And yes! Isildurs Bane did it again. They managed to get the legendary Peter Hammill to join them for a collaboration. Quite a name, this man gained his indelible fame in prog history through Van Der Graaf Generator and of course his massive solo career. Looking back on the previous release Colours Not Found In Nature (2017, see review) with Steve Hogarth, that was of excellent quality so it can't go wrong.
Well it didn't. But... it explores another spectrum in progland. We know Isildurs Bane is a magnificent band that is roaming in the realms of well cultivated prog. And the Steve H collaboration was nice and accessible to listen to. As far as I know, Peter Hammill and VDGG are quite another dish. Doesn't Isildurs Bane stand the risk of losing their own identity with such a musical genius at their (or maybe his) disposal? Not really. It's obvious Peter Hammill will put his own influence in the music, but despite of the much more experimental nature of this album, Isildurs Bane is present! Their modest style is not overshadowed by the great presence of Mr. Hammill. Yes, it's more experimental than you might be used to. You can hear different influences from over the years as the man started to compose his music decades ago in the late sixties.
As for the David Bowie like sounding opening track (Before You Know It), the following tracks let you hear the excellent use of synths played by Mats Johansson which combined with a massive number of musicians and also instruments, even a 25 string koto played by Karin Nakagawa a multi-talented artist, and flanked by another big name in prog, Pat Mastelotto who adds some percussion (to name a few). And the undoubtable unique sound of Hammill. Mostly experimental prog, but even at times a bit poppy (Aguirre). It can be very diverse. The Day Is Done even reminded me of the Cardiacs! Epic...
And then the last track, that's instrumental. This Bird Has Flown is a dark, tense and gloomy track of only 3+ minutes, but it left me with a smile.
As I've listened to quite a lot of Hammill's work through the years, I never really got in to it (VDGG either). So, I didn't go into this one without some prejudice. It was a pleasant surprise that I could listen to this album without frowning or a feeling of discontent. Isildurs Bane made it work for me. And definitely worth listening to many times. You'll discover something new every time you listen to it. And that's the magic of this album.
**** Erik van Os (edited by Dave Smith)
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