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Track List: The Octagon: 1. The Keel 2:32 2. The Sails 2:21 3. The Coachman 2:12 4. The Sculptor 3:21 5. The Lyre 3:23 6. The Pendulum 2:29 7. Sobieski's Shield 1:17 8. The Stern 2:53 L'evento: 9. The Universe 6:31 10. The Inception 6:59 11. Rewind 7:06 12. The Journey 11:28 13. The Puppet Dance 6:46 14. The History 4:28 15. Capital Punishment 1:26 16. Exodus 5:24 17. Cosmos 3:08 Composed parts: by Johansson. Arranged parts: by Christophs & Severinsson. Improvised: by METAMORFOSI TRIO. Line-up: Mats Johansson - synthesizers; theremin (IB) Jonas Christops - electric guitar (=) Kjell Severinsson - drums & percussion (=) Luca Calabrese - trumpet & flugelhorn (MT) Christian Saggese - acoustic guitar (=) Franco Feruglio - double bass (=) Produced by Isildurs Bane & Metamorfosi Trio. Engineered by L. Bengtsson at Sweden's Radio Halland.
Preamble. The third volume of MIND (Music Investigating New Dimensions), a special musical concept started by Sweden's Isildurs Bane in 1997, came out of the two-year collaboration between this living legend of Prog and Italy's Metamorfosi Trio. And by the way, "MIND Vol. 3" is the tenth, jubilee, album of Isildurs Bane. Congratulations! If you wish to read the reviews of both of the previous volumes of MIND, click > here and > here. Note: I wrote both of these reviews before I started uniting the most unique and innovative manifestations of progressive music under the banner of Fifth Element. In that way, even though I clearly understand that all three of the MIND related albums are about Fifth Element overall, I won't use the term of the fifth main genre of Prog in this review, too.
The Album. A saga of the endless transformation of style of Sweden's musical Vikings continues. On the "Mind Vol. 3" album, Isildurs Bane explore a highly obscure musical dimension where both of the kinds of Academic Music - Classical and Avant-garde - exist side by side with Jazzy Classical Music, which became possible thanks to Metamorfosi Trio's considerable 'improvisational' assistance. However, such a marvelous combination of all three of the said musical genres, all of which are so different among themselves, is typical mainly for the second and the largest part of "MIND Vol. 3", L'evento. And here are the 'official' representatives of the album's predominant stylistics: Rewind and The Puppet Dance (11 & 13). Apart from the said, central, features, two compositions on the second part of the album: The Inception and The History (10 & 14) contain also the elements of Prog-Metal, and two more: The Journey and Exodus (12 & 16) the bits of Prog-Metal. Both of The Stern (8) and Cosmos (17), the first of which was for some reason placed on the last track of the first part of the album, and the latter is just an Eventual track, are about Classical Music with elements of Space Rock and the bits of Jazz. Finally, the music on Capital Punishment (15) represents Classical Music with elements of both of Space Rock and Opera. Yes, Capital Punishment is the only track on the album that features vocals or, to be more precise, a few of the female operatic vocalize. Here, on the Eventual part of the album, everything is done in the best traditions of Isildurs Bane and not only. If not to count The Universe (9), L'evente just breathes with a real intricacy, wonderful eclecticism, and truly innovative ideas, which, of course, is the merit of both of Isildurs Bane and Metamorphosi Trio. As for the first, eight-track, part the album, almost all of the pieces that form The Octagon (which, in fact, is a scalene Octagon) are about a slow, atmospheric, and, sometimes, even Ambient-like music. Nevertheless, being chaotically spontaneous and almost completely unstructured, many of the arrangements on The Octagon are of an improvisational (randomly improvisational, to be precise) character, which is the department of Metamorfosi Trio rather than that of Isildurs Bane. Indeed, these are the musicians of Metamorfosi Trio who rule on The Octagon, and not those of Isildurs Bane. And this is not everything however. It's more than strange for a collaborative production, but most of the 'spontaneous' tracks don't feature the parts of electric guitar and some of them those of drums and percussion. (Hey, where have you lost Jonas's guitar - the instrument that played a central soloing role in the arrangements on both of the previous volumes of MIND?) As for "mainly" and "almost all", IMHO, The Stern (8) should've been placed on track 9 - instead of The Universe - and vice versa. Which, according to the stylistic aspects of both of the said pieces and those of L'evente and The Octagon, is more than merely topical. Furthermore, The Universe is musically almost not unlike The Keel (1), which is an intro to The Octagon, and The Stern, in its turn, sounds very much in the vein of Cosmos (17), which is the outro of L'evente. Well, it won't be hard for me to program my CD player before listening to the 63-minute version of this 74-minute album. Along with The Keel (1) and The Universe (9), I'll have to exclude Sobeietski's Shield (7). Which is due to the fact that these, unlike all of the compositions (!) that L'evente consists of, are just pseudo intricate and aren't interesting almost at all. In fact, only three parts of The Octagon: The Sculptor, The Lyre, and The Pendulum (4, 5, & 6) are 'children' of a true inspiration. Also, these bring to me the slight, yet, still wonderful spirit of music of the East.
Summary. While Isildurs Bane continues investigating new musical dimensions on the "MIND Vol. 3" album, and the band's concept MIND is still alive, I wouldn't say that it is also well. In comparison with any of the previous volumes of MIND, and not even taking into account the 'octagonal' part of this collaboration, this album is a step backwards or, if you will, an experiment that turned out to be not that successful. And nevertheless, regardless of the negative aspects of it, "MIND Vol. 3" is a masterpiece. Which becomes especially obvious after thinking of the current Progressive Rock movement in general.
VM: March 8, 2003
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