I Am The Manic Whale (UK): Everything Beautiful In Time (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015)
Ella Lloyd (flute)
This oddly named band’s debut album on one hand recalls the less jazzy and more melodic end of Canterbury sounds from the seventies and on the other recalls contemporaries like Schnauser. With a singer/songwriter edge to much of the material and some well-observed lyrics, this is a rather understated record but also a very well crafted one, with lots of interesting musical diversions and a complete lack of ostentation. Despite being credited as a full member, flautist Ella Lloyd barely appears on the LP. GRADE: B–.
Iamthemorning (Russian Federation): Iamthemorning (No label, CD, with digipak, 2012)
Mariana Semkina (lead vocals)
This duo of a vocalist and a keyboardist, backed by a chamber orchestra and intermittently a rock band, deliver an unusual and atmospheric debut. The material has a singer/songwriter feel, with piano and strings used to good effect, but pieces are linked together to create an almost progressive tapestry of sound punctuated with some heavier rock moments. With passages hinting at everyone from Kate Bush and Enya to any number of seventies prog greats, it all adds up to a varied and satisfying set. GRADE: B–.
Iamthemorning (Russian Federation): Belighted (Kscope KSCDPE305, CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2014)
Mariana Semkina (lead vocals)
The style here is similar to their debut, but this is overall a step up: the melodies are more haunting and the rock sections more dynamic. It also confirms the impression that, whilst drawing on numerous other acts, Iamthemorning create a sound that is all their own. GRADE: B–.
Iamthemorning (Russian Federation): From The House Of Arts (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015)
Mariana Semkina (lead vocals)
I was curious how Iamthemorning’s complex, ornate music would translate to a live setting: the answer is surprisingly well. As effective onstage as in the studio, they turn in a fine performance with plenty of dynamics and lots of variety. GRADE: B–.
Iamthemorning (Russian Federation): Lighthouse (Kscope KSCOPE352, CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2016)
Mariana Semkina (lead vocals)
Once again, they don’t sound like anyone else and once again the music is dreamlike and atmospheric, with lush orchestrated ballads punctuated by passages of elegant progressive rock. It’s a style that on paper shouldn’t work at all, but it does – quite brilliantly. GRADE: B–.
Iamthemorning (Russian Federation): Ocean Sounds (Kscope KSCOPE608, CD plus Blu-ray, with digipak and booklet, 2018)
Mariana Semkina (lead vocals)
As with their debut, this sometimes puts me in mind of Kate Bush, but overall Iamthemorning’s music – voice-and-piano-led ballads with occasional rock elements and lots of classical references – doesn’t really resemble anyone else. As with many highly distinctive artists, there’s not much sense of artistic progression from one album to the next, but when the music is this beautiful and haunting it’s a minor issue. The Blu-ray consists of the band performing (or possibly miming to) the music from the album in an intimate domestic setting, and is a nice bonus. GRADE: B–.
Iamthemorning (Russian Federation): The Bell (Kscope KSCOPE638, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, inner and booklet, Germany, 2019)
Mariana Semkina (lead vocals, guitar)
Iamthemorning’s blend of early Kate Bush and the straightest end of seventies Renaissance is undeniably effective, and The Bell is undeniably beautiful, but they’re starting to become too sedate for their own good. With only two really progressive breaks – one near the beginning and one near the end – this is closer to conventional singer/songwriter music and chamber folk than prog. The instrumental break near the end is superb, introducing rock elements for the first and only time, and it hugely lifts the album – in fact, it single-handedly lifts it from a C+ to a B–. GRADE: B–.
Iamthemorning (Russian Federation): Counting The Ghosts (No label, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, slipcase and postcard, 2020)
Mariana Semkina (lead vocals, guitar)
It’s probably unfair to judge this private Christmas release – a 14-minute EP featuring acapella versions of two traditional numbers plus two self-penned songs – against their albums. Nonetheless, it’s a nice addition to their canon and contains some haunting music, even if the progressive edges that make their albums so special are entirely absent here. GRADE: C+.
