (75), Coses Nostres (76), Sentiments (77), En Directe (78), Arc En Ciel (79)

Iceberg were easily one of *the* best Progressive bands to come from Spain, or anywhere else for that matter. Their music is a shifting, complex mixture of fusion guitar and symphonic keyboards. Coses Nostres is most similar to Return to Forever's Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. Anyone who like's that Return to Forever album will flip over Iceberg. Guaranteed! The scorching guitar dueling it out with the sizzling synthesizer will make you drop your jaw. The rhythm section are mind-blowing, riffing non-stop and enjoining battle with the guitar and keyboards. Vocals are too scared to get hear this hotbed so it's instrumental all the way. The subsequent albums reveal a more unique voice for Iceberg though still a very fusionesque form of symphonic progressive. Well worth searching out but the LPs are apt to set you back several dollars. I've seen Coses Nostres go for $50-60. It's worth it. An absolute must if you can find any of the albums. Try for Coses Nostres or Sentiments as they're a bit better than En Directe or Arc En Ciel though any of these are fantastic. I haven't heard Tutankhamon. -- Mike Taylor

Spanish prog has a reputation of being jazzy. This is with good reason, as most of the bands from Spain that I've heard, such as Om, Cai, Guadalquivir, and Azahar, have a strong fusion or jazz element. But Iceberg stands out among them as being a top notch fusion album not only of Spain, but of all time! With a lineup that rivals those of Return To Forever in terms of skill, Coses Nostres is a fusion-lovers wet dream with it's masterful drumming and bass playing, wildly brilliant guitar, and complementing keyboards. Anyone who has been impressed by the guitar styles of Al Di Meola or John McLaughlin should hear Iceberg's Max Suñé play. His searing leads travel the entire neck of the guitar with remarkable fluidity. He avoids the Trevor Rabin-esque playing fast for the sake of playing fast, and instead combines a traditional Spanish style with the modern rock guitar style of the seventies. The drummer plays on the level that you might expect from Lenny White or Billy Cobham. And lets not take anything away from the keyboardist and bassist, both of whom are excellent. The music is a complex, time-shifting combination of riffs and leads, with an all around aura of musicianship that reminds me of Area (only missing are the vocals and the wild experimentation). Iceberg's themes are upbeat and bouncy most of the time, but don't let the jazziness turn you off. If you're into well written and played progressive fusion like Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy-era Return to Forever, or Visions of the Emerald Beyond by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Iceberg is a must. Coses Nostres easily makes my top ten fusion favorites. -- Mike Borella

Iceberg's Tutankhamon is there only record with vocals, but fortunately they got rid of the singer. It was pretentious and sung in English, Spanish and, maybe, Catalan. -- Manuel De Pinedo Garcia

[See Pegasus | Suñé, Max]

Iceburn Collective, The [USA]
Formerly known as "Iceburn"
Updated 2/23/01

As "Iceburn":
Hephaestus (93)
Iceburn (94, Split EP w/ Engine Kid)
Poetry of Fire (94)
Firon (95)

As "The Iceburn Collective":
Meditavolutions (96)
Power Of The Lion (98)
Polar Bear Suite (00)

Dealing in a rock sub-genre called math rock, this is quite a mindfull with its dark and minor key based music with a lot of out-chords. "Not for the fainthearted" doesn't begin to paint the picture. This is music you have to want to like, and even then it's really down to your genes or something. Very much guitar oriented (two guitarplayers), with a little sitar, a little sax and some vocals - sometimes hissed and sometimes shouted. Not a great singer but it's such a small part of the experience it almost doesn't matter. This record brings new meaning to DYNAMIC, as it ebbs and flows constantly between softly picked guitar, and full ensamble at full throttle. Sometimes very dissonant and rhythmic (like a much more aggresive and harsh Boud Deun), only to suddenly break and turn into an improvised whisper-quiet segment reminiscent of bands like Present or Univers Zero at their most quiet. This is truly art music, and I like it plenty (though it took some practise), but I'm just as sure it comes across as improvised noise to others. Either way it's nine songs running as one for 70 minutes straight. -- Daniel

Iced Earth [USA]
Updated 8/19/06

Iced Earth (91)
Night of the Stormrider (92)
Burnt Offerings (95)
The Dark Saga (96)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (98)
Alive in Athens (99, Live)
Horror Show (01)
Tribute to the Gods (02, Album of cover tunes with songs by Kiss, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Blue Öyster Cult)
Days of Purgatory (03, 2CD, Re-recordings of earlier albums and previously unreleased material)
The Glorious Burden (04, Available as single CD or double CD "deluxe" version. US and European releases have slightly different song lists.)
The Blessed and the Damned (04, 2CD, Compilation)
Iced Earth (The Glorious Burden Line-up, not in photo order) - Tim "Ripper" Owens (vocals), Richard Christy (drums), James Macdonough (bass), Jon Schaffer (guitar), Roger Stevens (guitar?)

Those of you who have read many of my GEPR entries will know that prog-metal isn't one of my favorite prog genres, in general. Still, when I run across a band I've read about in other prog web sites that I know nothing about, has a cool album cover and costs only $3.98 at Half-Price Books, I'm likely to take a chance. Such was the case with Iced Earth's Something Wicked This Way Comes. While not my favorite album of the prog-metal genre by any means, I can't say it was a mistake to pick it up, under the circumstances.

My first impression of the album wasn't that great. The songs alternated bewtween two styles. The odd-numbered songs featured shredding speedy power metal guitars, machine gun drums and a vocalist who sounded like what Geddy Lee might have sounded like in the early days if he was on amphetemines and removed the tight rubber band from his testicles (i.e. this guy screams more in the tenor range than the soprano). The even numbered songs are mellower and remind me frequently of Dream Theater's A Change of Seasons, an album which I like quite a lot. But the lyrical content is very sad and downbeat, which I can no longer tolerate for the length of a whole album. I used to enjoy this sort of thing when I was younger, but now ...

So, for the first part of the album, I had about decided that Iced Earth was an OK power metal band, but I couldn't really see what this had to do with prog. But then came the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" trilogy, three lengthy songs that fill about the last third of the album. This is a really excellent prog-metal mini-concept album in itself. Sorta like Rush's 2112, a "side-long" concept piece from the old says. Now it's clear why these guys are considered to cross the boundaries between plain "power metal" and "prog-metal". This piece doesn't have the same feel throughout the song, instead switching at a moment's notice from mellow chording to two measures of shred and back to mellow again, and changing from melodic vocals to screaming anguish just as quickly. Of course, the "concept" is a time-honored prog tradition, and the story line here, while perhaps not the most original thing in the world, is sort of cool, and it's easy to get hooked into the story and enjoy it.

So, a mixed review. Most of the album I could do without. But the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" trilogy alone made the album well worth the money I payed for it, so overall I feel better educated and found an album I can enjoy at least a significant portion of. Even among other albums I would have to categorize as "more prog", I can't always say that. I'd pick up another album from these guys, and I can't always say that either. Not a bad review from someone who isn't much of a prog-metal fan.

One last thing ... Iced Earth has said on their web site that their next release(s) will be a 2CD concept album of "Something Wicked This Way Comes". They're evidently planning on writing the entire thing, then recording it in two sections with release on two separate CD's about six months apart. At least that's the plan for now. I could like this. I'll be waiting for it. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Iced Earth's web site

Iconoclast [USA]
Updated 9/17/07

City of Temptation (90)
The Speed of Desire (92)
Blood Is Red (95)
Paradise (00)
The Dreadful Dance (05)
In the Vodka Garden (05, Compilation)
The Body Never Lies (06)
Iconoclast - Leo Ciesa (drums, percussion, keyboards, octapad, vocals) and Julie Joslyn (alto saxophone, live electronics, violins, vocals)

New York City-based Iconoclast have been composing and performing together since the beginning of 1987. Leo Ciesa also drums for Dr. Nerve. This is information from their web site, and I can't say much more since I haven't heard them. -- Fred Trafton

[See Dr. Nerve]

Click here for Iconoclast's web site

Iconoclasta [Mexico]
Updated 9/29/06

Iconoclasta (83)
Reminiscencias (85)
Suite Mexicana (87, EP)
Soliloquio (87)
Siete Años (88, Compilation)
Adoliscencia Cronica (89)
En Busco De Sentido (89) (ProgressoR review)
En Concierto (91, Live)
La Reincarnación De Maquiavelo (92)
De Todos Uno (94)
Trece Años (96, Compilation)
La Granja Humana (00)
Absolutely superb symphonic instrumental band. Imagine the very best of Tony Banks and Steve Hackett (in particular, Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering) and combine it with the power and majesty of Yes ("Awaken," Tales From Topographic Oceans) and you only begin to understand what this band is about. A must.
A steaming hot band with ALMOST enough chops to pull it off. "Cuentos De Arquicia" is a blistering, energetic, complex instrumental built on a tritone chord progression. The players make a fair number of mistakes, mostly in timing. But given the complexity and speed of the music, one can ignore the sloppiness. This tune cooks! The second tune, "Manantial," is a slow, floating, dreamlike instrumental with nice bass work and a melodic guitar part. Not bad. Iconoclasta sounds like a band with great potential. This was their first album, and you can tell.
Iconoclasta is part of the "new generation" of progressive music still being produced, and one of the few progressive bands from Mexico. While Mexico is not an obvious hot bed of progressive coals, Iconoclasta makes a worthy attempt at creating quality progressive music. Iconoclasta have several albums and one EP, which have recently become available on CD. Iconoclasta's 1983 self-titled first release represents a developing band that is still trying to find a style. Progressive doesn't come naturally from this band. It seems obvious that the band members have a passion for prog rock, but their overall style still sounds like a smattering of other bands rather than a cohesive whole. I keep getting the feeling that I've heard it all before. "Cuentos De Arquicia," the first cut, sounds almost popish, with a bouncy keyboard line. But Iconoclasta's sound develops in the second cut, and improves with each tune. The main instrument is the electric guitars, with the keyboards secondary, though frequently used. Ricardo Ortegon is a capable guitarist, but needs to find a few more tones for his guitar. It seems that Ortegon's first exposure to electric guitar was the "two slightly distorted guitars" from Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells. That tone is predominant throughout the album, though Ortegon breaks out from that tone somewhat in Reminiscencias. By "Memorias De Un Hechicero," I was tapping my foot and bouncing my head, despite myself. That is a good sign. "Estudio VI" is a guitar study over a progressive keyboard rhythm. Flamenco and other Mexican styles really surface in this tune, though other Mexican rhythms can be detected throughout. But fortunately, this album isn't JUST flamenco guitar and progressive rhythm. Reminiscencias is a far better conceived thematic work than Iconoclasta, addressing the band's pacifist anti-nuclear stance and their criticism of the arms race. However, I couldn't detect this by listening to the new singer, since the lyrics are falsetto Spanish. Fortunately, the focus is on the instruments and not the voice. The music is thoughtful and introspective, progressing toward a unified whole rather than a slapped together amalgamation. The 16'40 opus, "Reminiscencias De Un Mundo Sin Futuro" (Reminiscences Of A World Without A Future), is the centerpiece of this album. Though I think this epic cut starts out a little slow, the tune develops rather nicely, again showing Mexican influences throughout. This tune is a very good piece that definitely has its moments. I really would like to hear some of the later Iconoclasta. After listening to their first two attempts, I can definitely see a decent band in development, one that could become excellent with maturity. If Iconoclasta continues in the same direction, they may forge a unique, quality style of their own that pays homage to the best of the Italian progressive stylings and the band's Mexican origin. I haven't heard the others, but Soliloquio is supposed to have a fusion tinge, while remaining symphonic, and Adolescencia is supposed to be squarely in the rock-jazz vein. -- Mike Taylor
Mexican progressive group. Largely instrumental, but the occasional Spanish vocals are very good. With the exception of intentional use of Mexical folk instruments, there is no trace of Mexican music (e.g., mariachi), the sound is much more like the Mahavishnu Orchestra or one of the Italian progressive groups.
The best-known Mexican progressive, and for good reason! Their first two albums are true classics, with intricate arrangements for double guitar (electric and acoustic) and virtuosic keyboards. The first album emphasizes the guitar, and quite well. The second one features some great keyboard playing by Rosa Flor Moreno, especially on "Era De Metabolismos Tecnologicos", in which she plays some stunningly complex synth parts. The 18-minute "Remeniscencias de un Mundo sin Futur" features some uncredited vocals. Both highly recommended. -- Mike Ohman
Suite Mexicana/Soliloquio combines a hard-to-find EP called Suite Mexicana combined with the full-length Soliloquio. The music is more flavoured with Mexican influences than their other material, but still recalls the spirit of the Italian bands of the seventies. La Rencarnacion De Maquiavelo is the latest release from what is regarded as Mexico's premier prog rock band. The music continues in the same style as their prior material, very much influenced by the mid-seventies Italian sound, though somewhat updated, with the presence of digital-sounding keyboards. The sound is a little more aggressive, with the lead guitar operating with more prominence than previously. As always, the music is mostly instrumental, underpinned by keyboards and guitar, and strewn about with fast-paced, symphonic passages.
I have the CD of their first two releases. Not only is there over 80 minutes of music on it, but it's all good. It's almost all instrumental with chants and vocals occasionally thrown in. Definitely a step above the average symphonic band, Iconoclasta features polyrhythymic guitar/keys/bass lineup. The guitar is a bit sloppy (kind of like Steve Hackett's early sound) and heavily distorted which makes me think this was a low budget recorded but the overall quality is good. Very few tracks have vocals. Those that do are in Spanish or seem like orchestrated choruses. The self titled debut is one of the very best albums recorded in the 1980s. Highly recommended.
La Rencarnacion de Maquiavelo is the recent release from Mexico's premiere band. However my first question, after noting that the band is now ten years old, was, "Have they sold out yet?." Seems like all the best do eventually. I'm happy to say that La Rencarnacion de Maquiavelo is not musically compromising at all. They may have lost a bit of an edge over the years, but not enough to warrant any complaints. In fact, this release is very much in the same style of the rest of their albums. That is where I have a problem. While Iconoclasta remains one of the best instrumental ensembles recording today, their style is no longer fresh. When they released their debut in 1983, in was an innovative, adventurous and unique departure from the dominant sound of the time. In 1992 they sound largely the same. While this is better than a commercial sell-out, it is still stagnation. But La Rencarnacion is a very good CD to add to your collection and I recommend it, especially if you've heard and enjoyed earlier Iconoclasta releases. As for personnel, the band is now a four piece, with former guitarist Ricardo Moreno taking the keyboard chores his sister Rita used to handle. While Ricardo is a very accomplished musician, he lacks Rita's virtuousity. Not to mention that it sounds like he's playing a casio on most cuts (get a Moog, Ricardo!) Bassist Nohemi D'Rubin performs spectacularly as usual. I'd vote her in as top female bassist any day. Her vocals grace the only non-instrumental track on the CD. The band is rounded out by guitarist Ricardo Ortegon and drummer Victor Baldovinos. Baldovinos is key in the jerky time changes that makes this band so likeable. While he falls back on the double-bass more than he used to, he remains a quality percussionist. Overall, I give it a thumbs up.
People raved and I succumbed. I regretted it. The first two albums sound like kids messing about ... really sloppy and obvious.
[See Praxis]

Idetemp [Germany]

1983 And She Told Me I Was... (83)

1980's prog private pressing.

Idioma Azul, El [Mexico]

El Cielo Entre Vega No Es Gris (94?)

Instrumental prog with influences ranging across Dead Can Dance, Bloque and Pink Floyd.

Idiot Flesh [USA]
Updated 9/19/02

Tales of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death (90, LP only)
The Nothing Show (94)
Fancy (97)
The direct ancestor of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Idiot Flesh (1988 - early 1998) had many similarities to SGM and a number of differences from its successor. (You might want to look at the more-extensive SGM entry first, if you haven't already.)

