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If - 2007 - "The Stairway"

(39:53 / 'If')


***+
                 

TRACK LIST:                                 

1.  Close Your Eyes 4:35
2.  Uneasy Sleep-I 2:19
3.  The Stairway 2:26
4.  Uneasy Sleep-II 3:08
5.  Where Have You Been 4:34
6.  Like a Bird 8:36
7.  Missing 4:11
8.  Uneasy Sleep-III 1:49
9.  It's Just Me 3:34
10. Find Your Way 4:39

LINEUP:

Dario Lastella - guitars; programming; vocals
Claudio Lapenna - keyboards; vocals
Paolo Di Santis - lead vocals
Franco Bussoli - bass

Prolusion. Although this Italian outfit, IF, has existed since 1992, "The Stairway" is only their second recording. I have no idea whether the band is named after the Castle of If, but what I know for sure is that the English jazz-rock ensemble of the same name released nine LPs from 1970 to 1976 (via such major labels as Island and United Artists) and is still as popular as Colosseum for instance, especially since Dave Greenslade played in both of those groups.

Analysis. While these musicians name both Pink Floyd and Genesis as their primary mentors-in-absentia, the album suggests the former band is their only, all-absorbing passion. This is not to say the music is devoid of any originality, but all the same the Pink Floyd influence resides in almost all of the ten tracks present, while the only exception to that rule, the song Missing, finds its makers 'pioneering' Rock-&-Rap and is lushly dressed with features of the said fashionable vocal style. The piece ends with a rather lengthy instrumental section which, although being interestingly designed, does not impress either, above all because the drum machine sounds like an empty can here (it sounds quite repellent everywhere on the album though). The three instrumentals, united under the title of Uneasy Sleep, all combine space-rock-like movements with corresponding synthesizer effects, Part-I representing nothing other than a variation on the central riff of Astronomy Domine. Of the remaining six songs, only the 8-minute Like a Bird more or less frequently shifts in both pace and theme, alternating intense arrangements with atmospheric landscapes and, occasionally, with brief piano interludes. The up-tempo numbers, the title track, Where Have You Been and Find Your Way, are all as vocal-heavy and repetitive alike as the ballads, Close Your Eyes and It's Just Me, both of which are generally primitive, and yet each sounds more satisfying than probably any of the other tracks. The point is that while the musicianship of each of the players is good (Dario Lastella particularly shining with his rather lengthy, plus often rapid guitar solos), their joint performance is lacking in cohesiveness, which is especially striking when they venture on jamming, so all their truly complicated moves result in a pseudo eclecticism at best. The CD begins and ends with a clock's ticking - another one of the band's 'discoveries' reflecting their passion for their idols.

Conclusion. Not much to say here. It's clear that If tried to create something new in the field of post-Pink Floyd Space Rock, but the final result leaves much to be desired.

VM: Agst 20, 2007


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