See also Mariana Semkina
Ice (USA): Melting Your Mind (Bonny 1211L, 1972)
Robin Young (occasional vocals)
This rare album has been hyped as a masterpiece of underground psychedelia on dealer lists, whilst other reference sources have described it as musically worthless. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle, but overall it’s fairly patchy (and very short, at just over twenty-five minutes). The best cut is the excellent jam ‘Five Card Draw’ with some stinging lead guitar, whilst Robin Young contributes some strong Grace Slick-like vocals to the opening ‘Daughter Of Venus’. The rest varies between rather limp attempts at dreaminess and fairly generic West Coast rock not dissimilar to the last couple of It’s A Beautiful Day albums. However, ‘In My Oldsmobile’ is close to a novelty song, and truly annoying. Finally, it’s worth noting that this has an odd mix, with all the vocals off-centre. GRADE: C.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): Iconoclasta (Discos Rosenbach DR 001, 1983)
Rosa Echevarría de Moreno (occasional vocals), Nohemí d’Rubín (bass)
This virtually all-instrumental prog album offers a wide range of moods and styles, from dynamic rock to softer symphonic passages, all with fiery musicianship but a complete absence of ostentation. With a distinctly South American sound, it sometimes recalls Estructura and to a much lesser extent Enfasis, as well as demonstrating influences from a number of seventies European bands, but it’s far from predictable or derivative. Overall, this is an impressive debut that avoids most of the pitfalls associated with instrumental albums.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): Reminiscencias (Discos Rosenbach DR 002, with insert, 1986)
Laura Vázquez (occasional vocals), Nohemí d’Rubín (guitar, bass, synthesiser, backing vocals), Rosa Flora Moreno (keyboards, backing vocals)
Their second album is a more ambitious affair, being a conceptual set with a side-long suite and involvement from a large choir. That said, I like it a lot less. The more pastoral passages drag somewhat, whilst the uptempo pieces are clumsier and more ostentatious than on their first; whilst the suite contains some good music, it’s not enormously well-assembled, and the overall feeling is that of a capable band overreaching itself. GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): Soliloquio (Discos Rosenbach DR 009, with insert, 1987)
Laura Vázquez (joint lead vocals), Nohemí d’Rubín (bass), Rosa Flora Moreno (keyboards)
Album number three is much more song-based, although still dominated by long instrumental passages. Unfortunately, despite a few excellent moments, it’s rather a messy record, with lots of flashy playing and some awkward marriages between the vocal and instrumental sections. Seemingly, the more ambitious Iconoclasta become, the less listenable their music becomes as a result. GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): La Rencarnación De Maquiavelo (Avanzada Metálika KCT 43, CD, 1992)
Nohemí d’Rubín (lead vocals, bass)
After a couple of albums with an all-male line-up, Nohemí d’Rubín returned to the band for this enjoyable LP. Marking a return to the less pretentious style of their debut, this features seven instrumentals and one song (which is good – a first for Iconoclasta). This is much jazzier than anything they’ve done before, with plenty of horns on ‘Quien Alcanza Su Ideal’; overall this is their best album since their first, but slightly marred by the cheesy synthesiser sounds favoured on most cuts. GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): De Todos Uno (Spectrum Audio DSCD 001, CD, 1994)
Nohemí d’Rubín (lead vocals, bass)
With three songs and seven instrumentals, this is a bit more vocal than La Rencarnación De Maquiavelo. It’s also harder rocking and less jazzy, with more guitar-dominated arrangements. Overall this is a solid set, with some excellent moments, and easily the equal of its predecessor. GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): La Granja Humana (No label, CD, 2000)
Nohemí d’Rubín (bass)
This all-instrumental set isn’t quite the return to form one might have hoped for: whilst there is some excellent music here, it also plods a little in parts. Notwithstanding, the disc contains some outstanding cuts, particularly the more pastoral sections fronted by recorder (played by Greta Romero Silva, who would subsequently replace Nohemí d’Rubín in the band). GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): Live In France (Metropolis CDM-6011, CD, 2002)
Nohemí d’Rubín (bass)
For some reason, this is by far the hardest Iconoclasta album to track down, and it took me several years to find a copy. As with its studio predecessor, it’s entirely instrumental and offers some nice chunky rock structures and a good level of energy, but there’s not much experimentation or adventure here. GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): Resurrección (Luna Negra CDLN-41, CD, 2009)
Alma Castillo (joint lead vocals), Greta Romero Silva (joint lead vocals, bass)
Completely different from its predecessor, this mostly consists of fairly short songs with a strong seventies influence and definite metal edges. Occasionally they’re very good (notably the riff-driven ‘El Perro De Pavlov’) but a lot of the arrangements are rather messy and the instrumental suite in the middle is a little patchy too. GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): Movalidad (No label, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2013)
Greta Romero Silva (joint lead vocals, bass)
Given their complex instrumental beginnings, I never imagined Iconoclasta would issue an album like this: straightforward song-based rock, with the progressive elements coming from the jazzy time signatures and guitar flourishes. In a sense it’s a logical step forward from Resurreción, but if they keep in the same direction their next step will take them into mainstream pop/rock. GRADE: C+.