Like SGM, Idiot Flesh worked off a mix of dark and threatening-sounding influences, but with less cohesive melding and far more jump-cuts: They would snap on a dime from Metal to Industrial to RIO to 20th Century Classical Quotes and then off the map to Funk or Vaudeville or Country and back just as fast. (Sometimes they resembled a really evil version of Gentle Giant.) As a result, they often sounded more overtly "prog". About a third of The Nothing Show falls heavily into the Industrial camp and can sound pretty suffocating, but the remainder shifts all over the place and includes several good progressive numbers. Fancy also jumps about between genres, but emphasizes the progressive side a bit more - it has a couple of extended, wonderfully pretentious tracks and some very Crimson-like passages. In the band's final year or two, they began a transition toward a stylistically blended, more serious approach which foreshadowed SGM. However, none of that late material has seen release except for a couple of isolated tracks on compilations.

Idiot Flesh also used to put on an even more theatrical performance than SGM does: Besides the gargoylish makeup and costumes, they used elaborate props, including giant foam-rubber masks, sets, and inflating suits. Their shows often opened and closed with rackety vaudevillean routines done in and through the audience. On top of this, they worked with many auxiliary sideshow performers, such as the fire-dancer Beefra the Cook, Hatcha and Datcha the Siamese Twins, a Punch and Judy show, and a number of others. All of this made touring a nightmare, although they did manage to get on the road several times a year.

Artistically, the band seemed to aim mostly at repeatedly whapping audiences upside the head to jolt them out of seen-it-all indifference. This worked: they had quite a following in the Bay Area. However, they never seemed too clear on what more they meant by all the quick changes and bizarre visuals. The lyrics didn't help much - they usually put forth sardonic jokes, ruminated about the contradictions of performance and the ironies of pop culture, or wallowed in a self-conscious dark ugliness. Most of the words to Nothing Show derived from their obscure, involved band-mythology. Sometimes Idiot Flesh just seemed like the World's Best Novelty Band (well, West Coast of the US, anyway), although they always offered a wild ride and never failed to deliver on that promise. But at the end, they had started to do more, had begun to find an emotional core in all the routines and style-changes, appeared to have found out what they wanted to say with them. And, although the usual tensions and frustrations caused the Idiots to go the way of all Flesh, much of what they'd become at the end continued on into Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. -- John Hagelbarger

[See Sleepytime Gorilla Museum]

Ie Rai Shan [Japan]
Updated 10/9/00

Ie Rai Shan (94)
Ie Rai Shan were a Japanese band who put out a single CD (Made In Japan MJC-1005) in 1994. The band's line-up is the traditional guitar, keys, bass, drums and a female vocalist. Vocalist Naomi comes from the Japanese school of strong female progvocalists, and while she may not be the top of her class, she sports a well-controlled voice that has a good dynamic range without venturing too close to where even bats get their earplugs out. Considering that keyboard and guitar duties are handled by none other than Katsuhiko Hayashi (ex-Mugen) and Ikkou Nakajima (ex-Pageant), I was at first a little disappointed with the music on Ie Rai Shan. The first of the album's seven songs is very much in the neo-prog mode, very straightforward, vocal-oriented and accessible. By no means bad music, but lacking the sophisticated melodies, energy and lushness of Mugen and Pageant, and the short instrumental breaks sound a bit forced. The first part of the second track consists mainly of some acoustic guitar and elegant vocal melodies with keyboard sounds gradually layered over them; I am reminded of Pageant's "Vexation". However, the rockier instrumental parts in the second part again sound a bit perfunctory and uninspired, and the song ends rather abruptly. The third song is an improvement, however, as the band kick the energy level up a notch or two, and there is some nifty keyboard work on this track. The fourth song is again more straightforward, at times a bit dull, but saved by some moody-sounding interludes and a strong chorus melody. Song number five is a lighter number, quite catchy and also containing some folk influences. The best song is the sixth: the vocal sections are bouncy and up-tempo with a strong vocal melody and a healthy dose of lead synth, and there is a great middle section with an elegant guitar solo over a wall of keyboards. The final track is a short, understated song with a darkish, Eastern-sounding melody and some gorgeous Mellotron (apparently sampled). Overall assessment: quite a good album after a few listens, just nothing exceptional. If you like Japanese symphonic prog, you might want to have this album too, but it doesn't represent the best that scene has to offer. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Mugen | Pageant]

If [UK]

If (70), If 2 (70), If 3 (71), If 4 (72, aka Waterfall), Another Time Around (73), Double Diamond (73), Not Just Another Bunch Of Pretty Faces (74), Gold Rock (74), Tea Break is Over, Back On Your 'eads (75)

The driving force behind this band, at least in their early stages, was the saxes of Dick Morrisey and keyboards of John Mealing, along with the crack rhythm section of Jim Richardson (bass) and Dennis Elliott (drums) they also had a guitarist, second reedsman and lead vocalist. I've only heard the first two albums, those could sort of be described as a progressive Blood, Sweat & Tears, very jazz-rock oriented, but not fusion".

If is a jazz-rock band from the United Kingdom. In this case, jazz-rock doesn't mean fusion ala Mahavishnu Orchestra but something akin to early Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears. Also comparable to Isotope and Nucleus. It's also a bit more progressive than either of those two bands. The music is very good and something I like a little better than Chicago. Fairly well balanced between guitar, sax, keyboards, and singing. The lead vocalist (on their first two albums, the ones I have) remind me a bit of Pete Townsend. Perhaps this band isn't for those into heavy prog, but if you also enjoy jazz this may be a good band to seek out. Dave Quincy left If to form Zzebra. -- Mike Taylor

[See Zzebra]

Igginbottom's Wrench [UK]

Igginbottom's Wrench (69)

UK jazz/prog featuring Allan Holdsworth.

[See Holdsworth, Allan]

Igra Staklenih Perli [Yugoslavia]
Updated 6/20/06

Igra Staklenih Perli (79)
Vrt Svetlosti (80)
Inner Flow (91, recorded '75)
Soft Explosion Live (91, Live, recorded '78)
Drives (93, Live recorded '78)
Igra Staklenih Perli - There are 6 members in this photo, but only 4 are credited on the first album. These are (not in photo order): Svaba the Kraut [Zoran Lakic] (keyboards, vocals on song "Putovanje u Plavo"), Joshua N'Goma [Vojkan Rakic] (guitar), Predrag Vukovic (percussions, drums) and Drakula [Drasko Nikodijevic] (bass, vocals). The second album replaces Nikodijevic with Slobodan Trbojevic (bass). In addition, there was a drummer called Dragan Soc who played with the band at the same time P. Vukovic did.

This band was from Zagreb [incorrect ... see below. -Ed.] and this was part of Yugoslavia when they recorded their LPs. Igra Staklenih Perli (79) is a real collectors item here in Europe, and you have to pay some $100 if you find a mint copy of it. But it's worth that! They made some Psych-Prog stuff, maybe like Hawkwind, but much more intense and with better vocals (somewhere i read they have trippy guitars and a spacy organ!). There is also a bit of Pink Floyd (Meddle) in this music, but nevertheless they are quite unique. Highly recommended!! (if you can't find the original, there was also a repro available by Kalemegdan Disc [several] years ago!). Vrt Svetlosti (80) is said to be quite bad, but its impossible to find, so i can't tell you more about it. -- Achim Breiling

Avant-garde space-rock, compared to Can. Last 3 are archival material released in the '90s.
I spotted a factual error on your website regarding the Yugoslavian band Igra Staklenih Perli. The band was from Belgrade, not Zagreb. I know this because I've done some net search on the band when I obtained MP3 copies of their first two albums. The error is understandable; this band is rather obscure. Even though I live in Belgrade I've never heard anyone talk about them. The first time I read about them was in 2000 in this Yugoslavian magazine called Rock Express. It's a shame; they were pretty good.

If it is of any importance, the band name means "The Glass Beads Game" after a Hesse novel and the title of their second album Vrt Svetlosti translates as "The Garden of Light". -- Aleksandar Zaric

Ihre Kinder [Germany]

Ihre Kinder (69), Leere Haende (70, aka. Empty Hands), 2375004 (70), Werdohl (71), Anfang ohne Ende (72), Pop History Vol. 24 (72)

Seems to be some sort of flute-focused band. 2375004 is said to be the best, Werdohl the most progressive, whatever that means.

Ihtiyaç Molasi [Turkey]
Updated 1/4/07

Milad (99)
0,5 (04)
A Turkish outfit consisting of four members. The violinist/pianist/ is a classically trained ex-academician of music. The other three members share bass, drum, guitar, vocal and four oriental percussion instruments (bendir, def, darbuka, kasik). In addition to these, a guest musician plays djembe, an African percussion.

Mostly bridged thirteen tracks are more like the parts of a long suite. The five of them have lyrics (all in English) which are nothing to write home about. The vocal is the same. But they are not distracting either. The rest is instrumental. A well-constructed music with themes and sub-themes, which is based more on the mature interplay of the instruments, and of musical themes than on catchy tunes, though there are some nice Anatolion melodies interlocking the tracks. That eastern element is not attached in the form of an eclecticism; it's been saturated satisfyingly to the prog format. All the instruments, rather than soloing mindlessly, make their well-proportioned contributions to a whole greater than the sum of its parts, except when, in a few instances, the violin or the piano comes to the foreground and makes beautiful mini prog concertos.

Their only album [could once] be purchased from Shroom Records [but I can't find it any more. -Ed.]. There's an RA version of the first track, "Cizgi", which is not one of the more elaborately arranged tracks. I would include the eleventh track, "Istanbul", instead, which can be summarized as follows:

"Istanbul" opens with a somewhat dark atmosphere of keyboard joined by violin. This atmosphere is a brilliant exposition of the climate or sensibility of the forthcoming musical story. Next, by a soft transition of keyboard, an elegant and slightly sad theme (with a pleasant Anatolian fragrance) is introduced and narrated by guitar; soon, by the participation of the rhythm team, the theme is improved. At 2:20, keyboard makes another atmospheric intervention, and the air darkens even further. After this short intervention the theme is repeated. At 4:30, piano, cutting others, introduces a wonderful, slightly joyful and majestic second theme (again with Anatolian overtones) which is a mini prog. concerto for piano; reaching a beautiful climax at 5:30 all the members participate and the second theme is developed. At 5:50, violin adds a sub theme to the second theme; but unfortunately violin's theme is cut short and "Istanbul" ends at 6:10, whereas it could be a fantastic epic extending to 10 minutes. -- Acar Burak

Click here for Ihtiyaç Molasi's web site (in English, a more complete version in Turkish can be seen by clicking Türkçe icon on upper right)

Ikarus [Germany]

Ikarus (71)

Heavy Prog.

Ilitch [France]

Periodikmindtrouble (78), 10 Suicides (80), Polaroid/Roman/Photo (85)

Ilitch is Thierry Muller, who made an a couple of albums in the early 80's in the electro-acoustic vein, at times comparable to Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, Richard Pinhas/Heldon and Philip Glass, using guitars (both electric and acoustic), synthesizers, and lots of effects.

Illenberger, Ralf [USA]

Circle (89)

Illés [Hungary]
Updated 9/22/01

Ezek a fiatalok (67)
Nehéz az út (69)
Illések és pofonok (69)
Human Rights (71)
Add a Kezed (72)
Ne sírjatok, láyok (73)
A koncert (81)
Illés-kislemezek (84)
Népstadion 1990 (90)
Az Illés összes kislemeze (90)
Az Illés másik oldalán - válogás (96)
Best of Illés - Balladák és lírák (96)
Best of Illés - Miért hagytuk, hogy így legyen (96)
Illés '96 (96)

I have a recording of their 1972 Add a Kezed and it is a nice combination of Beatles-like (late period) melodies and Hungarian folk (i.e., with recorders and such). At times they can rock. At other times they're as gentle as the most gentle Italian prog. I understand Illés to be a very popular 60's and 70's Hungarian band (I think they split up in 1972). They harmonize vocally like the Moody Blues. Their albums deserve to be remastered and reissued as they're very hard to track down. -- Betta

Click here for Illés' web site in Hungarian

Illusion [UK]

Out Of The Mist (77), Illusion (78), Enchanted Caress (79/Rel.90)

This was a reformation of the original Renaissance lineup in the mid-70's with vocalist Jane Relf, Jim McCarty on guitar and vocals, Louis Cennamo on bass, John Hawken on Keys, plus some new faces on guitar and drums. (original Renaissance member Keith Relf had died a few years earlier). The basic sound on the first album is similar to early Renaissance, but with less of the classical riffing, and more song oriented. The second album is more refined, the songwriting is better, and Paul Samwell-Smith stepped in as second lead vocalist. The first two are very worthwhile finds, while the third seems a little pale by comparison.

[See Armageddon (UK) | Renaissance | Stairway]

Ilous & Decuyper [France]

Ilous & Decuyper (71)

Bernard Ilous (vocals, guitars, keyboards) and Patrice Decuyper (vocals, acoustic guitar) are a folk/rock duo who recorded just this one album of 13 songs. Musea's CD reissue includes two bonus tracks from a second single comprised of songs not on the LP. Ilous & Decuyper is a surprisingly strong album of experimental folk/rock/prog. Ilous and Decuyper shared common interests in the Beatles as well as folk and country rock artists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. The duo also shared a common desire to fully exploit the 16-track studio to their fullest extent, as well as push their own musical limits. In fact, Ilous and Decuyper took one year to record this album, quite a long time for that era. Because of their love of vocal harmonies, the two spent a great deal of time arranging and recording subtle voicing and instrumental details, as well as layering harmonized voices one on top of the other. To achieve the sound they envisioned, they played most of the instruments themselves, often processing them in various ways to achieve new timbres. Occasionally, they drew help from some friends. On their only cover song, a very nice rendition of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," Jean-Pierre Alarcen (future Sandrose guitarist) provides a fantastic guitar solo. Alarcen also appears in a duet with Ilous on "L'espoir," the B-side of the second single. Here, Ilous played a guitar solo run through a Leslie cabinet draped with felt to achieve a very distinctive tone. But, the vocal harmonies are the real attraction of this album. Ilous, the main lyricist, chose the French lyrics based on their sound, not their meaning. (Recalls Jon Anderson, no?) With attention to engineering and production details, Ilous and Decuyper created harmonies of striking beauty and subtle detail. Unique as a "folk/prog" album in 1971, the album is still very fresh today.

