Ibis - Ibis (74) - 4/10 Iconoclasta - Reminiscencias - 7/10 Igra Staklenih Perli - Igra Staklenih Perli - 8/10 IQ - Ever - 6/10 Island - Pictures - 7/10 Itoiz - Itoiz (78) - 8/10
Sort of boring Italian progressive, at times quite similar to New Trolls' Ut, but more straightforward. The vocals are very typically "bad Italian vocals": The vocalists sing with too much vibrato, and push their voices far too high, and also into falsetto too much. There is some nice guitar and moog playing here, as on the 2-minute opening track, but it's ruined by the vocals, unfortunately. Sometimes the overall sound is a little over-emotional, too. But not all of it is bad: "Narratio" and "Ritrovarci qui" (totalling 13 1/2 minutes) are decent symphonic rock tracks, sometimes resting on the calmness of an acoustic guitar, and sometimes being more dramatic. Nice. The track "Keep on Movin'" has a psychedelic feel, and flutes and Coltrane-like saxophone not found on the rest of the album. Other tracks have more of a commercial/straightforward (hard) rock sound, and the vocals on top of this makes it unlistenable. The track "Dedicated to Janis Joplin" could have been on New Trolls' in my opinion horrible Concerto Grosso 2. Overall: A few OK or even nice tracks don't make this worth having unless you enjoy vocals like those described above or are a die-hard fan of New Trolls.
Good symphonic rock from a Mexican band.
Right: Mindblowing progressive rock has been made also in Yugoslavia. This record dates back from 1978, but it sounds like it was made in the glorious first half of the decade. One could describe this as space-rock, but more far out than the natural point of comparison, Gong's You. If Gong were on drugs, they'd have made a record like this. Uh, never mind. Anyway, Igra Staklenih Perli have the standard bass guitar/electric guitar/drums setup, but supplemented with some weird kind of synth or keyboard. The vocals are in English and fit in excellently with the music. It's the guitar and synth sounds that send the music into outer space - sometimes in a manner a bit like Gong, and sometimes like Le Orme's Felona e Sorona. Moreover, the highlight of Igra Staklenih Perli, the track "Putovanje u Plavo", has some Magma-like chanting, which is combined excellently with the synth effects and the outstanding guitar playing. An important aspect of the music is the scales used, which give the music a unique Arabian/Mediterranean sound. However, there are two problems. Firstly, the sound quality is bad - it seems that the CD was recorded from an old LP. The comparison to Biglietto per l'Inferno is obvious: The bad sound quality fits the atmosphere, and doesn't really ruin much. Secondly, the record lasts for no more than 28 minutes. But still, when it fades out, it feels just long enough. The little music that you get is absolutely packed with moments that will give you shivers, so not checking out this record is a mistake.
Stay well clear if you hate neo-prog. Sometimes cheeeesy.
Avantgardistic, dark jazz-rock from Switzerland which I didn't like too much. The CD version contains a 23 minute long bonus track which is quite different from the rest. When I like the "original" tracks, I usually don't appreciate the bonus track, and vice versa. Strange. A quite original record that took me loads of listens to like.
This is a band from Spanish Basqueland. Vocals are in Basque, a language which as far as I know was banned in Spain only some years before this was made. Musically, there is a close similarity at times to the Spanish band Triana, especially in the excellent keyboard work. Still, there are (not surprisingly) absolutely no traces of flamenco influences. The atmosphere... well, it's quite a sad record, this. Folk music, Basque I guess, abounds throughout the record - mostly (but not always) melancholic. Sometimes, a particular distortion of the electric guitar, alongside the flute, make them sound a lot like Iconoclasta. And some dual vocal harmonies vaguely recall those of Simon and Garfunkel, as do some of the flute/acoustic guitar arrangements. An extensive use of flute should please fans of Camel's Snow Goose. But the best part isn't that Itoiz remotely sound like a number of good bands, but that the compositions are very strong, and absolutely never move into so-called "prog cliches". Some of the most folky parts (like "Zati txiki bat La m'en") are perhaps not particularly complex, but I never consider to skip past them since they sound great anyway. A minor complaint is that the vocalist sometimes is out of tune, but I don't find myself too annoyed by it. This is a fabulously beautiful record, and telling your friends that you listen to Basque symphonic/progressive folk-rock is quite fun. Highly recommended if you are not exclusively into "difficult prog".
Iconoclasta - Reminiscencias - 7/10
Igra Staklenih Perli - Igra Staklenih Perli - 8/10
IQ - Ever - 6/10
Island - Pictures - 7/10
Itoiz - Itoiz (78) - 8/10