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Isildurs Bane (Sweden) - 1997 - "MIND Vol. 1"
(63 min, 'Svenska Unikum')


The Flight Onward (Phases 1-5)  12:05

Ataraxia  3:27

In a State of Comprehension  4:24

Unity  5:38

Opportunistic Walk (Phases 1-2)  15:15

Holistic Medicine  14:51

A Blank Page  3:08

All compositions by Mats Johansson. Arranged and produced by Isildurs Bane. Recorded at "Studio Annu Battre", Halmstad, Sweden. Engineered and mixed by Jan Severinsson and Kjell Severinson.

Line-up: Mats Johansson - analog and digital synthesizers, musical boxes, various sound treatments; Jonas Christophs - lead & rhythm guitars; Klas Assarsson - vibraphone, xylophone, congas & (oh!) just a wide-variety of percussion; Joachim Gustafson - violin; Fredrik Emilson - acoustic, electric & synthesized basses; Kjell Severinson - drums & various percussion

Guest musicians: Jonas Albrektson - oboe & English horn; Daniel Bruno - trombones & tuba; Eric Mattisson - trumpet; Janne Schaffer - acoustic & electric guitars; Magnus Gutke - classical guitar; Lars Hagglund - grand piano & additional synthesizer; Bjorn Jason Lindh - improvised and arranged flute & recorder parts; Tora Stenar - arranged alto- & piccolo-flutes parts; Peter Schoning - cello; Stefan Icebring - hurdy-gurdy (like an old lute)

With: Gregor Reid - 'chess' recital (on 6); "The Saltstank Choir", led by M.Zetterstrom.

Prologue. 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 Isildurs 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 Isildurs 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-I" 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 Isildurs 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 Isildurs 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 Summary of this review attentively and please believe my words.

The album. 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 I", composed by Maestro Mats Johansson and arranged by him together with his wonderful mini-orchestra of virtuosos called Isildurs 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" 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" (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 discoveriesabound everywhere on "MIND I".

Summary. Listening to "MIND" 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, Isildurs 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 I" 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.

VM. April 14, 2001


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