Iluvatar [USA]
Updated 11/29/06

Iluvatar (93)
Children (95)
Sideshow (97)
A Story Two Days Wide (99)
Iluvatar is a Baltimore-based neo-prog band, one of the many Prog bands that takes its name from J.R.R. Tolkein's writings. In this case, the name comes from "The Silmarillion." Iluvatar, in the book, was the "Father of All," who created his children, the Ainur, by his thought. Iluvatar gathered together the Ainur and said to them, "Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music." In this case, the Ainur are Gary Chambers (drums, percussion, vocals), Glenn McLaughlin (lead vocals, percussion, bass pedals), Dean Morekas (bass, vocals), Dennis Mullin (guitars, bass pedals) and Jim Rezek (keyboards). Tolkein's Iluvatar set up a tall order for his children. Do the Baltimore Ainur live up to the expectations? The nine songs on the 57 minute Iluvatar range from the 2.5 minute instrumental introduction to the 10 minute, three part "In the Eye." The opener ("Iluvatar") creates a Pink Floyd ambience of breathy synth pads, low digital synth notes and sustained guitar, which soon breaks into the first part of "In the Eye." And here is the stage set for the rest of the album. During the instrumental sections, there are nods to Yes, Duke-era Genesis and Marillion. When McLaughlin begins to sing, the songs become a very accessible mix of Kansas, Marillion, Genesis, Rush-styled hooks, etc. Lyrically, the music is usually a verse/chorus format, with an obligatory guitar or keyboard solo falling after a chorus and before the next verse. McLaughlin has a pretty nice voice, with a delivery style that often reminds me of Phil Collins. For example, listen to "Through the Eye," the third section of "In the Eye." Not only does his vocal delivery compare to Collins, much of this section is comparable to Genesis' "Turn it on Again." "In the Eye" falls squarely into the round holes of Genesis-influenced neo-progressive rock. Other songs, such as "New Found Key," "Exodus" and "Wait for the Call" are accessible, even radio-ready songs that have little development or progression. "Emperor's New Clothes" ends the album with one of the best instrumental passages heard anywhere on this album, changing direction every so often, with the guitars and synths building tension before releasing into back into the chorus. In short, Iluvatar are a likeable band and it is easy to see why they have developed a loyal following. For me, however, I just couldn't get very excited about Iluvatar. They're just a little too mainstream for my tastes during the vocal passages and the instrumental passages, though nice in some places, aren't exactly brimming with originality. Still, although I think the "Father of All" might be a bit disappointed, fans of Jadis and other decent neo-progressive bands should find Iluvatar to be quite satisfying. -- Mike Taylor
[See Jeremy Cubert Project | Oblivion Sun | Puppet Show]

Click here for Iluvatar's web site
Click here for the Kinesis Iluvatar web page

Imago [France]
Updated 7/25/06

Folle Avoine" (76)
Portraits (77)
Derriere Le Rideau (78)
Auhourd'hui C'est Deja Demain (80)
Dernier Bulletin (99)
Regarding 2004 re-release of Derriere Le Rideau:
Typically forgettable seventies jazz-rock with a mellifluous but dull sound and no interesting rhythms, melodies or direction. If Matching Mole and the Hatfields had done a French children's album it might have sounded like this. -- David Marshall
The French band Imago was at the peak of their activity in the second half of the '70s, when they released four albums: Folle Avoine (1976), Portraits (1977), Derriere la Rideau (1978) and Auhourd'hui C'est Deja Demain (1980). Another release featuring all-new material, Dernier Bulletin, saw the light of day only 19 years later, although the band's reincarnation came about in 1996. This CD [the 2004 re-release of Derriere Le Rideau] presents their third album in its original form, as it was on LP. No additional material is present here. Imago's current status is: disbanded again. -- Vitaly Menshikov
Click here to order from Musea Records
Click here for Vitaly Menshikov's full review of Derriere Le Rideau on his Progressor web site

Imán Califato Independiente [Spain]

Imán Califato Independiente (78), Camino Del Aguila (80)

Imán's second album falls somewhere between the Arabesque symphonic Prog of Mezquita and the Return to Forever-styled fusion of Iceberg, two other bands from Spain. Imán are a four-piece of Kiko Guerrero (drums and percussion), Urbano Moraes (bass, percussion, backing vocals), Manuel Rodriguez (guitar, vocals) and Marcos Mantero (synths). The album opens with the 10 minute "La Marcha de los Enanitos," an excellent symphonic piece with many Arabian overtones. Velvet-smooth keyboards alternate with electric guitar in solo space. Beneath them is a solid rhythm section. Drummer Guerrero knows that the snare drum is for more than the 2nd and 4th beat. While he doesn't riff as much as, say, Furio Chirico (of Arti E Mestieri), Guerrero certainly likes to take an active role in the music. The star of the show, I think, is Moraes. His bass work is essential to the melody, playing tasteful and memorable melodies while the guitar and keyboards duel overhead. He uses the entire fretboard throughout, and functions as a lead melody intrument, even while keeping rhythm. Like Mezquita, Imán draw from Arabian music and it is noticed here and in the 14 minute title track. The second song is "Maluquinha," a seven minute fusion piece akin to Al Di Meola circa Elegant Gypsy. Guitarist Rodriguez shows a strong Di Meola influence on his solo, alternating sustained notes with swift note runs. He's not as fast as Di Meola but he is more melodic. Comparisons could also be made to Carlos Santana. Congas are used to enhance the Latin feel. "Camino del Aquila" carries on similar to the opening track though there are more melodically diverse passages, including a brief, Steve Howe-like guitar passage in the middle. Also, this track is much jazzier than "La Marcha de los Enanitos," but with a dash of flamenco. The closer is the only vocal track, a ballad of Spanish guitar against a synth backdrop. The only real drawback to this release is it totals less than 35 minutes of playing time. I have no problems recommending it to everyone into Spanish, Italian and South and Central American symphonic prog. -- Mike Taylor

In Cahoots [UK]
Updated 10/6/06

Cutting Both Ways (87, released as a Phil Miller solo album, but playing w/ In Cahoots)
Live 86-89 (91)
Live In Japan (93)
Recent Discoveries (95)
Parallel (97)
Out of the Blue (01)
All That (03)
In Cahoots (original line-up) - Richard Sinclair, Phil Miller, Elton Dean, Pete Lemer and Pip Pyle.

Phil Miller project with Elton Dean, Pip Pyle and others.

A splendid example of Canterbury stylings extended into the present, English veterans In Cahoots are the very definition of jazz fusion. Guitarist Phil Miller, keyboardist Pete Lemer and friends get into a masterful, seamless brew of rock energy within a jazz orchestra on their All That CD [Cuneiform, 2003]. After the rather laborious opening cut, the album rocks and finds a hip, rhythmic middle ground between the carefully constructed lines of National Health or Mezcla (a great jazz rock ensemble from Cuba) and the more open, organic jamming of Gilgamesh or Mahavishnu Orchestra. If you like the jazzier side of fusion and miss the earnest nature of English jazz-rock, Phil Miller's In Cahoots might fill the order. -- David Marshall
[See Dean, Elton | Hatfield and the North | Miller, Phil | National Health]

Click here for In Cahoots' web site

In Lingua Mortua [Norway]
Updated 8/21/06

Bellowing Sea - Racked by Tempest (Unreleased)
Lars Fredrik Frøislie, keyboardist for White Willow and Wobbler, also leads another band named In Lingua Mortua. They have been active since 1999, but have not yet released their debut album Bellowing Sea - Racked by Tempest, though it is done and is planned to be released soon. Frøislie describes it as both Black Metal and Progressive, so it's anybody's guess what it sounds like. I'll let you know if I ever get to hear it. -- Fred Trafton
[See White Willow | Wobbler]

Click here for In Lingua Mortua's web site
Click here for In Lingua Mortua's MySpace page

In Spe [Estonia]
Updated 11/14/00

In Spe (First) (83, re-released on CD in 1999)
In Spe (Second) (85, re-released on CD as Typewriter Concerto in D in 1994)
Roheline muna / Näärmed (00, as Alo Mattiisen)
In Spe is a quintessential symphonic progressive band from Estonia, a classic for those who have had the pleasure of hearing them, though it remains undiscovered for most of the world's prog fans. The band was founded in the late 1970s by a young music student named Erkki-Sven Tüür, who gathered several musician friends together to try out some of his compositions. The band featured a distinctive symphonic style termed "chamber rock" by Tüür, who was later to become a prominent part of the chamber music scene. As the band continued to play and write, their material became more sophisticated. Compositions by Tüür also became more adventurous, gaining a growing following for Estonian prog fans.

In Spe had the opportunity to record in 1981 and 1982, and some of the recording from the latter period ended up on the self-titled LP, released in 1983. Only 3000 of the now collectors item were pressed, as it was lucky enough that the LP was released under the oppressive Soviet occupation. The music was mostly instrumental, thus there was less problems with censors that other bands faced constantly. The LP became the bedrock of Estonian progressive rock, and its sound inspired a generation of prog fans and musicians.

The main work of the LP is "Sümfoonia seitsmele esitajale" (Symphony for Seven Performers), an ambitious three-part symphony for the "chamber rock" ensemble. Tüür himself composed the piece, as well as playing various keyboards and flute. He is joined by his wife Anne Tüür on piano, keyboard whiz Mart Metsala on more keyboards, the dynamic Riho Sibul on guitars, Arvo Urb on percussions, Peeter Brambat on flute and recorder, and Toivo Kopli on bass. The main theme of the first part, "Ostium," is so memorable that you will end up humming it before you realise so! The symphony is well composed and performed by the seven, and the trademark sound of Tüür can be realised very quickly into the piece. A shredding guitar solo by Sibul, the top guitarist in the country, adds to the prog flavour. One of the best prog compositions in history.

The rest of the LP also featured some dynamic tracks, such as the only song with vocals, "Antidolorosum." Tüür himself sang on the track, showing his hidden talent. It is like wondering how Stravinsky or Rossini would sound singing! Another fabulous piece is "Sfääride võitlus" (The Battle of the Spheres), where the seven instrumentalists would split up into two groups and "fight" against each other. The dynamic of the fight between good and evil is so dramatic you can almost see it. Fabulous imagery from the crafty piece.

Though the band played more concerts and recorded some more unreleased material, Erkki-Sven Tüür soon left to pursue music studies full-time. Though it was a massive loss for prog rock in Estonia, since then Tüür has become one of the best known classical and chamber composers in the world, frequently ending up on classical charts with his fantastic pieces. Next to Arvo Pärt, Tüür is the best-known composer from the musically-rich country.

It was a shame that the LP remained hidden for so long. It was not until late 1999 when Eesti Raadio (Estonian Radio) released a beautiful digipak of the first LP, with good remastering done on it as well. However, lack of marketing and a small print run has kept this classic from reaching the mass prog audience, though most people who have heard it swears by it.

Without Tüür, the band carried on with another budding composer, Alo Mattiisen. The musical style of Mattiisen was radically different from that of Tüür, being much more jazzy. The crafted and concise symphonic style of Tüür thus was replaced by a freer, more adventurous form designed by Mattiisen. The band continued to gig and record, and soon a second LP, also self-titled, was released in 1985.

This LP featured a whimsical and adventurous side-long piece called the "Typewriter Concerto in D." The jazzy and fun four-part concerto featured the musician at their best, especially the masterful Sibul on guitars. The music is much freer, and the style of Mattiisen can be heard again instantaneously. The title role featured the rarest of prog instruments: the typewriter. Drummer Ivo Varts of Ruja fame created the fantastic sounds alongside the band, using carriage returns and scrolls alongside percussive typing. Wonderful ingenuity. The rest of the LP featured some other pieces with some blues and minimalist classical influences, which are quite interesting.

The LP was pressed like a monster, with tens of thousands of copies floating around. It was much easier to obtain outside of Estonia and the former USSR, thus many people, having heard the reputation of a symphonic prog giant in In Spe, picked this one up and was a bit surprised. In a way, the second Mattiisen In Spe is a different band, just with the same name. Excellent, but not the same.

A CD version of the LP was released in the early 1990s by Musea, but it is of inferior production and the sleeve has so many mistakes it could have added "Dewey Beats Truman" or something as horribly wrong as that. Even the liner notes made little sense since one song discussed was discarded! And again the wide circulation of the inferiorly-made CD as a "bonus" by Musea sullied the reputation of In Spe, lending to many disappointing reviews. The release of the first LP on CD is starting to change that perception, but it has a long way to go.

In Spe itself did not last too much longer. It became more and more the instrumental team for the solo material by Mattiisen. He crafted several rock operas during this mid 1980s period, such as "Roheline muna" (Green Egg) and "Näärmed" (technically means "Glands" but...), which featured various vocalists such as the unique Peeter Volkonski and the shrewish Silvi Vrait. Many of these pieces remain unreleased, though in 2000 the aforementioned two rock operas came out under the name of Alo Mattiisen. "Näärmed" was the original version by In Spe, but "Roheline muna" was a reworked version that would probably cause Mattiisen to flip in his grave.

Yes, going to that. Mattiisen in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the so-called "Singing Revolution" in Estonia, became a national hero by penning some of the most dramatic and emotional songs for that peaceful revolution. Once Estonia regained its lost independence (it lost it in 1940 when the USSR invaded), Mattiisen continued to compose various forms of music, though less so in prog. However, Mattiisen died untimely in 1996, a sad loss to the Estonian music world.

In Spe, again, is hard to pin down as it was essentially two separate bands -- one version, a symphonic one, under Erkki-Sven Tüür, and another, a jazzy one, under Alo Mattiisen. Both are spectacular, though my personal preference is for the former. The first In Spe LP is one of the best pieces of prog I have every heard, and it is probably the LP that changed my life the most. An absolute must for prog and classical fans alike. -- Mel Huang
Estonian symphonic jazz-rock band. Their album (the one with the girl running down the beach in a long dress - actual title is in Cyrrilic) features the sidelong track "Concerto For Typewriter," which is excellent. The second side is not as inspired, though. Another album Antidolerium exists, and possibly an even earlier one, although I can't comment not having heard them.
The intriguing Typewriter concerto in D by modern composer Alo Mattisen comes from Estonia. Apart from his keyboards, a whole ensemble is featured which includes flutes, bass, guitar, percussions, vibes, synthesizers, horns and even a typewriter. The style is a curious fusion of classical, jazz and rock elements and the sound ranges from Frank Zappa-type arrangements (vibes & flutes) to meditation music. With such an unconventional sound, this production is for adventurous listeners with a taste for something else than the usuall symphonic rock. -- Paul Charbonneau
[See Ruja]

Click here for an In Spe page on Mel Huang's Estonian Progressive Rock Webpage

In The Labyrinth [Sweden]
Formerly known as Labyrint. Also Peter Lindahl
Updated 4/10/09

Mysteriernas Trädgård (The Garden of Mysteries) (94, as Labyrint, Cassette)
The Garden of Mysteries (96, expanded version of Mysteriernas Trädgård on CD)
Walking on Clouds (99)
Dryad (02)
Psychedelic Sweden (08, as Peter Lindahl)
In The Labyrinth's Peter Lindahl - Not the only band member, but the main motivating force behind the music, and the only one who appears on all three ITL albums

According to In The Labyrinth's web site, The Garden of Mysteries is a "sought-after item long out of print", but I stumbled across it in a Half-Price Books bargain rack for $1.98. The cover was interesting, and the first instrument listed was Mellotron, so I figured how bad could it be? Not bad at all, as it turns out. Very cinematic music ... images come to mind of Arabic belly dancers, 60's movies about riding elephants in India to a tiger hunt, or even exploring lost civilizations in darkest Africa. Not "world music" exactly, this is more demanding to listen to, with loads of exotic instruments including wood flutes, hand drums and saz overwhelming the more conventional rock instruments and grooves. Only a couple of the songs have lyrics, in English. Oh, tribal ritual dancing naked around a fire music. Why didn't you just say so? But is it prog? I think I just answered that as well as I can ... your call ...

In The Labyrinth's subsequent two albums, Walking on Clouds and Dryad are available from the band on their web site, or you can order both, which also comes with a CDR copy of The Garden of Mysteries. The other albums, to judge by the MP3's on the web site, are a bit more easy to listen to, and probably would be categorized (by me at least) as "world music", though they are still interesting nonetheless. They're not the most innovative music in the world from a "progressive" standpoint, but pretty cool nonetheless. And I can't help but like the very heretical Dryad album cover (check out this version rather than the cleaned-up one on the first page of the CD listing). Try out the samples on their web site, you may be impressed enough to order more!

Peter Lindahl has also released an album called Psychedelic Sweden which I've heard some snippets of. It's very Beatles-sounding, in their psychedelic phase. These were mostly recorded in the early '70's, and do have a bit of prog influence. It can be ordered from CD Baby at the link below. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for In The Labyrinth's web site
Click here to order Psychedelic Sweden from CD Baby

Inada, Yasuo and Bemi Family [Japan]
Updated 2/6/05

Kankaku Shikou (74)

Inaki [Spain]

Karma (74)

Hard Prog.