Iconoclasta (Mexico): Concierto De Aniversario – 35 Años (Azafrán Media AP 2241, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2022, recorded 2015)
Greta Romero Silva (joint lead vocals, bass), Nohemí d’Rubín (joint lead vocals, bass), Rosa Flora Moreno (keyboards)
Iconclasta are a band who never fulfilled their early promise – their 1983 debut is their only album I’ve rated above a C+. This live retrospective, recorded in 2015 but released seven years later, isn’t going to change that. For sure, it contains nearly two hours of good prog, half fronted by Greta Romero Silva and half by Nohemí d’Rubín, but very little of it has that indefinable X-factor to take it to the next level. GRADE: C+.
ID Company (West Germany): ID Company (Hör Zu SHZE 801 BL, 1970)
Dagmar Krause (joint lead vocals), Inga Rumpf (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This extremely unusual, highly creative album is probably the last thing anyone would have expected from these two City Preachers members while the parent band took an extended break from recording. Rather than collaborate, each singer took a side apiece and filled it with her own compositions (quite unusual for Krause, who hardly ever composed in her subsequent projects), whilst sharing a backing band. Rumpf’s side is quite experimental, blending elements of jazz, folk and Indian music, and even including a snatch of ‘Life Without Pain’ (which would reappear on Frumpy’s All Will Be Changed); it gives no hint of the heavier blues/rock direction that she would later pursue. Krause’s side is much closer to free jazz and the avant-garde, featuring electronically treated vocals and presaging the career in RIO she would pursue with Slapp Happy, Henry Cow and others. Following the album’s release, Rumpf split off with several other City Preachers members to form Frumpy whilst Krause returned to the band for a final album. GRADE: B–.
See also Art Bears, Atlantis, City Preachers, Frumpy, Henry Cow, Dagmar Krause, News From Babel, Rockship, Inga Rumpf, Slapp Happy
Iditarod (USA): The River Nektar (Hub City HC 003, with booklet, photograph, badge and plastic bag, 1998)
This American duo’s debut is soft, gauzy acid-folk – all semi-whispered vocals over swirling soundscapes created with detuned guitars and occasional bass and drums. It’s all very American and very much of its era, with hints of everyone from Charalambides to Fern Knight, and with 13 songs in 30 minutes is a series of inconsequential, but sometimes quite diverting, vignettes. GRADE: C+.
Iditarod (USA): Yuletide (No label, CDR, 2001)
The first instalment in Iditarod’s Christmas series is much more experimental than their debut album: when you listen to the first track, you may think you’ve put on an outtake from Nico’s The Marble Index. But whilst this is fascinatingly odd and unsettling stuff, what was cutting-edge in 1968 wasn’t 30 years later and the album betrays its influences perhaps a little too obviously. GRADE: C+.
Iditarod (USA): Kleine (Morc 26, cassette, Belgium, 2002)
Carin Wagner (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, autoharp)
Album number three falls midway between their first two, retaining the fragile beauty of their debut but adding in lots of experimental touches like their second. At its best this is truly beautiful and haunting – easily their finest work to date – but it’s also quite ponderous, with long ambient passages during which nothing much happens. Ultimately, whilst the experiments are frequently interesting, had it been a bit straighter it would probably have been a B–. GRADE: C+.
Iditarod (USA): The Ghost, The Elf, The Cat And The Angel (BlueSanct INRIO65, CD, 2002)
Carin Wagner (principal vocals, guitar, synthesiser, percussion, tamboura), Petra Lienemann (occasional vocals, organ, glockenspiel, dulcimer, bouzouki), Margaret Ayre (cello)
With Fern Knight’s Margaret Ayre credited as a full member and Fit & Limo guesting on two songs, this is something of an acid-folk supergroup project. Whilst occasionally ponderous – seemingly an Iditarod trait – it’s a pretty super album too, with the various strands of their sound coming together to create a haunting and crystalline album. GRADE: B–.
Iditarod (USA): Yuletide (No label, CDR, 2002)
Like the first instalment, this Christmas special mixes moments of extreme beauty (notably a lovely version of Pentangle’s ‘Watch The Stars’) with some avant-garde guitar excursions and sound effects. Whilst the balance is more towards the songs this time, I still find some of the weirdnesses a little self-conscious, though this is undeniably atmospheric and eerie. The bulk of both Yuletide CDRs were compiled, along with quite a number of bonus tracks, as a double CD also entitled Yuletide (Camera Obscura CAM06CD, Australia, 2003). GRADE: C+.
Iditarod & Sharron Kraus (USA): Yuletide (Elsie & Jack Recordings #014, CD, 2003)
Carin Wagner (joint lead vocals, finger cymbals), Sharron Kraus (joint lead vocals, piano, clarinet, whistle)
The Iditarod’s final release seems them teaming up with fellow wyrd-folk practitioner Sharron Kraus to deliver a lovely set full of haunting, crystalline, wintery tunes. The more experimental elements are wisely kept in check this time around, resulting in an atmospheric and enveloping tapestry of sound that ebbs and flows. GRADE: B–.
