(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
The beginnings of IOEarth started in 1997 when friends Dave Cureton and Adam Gough decided to make a record. The two had met at the age of twelve and started writing and performing music together at the age of fifteen. The self-titled debut album is a two CD set that defies easy categorization and is an enthralling musical work. Joining Cureton (guitar, keyboards, bass, programming, vocals, percussion) and Gough (guitars, keyboards, bass, programming, vocals, percussion) are Richard Cureton (drums, percussion), Claire Malin (vocals), Marc Williams (bass), Luke Shingler (saxophone) and a few guest musicians.
Let me just say right from the start how much I enjoyed listening to this CD. The piece is divided into three movements: Water, Earth and Air. Each movement involves a concept but all are related to one another. I will not go into details but I will say it is best to listen to this CD in one sitting even though it is over ninety minutes long with the first disc twice as long as the second. The album is best taken as a whole as the songs flow together beautifully from one to the next. The music is in the vein of classic symphonic progressive rock but has elements of classical, jazz, electronic, ambient and heavy prog. Trust me, this album is so well executed it will hold your attention from the first song to the last. The band does a great job intertwining heavier parts with quieter more introspective ambient-like moments combining tasty guitar, excellent male and female voices and lush symphonic arrangements.
The intro to the first movement begins with melancholy piano laid upon layers of orchestration. It is as though a symphony is bursting forth through the speakers. The recording quality is outstanding throughout.
The next two songs, “Storyteller” and “Eeee” has the band seeking far Eastern sounds with the former focusing on some heavenly guitar work and the latter starting with foreboding acoustic guitar and exotic sounding vocals. The laid back “Smoky Wood” is filled with jazzy piano and sultry saxophone. The female vocals recall parts of Ayreon’s latest work and the flugel horn, courtesy of Steve Trigg, increases the jazz factor. In “Mountains Start To Fall” the orchestration slowly builds before an outro of stark piano leads directly into “Loops” with its funky bass and interesting percussion sounds creating an aura of dissonance. Metallic rhythms and time signature changes highlight “The Creation”, the first CDs last track, proving complexity and accessibility are highly compatible.
The second disc has six tunes starting with the trance-like “Introduction” with a cool electronic groove and exotic vocals. The band’s experimental approach can be heard on “Interlude #2” with long drawn out droning sounds and superb chanting vocals. “Harmonix” is one of my favourite pieces with biting Floydish guitar and crisp cymbal work.
IOEarth has released a stellar debut album that is both thought provoking and adventurous, loaded with great melodies and spirited playing. Anyone who likes progressive rock needs to hear this disc.