Incredible Expanding Mindfuck [UK]
Updated 1/5/01

IEM (98)
Side project from Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) inspired by early seventies Krautrock, bands like Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, and Neu, though in no ways a mere imitation. No songs as such, just four long instrumental tracks (or five on the CD) that vary from very rhythmic motorik-beat numbers to spacy ambient stuff that's a bit more experimental than Porcupine Tree. -- Rolf Semprebon
[See Porcupine Tree]

Index [Brazil]
Updated 2/2/05

Index (99)
Liber Secundus (02)
Identidade (05)
Index - Leonardo Reis (drums), Otaviano Kury (keyboards), Jones Júnior (guitars) and Ronaldo Schenato (bass)

Index is a Brazilian prog band whose works have been compared to the usual '70's classic prog bands - Yes, Genesis, Renaissance and Camel. Index is sending me their latest CD for review, and I'll update this entry after I've had a chance to hear it. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Index' web site

Indexi [Yugoslavia]

Indexi (74), Indexi (77), Modra Rijeka (78)

Interesting organ-based prog. Modra Rijeka features narration on a couple of tracks, but fortunately it doesn't go overboard. Guitar work is mainly acoustic, analog synths/string-synth round out the sound. Vocals tend to be harsh, and are the band's most irritating feature. This is worth looking out for, similar to Smak, only less commercial. -- Mike Ohman

Indian Summer [UK]
Updated 7/27/11

Indian Summer (71)
I only have one album; their self-titled 1971 stunner Indian Summer. It has been likened to early Camel but I think it has a heavier sound and an amazing vocalist that reminds me more of a proggier version of early Deep Purple. Heavy use of the Hammond organ, some Mellotron, and some lovely folk-hard prog guitar riffs. Highly recommended to progheads looking to delve a little deeper. -- Mark Hermitage
Click here for an ex-band member's site
Click here for a nice write-up on the Rockasteria web site

Indigo [Austria]

Herbstwind (81), Indigo (84), Short Stories (91), A Collection of Tales (92)

Austrian band formed by Gerald Krampl and Norbert Morin several years after the demise of Kyrie Eleison. The sound is (unlike Kyrie Eleison) a song oriented progressive pop with (pretty lame) English lyrics sung with a heavy German accent. Too many minuses: there are too many great albums to waste your money on these for the two or three good songs apiece you'll get. A brand new 1993 album has supposedly just been released which is purported to be very progressive with sidelong cuts. I'll believe it when I see it.

Índigo [Costa Rica]
Updated 4/18/02

Índigo (96)
Sub (98)

Costarrican trio formed in 1995 by guitarist Ricardo Nieto and bassist Gonzalo De Trejo, later joined by vocalist Henry D'Arias, mainly influenced by 80's line-up of King Crimson along with popular Argentine pop-rock bands such as Soda Stereo. Their sound was very experimental, sometimes leaning towards pop and sometimes throwing some weird jams. They had a hit single in radio, "Almas solas", and were popular specially among college students in Central America. They only released two albums, Índigo in 1996 and Sub in 1998 and finally disbanded in 1999. -- Juan M. Sjöbohm.

Indukti [Poland]
Updated 7/27/11 (discog only)

S.U.S.A.R. (05)
Idmen (09)
Indukti - Hot and sweaty after an outdoor concert

Polish rockers Indukti follow bravely in the Crim footsteps, eschewing the classical mythology of Beethoven and Wagner for the alternately hot-and-sweetly dissonant musings of Shostakovich or Bartok, all overlayed with smoothly searing guitar work, crunchy violin and miniscule but effective synth squawks. The five musicians, all classically trained, are clearly up to the job and to their chosen lineage, and from the opening spacious harp gestures, the disc sizzles and crushes by turn with energy and intensity. There are certainly quiet moments, the center of "Uluru" providing a momentary respite from the onslaught, but much of the album thrives on grungy gut-bucket riffage altered by subtle time signature change, sometimes from bar to bar. This temporal play doesn't call attention to itself for its own sake; rather, it usually serves a textural purpose, introducing a change in orchestration. When vocals are used, they are heavily effected but quite powerful, making this disc marginally more satisfying on repeated listening. -- Marc Medwin

Updated 2/19/07:
Fascinating Polish band doing heavy Prog but taking the form to new heights with sophisticated music, and a taste for unusual instrumentation and Eastern European atmosphere. Well-crafted and produced, Indukti don't show us too much of their metallic leanings the way others in their category tend to and prefer to present a textured wall of balance between divine heaviness and sophisticated internationalism. Touches of Tool are present as well as indie rock groups like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, and the acoustic guitar is often a leading player in the compositions which eventually explode into chunks of riffery. Percussionist Wawrzyniec Dramowicz is with the Polish Philharmonic Orchestra and provides a more than solid foundation, and the entire band (violin/voice, drums, bass and two guitars) pleases to no end if you like metal that progresses. Album S.U.S.A.R. available on their website. -- David Marshall
Click here for Indukti's web site
Click here for Indukti's MySpace page
Click here to read Marc Medwin's Wobbler/Indukti review in its entirety on the Dusted web site (edited version reused here with permission)

Infinity [USA]
Updated 4/4/01

Infinity (96)
Bay-area band that existed from the late '70s to the early '80s, although the recordings from that period did not get released until late 1996. Comparisons can roughly be made to Yes and Dice with a someone more commercial appeal. -- Mike Taylor

Inquire [Germany]
Updated 6/8/06

Inquire Within (99)
The Neck Pillow (00)
Das Auge ist der erste kreis (01, Live "official bootleg")
Melancholia (03, includes a bonus CD, Welcome To My Rock and Roll)
According to the write-up on the Musea Records site, Inquire was started by members of the German band Trespass. The Inquire web site says they have broken up for the time being, which is a shame, because the one album of theirs I've heard, Melancholia is superb! Actually, "one album" is a bit of a misnomer, because this is really one and a half albums ... Melancholia, which crams about 76 minutes onto the CD (pretty close to the limit of time on a CD) plus an excellent EP (about 20 minutes) which contains a single multi-movement rocked-out classical piece entitled Welcome To My Rock and Roll, which come packaged together. They are so different that I will talk about them as two separate albums. I've railed against the use of the term Neo-Prog elsewhere in the GEPR, and this is another fine example of a band that might be called Neo-Prog, but should not be stained by the frequently negative connotations associated with the term.

Melancholia is a concept album based on Jean-Paul Sartre's novel Nausea, and the liner notes contain a synopsis of the story. Much of the album is instrumental, though, so you'll be left to fill in most of the story with your imagination. The sections with vocals are sung in a german-accented English and sometimes French. A vocalist with an accent sometimes annoys me, but in this case guitarist/vocalist Dieter Cromen is quite good, and I don't find the accent to be a problem. His voice reminds me of Arne Schafer's, though perhaps more like a German version of Greg Lake than a German version of Peter Hammill. Or maybe it's just the German accent that reminds me of Schafer. There is also a female guest vocalist (Ursula Becker) who contributes occasionally, and her accent isn't objectionable either.

Musically, the compositions are strong '70's-style prog rock, with Dieter Cromen's guitar that sometimes reminds of Dave Gilmour, Steve Hackett, or particularly Steve Howe, but only occasionally. Mostly, the Cromen has his own style. I'd say the same of keyboardist Robert Kohler, who reminds of Rick Wakeman during synth solos, or Keith Emerson during piano and organ parts, but also without being a rip-off of anybody. If I had to complain about something, it would be Thomas Kohls' drums. Not that the he is a bad drummer, but he's merely adequate. Kohls just isn't as exciting as Cromen and Kohler, and this holds back Inquire ... their music requires some occasional frantic ancarchy in the drums ... think early Carl Palmer, '70's Crimson-era Bill Bruford or more recent Hal Darling. This would move Inquire from an excellent band to a truly exceptional one. Still, I've already wasted more words on this minor quibble than it's worth ... the music is really great just as it is.

The second CD, Welcome To My Rock and Roll is a very ELP-ish rock version of Louis Vierne's "3rd Organ Symphony". Composed between 1906 and 1918, Inquire asserts that this is one of the first rock and roll pieces. Well, I doubt that Chuck Berry, Bill Haley or Elvis ever heard this song, but it's an interesting sentiment. But who cares? Like ELP's take on Ginastera's Tocatta, this piece sounds great performed by rock instrumentation, and this is a fantastic addition to the album as a bonus disc. Inquire could have saved themselves the one lyric in the piece ... a female voice shouting "Rock and Roll!" at an inappropriate point. But, other than that, this is a very cool piece, and since I consider this disc to be a "bonus disc" anyway, I have nothing bad to say about it. It's great to hear someone doing classical pieces in a rock idiom again, I don't hear enough of that (but let's not do Holst's "Mars" again, shall we? That's been done enough).

Overall, Melancholia (both CD's) is excellent, and a must for any serious collector of modern prog. I do hope that Inquire gets back together to make more of the same.

News 6/8/06:
Though Inquire remains disbanded, several members have reformed their previous band Trespass and are rehearsing new songs for a new album. See the Trespass entry for further info. -- Fred Trafton

[See Trespass]

Click here for Inquire's web site
Click here to order Inquire CD's from Musea Records

Insect Trust, The [USA]

The Insect Trust (68), Hoboken Saturday Night (70)

Insect trust were a New York area five piece of electric/slide guitar, alto sax, baritone sax, banjo, and a female lead vocalist. Session men handled bass, drums and rhythm guitar. The two sax players doubled on recorders, flute, piccolo, kalimba, etc. Their music could be described as psychedelic jugband country blues, but the odd instrumentation made it pretty unique. There was also a jazz element in their sound, plus some trad bluegrass influences, etc. Vocalist Nancy Jeffries is excellent, but comparable to nobody I can think of. This is an excellent late sixties fusion of many styles. The first album is the best, but the second is almost as good. Lots of great guitar jams, squawking saxes, great ideas.

Intergalactic Touring Band, The [UK]

The Intergalactic Touring Band (77)

This one-off sci-fi project from 77 was masterminded by Steven Galfas and Marty Scott, and featured David Scance (guitar), Larry "Synergy" Fast (keys), Pete Sobel (bass), plus a large cast of vocalists and supporting musicians including Rod Argent, Annie Haslam, Anthony Phillips, Dave Cousins, Arthur Brown, Percy Jones, Meatloaf, Pepe Marchello and others. Some of the tracks are great (the ones with Cousins and Annie Haslam come to mind immediately) and others, well... It's a very mixed bag overall, mostly good, something for everybody I guess.

[See Argent | Brand X | Renaissance | Strawbs | Synergy]

Interpose+ [Japan]
Updated 6/8/06

Interpose+ (05)
Interpose+ - Performing at Baja Prog 2006

Staggeringly good symphonic rock from Japan consisting of a very straightforward line-up of drums / bass / keys / vocals / guitar but sounding like a Toho Studios monster striding across the landscape, with a big but not pompous sound and some ingenuous, highly progressive passages. Laced with tempo shifts and neo-classical inflections, this is candy to a progger's ears and a lot of listeners will enjoy Interpose+ since they occasionally remind of U.K., Return To Forever and IQ but have a richer tone and employ deeper colors. The woman singing in Japanese will bother some but if you can listen to Banco 's Francesco Di Giacomo, then Sayuri Agura should be tolerable. In particular guitarist Kenji Tanaka, a tremendous player, seems to be emerging as one of Japan's finest instrumentalists in the vein of John Abercrombie, McLaughlin or a young Al Di Meola. Terrific band worthy of any collection of international Prog, I just wish their first album (released on Musea, 2005) was a little longer. -- David Marshall

Update from the band's web site:
"KOIKE, Toshiyuki (Bass guitar) has quitted the band for his own physical condition. As a guest, Dani from KBB plays with Interpose+ until spring 2006." -- Fred Trafton
[See KBB]

Click here for Interpose's web site
Click here to order Interpose from Musea Records

Invisible [Argentina]
Updated 4/10/09

Invisible (74)
Durazno Sangrando (76)
El Jardin de los Presentes (77)
Durazno Sangrando is the middle release and the best of the three. -- Tom (AshRaTemp)
A very good self-titled debut from this Argentinian band from 1974, with both psychedelic moments and passages resembling a latin-flavoured Matching Mole or Egg. Very nice album. Their equally good second album continues in a similar and gentler vein, while the third album goes towards a more direct and straightforward sound. -- JK Alexandridis

Inward Path [Ukraine]
Updated 3/15/02

Golodomar (94, Cassette)
Antiar (96, Cassette)
Labyrinth (98, Cassette)
Citadel (00)
Inward Path - Top Left: Pavel Korsun (bass), Middle: Grigory Velchev (drums), Top Right: Yegor Golovachev (keyboards), Bottom Left: Alexander Melnik (vocals), Bottom Right: Vitaly Yatsuck (guitars)

Inward Path is a progressive metal band from the Ukraine. I've only heard Citadel, their sole CD release, though this also has 3 bonus tracks on it from Labyrinth.

You'll probably get some idea of what this band is like by the fact that all but one of their releases includes a cover song from bands they obviously admire. These covers are by O. Osborne, Black Sabbath, and on Citadel, "Sacred Serenity" by Death. As they say, you're known by the company you keep, and these guys are every bit as heavy and metallic as the bands they cover.

Vocalist Alexander Melnik sings in English, though I must say I have a tough time hearing the lyrics. What I can hear displays little Russian accent, though what there is simply makes it sound more cynically resolute. A Russian accent isn't bad for death metal. Too bad you can't hear the lyrics better, because they are really well written (in a depressing sort of way). Fortunately, the band has posted these on their web site, and they're worth reading.

Ah, but this isn't just plain vanilla death metal (if there is such a thing). There is some good composition and musicianship to be heard here among the riffing guitars, eccentric bass lines and high-speed solos. And actual keyboards you can hear, too! The keyboardist seems to like a kind of raspy harpsichord kind of sound, which has its own variety of metallic sizzle that cuts through the guitars and goes well with the music. This album is well done and should appeal to fans of this variety of prog metal. You won't find Citadel in general distribution, but you can order it from the Inward Path web site (see link below). Rumor has it that Inward Path have recently disbanded, but enough attention from the west (and a distribution channel to the west for their music) might convince them to make some more of this music, so order your CD now and let the band know if you like them! -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Inward Path's web site
Click here for Vitaly Menshikov's overall view on his ProgressoR web site

Iona [UK]
Updated 6/8/06

Iona (90)
The Book of Kells (92)
Beyond These Shores (93)
Journey into the Morn (95)
Heaven's Bright Sun (97, Live, 2CD)
Woven Cord (00, Live)
Open Sky (00)
The River Flows (02, 4CD Box Set Anthology)
Songs for Luca (03, fund-raising release by Iona, but also containing tracks from other prog bands/artists)
Iona - Joanne Hogg (vocals, keys, ac. guit), Dave Bainbridge (keys, guit), Phil Barker (fretted & fretless bass), Frank van Essen (drums, violin, percussion, vocals) and Troy Donockley (uillian pipes, low whistles, guitar, cittern, vocals)

Iona have four albums out, all excellent. Celtic music with traditional and electronic instruments, ethereal vocals by Joanne Hogg, incredible extended jams and solos, tight production, deep spiritual and historically based lyrics, and guest appearances by Robert Fripp and the lead singer of Clannad. Need I say more? -- Dave Taylor

Click here for the Iona web site

I.P.Son Group [italy]

I.P.Son Group (75)

They sound like Aktuala but not as good.