Ie Rai Shan (Japan): Ie Rai Shan (Made In Japan MJC-1005, CD, with wallpaper wrap, 1994)
Naomi Hodaka (lead vocals)
This is typically bombastic modern Japanese sympho-prog, with a style falling somewhere between Marge Litch and Teru’s Symphonia. It’s listenable enough but completely generic, without any really memorable melodies or riffs. As a footnote, this is an unusually packaged disc, with an outer paper wrap of wallpaper-like material around the jewel case. GRADE: C+.
Ie Rai Shan (Japan): Live At Muse (No label IRS-001, CD, 1999, recorded 1992)
Naomi Hodaka (principal vocals)
Relased five years after their studio album but recorded a couple of years earlier, this live set has a similar sound (and appears to duplicate a fair amount of material). With good recording quality, this is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who likes eighties and nineties Japanese prog or indeed neoprogressive in general. Once again, the packaging is odd – this time the CD comes with a booklet but no tray card. GRADE: C+.
Ifsounds (Italy): Apeirophobia (Melodic Revolution, CD, USA, 2010)
Elena Ricci (principal vocals)
This was the band’s fifth album, but their first with a female member. Most of the disc is taken up with the title suite, which has philosophical lyrics and varied musical backing, but there are also three shorter songs and an instrumental. This is a difficult album to describe, with a few hard rock touches, slight (but only slight) Pink Floyd references and good Spanish guitar and piano sections amid melodic symphonic rock that gives no hints of its Italian origins. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the heavily accented vocals. GRADE: C+.
Ifsounds (Italy): Red Apple (Melodic Revolution MRR CD 22010, CD, USA, 2012)
Federica Berchicchi (principal vocals), Andrea Garrison (occasional vocals)
This concept album (with guest Andrea Garrison providing the linking narrative as a radio DJ) is all over the place, from folky numbers to heavy rock, Queen-like majestic harmonies, piano solos, improvised jazz passages and even a recurring instrumental theme that puts me in mind of George Formby. The results are mildly interesting but not at all coherent, and once again the English pronunciation is sometimes woeful. GRADE: C+.
Ihre Kinder (West Germany): …Ihre Kinder (Philips 844 393 PY, 1969)
Judith Brigger (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This German band issued a number of albums, but this was their only release with a female member. It’s pleasant folkish pop with a psychedelic edge and some good fuzz guitar and flute work, sounding a year or two earlier than its release date. GRADE: C+.
Chris Kando Iijima, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto & Charlie Chin (USA): A Grain Of Sand – Music For The Struggle By Asians In America (Paredon P-1020, some on yellow vinyl, with booklet, 1973)
Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto (joint lead vocals, maracas)
This interesting album, whose title is self-explanatory, features wholly self-penned music that has one foot in the coffeehouse and the other in the hippie movement. With backing from acoustic guitars and hand percussion, the trio offer some lovely jazzy folk grooves with a haunting, wistful flavour. GRADE: C+.
Iliad (USA): Sapphire House (Northern Lights NL 6178, 1978)
Nancy Eastman (lead vocals)
This all-male instrumental trio (plus guests, including a female singer who contributes wordless vocals to two cuts) took many of their cues from the Canterbury scene (as side one’s closer ‘Canterbury’ suggests). However, this has none of the playfulness of the Canterbury bands, offering a cross-section of jazz, classical and progressive styles to highlight the musicians’ prowess (and in particular that of the keyboardist). Consequently, it’s a difficult album to review and grade: superbly put together, frequently breathtaking in its musicianship and packed with great riffs and tunes, but sometimes bland and uninspired, and with a rather detached, academic feel throughout. GRADE: B–.
Ill Wicker (Sweden: Under Diana (Electricity ELPS-202, 2014)
Thea Åslund, Emma Lagerberg
The ‘Diana’ in the title is not accidental: this band’s favourite album is clearly Comus’s First Utterance, and their own LP is largely a remarkably faithful pastiche of it. However, where First Utterance was frequently ferocious and angry, Under Diana has a more relaxed, though still very eerie, feel, incorporating influences from other psychedelic and progressive folk acts (most notably the Incredible String Band). Though obviously derivative, it’s very well done and certainly worth hearing. GRADE: B–.
Ill Wicker (Sweden): Untamed (The Sign CRC004, CD, with digipak and download card, 2015)
Thea Åslund (joint lead vocals, violin, viola), Emma Lagerberg (joint lead vocals, organ, glockenspiel, violin)
A little more of their own personality shows through here, but once again there’s no doubt how much they love First Utterance: they even copy some of the vocal arrangements down to a tee. This is good stuff – very good indeed, in fact – but it’s curious to hear one band so obviously influenced by another outside the incestuous worlds of zeuhl and RIO. GRADE: B–.
Ill Wind (USA): Flashes (ABC S-641, 1968)
Conny Devanney (joint lead vocals)
With its melodic and slightly hypnotic sound, this has long been a favourite among psych collectors. The rich harmony vocals on some cuts resemble the Mamas & The Papas, while the musical backing is sometimes similar to early Jefferson Airplane. A couple of songs are rather throwaway, but the numerous highpoints include ‘People Of The Night’ (with a lengthy instrumental section full of strong acid guitar), the haunting, folky ‘Dark World’, and the heavy, sinister ‘LAPD’. GRADE: B–.
Illiterate Beach (USA): No Polyester Please… (Susstones IML 518, 1987)
Maria Menolasino (joint lead vocals, guitar, violin)
This enjoyable six-track mini-album essentially refracts early Jefferson Airplane through an eighties indie prism, with a jangly guitar-based sound that should appeal to fans of acts like REM. Most of the material is self-penned, but the sole cover (‘High Flyin’ Bird’) once again confirms their Airplane fixation. Quite simply, psychedelic revivalism doesn’t come much better than this, so it’s a pity they didn’t release a full LP. GRADE: B–.
Illuminae (UK/Poland): Dark Horizons (Immrama ILUCD001, USB card, with digipak, UK, 2021)
Agniezka Świta (lead vocals)
You won’t need to read the credits to work out that Illuminae’s mainman is Karnataka’s Ian Jones – it’s obvious from the first few minutes. For better and worse, this is a hybrid of Karnataka styles, from the Celtic atmospheres of their earlier work to the hard rock stylings of their later albums, all given epic dimensions with guest appearances from Steve Hackett, Ian Helliwell and (of course) Troy Donockley. Like Karnataka, it’s melodic and uplifting, with rich melodies and swelling symphonic arrangements. But also like Karnataka, it’s a synthesis of its influences rather than an inventive fusion, and it’s all a bit too polished and soulless. In an unusual move, the band issued the album as a USB card, containing 24-bit versions in WAV, FLAC and MP3, plus an excellent promo video and some photographs and desktop wallpapers. GRADE: C+.
See also Caamora, Clive Nolan, Agnieszka Świta
Illumion (Holland): Hunting For Significance (Progess PRCD 034, CD, Sweden, 2009)
Esther Ladiges (lead vocals, percussion, flute), Eveline van Kampen (guitar, erhu), Eveline Simons (keyboards)
With clear influences from both King Crimson and Rush, this mostly female band (only the rhythm section were male) offer a dense symphonic hard rock LP. Although quite atmospheric and with a few fine riffs, it’s often quite messy and decidedly lacking in the songwriting department. At its worst, it recalls weaker, similar outfits like Leger De Main, but even at its best it’s fairly unremarkable, with only a few Oriental and Arabic moments really standing out. GRADE: C.
Illumion (Holland): The Waves (Freia ZEUS 2LP, double LP plus CD, with inners and minisleeve, 2012)
Esther Ladiges (principal vocals, percussion) Eveline van Kampen (guitar, mandolin, violin, backing vocals)
This double album is beautifully packaged, with a gatefold sleeve and two inners, plus a bonus CD (featuring the first three sides) in its own minisleeve. However, I still find their jazzy, mildly proggy, brand of metal rather uninteresting, and once again the songwriting is nothing special. GRADE: C.
Illusion (UK): Out Of The Mist (Island ILPS 9489, 1977)
Jane Relf (joint lead vocals)
This is basically the first incarnation of Renaissance minus Keith Relf, who was planning to be involved but tragically died in 1976. Comparing it to the contemporary work of the Annie Haslam-fronted version, this is more robust and rocking but also a lot less ambitious, often coming close to mainstream soft rock. It’s a decent album throughout, with the heavier ‘Solo Flight’ providing a welcome change of mood, but only really takes off with the last two cuts: a remake of ‘Face Of Yesterday’ (from the Renaissance Illusion album) and the superb ‘Candles Are Burning’, which demonstrates the level of intensity they could achieve when they really tried. GRADE: C+.
Illusion (UK): Illusion (Island ILPS 9519, 1978)
Jane Relf (joint lead vocals)
Album number two is a big step up, opening with their finest number ‘Madonna Blue’. Slow, majestic and wonderfully melodic, the cut climaxes in a marvellous instrumental coda with a long, impassioned guitar solo. The disc never reaches the same heights again, but it’s a good record throughout, with the metronomic, mid-paced ‘Cruising Nowhere’ building up quite a head of steam and ‘The Revolutionary’ providing a great closer. GRADE: B–.