Updated 4/8/11

Seven Stories Into Eight (82, Cassette)
Tales From The Lush Attic (83)
The Wake (85)
Nine In A Pond Is Here (85)
Living Proof (86)
Nomzamo (87)
Are You Sitting Comfortably? (89)
J'ai Polette D'Arnu (91)
Ever (94)
Forever Live (96, 2CD Live)
Subterranea (97, 2CD)
Seven Stories into '98 (98)
The Lost Attic (99)
Subterranea: The Concert (00)
The Seventh House (01)
Dark Matter (04)
Frequency (09, as CD or CD+DVD Special Edition)
IQ at NEARFest 2005 - Andy Edwards (drums), Mike Holmes (guitar), Peter Nicholls (vocals), John Jowitt (bass) and Martin Orford (keyboards)

[Editor's Note 3/9/06:: The following overview of IQ was written by me for 2005's NEARFest program. I've modified it just slightly for the GEPR, mostly just deleting quotes from non-GEPR reviewers and adding the last paragraph regarding a new band member.]

IQ is one of the bands usually cited (along with Marillion, Pendragon and Twelfth Night) as one of the bands responsible for the 80's renaissance of progressive rock, also known as "neo-prog". But don't use that term in front of IQ's keyboardist and primary composer Martin Orford, he'll hotly deny the existence of any such genre, not to mention IQ's association with it. And with the negative connotations associated with the term among some in the progressive rock community, who can blame him? But after all, what's in a name? No matter what you call it, IQ was at the forefront of the new wave of British progressive rock in the '80's (and earlier, as you'll see!) and continue to turn out their unique vision of progressive masterworks to this day, most lately with their release of the critically-acclaimed Dark Matter.

IQ had its beginnings as early as 1976 with a band named The Lens. Guitarist Mike Holmes, vocalist Peter Nicholls and Niall Hayden met, allegedly while waiting in line to buy tickets for a Genesis concert. After finding a bass player and keyboardist, they started playing a few shows in local colleges around 1977. Nicholls' role at the time was not always as vocalist ... he sometimes only introduced the songs and told stories between them. After several personnel changes, Martin Orford joined as keyboardist towards the end of 1977. It was with this change that the band's sound changed from Hawkwind / Ash Ra type space rock to a more complex progressive style. They played together for several years, even adding a dancer to the shows, but in 1981, tensions between band members had grown to the point that Orford and Holmes left to form IQ, and Nicholls joined them shortly thereafter. For those who are interested, a compilation of recordings from The Lens is available on IQ's Giant Electric Pea label.

IQ started working together in Southampton, England, but relocated to London in 1982, releasing a cassette entitled Seven Stories into Eight. Their first vinyl album was Tales from The Lush Attic (1983) which won them a following as they promoted it with numerous concert appearances, mostly in the UK. In 1985, IQ released The Wake (1985), frequently cited as one of the seminal '80's albums from the new breed of progressive rock bands. However, after a gruelling tour schedule, Nicholls announced his decision to leave IQ and went on to form his own band, Niadem's Ghost. Nicholls was active with them from 1985 to 1987, after which they disbanded largely due to lack of interest from record labels. A compilation of all of Niadem's Ghost's output is also available from Giant Electric Pea.

IQ recruited a new vocalist, Paul Menel, and signed a recording contract with Phonogram. Their third studio album, Nomzamo (1987), began to incorporate more accessible elements into the music along with their progressive stylings, a trend that would continue in Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1989), produced by Terry Brown of Rush production fame. But by 1990, the band was suffering from differing ideas about their musical direction, combined with dissatisfaction with the support they were getting from Phonogram. Menel and original bassist Tim Esau left the band, and the remaining members recruited Les Marshall (a friend of the band since he played with them in The Lens) to play bass. A chance meeting with Nicholls led to his rejoining with the band, and the new line-up began working on new songs to be released on their own label. However, this line-up never recorded due to Marshall's sudden and unexpected death, a sad event that only made the remaining members more determined to carry on. The band recruited John Jowitt, formerly with Ark, as the new bassist for IQ in 1991.

It was also in 1991 that IQ and associated artists formed their own label, Giant Electric Pea, first releasing Jai Pollette d'Arnu, a collection of live and rare IQ recordings. Armed with their own recording label and a stable line-up, IQ resumed touring in Europe and the UK and writing new songs. In 1993, they made their American debut at ProgFest in Los Angeles, previewing music from what many considered to be their best writing to date, their new album Ever. It was released shortly after their ProgFest appearance to rave reviews, particularly since it was the first time many had heard the band since their departure from Phonogram, the return of Nicholls as vocalist and the addition of Jowitt on bass.

The next few years IQ's output slowed a bit due to Orford and Jowitt's association with Jadis, with whom they recorded More Than Meets The Eye, Once Upon A Time and Across the Water, all while continuing to perform concerts with both IQ and Jadis. In 1994, IQ got the rights back to their own work and re-mastered and re-released their entire back catalog on CD, this time on their own GEP label. However, by the beginning of 1995, Orford and Jowitt felt that they could not be members of both popular bands, so they decided to leave Jadis to focus more on IQ. It was also about this time that Orford began to work with former King Crimson / Asia / UK / Quango member John Wetton, appearing on his Arkangel album as well as supporting him in live performances.

It was at the start of 1997 that IQ began work on their ambitious Subterranea project, a double-CD concept album which would be released later that year. The album was supported by a tour with a huge theatrical show incorporating video projections and a moving lights. It met with an enthusiastic response from fans and music reviewers alike, and many still consider it to be IQ's masterpiece. A live concert version, Subterranea: The Concert is also available on both CD and DVD.

In 1998, the band decided to completely re-record the compositions from their 1982 cassette release, re-naming it Seven Stories Into '98. In 1999, IQ headlined day one of the first NEARFest on June 26th in the Foy Concert Hall to an appreciative audience of about 420, where they played a selection of songs spanning their entire history, including a condensed version of Subterranea. In the midst of this work with IQ, 1999 also saw Orford and Jowitt rejoin Jadis for Understand.

Orford was not greatly involved in the writing for the next IQ release, The Seventh House, since this was the period he had set aside to work on his solo album. However, as the majority of the other members wanted to release another IQ album during this time, they wrote it with less input from Orford than usual, though he still performs on this album. Orford's solo album entitled Classical Music and Popular Songs was released in 2003. The album's title has been derided as being neither Classical nor Popular, though it does include influences of both classical music and British folk; but it is still recognizably "Orfordian" and thus has many progressive rock elements. It includes contributions from members of IQ, Jadis and John Wetton's band (including Wetton himself).

IQ's most recent album, Dark Matter, sees Orford back at the helm as far as writing goes. When beginning work on new albums, Orford has tried to use the latest and greatest keyboard technology to produce new sounds. But for this album, the "latest and greatest" keyboards were, in his mind, instruments which re-created the vintage keyboard sounds of the ‘70's, including the Korg CX-3 (standing in for Hammond B-3) and a plug-in module called SampleTank which reproduces the old Mellotron sound. Composing on the organ caused the music on this album to have a more aggressive edge and thus it harks back to IQ's early days and also to the golden days of '70's prog, though with a cleaner production made possible with these new instruments. Many are calling Dark Matter IQ's best release to date.

IQ, like most progressive rock bands, are musicians who also have "day jobs", which prevents them from being gone for lengthy out-of-country tours. Fans sometimes find it difficult to comprehend that IQ is "just a part-time thing that we do occasionally at weekends, and as we have no plans at all to become full-time musicians, there are never likely to be more than about 10 IQ gigs per year."

As far as the future, don't expect anything strange or difficult to listen to from IQ. In a recent interview published on the Progressive World web site, Orford has said, "I have never been keen on experimental music, as I think most of what I've heard is completely shit. I mean, who ever plays John Cage, Stockhausen or Einstürzerde Neubauten CDs for fun? Experimental music is fine for people at universities to muck around, with but it's generally not entertaining or pleasurable, not to my ears anyway. I write melodic tunes that I hope people will whistle on their way to work and I don't have the slightest interest in whether they are pushing back the barriers of music or not. So no, I'm not interested in experimentation, just good tunes." Orford also points out that Holmes and Jowitt are "more interested in that kind of thing", so we may hear some influences along these lines from time to time. In the meantime, IQ fans are generally happy for them to remain just as they are now.

In April of 2005, IQ announced that Andy Edwards would replace 23-year veteran Paul "Cookie" Cook on drums. Cook decided to move to Scotland "to pursue a hunting, fishing and shooting kind of life - probably". Edwards is a well-known drum clinician and is also a member of Robert Plant [ex-Led Zeppelin]'s Priory of Brion. Andy joined in time for IQ's return engagement at NEARFest 2005. He has his own web site, http://www.andyedwardsmusic.com. -- Fred Trafton

Addendum 12/14/09:
On July 20, 2007 Martin Orford announced he was leaving IQ, citing his disillusionment with music piracy and the industry in general. I thought that was to be the end of IQ, but it wasn't long before they announced that Orford would be replaced by Mark Westworth (Grey Lady Down, Darwin's Radio). They played an excellent concert shortly thereafter in which they played songs from throughout their history, plus a few selections of works in progress that would be on an "upcoming album".

Sad to say, I had only heard a few bits and pieces of IQ music before, but I took the plunge when they released their new album for 2009, Frequency, and ordered it. I've got to say I was thoroughly impressed with this album. OK, so it sounds a lot like Genesis. I already knew that from other things I had read (e.g. see below). Guitarist Mike Holmes sounds exactly like Steve Hackett much of the time, though more like his solo albums (especially Please Don's Touch and Spectral Mornings) than Genesis per se. Mark Westworth's keys are quite Banksian too, and the resemblence to Genesis reaches its pinnacles when he's playing Mellotron sounds underneath Holmes' guitar solos. But this is all a good thing. Even the fact that the song structures are a bit simpler than what Genesis did in their heyday doesn't bother me. Actually, it helps bring the focus on my favorite part of this album, which is ... Peter Nicholls' vocals.

Anyone who knows my tastes in prog will know that's a big departure for me, since I usually don't much care about vocals one way or the other. But I just love these totally senseless lyrics. My head doesn't know what the hell Nicholls is trying to say, but on an emotional level, they really grab me and speak to some more primitive part of my brain. I keep wanting to say, "yeah, I've really felt like that ..." only to think a few seconds later, "now, what was I thinking again?" For instance, "Hold on to your head, you're living without your thoughts". It seems like a good warning about letting advertisers or politicians put ideas into your head without your permission, or even your awareness. Of course, the previous and next lines have nothing to do with this. It's like listening to a collage of unrelated ideas stream by, and while you're examining any one of them, a dozen more go by to be discovered on the next listen.

The next listen? Oh, yeah. I've played this CD every day for the last 2 weeks, I can't get enough of it. But even better, there's a "Special Edition" which also contains a DVD of a 2007 concert, one of the first with Mark Westworth on keyboards (the concert I mentioned in the first paragraph). This is a riveting concert DVD, and I've watched it nearly as often as I've listened to the CD. The sound quality is very nearly as good as a studio recording, and watching Peter Nicholls perform is mesmerizing. I would definitely recommend buying this version and not just the CD. The DVD even has versions of songs from Frequency on it (including "Frequency"), though these were still works in progress at the time, and they lyrics on "Frequency" are almost completely different from the final version on the CD. I really can't say which one I like better, they're both amazing.

So, I guess now I'll need to start backfilling my own IQ collection. I think I'll start with Dark Matter and Subterranea ... in the meantime, I highly recommend Frequency, easily one of the best prog albums of 2009, if not the best. Fantastic.

Oh, one final note on the IQ front. In a news item on their web site dated June 11, 2009, IQ said: "At the end of 2008, drummer Andy Edwards decided to take some time away from IQ in order to concentrate on his family and new position in the Music Facility at Kidderminster College ... Andy's time is, if anything, even more limited than he was expecting, and as a result, he has decided not to re-join IQ. During Andy's absence we welcomed Paul Cook back to the fold on a temporary basis. Following Andy's decision, we are delighted to be able to confirm that Cookie's return to IQ is now permanent." So, IQ is now back to their "Classic line-up" with the exception of Martin Orford. Note, however, that Frequency does not yet have Paul on it, and features Andy's drums on all songs (on both the CD and DVD). -- Fred Trafton

Addendum 4/8/11:
I'll label this an "addendum" instead of "news" because it's sorta old news. But I just found out about it, and so I'm passing it along.

There's been another major shake-up in the IQ line-up. On October 7, 2010, the IQ web site announced that new keyboardist Mark Westworth had decided to leave after three years in the band. He gave as a reason: "I've made a decision to follow my head rather than my heart and will be leaving the band at the end of the year. Having to juggle family life, a full time job and finding time to play all this prog nonsense has been more than a handful of late." On January 1, 2011, IQ announced that Neil Durant (Sphere3) would be his replacement.

No sooner was this resolved than the band got a double-whammy. On January 7, 2011, bassist John Jowitt also announced his plan to leave IQ, saying only: "I've had a great time, met lots of wonderful people, travelled the world, but it's time to move on. I'd like to confirm that this is my decision, and also that it has no relationship to me playing with any other band". Within days (Jan. 14), the band announced the return of original bassist Tim Esau to the fold. The announcement ends with the band's reassuring words: "Rest assured we have no plans for further line-up changes in the near future! We look forward to seeing you all on this year’s exciting IQ30 tour".

For those keeping count, this leaves only Mike Holmes and Peter Nicholls leftover from the Frequency line-up, but it does make 4 out of 5 of the original members back together again. So it's either a massive shake-up or a return to form, depending on how you look at it. Since I really liked Frequency, I'm a bit concerned about this, but of course I'll reserve judgement until after I've had a chance to hear the new (... er ... old?) line-up in action. -- Fred Trafton