Illusion (UK): Enchanted Caress (Promised Land 92152, CD, 1990, recorded 1979)
Jane Relf (joint lead vocals)
The sleevenotes claim Illusion to be ‘quite simply the Beatles of progressive rock’; it’s a ridiculous statement, but this collection of demos for their proposed third album is pleasant enough. The quality of the material here suggests that, had these songs been worked up with some extended instrumental passages and progressive motifs (of which there are none here), this could easily have equalled its predecessor. The eight short songs are rounded off by a solo instrumental from guitarist John Knightsbridge (provenance unknown) and Keith Relf’s much-compiled final recording ‘All The Falling Angels’. The band subsequently mutated into the more new age-oriented Stairway. GRADE: C+.
See also Renaissance, Renaissance Illusion, Pilgrim, Stairway
In Concert (UK): In Concert (Zella ZEL LP 116, 1970)
Liz Duncan, Liz Cotterell
Housed in a wonderfully evocative silkscreened sleeve and with plain stickered labels, this was clearly a minuscule pressing, and only one copy has resurfaced on the collectors’ circuit. Without any artist credit as such, the album was the work of four folk musicians, who sometimes appear to play together and sometimes as two duos (one of the two men and the other of the two women). Musically it has a typical early seventies folk club sound, with some crystalline singing from the girls and with (mostly very good) versions of material like ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, ‘Summertime’, ‘The Boxer’, ‘Last Thing On My Mind’ et al. I have seen the disc compared to Marie Celeste, which makes sense, though occasionally (notably on the self-penned ‘Traffic Song’) there’s a bit more of a underground vibe that puts me in mind of the folkier cuts from Holyground albums like A-Austr and Astral Navigations. GRADE: C+.
In Each Hand A Cutlass (Singapore): A Universe Made Of Strings (No label, CD, 2011)
Amanda Ling (keyboards, programming)
The obvious reference points for this Singaporean band’s majestic instrumental metal is Kong, though they also resemble a less experimental Rock Of Travolta. However, although almost every piece is driven by muscular riffing, they have a broad musical palette, with clear references to seventies prog and hard rock and a few post-rock touches too. As a bonus, it’s superbly recorded too, with the band making extensive use of the studio – so it’s a great test disc for audiophiles as well as a great album. GRADE: B.
In Each Hand A Cutlass (Singapore): The Kraken (No label, CD, 2015)
Amanda Ling (keyboards, programming)
I don’t find this as striking or as surprising as their first, though it’s very much in the same vein. Nonetheless, this is still fine instrumental metal – energetic, bombastic and dynamic, with references to everything from the jazzy edges of Stinking Lizaveta to the casiopop touches of Rolo Tomassi. GRADE: B–.
Labyrint (Sweden): Mysteriernas Trädgård (No label, cassette, 1994)
Karin Langhard-Gejel (percussion, flute, backing vocals)
With 24 shortish (though sometimes linked) tracks showcasing a broad spectrum of ethnic instruments (saz, zither, santoor, kena, bansuri and many others), this is an unusual and elegant set. Occasional rock interjections, including some well-judged electric guitar and Mellotron, prevent it from becoming mere world music or fringing new age, whilst two actual songs add further variety. The result is a remarkable 74-minute sonic journey, though I wish they’d included some longer and more involved suites. As a footnote, the album was reissued on CD as In The Garden Of Mysteries under the band’s new name of In The Labyrinth (Ad Perpetuam Memoriam APM 9613 AT/SYMPHILIS 5, 1996). GRADE: B–.
In-Tension (Holland): Fragments (No label, CD, 2004)
Noortje van de Voort (lead vocals)
With their rich melodies, understated soprano vocals and elegant melodies and riffs, In-Tension operate at the more relaxed end of symphonic metal. Those who shun bombast will find plenty to enjoy here, but those seeking music that is mould-breaking, startling or experimental may find the album too derivative or too much of a piece. GRADE: C+.
In The Labyrinth (Sweden): Walking On Clouds (TonArt Production/Record Heaven TAP/RHCD 21, CD, 1999)
Helena Selander (occasional vocals), Miriam Oldenburg (accordion)
This is a bit more commercial than their first: brighter, catchier and more rock-oriented, including four actual songs. It’s also a better album, delivering a melodic, uplifting and constantly changing suite of music that harnesses unusual instruments and diverse musical traditions to great effect. GRADE: B.
In The Labyrinth (Sweden): Dryad (TonArt Production/Record Heaven TAP/RHCD 65, CD, 2002)
Helena Selander (occasional vocals)
Their third and final album is the most commercial of all, once again mixing four catchy songs with seven richly arranged instrumentals. It’s nice stuff, with great melodies and intricate playing, providing a fitting end to their short but stellar career. GRADE: B–.