The following reviews of IQ were in the GEPR when I inherited it in 2000.
Excellent band that really has two phases and can almost be viewed as two different bands. (And is in fact now embarking on the third phase of their career). First few albums heavily influenced by Genesis and feature keyboard work much in that vein, with some attempts at mini-epics, most notably "The Last Human Gateway" on Tales from the Lush Attic. They later changed lead vocalists and produced what can only be called progressive pop. Are You Sitting Comfortably? is perhaps the best example of this featuring excellent harmonies, and a rather majestic keyboard sound. In a way this band has truly captured Genesis. ..Attic perhaps being their Foxtrot or Nursery Cryme and ....Comfortably? being their Duke.
Heavily Genesis influence neo-prog band. I liked their first two, but wouldn't call either one of them a "classic." I guess it's the lack of feeling and depth that hurt these guys, and in The Wake of all of the millions of bands that sound like them, I get kind of lost. Later albums are ridiculous pop/synth that would fit neatly on AOR radio.
The best of the neo-prog genre. Sounds a lot like Genesis, maybe this is what Genesis might be like if they hadn't sold out to pop in the '80s. The first two albums Tales from the Lush Attic and The Wake are outstanding, thats all I own. Better than Marillion! I've only heard newer material live, more pop sounding but there were a couple of nice songs.
Their first album Seven Stories featured mostly instrumental cuts and is overall not that interesting. Their classic "Genesis like" period began with Tales and ended with Living Proof and the departure of lead singer Peter Nicholls. Although these albums are not the pinnacle of originality, they still remain classics of the mid-'80s UK neo-progressive movement, and as such are quite good, although the recordings leave much room for improvement. Nine in a Pond and Living Proof are both live albums from "The Wake" tour, the first taken from a fan-club bootleg, the latter from a TV appearance. The band's "modern pop" period began with the enlistment of new lead singer Paul Menel, and the album Nomzamo. This album and its followup Are You Sitting Comfortably are honestly quite good, but generally despised for not sounding enough like the "old IQ." Get them if you can find them. J'ai Polette D'arnu is half live tracks and half old studio B-sides and outtake material that fell through the cracks somehow.
Most of you should be familiar with IQ, an '80s progressive band from the UK. Nomzamo was released in 1987, and marked a slight change from their earlier works in that the compositions shortened, presumably in an attempt to reach a mass market. Yet, they didn't lose much of the melodic quality and depth of their earlier works. Are You Sitting Comfortably?, released in 1989 went further in that direction, sounding at times like their counterparts Pendragon, and, perhaps, at times, like the current incarnation of Marillion.
One of the better-known and more popular of the British neo-prog bunch. Also one of the best. Though their sound is obviously Genesis-derivative, no one else does it as good as this. Centre of attention are singer Peter Nicholls, who has an up-front, histrionic, yet likable singing style, and keyboardist Martin Orford, who uses Mellotron and ARP Odyssey alongside latter-day polyphonic synths. Tales From The Lush Attic is supposed to be the first good album, with a long track called "The Last Human Getaway" as its centerpiece. The Wake goes full-force with the Mellotron to give it a 1973 feel in 1984. This is probably as good a neo-prog album you're ever likely to find. Living Proof draws mostly from The Wake, plus a couple of songs from Tales (notably the excellent "Awake And Nervous") and some EPs. Makes a good introductory sampler. In a misguided attempt to break through commercially into the U.S. market, they really pop-ified their sound on Nomzamo and Are You Sitting Comfortably, which include more "alternative"-sounding singer Paul Menel in place of Nicholls. Still, these manage at least one good song each: "Nostalgia/Falling Apart At The Seams" on the former, the nine-minute "Wurensh" on the latter. Reportedly, their latest album Ever finds them back to form, with Nicholls back behind the mic. -- Mike Ohman
IQ is one of the bigger names in the neo-prog genre. Why neo-prog, I don't know. What I've heard of them sounds like traditional progressive, VERY similar to that of early Genesis. There are two stages of IQ, soon to be three. Tales From the Lush Attic is VERY reminiscent of Gabriel-era Genesis. Very good. The first track, "The Last Human Gateway," is their attempt at a mini-epic. Works well, but not perfectly. Their label then told them to make something that would sell. They dropped their vocalist, got a new one, and did two albums, Are You Sitting Comfortably? and Nomzamo. Both are decent efforts in their own right, sitting squarely in the prog/pop category. Some are prog, some are pop, some are both. Worth getting, as long as you don't compare it to their other stuff. And if you don't have to pay too much.
These veterans of the British scene play a melodic and symphonic rock rooted in the same tradition as Genesis. They actually contributed to the redefinition of the style during the 80's. With the usual names on keyboards, guitars and drums, Ever features the return of P.Nicholls on vocals an the replacement of the bassist. A return to slightly longer tracks favours a more progressive developments of compositions but the music remains very accessible. Beautiful melodies, a strong vocal presence and tasteful instrumental episodes will delight fans of the style. -- Paul Charbonneau
[See Ark | Arena | Darwin's Radio | Grey Lady Down | Jadis | Niadem's Ghost]

Click here for the IQ web site
Click here for IQ's MySpace page

Iris [France/England]
Updated 4/8/11

Crossing the Desert (96)
Iris (studio line-up) - Pete Trewavas (bass), Sylvain Gouvernaire (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Ian Mosley (drums)

This is the project of French guitarist Sylvain Gouvernaire (Arrakeen) joined by the bassist and drummer of Marillion. This instrumental music features a guitarist who's work is no stranger to the tradition that ties Steve Rothery to Steve Hackett. It is supported by keyboards that provide a rich symphonic texture and also relies on the expert precision of the rhythm section. Here, the simplicity of the compositions makes way for the extremely rich production and the dramatic delivery of performances. The tracks include smooth parts as well as more active ones but often convey a feeling of melancholy. An instrumental feast for fans of current British symphonic rock. -- Paul Charbonneau

Marillion's bass player and drummer help out on this instrumental fusion-light album. As progressive as the 90's Marillion ever were, but no more. Talented guitarist (who also plays keyboards) but I think this is really only interesting to guitar players as the solos take centre-stage on every song. -- Daniel
[See Arrakeen | Marillion | Transatlantic]

Click here for the official Iris web site

Irish Coffee [Belgium]
Updated 1/17/03

Irish Coffee (71)
Irish Coffee 2003 line-up - William Souffreau (Vocals & guitar), Luc de Clus (lead guitar), Hugo Verhoye (drums), Kris Taerwe (Hammond organ) and Franky Cooreman (bass)

Hard rock w/ lots of heavy organ and guitar.

Irish Coffee started in 1970, playing covers from Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Kinks, etc. They wrote and recorded a single album of their own music, evidently along the same lines as these bands in 1973 called Irish Coffee. They did a lot of gigs and supported some acts we now think of as prog, such as Focus, and Yes. The band split up in 1975, but now the vocalist, guitarist and drummer have re-banded with a new organist and bassist and are touring in 2002-2003 playing their old stuff. See their web site for more info. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Irish Coffee's web site

Ishizawa, Hiroyuki (and IO) [Japan]
Updated 2/6/05

Glass Castle (90)
A Japanese outfit that creates a very lush, melodic, symphonic form of progressive rock that follows in the lines of Vermilion Sands, Maria, and other similar bands, with female vocals. The vocalist is reminiscent at times of Kate Bush or Annie Haslam, and the music may be compared with Renaissance, with a more aggressive electric guitar edge.

Isildur's Bane [Sweden]
Updated 7/28/11

Sagan om den Irlandska Algen (84)
Sea Reflections (85)
Eight Moments of Eternity (87)
Sagan Om Ringen (88, recorded in '81)
Cheval (89)
The Voyage: A Trip To Elsewhere (92)
Sea Reflections / Eight Moments of Eternity (92, CD reissue of '85 and '87 LP releases)
Lost Eggs (94, compilation of unreleased songs from '73-'93)
The Zorn Trio Plays Mats Johansson (96, not an Isildur's Bane album per se)
MIND Vol. 1 (97)
MIND Vol. 2 (01, 2 CD Live)
MIND Vol. 3 (03, w/ Italy's Metamorfosi Trio)
MIND Vol. 4: Pass (03)
MIND Vol. 5: The Observatory (05, DVD)
Songs from the Observatory (05, EP)
Isildur's Bane 2001 - Mats Johansson (keyboards), Jonas Christophs (guitars), Klas Assarsson (percussions), Fredrick "Gicken" Johansson (bass), Kjell Severinsson (drums)

Fantastic symphonic/fusion band from Sweden. symphonic fans should try Sagan Om Den Irlandska Algen or the classic Sagan Om Ringen (their chronological first and fourth).

This is a difficult one to describe. Isildur's Bane isn't really like any of the other bands I'm familiar with on this list. They are very percussion oriented, with a lot of keyboards and some guitar. The only vocals on the stuff I have are chants in some other language. Undeniably progressive, and I was surprised at how much I liked the sampler tape that I was sent. For the adventurous and open-minded.
Isildur's Bane are a diverse and highly unique band that haven't stuck to any discernable style. Obviously Scandinavian in the sense that Ragnarok, Kaipa, and all those were, these guys created two symphonic albums - both that start with Sagan (Lord), two jazz fusion albums (the inferior of the five) and one symphonic/modern classical concept album Cheval. Start with Sagan Om Ringen, probably their best.
Began as sort of a symphonic folk outfit, their first album is on the quiet side, mostly instrumental, but some tracks feature vocals in the native language. Very original stuff. By the third album, the band had taken a sharp turn in the jazz-rock direction, with more uptempo cuts and bright melodies, and completely instrumental. At this point, and by (Eight Moments) their sound was reminiscent of the Canadian band Maneige in their middle period, a smooth, almost symphonic jazz-rock rich with color and depth. By 1989's Cheval, the band had again switched directions somewhat, opting for a heavily classical symphonic sound, leaning in the direction of bands like The Enid, but with their own unique twist of instrumentation and percussives. The Voyage, is a 2CD set with special packaging, and carries the band forward in the direction they were headed with Cheval. Since the band has had three fairly distinct periods, where you begin with them is simply a matter of preference of one style over another. All are highly recommended.
Isildur's Bane's eclectic mixture of jazz, chamber rock, and progressive rock has won them acclaim. Sagan/Sagan contains their first work, Sagan Om Den Irlandska Algen, in the French symphonic style ala Edhels, Minimum Vital, etc., with vocals, and their interpretation of "Lord Of The Rings," Sagan Om Ringen. The latter is slightly mellower, with the emphasis on keyboards and acoustic guitars, with, perhaps, hints of Anthony Phillips' style thrown in. These are just general comments, and, on a track-by-track basis Isildur's Bane show that they are capable of a wide variety of styles. This is strengthened by the Reflections/Eternity set, their 3rd and 4th releases, in which the music takes a "jazzier" turn, and vocals, which were intermittent on their earlier material, are completely dispensed with. Those who enjoy the French bands mentioned earlier should find this set worthwhile. Their next release, Cheval, was recorded with an orchestra and is an unusual, but effective blend of chamber rock and classical music.

The Voyage is a 2CD set that is packaged in a suitcase-shaped box. Sub-titled "A Trip To Elsewhere," this is a concept work, based on the travel fantasies of a gentleman named Adolfo Wolfi, and includes an insert with substantial text and illustrations to accompany the music. The presentation is very ambitious, and the music does take the band a league up in the true "progressive" sense. The chamber rock influence persists, with contributions by a choral ensemble, and the John Zorn trio, all within a rock music framework. In addition, Bjørn J:Son Lindh contributes flute and Janne Schaffer plays guitar on a few tracks. If you liked Cheval, this one is sure to please, but the release stands on its own merits, for being challenging from a musical and presentational point of view.

Sagan om den Irlandska Algen/Sagan Om Ringen is in fact a compilation of two releases, similar in style, from their debut period. This ensemble includes keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, flute, saxophone and few vocals (in Swedish). The delicate work on compositions and arrangements is also remarkable. This light symphonic rock, with its jazzy grooves, remains fresh and original despite the abundance of short tracks. The music is based on the keyboards/guitars combination but its development usually goes beyond this simple framework. A production without much flash that can take a few listens before appreciating its qualities. Sea of Reflection/Eight Moments of Eternity features two recordings from the same period where the group proposed a light jazz-rock fusion with symphonic touches. The group of eight musicians uses the usual electric instruments but also relies on percussions and brass. The short format of the many tracks favours arrangements where the role of the instruments alternates between solo and accompaniment. Despite an electric sound, rock elements are pretty discrete in this music, inspired by jazzy rhythms, that makes sustained use of a brass section.

A Trip to Elsewhere offers a conceptual work with a very ambitious presentation (see booklet and case). The music is also very special with its curious mix of symphonism, rock, jazz and chamber music. The unpredictable arrangements include a trio (piano, violin and cello), electric rock (guitar, keyboards, bass and drums) and jazz (with vibes and saxophone). Passages with a choir and flute are also part of the package. In fact, this rich production offers quite an adventure to people who appreciate an often quiet music with sonic configurations alien to the usual symphonic rock. -- Paul Charbonneau

Updated 4/24/01:
Oh, how many reviews I've read in different magazines, webzines and even in the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock with mentions that the best Progressive bands from Sweden are Anglagard (almost always) and Anekdoten, - with few other additions sometimes. Reading and re-reading a solid article on Isildur's Bane in the same Gibraltar EPR, I was always eager to get and listen to at least one of their albums, most of which, according to GEPR (and there are several different opinions on Isildur's Bane's creation, the majority of which sounds professionally and very enthusiastic about it) are extremely different among themselves, though - always - in the presence of the band's firm spirit (not even a style!). So, reading the GEPR article I was practically sure that this very band - with such a diverse discography (thanks to a constant search for new forms of their music, as I just learned from the MIND Vol. 1 CD booklet) and the absence of influences - is the best band Sweden has to offer. Because, with all my deep love for Anglagard and Anekdoten, it should be obvious to a more or less experienced Prog-head that both these bands (as well as the majority of Swedish symphonic progressive bands in general) have the only one yet all-absorbing passion whose name is King Crimson. So thanks a lot to Jonas Christophs for sending me the last Isildur's Bane studio album (actually he sent it to me twice, but the first copy must have been stolen somewhere on the way). Now I know I had been right to think of Isildur's Bane as of the best band of Sweden long before I listened to it at last. On the other hand, I was wrong to consider Isildurs Bane just the best Swedish band, so - in this respect - read the end of this review attentively and please believe my words.

Flowing fluidly one into another all the seven compositions of MIND (which is an abbreviation of "Music Investigating New Dimensions") are probably the most wonderful music I have heard for the last two years. Briefly, this is a unique, distinguished blend of contemporary Classical Music and Symphonic Progressive Rock with extremely complex structures. Actually, this is music for ProGfessors - the most experienced part of Progressive Rock lovers, and of course, all the true connoisseurs of Progressive Music in general (Classical, Neo-Classical, etc.) will fall in love with this album, too. Distinctly original MIND Vol. 1, composed by Maestro Mats Johansson and arranged by him together with his wonderful mini-orchestra of virtuosos called Isildur's Bane, sounds neither dark as Univers Zero nor light as Art Zoyd. Music flows like thoughts of an open-minded wise man, thoroughly reflecting all his emotions that are always constructive. Also, on MIND Vol. 1 I hear a harmonic joint work of electric and acoustic instruments that I've never heard before. Keeping in mind the same Univers Zero and Art Zoyd (early only), whose music's general direction is similar to Isildurs Bane's on MIND Vol. 1 (sadly enough I haven't heard their other works), I don't find such a unique combination in their, generally, ingenious creation. I am really amazed how the wonderful electric guitar's (quite heavy sometimes) diverse moves harmonize the landscapes typical for Classical Music. And such unique, truly innovative musical discoveries abound everywhere on MIND Vol. 1.

Listening to MIND Vol. 1 is a wonderful journey to new realms of the endless Lands of the Queen of all Muses whose name is Progressive Music. In my view, Isildur's Bane is not only the best band of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe taken together, but one of the best progressive groups ever existed - on par with all those who we call Titans. And the MIND Vol. 1 album is a real Classic for all times - no matter whether it's Future, Present or Past. Time will never show us his cards just tangling them for our virtual world confused by the Eternal Questions, but Music, living in Eternity, is not in the power of it. -- Vitaly Menshikov

[See Daymoon]

Click here for the Isildur's Bane web site
Click here for Isildur's Bane's MySpace page
Click here to read Vitaly Menshikov's complete review of MIND Vol. 1 on his ProgressoR web site

Isis [Japan]

Isis (91), Image (91)

Sound like a cross between the two editions of Renaissance, with some Euro and British folk influences as well. Piano is prominent, as in the Relf/McCarty Renaissance, but some grand symphonics as in the later version. Female singer sounds like neither, and there are some very nice harmonies throughout.

Isis [USA]

Isis (74), Ain't No Backin' Up Now (75), Breaking Through (77)

Mid 70's All female jazz rock group from the New York City area. I've never heard their album, but I did catch a gig once, and the musicianship was of a high caliber.

All-female eight-piece (!) fusion group, expanded to a nine-piece for their second album with the addition of keyboardist Margo Lewis. -- Mike Ohman

Iskander [Germany]

Overture (84), Boheme (86), Mental Touch (88), Another Life (90)

Solid symphonic Germans, who actually can be quite good and quite bad at times. Try Boheme with the stunning 18 minute opener.

German band who have released three albums of Camel-influenced progressive rock, on private labels. They sound somewhat inadequate compared to Camel, though they have that tag. Their CD's are worth the price of admission, since they contain about 70 min. of music apiece. Titles are Boheme, Another Life and Mental Touch. By and large, their music is non-vocal.

Melodic, refined progressive rock, very much in the Camel vein. Half of their music is instrumental. Start with Mental Touch.