In The Summer Of The Mushroom Honey (USA): In The Summer Of The Mushroom Honey (Aether, with inserts, 1998)
Richelle Toombs (lead vocals)
This one-off project, formed by members of a number of different psychedelic bands, recorded its sole album in a single day. The liner notes state that everything was improvised, but this has none of the aimlessness of much improvised music, offering an enjoyable selection of spacy and folky trips. The CD version from the following year (Aether AECD-105) substitutes a slightly longer version of ‘Deep Beneath The Water’ and adds three bonus tracks, including the 20-minute ‘Opening Impressions Of The Middle East’, which is probably the best thing they recorded. GRADE: C+.
See also Many Bright Things, Tombstone Valentine
In The Woods… (Norway): Omnio (Misanthropy AMAZON 011, CD, UK, 1997)
The basic style here is rooted in doom metal, but that doesn’t really sum up the majestic, spacy, epic yet minimalist music on offer. In The Woods… generally forgo pummelling riffs for a relaxed mid-paced approach, with a few gothic touches from cello (though this doesn’t really qualify as gothic metal either). Lengthy, unpredictable song structures (especially on the 24-minute closing suite), dramatic tempo changes and philosophical lyrics indicate strong progressive influences, whilst the male and female vocalists occasionally resemble (of all things) quasi-operatic versions of Ian McCulloch and Siouxsie Sioux. There’s even some glissando guitar and a short snatch of a Gong-like rhythm in the title suite. In short, Omnio is odd through and through, and all the better for it. GRADE: B–.
In The Woods… (Norway): Strange In Stereo (Misanthropy AMAZON 020, CD, 1999)
From the title, you might be expecting some weird production effects, but the recording is pretty straightforward, as is the music. This is solid enough metal, with a few hints of post-rock and trip-hop, but it doesn’t represent a step forward from the previous record and is never particularly exciting. GRADE: C+.
In The Woods… (Norway): Three Times Seven On A Pilgrimage (Prophecy Productions PRO 024, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, Germany, 1999)
This time round, the title does explain the contents: this compiles three singles (all cover versions) and their B-sides plus four other tracks. Such a piecemeal approach might suggest a mediocre album, but this is by far their best, adding psychedelic and space-rock elements to their sound. The covers – King Crimson’s ‘Epitaph’, Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ and best of all an amazing deconstruction of Pink Floyd’s ‘Let There Be More Light’ – are superb, whilst their own material concentrates more on atmosphere and mood, completing an impressive set. GRADE: B.
In The Woods… (Norway): Live At The Caledonien Hall (Karkakosmetix KKX001, double CD, with slipcase, 2003)
Synne Larsen (joint lead vocals, finger cymbals)
Running for nearly two-and-a-half hours, this expansive live set summarised the band’s entire career and marked its dissolution. It’s an interesting and accomplished set, with a very spacy atmosphere, but it tends to confirm that their material is not only very understated but also not particularly varied. Some copies also featured a label sampler, with its own minisleeve; this includes solo cuts by a few band members and contains some fine music. GRADE: B–.
See also Green Carnation, Naervaer
Incredible Cherry Tree Band (UK): The Incredible Cherry Tree Band (Look LKLP 6037, 1976)
Ros Thomas (lead vocals)
Some of this extremely rare private album’s cuts are unremarkable trad-ish jazz and fusion (the reading of ‘You Are The Sunshine Of My Life’ is particularly superfluous), but on others the band creates some superb Affinity-style progressive jazz/rock with lengthy, complex instrumental breaks that could easily have come out on Vertigo in the early seventies. GRADE: C+.
Incredible String Band (UK): Changing Horses (Elektra EKS 7457, 1969)
Christina McKechnie (occasional vocals, guitar, organ, percussion, kazoo), Rose Simpson (occasional vocals, bass, percussion)
A country-flavoured opener (Robin Williamson’s ‘Big Ted’) and two cuts around the 15-minute mark (Mike Heron’s ‘White Bird’ and Williamson’s ‘Creation’) significantly mar the album, but elsewhere it’s as good – and occasionally as frustrating – as anything this whimsical, idiosyncratic and seminal acid-folk band ever produced. GRADE: C+.
Incredible String Band (UK): I Looked Up (Elektra EKS 74061, 1970)
Christina McKechnie (occasional vocals, bass, drums, dulcimer), Rose Simpson (occasional vocals, bass, violin)
With Dave Mattacks guesting on drums on one track, in parts this sounds almost like conventional folk/rock. I said ‘almost’, though: elsewhere the weirdness quotient is nearly as high as usual. GRADE: C+.