This band plays a symphonic brand of progressive rock, reminiscent of the likes of Camel, Moody Blues, and the quieter side of early King Crimson. Boheme even shows some overt Gentle Giant influence on the tribute track "Eltneg Tnaig," but it also has a couple off-the-wall screwball (ala later Grobschnitt) type cuts ("Lang lebe Amerika," "Ocsid Gnicnad") that destroy the cohesiveness of this otherwise fine album. Mental Touch is their masterpiece, featuring a more refined style and several cuts in the 10-15 minute range. Both Boheme and Mental Touch are predominantly instrumental, and both clock in at over 70 minutes. Another Life is different from the others only in that it is a normal length album, and contains all vocal cuts, in fact several tracks from Boheme and Mental Touch are reworked with vocals. There are some fairly interesting tunes here as well ("Strong But Tame," "Signs of Love," "Time To Forget") and the vocals actually enhance their basic sound. Definitely start with Mental Touch.

Another Life is the most recent (1990) release by a German band, whose work has followed the melodic trend influenced by bands such as Camel and Rousseau. In this release, however, the electric guitar is a bit more prominent, though the melodic influences remain.

Island [Switzerland]

Pictures (77)

This is extremely powerful music, hard driving, jagged, complex and unusual, the overall feeling is very dark. There is really nothing that compares to this, although something like Il Baletto Di Bronzo's Ys or Tale Cue is comparable in intensity, while the instrumentation might be closer to the likes of Univers Zero meets ELP. The band's frontman and exceptionally powerful vocalist is Benjamin Jager, who also co-writes most of the tracks with keyboardist Peter Scherer. The band is rounded out by Rene Fisch on sax, flute, clarinet and voices, and Guje Jurg Meier on drums and gongs. That's right, no guitars, no basses, although pedal bass is used throughout. The strong presence of the woodwinds and keys in the lead role makes the absence of guitar go unnoticed, and the keys and drums provide the powerful ever-changing rhythm dynamo that keeps this album interesting from beginning to end. The album consists of essentially four long tracks. "Introduction" and "Zero" comprise the 8 minute instrumental album opener, followed by the stunning 17 minute title track; this dark masterpiece would alone be worth the cost of the album. Side two consists of two 12 minute tracks "Herold and King - (Dloreh)" and "Here and Now." "Herold" may be the album's most sinister moment, complete with some distorted unintelligible vocal passages, dark instrumental stretches, and twisted arrangements. Wonderfully unique stuff.

Island's Pictures is easily the best reissue The Laser's Edge has put out since the Schicke Führs and Fröhling two-disc set released in 1993. As I listen to Pictures the band that comes to mind is another Swiss national: Circus and their wonderful album Movin' On, which came out the same year as Pictures. While some comparisons can be made between Circus and Island, it's not for musical comparisons that I think of Circus but more for band structure and level of talent. Circus was a parsed down ensemble of percussion, bass, sax, vocals and a little acoustic guitar and flute. With a sparse ensemble, each musician in the band must possess a robust talent to create a full sound. Indeed, Island is a parsed but very talented ensemble of keyboards (Peter Scherer), percussion (everybody!), vocals (Benjamin Jager) and sax with a smattering of clarinet and flute (Rene Fisch). In addition to the drummer (Guge Jurg Meier), all the other members play percussive instruments. And this doesn't even count the piano as a percussive instrument! Meier is a great drummer and does, in fact, remind me of the excellent Fritz Hauser from Circus. Meier must carry the band because, except for the bass pedal work played by Scherer, he is the base rhythm section, supplemented by the other percussion. While on the subject of percussion, a special mention should be made of Bob Katz and Digital Domain, who mastered the CD. His wonderful work fully brings out the propulsive forces of the percussive and bass pedal work that drives this music. But no single man is Island. Equally import is the keyboard and bass pedal work of Scherer. His bass pedals are as much a force as the percussion and is classical and jazz-influenced keyboard work is marvellous: tasteful, energetic and imaginative. The sax work is easily as talented: fluid and often used as another layer of instrumental depth rather than as a mere solo instrument. All of the six songs, which includes a 23 minute bonus track, are excellent. Of them all, "Pictures" is perhaps a pinnacle among tall peaks and representative of the entire album. "Pictures" is a 16 minute masterpiece from the opening gong to the final sustain of the keyboards. "Pictures" begins with triangle, tambourine and other percussion. After several moments, the keyboards join in and the vocals arrive. After the first couple of verses, the real fun begins. The long instrumental passage between now and the final verses begins quietly. Layers of percussion are surrounded by quiet "ooh"s. This is followed by keyboards, sax, driving bass pedals and wonderful snare work, marking an increase in the energy level. In fact, this general structure marks all of the songs, alternating between pulsating drive and deep, wide-open spaciousness. Again, I can't stress enough how excellent the depth and layering of percussion is, drawing the listener ever deeper into the album. You may have heard of Island being compared to Happy the Man. Only for "Zero," the "short" six minute tune, is there a real Happy the Man comparison. The rest is uniquely Island. The bonus track, rescued from some dank, dark vault by The Laser's Edge, is well worth the inclusion, despite the "good bootleg" sound quality. The quality of the performance more than makes up for this deficiency. The original cover art, by H.R. Giger, only adds to the package. An important reissue and *very* highly recommended. -- Mike Taylor

Isotope [UK]
Updated 5/4/11

Isotope (74)
Illusion (74)
Deep End (76)
Best Of (78)
Golden Section (08, Live, Rec. 1974-75)

Excellent jazz/prog ala Soft Machine, Nucleus, etc. Features Hugh Hopper on bass on Illusion and part of Deep End.

I have Illusion, which features ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper. It's a superb album of Canterbury/Mahavishnu Orchestra-inspired fusion. Centre stage is guitarist Gary Boyle, whose perfomance on "Spanish Sun" is not soon forgotten. Fans of this the aforementioned, try this!. -- Mike Ohman
Update 5/3/11:
The above info existed in the GEPR when I took it over in 2000. But recently Cuneiform Records has unearthed some live recordings of Isotope from 1974 and 1975, and has released them on an album called Golden Section. See link below for further details. -- Fred Trafton
[See Hopper, Hugh | Soft Machine]

Click here for Isotope's page on the Cuneiform Records web site

It [Spain]

Viaje (76)

Experimental and electronic Music.

It Bites [UK]
Updated 9/13/10

The Big Lad in the Windmill (86)
Once Around the World (88)
Eat Me in St Louis (89)
The It Bites Album (90)
Thank You And Goodnight - Live (91, Live)
Best Of - Calling All the Heroes (03)
Live in Montreux (03)
When The Lights Go Down (07, Live)
The Tall Ships (08)
This is Japan (10, 2CD, Live)
It Bites - '80's line-up (not in photo order) - Francis Dunnery (guitar), Dick Nolan (bass), Bob Dalton (drums) and John Beck (keyboards)

I heard their big hit: "Calling All The Heroes". Decent pop music, possibly 10cc-influenced, but not progressive for a second. -- Mike Ohman

It Bites hailed from Egremont in Cumbria, and grew up together. After doing the pub circuit, the lead singer/guitarist Frank Dunnery quit to seek fame in London, the rest of the group followed and they quickly reformed to sign for Virgin records. Big success came with their second single "Calling All the Heroes" which went top 10 in the UK. The first album also did well, after that the national radio stations stopped playing their stuff as much and subsequent singles and albums failed to do as well. The band split in 1991, Dunnery went solo, the rest of the band changed their name to Navajo Kiss, got a new singer and became heavy metal. As far as classifying the music goes, it is prog rock with the emphasis on the rock. Some tracks are just straight AOR, though some are truly progressive. Check out "You'll Never Go to Heaven" on the first album, "Yellow Christian," "Old Man and the Angel" and "Once Around the World" on the second, their most progressive and best album. The third album is more straight guitar rock, but is still worth checking out.

Trivia: Roger Dean completists, the band logo for the third album is Dean. Steve Hillage produced most of the second album. Frank Dunnery has recently joined Robert Plant's band.

Kick arse rock/pop band. Perhaps too poppy for rockers and too rocky for poppers. Album Once Around The World is the most progressive with its 15 minute title track. Fantastic.
I know everyone is going to say they bite, but I kinda like them. The vocalist sometimes sounds just like Peter Gabriel, and the music is typical of prog-rock bands that try to go mainstream, like some Pendragon stuff. If you find It Bites in the bargain bins, give 'em a try if this description doesn't repulse you.
It Bites has reformed after a fashion, and is currently active again without Francis Dunnery. After several line-up shifts, the current band's official line-up consists of original members Bob Dalton (drums) and John Beck (keyboards), joined by singer/guitarist John Mitchell (Kino, Arena, Frost*, John Wetton) and bassist Lee Pomeroy. The band has stated that all bass playing on the Tall Ships album had been performed by either Mitchell or Beck, as Pomeroy had not yet joined, and the 2010 live album This Is Japan features current Level 42 bassist Nathan King because Pomeroy was not available for that tour. So there are no examples of Pomeroy's bass playing on any of It Bites' recorded output, in spite of the fact that he is the band's "official" bass player.

On February 28, 2010, the band released a re-recorded version of their 1986 hit "Calling All The Heroes" to raise funds for flood relief following the Cumbrian floods of late 2009. For this release, the band were joined by various guest performers including former members Francis Dunnery and Dick Nolan. Dunnery re-sang the opening lines of the song, with the rest of the vocals handled by John Mitchell, John Wetton, Jason Perry (A) and Steve Hogarth (Marillion). Further instrumental contributions came from Clive Nolan, Geoff Downes (Asia, etc.), Jem Godfrey (Frost*) and various members of Marillion. -- Fred Trafton, largely paraphrased from It Bites' Wikipedia entry

[See Arena | Frost* | Wetton, John ]

Click here for It Bites' web site
Click here for It Bites' MySpace page

Itoiz [Spain]
Updated 9/18/03

Itoiz (78)
Ezekiel (80)
Alkolea (81)
Musikaz Blai (83)
Espaloían (85)
Ambulance (87)
Eremuko Dunen Atzetik Dabil (88)
Outstanding group from the Basque region of Spain. This is certainly up there with the best Spanish bands. I have their first two albums. Their style is a mixture of folk (Basque folk, that is, not flamenco), prog-rock and a little jazz. They have excellent vocals, but as they sing in the Basque language, I have no idea what they are saying. (The Basque language has no similarities to Spanish or to any other known language and nobody knows where it came from.) The musicianship is top notch and includes generous flute. Highly recommended. -- Juan Joy
Itoiz (Elkar KD-4008) is one of the best progressive rock albums to emerge from the Basque regions of Spain. The music is a Camel-style mixture of symphonic rock, light jazz and folk-style melodies based on the colourful and highly melodic interplay of flute, organ, string synthesizer and somewhat subdued electric guitar. I can also hear Yes' echoes in the jaunty vocal melody, bubbly basslines and brightly rippling solos of "Goizeko deiadar". Yet the folk music reservoir tapped here is distinctly Basque (with some Iberian influence), as are the almost surrealistic lyrics full of religious and lofty natural imagery, melancholy and longing, all of which helps to distance them from the British mainstream. In fact what they most have in common with Camel is the ability to sound airy and mellow even when the keyboard arrangements get hefty and there are a lot of notes flying about. Only "Foisis jauna" flashes an angrier, acid-tinged rock edge to complement its existential angst. The beautiful and simple "Lau teilatu" is the folkiest of the lot, tastefully minimal swathes of flute, string synth and piano colouring the delicate guitar and dreamy vocal's tale of two friends signalling each other from faraway rooftops. The original LP edition may have be highly priced because of its gimmicky cover, but the music on the album should be treasured by all fans of melodic progressive rock.

The concept album Ezekiel (Lost Vinyl L.V. 004) trades synthesizers for saxophone and violin, and emphasises folk and jazzy elements at the expense of the symphonic sound. The resulting sound is often very Canterbury-like with lots of busy but airy solos over usually odd-time beats, but still mediated by the Basque cultural influence. This includes the subtle influence of the choppy 5/8 zortziko rhythm in some of the riffs and melody lines, but also the overt use of a short school-ground song in "Ezekielen Ametsa" and the breezy title track with its wonderfully unpolished and enthusiastic children's choir. The best overall track, "Ezekielen Ikasagaia", has warm female vocals providing relief from the dry, somewhat toneless male vocals prevalent elsewhere, while the song swings between piano-based folk balladry and warm fusion jams. Ezekiel is overall lighter, more acoustic and airier than the first album, and may strike as unremarkable on the first listen. However, further listens should open up its richness to ears receptive to a folk-oriented, mellow progressive rock.

From what I have heard, Alkolea began to incorporate new wave and even soul elements into the sound, and on later albums Itoiz became practically another American-style pop rock band. Nevertheless, the first two albums stand not only as mileposts in the development of Basque rock music, but also as shining examples of how marvellously the British progressive rock approach could be co-opted and revitalised in a different cultural environment. -- Kai Karmanheimo

It's A Beautiful Day [USA]

It's A Beautiful Day (69), Marrying Maiden (70) Choice Quality Stuff/ Anytime (71), Live At Carnegie Hall (72), Today (73), 1001 Nights (74, comp.)

San Francisco area band toured with likes of the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage... Music style could best be described as psychedelic folk. Also, some members of the Santana band appeared on one album, which shows a strong Santana rhythm influence.

The origins of IABD go back to the 1967 timeframe, when a band called "Orkustra," led by Violinist/Vocalist David Laflamme, released an extremely obscure independently produced LP that is so rare that it's not even listed in any of the collector books I have lying around. Anyway, personnel changed and so forth, and promoter Matthew Katz picked them up for his brand new label "San Francisco Sound," gave them the cool name "It's a Beautiful Day," and began grooming their sound. In these early years they consisted of Laflamme, his wife Linda on keyboards, vocalist Pattie Santos, Hal Wagenet on guitar, Mitch Holman on bass and drummer Val Fuentes. The first album is a masterpiece of finely crafted classically inspired folk-rock, with a wide range of influences; accesible, inspired and idealistic, it lent strong evidence of musical credibility to the otherwise haphazard and self-indulgent San Francisco music scene of the late 60's. Two years later, after Fred Webb had replaced Linda Laflamme on keyboards (who left after being struck in the head by a bottle thrown from the audience), they were back in the studio recording their second album Marrying Maiden. The new album had far more variety, with some country influence, some cajun, jazz, folk, and good-timey rock n roll, with guest appearances by Jerry Garcia and other Bay Area musicians. Where their first album seemed to be an excersize in perfection, the new one was a step out in many new directions. Then the problems began to take over. David, now embroiled in a nasty divorce, seemed to lose all his creative energies, and yielded to other less skilled writers within the band to take over the task of writing new material. Katz was suing the band for the rights to their name (that's a whole story in itself), and wholesale personnel changes became the order of the day. It was no surprise that after Maiden, the band went downhill fast. Their third, Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime attempted to present two sides of the band on opposite sides of the LP, but unfortunately, all it presented was a band coming apart at the seams. Definitely start with the first album, and don't go beyond the second.

Their eponymous release is a classic of the "San Francisco" psych sound. Many of you may have heard "Hot Summer Day" or "White Bird" on FM radio. The band is lead by the violin and vocals of David LaFlamme and his (now ex-) wife Linda. I've never heard, nor do I know anyone who has heard, their other albums. Lots of folk influences plus some acid guitar leads. This was one of my favorite tripping albums.

Ithaca [UK]
Updated 7/18/00

A Game For All Who Know (73)
Ithaca released one album called A Game for All Who Know. It is considered pretty rare as "those in the know" say only 55 copies of the LP were pressed. However, it has been pressed on CD so it's much easier to hear. There is also a bit of controversy surrounding the album. Apparently some people think the original LP was fake by a worthless record dealer. So, is it worth it? Yes, if you are into folksy psychedelic ala Trees, Mellow Candle or Pink Floyd's "If" or "Grantchester Meadows." Really nice vocals that make me think of the three voices of the Wilson Philips ladies all rolled into Lee Menelaus, the female vocalist. Her voice is *very* sweet. Alternating with her are the vocals of John Ferrdinando whose voice is also quite pleasant and gentle. Instruments include mandolin, flutes, recorders, classical guitar and autoharp. The music is gentle, dreamy and very laid back. This is a great summer evening kind of album. Overall, a very nice sound and worth a listen if you like folk/prog. -- Mike Taylor
[See Agincourt]

Itziar [Spain]

Itziar (79)

Rare Basque psych/prog.

IV Luna [Italy]
Updated 2/25/03

... Libera Mente ... (02)
IV Luna - Top: Andrea "BJ" Caminiji (bass), Michele Chessa (vocals, guitar)
Bottom: Luciano Chessa (guitar), Alex "Julius" Giuliani (drums)

I wasn't sure at first whether "IV" was a word in Italian or just the number 4 in roman numerals. I've convinced myself it's "4", judging by the four crossed crescent moons the band uses as their logo (see band photo). Guitarist Luciano Chessa cites Queensrÿche, Metallica, Dream Theater, The Gathering and Tool as influences, and this should give you an idea of what IV Luna's music is like.

Well, yes and no. ... Libera Mente ... has many parts are more progressive than any of those influences, even Dream Theater. But don't expect to hear any symphonic keyboards here. This album does have a decidedly heavy metal sound, with two guitarists chugging, riffing and soloing their way through the songs, and a gravelly-voiced vocalist to complete the metallic impression. Very powerful and laden with testosterone. Not always a good thing (in my opinion) if it gets to be too much ... but IV Luna changes from heavy to atmospheric to sound effects to metal ballads throughout the album (or sometimes in a single song), so it stays fresh.

The vocalist sings in Italian, making the sound even harsher and angrier (to my ears at least). There's a lot of variety in the sounds used by the guitarists and the bassist, so it doesn't get old as fast as some prog metal does to my ears (i.e. the latest Dream Theater release, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, which I just can't get into at all). ... Libera Mente ... has a lot to offer fans of the progressive metal sub-genre in particular, and other prog fans too, as long as you're not put off by the heavy guitars. I can unreservedly recommend this release!

Thanks to my "prog buddy" Vitaly Menshikov for turning me on to this album. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for IV Luna's web site

Ivory [Germany]
Formerly Known as Caressing Hands
Updated 7/17/05

Sad Cypress (79, plus CD re-releases, see text)
I heard a couple of tracks from this, one of which was pretty good. Vocalist suggests Jerry Berkers from Wallenstein and has a very thick accent. Music is keyboard orientated ala Ramses, Pancake, etc. -- Mike Ohman
Ivory started life as an unlikely merger between two bands named Pipedream and My Sound. The keyboardist from My Sound was Thomas Sommerlatte (b. Jan. 6, 1950), but it was Thomas' father Ulrich Sommerlatte (b. Oct. 21, 1914) that formed Ivory to play progressive rock from members of the two bands. Ulrich was a classically-trained musician who had become the conductor of the Hannover Symphony Orchestra at the age of 22, but he later became intrigued by the new music called "progressive rock" being performed with great enthusiasm by groups of young musicians, and he wanted to participate. In 1976, he formed a band named Caressing Hands with himself and his son Thomas, from My Sound on keyboards and Charly Stechl (bass, flute), Horst Polland (guitars) and Frederik Rittmüller (drums) from Pipedream. Somewhere, there exists six or seven unreleased recordings of U. Sommerlatte's compositions played by this line-up. Polland was later replaced by Goddie Daum, and after the addition of vocalist/guitarist Christian Mayer, they renamed themselves Ivory and recorded their sole album Sad Cypress in Ulrich's home studio. The album was released in limited distribution and became something of a rarity sought after by collectors with only a little over 2800 copies in existence.

Sad Cypress sounds like early '70's prog, or even late '60's proto-prog, though the electronic pianos and string machines give away its actual 1979 release date. The music is compositionally fairly complex and lyrically serious and literary. Not to be contrary to the previous reviewer or anything, but I don't find vocalist Mayer to have a "very thick accent" at all (by comparison with, for instance, Arne Schäfer), though you can certainly tell he's German and not English or American. His vocal timbre is a lot like Peter Gabriel's, though he doesn't use the same vocal mannerisms as Gabriel, which means Mayer doesn't really sound a lot like him. The music is very keyboard oriented (as you would think, with two keyboard players in the band), but sounds to me like it owes more to Genesis, Camel or even The Doors than Ramses. Aside from the afore-mentioned accent, there's nothing particularly "German-sounding" about this album, to my ears. The recording sounds a bit dated now, but it's still quite good and an enjoyable listen. This is an easy recommendation, though I wouldn't quite call it an all-time classic of the genre.

Sad Cypress was re-released on CD in 1993 by Musea Records, with four bonus tracks from a later, slimmer line-up of the band, consisting of Ulrich Sommerlatte and Christian Mayer with new drummer Thomas Carl. These four cuts were recorded between 1983-87 and total more than 30 minutes in time, almost another whole album by LP standards. They are an excellent adjunct to this release. In 2005, the same package was re-released on the MALS label for distribution in Russia, Baltic and CIS countries. -- Fred Trafton

Click here to order Sad Cypress from Musea Records unless you live in Russia, a Baltic or CIS country, in which case ...
Click here for the MALS web site.

Ivory [USA]
Updated 10/15/01

Ivory (73)
Ivory - Lance Gullickson (vocals), Jim Divisek (drums), Steve Pinkston (bass), Brian Whitcomb (keyboards), Paul Bass (keyboards) and Grant Gullickson (vocals)

(Disclaimer: this article was written by Steve Pinkston, bassist in the U.S. group Ivory)

Ivory has generally been described as a progressive or "prog-rock" band. Certainly, one could hear echoes of Yes, King Crimson, and Procol Harum in their music. But there was also a bit of a jazz influence at work. Live, the group would often do instrumental sets of jazz standards like "Summertime" or "Milestones". Grant's singing onstage was vastly more dynamic than was ever captured in a recording studio, and the live interplay between the musicians was very intense.

Ivory recorded just one album, a self-titled effort on Playboy Records (#PB115), produced by Tim Alvarado. Most of the album was recorded at the legendary Record Plant in Los Angeles. Two different versions were released. On the second version, a Robbie Robertson tune replaced a Kin Vassey tune, in order to qualify as "Canadian content" under that county's airplay rules.

Ivory was formed in early 1972 as a backup band for the lead singer, Grant Gullickson. However, Grant was somewhat uncomfortable with being the star, and wanted more of a "band" concept. Grant had been in a very successful band while he was in college, called the Canoise. Grant's friend and producer, Tim Alvarado, had the idea to create an all-keyboard band, with no electric guitarist at all. Originally, it was going to consist of three keyboardists and a drummer, but it was soon clear that with the superb musicians Paul Bass on Hammond organ, and Brian Whitcomb on piano, the sound was full and complex. Jim Divisek brought a strong rock feel on drums, but also a focus on eastern rhythms and electronic music acquired during his studies at Cal Arts. Steve Pinkston joined the group after their first bass player did not work out. Later, Grant's brother Lance Gullickson joined the group, and brought expanded vocal harmonies and songwriting skills to the mix.

This group had no connection to a 1968 group called Ivory, who recorded for Tetragrammaton, nor to a 1977 group called Ivory, who recorded for the NEMS label.

Paul Bass left the group in 1974 and was replaced by an excellent guitarist, George Marinelli. Steve Pinkston left the group soon after and was replaced by a number of studio players. With this lineup, the band renamed itself Bobbidazzler and released one self-titled album on RCA (APL1-2196), produced by Tony Peluso.

Grant Gullickson went on to become a successful entertainment lawyer. Lance Gullickson got involved with film and video production, and his wife Tina is a backup singer for Jimmy Buffet. Jim Divisek continued working in music and behind the scenes of film production. Paul Bass toured with commercial musical groups for a while, then resumed a successful career in software and marketing. Paul died from cancer in 1999. Brian Whitcomb now lives in Nashville where he is enjoying success as a pianist for many well-known artists. Steve Pinkston has worked as an engineer for many years, and lives on a 40-acre farm in Oregon. Paul and Steve made 5 albums together as a duo between 1992 and 1999. -- Steve Pinkston

Ivory Forest [USA]
Updated 5/26/09

No releases yet
Ivory Forest is a startup prog band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They haven't had an album release yet, but there are some very Floydian demos available to hear on their MySpace page. They don't really even have a "band photo" posted yet, though the current members are Jason Weckerle (guitars, vocals, keys), A.J. Luwondowski (Conklin) (basses, vocals) and Joe Shultz (percussion). Sounds like they're still trying to discover their own sound at this point, so let's see where they go from here ... -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Ivory Forest's MySpace page

iX [Venezuela]
Formerly known as Astaharzy
Updated 1/24/07

Ora Pro Nobis (07)
iX project mastermind Giuglio Cesare Della Noce

iX isn't a roman numeral "9" ... Della Noce uses a lowercase "i" on purpose so that you won't think so. Ix is a planet from Frank Herbert's Dune series. iX is a project name for Giuglio Cesare Della Noce, who also plays keyboards for Tempano. This project was formerly called Astaharzy, but Della Noce thought this was too difficult to remember and pronounce, so he changed it to iX. As of today, Astaharzy is still the name on the Tempano web site, but this isn't a separate album, in spite of what looks like a different album cover and song titles. It developed into Ora Pro Nobis over a period of about four years of work. By the time you read this, the Tempano web site will hopefully be fixed, listing iX instead of Astaharzy.

Ora Pro Nobis is a combination of styles that includes modern-classically influenced symphonic prog, melodic RIO and a few pieces of total avant-garde noise (which some have called industrial). I really like the combination of styles, each one done with a professionalism that would make you believe it's the artists favored style. The particular mixture of music types reminds me quite a bit of the Mexican band Gígur, who I also liked very much. The melodic parts also sound a bit like the latest Tempano album ... which isn't a surprise since the album features all the other members of Tempano as guests, plus many other guests as well.

I e-mailed Della Noce and mentioned to him that my favorite tracks were "Ora Pro Nobis" and "Radiante", the two most "noisy" and least melodic compositions. His response was, "it's very important for me that you liked specially the 'noise tracks'. I was a little afraid of [those] pieces though they are the more comfortable ones for me to make and to listen to. I really love to make that kind of music; it appeals to my real true self." It shows in the composition. Many bands who do "noise tracks" simply throw together a bunch of random sound, and I find them about as interesting as dropping a stack of pots and pans on the floor. But Della Noce's "noise tracks" are heavily composed, well thought out, and use a very compelling choice of sounds. It is difficult to do composition without resorting to melodies, harmonies and rhythmic structures. The success of these pieces in spite of these difficulties makes them stand out for me.

Ora Pro Nobis is a great album and deserves to be heard by most prog fans, as everyone will find something here to like. And, in the tradition of true "art rock", the album cover is also really cool. (Click here for a detailed look at the cover). The artist, Sandro Bassi, also plays percussion on the album! Overall a really exceptional release. Recommended! -- Fred Trafton

[See Tempano | Ubeida, Gerardo]

Click here for iX's web site
Click here for Tempano's web site
Click here to order Ora Pro Nobis from Musea Records

Izukaitz [Spain/Basquia]
Updated 9/29/06

Izukaitz (78)
Otsoa Dantzan (80)
About Otsoa Dantzan: Excellent, fiery "progressive" folk/ethno music from Basquia (progressive in quotation marks, because by tradition they sound different from folk bands of other Euro-areas, though this has some truly progressive stylings), which sounds to me like our Slovenian (not Slovakian) ethnic music. Plenty of that is similar if not the same, melodies, rhythms, Basques are perhaps more vivid, play with more intensity and use larger instrumentation, but melos is identical. Probably very close in sound to Itoiz (probably, because I have not heard it yet) and very close to our groups like Tolovaj Mataj, Istrski Muzikantje, etc. which retain the testimony of Slovenian traditional music. One characteristic is also that Basques are stronger at the side of instrumentation (much more utilized than in Slovenian case) and Slovenian ethnic muzak is more based on singing (usually with five different voices).

Cut back to Izukaitz and Otsoa Dantzan: Band is five-piece with male and female vocals. Besides ethnic sounds I traced also medieval elements or maybe they are ancient European, pre-romanic, pre-celtic, post-atlantic, who would know? This (perhaps) medieval traces remind of Gryphon. Beside guitars, bass, percussions and a flute and even a sax, but no drums, a lot of native instruments (in parentheses, 'cause I might be mistaken when citing them) can be heard in fiery action, among others, high-pitched recorder-like flute, basque bag pipes (?tubera), basque fiddle (?alboka), various percussives, etc. Music is truly lovely, played with a lot of feeling. Everything is perfectly arranged, so sometimes it doesn't sound traditional in the strict sense. If you like fiery ethnic sounds, and Basque region stands for that, check them out. -- Nenad Kobal

Updated 2/19/07

Sliver of a Sun (98)
I Move (02)
Ampersand Vol. 1 (04)
My River Flows (05)
IZZ (My River Flows line-up, not in photo order) - Tom Galgano (keyboards, vocals), Paul Bremner (electric and acoustic guitar), Brian Coralian (electronic and acoustic percussion), Greg DiMiceli (acoustic drums, percussion), John Galgano (bass, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals, keyboards), Anmarie Byrnes (vocals), Laura Meade (vocals)

[Sliver of a Sun is] one of the best CDs I have heard in ages. One of the comments I made at NEARfest, and heard echoed by many of the other people there, is that there is a lot of technical facility in these new prog bands, but not much song-writing ability. So many bands now just seem to write a bunch of proggy riffs and then jam all the sections together without regard for song development, so that the listener is just drop kicked from one section to another. This band knows how to write songs that draw you along like a river, each section flows into the next, there are dynamics and flow. Some bands suffer a bit from jumping too quickly from one thing to another (a bit of musical ADD) and there are others that find a killer theme and then proceed to beat it to death. IZZ has avoided both extremes. IZZ seems to understand the beauty of the juxtaposition of variations dynamics, tempo and theme.

What they have also demonstrated on this CD is that they can write in more than one genre. All of the musicians are strong. I personally find that the bass guitar work and vocals are kick ass and the guitar and keyboard work sings.

In the four prog tunes ("Endless Calling", "I Get Lost", "Assurance", "Double Bass") they have managed to capture the flavor of Yes, Genesis, KC and ELP and melded a very appealing amalagam without sounding derivative. Their pop tunes ("Just A Girl", "Take It Higher", "Lorna Doone", "She Walked Out the Door") are very reminiscent of XTC and Beatles. "Meteor" and "Razor (Sliver of a Sun)" are also very strong, appealing songs, seems to be to be more in the psychedelic vein (though I'm not a huge fan of that genre so perhaps that's a misnomer.) -- Kiirja Paananen

This New York Quintet is making some of the best modern symphonic rock in recent memory. Completely liberated from the trappings of a 'progressive rock band' and yet thoroughly inspired by groups such as Genesis and Yes, these Americans are brimming with talent and fresh songwriting visions not unlike those artists at their creative peak. They achieve an almost perfect balance of musical structure and vocal-oriented songs with a relaxed and confident Floydian sensibility, while never getting too far out into space. IZZ also demonstrates brilliant classical counterpoint ala Kit Watkins or Tony Banks and are sure to please trad progheads and new fans equally. 2005's My River Flows is a touch more commercial than previous work. First album Sliver of a Sun very progressive and second release from 2002, I Move, is excellent. Recommended to anyone wanting some fresh quality Prog that is new but not Neo. -- David Marshall
Click here for IZZ's web site
Click here for Progressive Newsletter's IZZ interview