Incredible String Band (UK): Be Glad For The Song Has No Ending (Island ILPS 9140, 1971)
Christina McKechnie (occasional vocals, organ, percussion, recorder, mandolin, kazoo), Rose Simpson (occasional vocals, bass, percussion, recorder)
With five relatively coherent songs on the first side and almost half-an-hour of baroque instrumental snippets from the film of the same name on the flip, this is one of their most enjoyable and uplifting LPs. GRADE: B–.
Incredible String Band (UK): U (Elektra 2665 001, with insert, double, 1970)
Christina McKechnie (occasional vocals, guitar, percussion), Rose Simpson (occasional vocals, guitar, bass, tablas)
The soundtrack to a vast multi-media stage show, this 100-minute double album is by far their most ambitious work. It’s also one of their best, although the ISB being the ISB and a vast, sprawling double LP being a vast, sprawling double LP, several tracks don’t work too well – the country-flavoured ‘Bad Sadie Lee’ is rather inappropriate, and the 10-minute piano ballad ‘Light In Time Of Darkness/Glad To See You’ decidedly outstays its welcome. GRADE: B–.
Incredible String Band (UK): Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air (Island ILPS 9172, 1971)
Christina McKechnie (occasional vocals, bass, keyboards, percussion, autoharp, kazoo)
In parts, this has stronger progressive rock influences than usual, but mostly it’s unusually straight stuff for them – one track is a heavy folk/rocker in Fairport Convention style, and another is a pop-reggae number. But it’s well up to their usual high standard, and could easily appeal to those who find their more meandering moments irritating. GRADE: C+.
Incredible String Band (UK): Earthspan (Island ILPS 9211, with inner, 1972)
Christina McKechnie (occasional vocals, bass)
It’s still decidedly odd and it’s still definitely the ISB, but Earthspan sees them moving even further towards the mainstream. In fact, several tracks have something of a singer/songwriter feel, and whilst they’re fairly well executed, this is certainly one of their less essential albums. GRADE: C+.
Indigo (USA): Indigo (Warner Brothers BS 2991, 1977)
Sherry Fox (joint lead vocals, piano), Sue Richman (joint lead vocals, piano)
This trio united singer and guitarist Rex Larsen with Sherry Fox (ex-RJ Fox, Oasis and Cookin’ Mama) and Sue Richman (ex-Genesis), with Larsen and Fox providing all the original material. Musically this recalls a slightly more rural version of mid-seventies Fleetwood Mac, offering engaging, well-crafted and slightly inconsequential melodic soft rock. GRADE: C+.
See also Cookin’ Mama, Genesis, Knickers, Oasis, RJ Fox, Starcrossed, Thieves
Ines (Germany): Hunting The Fox (WMMS 051, CD, 1994)
Ines Fuchs (keyboards)
Why Ines Fuchs gets star billing as a solo artist is beyond me; she plays all the keyboards and composes nearly everything, but this is very much a band effort, featuring several different (male) vocalists. Musically, it’s polished, symphonic stadium-rock, with more than a hint of Pink Floyd circa A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, and appears to be some kind of concept album. GRADE: C+.
Ines (Germany): Eastern Dawning (WMMS 098, CD, 1996)
Ines Fuchs (keyboards, backing vocals)
Broadly in the same style as their first, this is sometimes a little more relaxed and pastoral. But for the most part, it’s good-natured, tuneful mainstream rock with symphonic edges and a few minor progressive touches: pleasant, listenable, inoffensive and wholly unoriginal. GRADE: C+.
Ines (Germany): The Flow (Tempus Fugit 726221-2, CD, 1999)
Ines Fuchs (occasional vocals, keyboards, accordion)
The third Ines album has some interesting moments, especially on the instrumentals, where she incorporates influences from African music. Some of the songs are slightly folkier than normal as well, with subtle use of accordion, violin and flute, but mostly this is her usual mid-paced tuneful rock. The sleeve notes describe the album as ‘complex music’, her ‘most sophisticated work’ and ‘a fascinating musical journey’, but really this is nothing of the kind. GRADE: C+.
Ines Project (Germany): Slipping Into The Unknown (Tempus Fugit 20733, CD, 2002)
Ines Fuchs (occasional vocals, keyboards)
The final Ines album (sensibly issued under a band identity) offers her normal polished, atmospheric melodic rock and delivers no surprises. However, the excellent production and a few fine melodies mean that this is possibly the best of her oeuvre. GRADE: C+.
Inner Circle (USA): Everybody Listen! (Gospel Tone GT-LP-195, 1971?)
Gloria Majors (lead vocals), Sandy Mayrant (backing vocals)
This obscure Christian outfit clearly had money to burn, as this is very professionally recorded and lushly arranged, including strings and horns. That isn’t a compliment, as the end result is a dull, syrupy and lifeless MOR album drawing on country, folk and pop music. It’s a pity, as there are hints of talent here and there, but for the most part this is excruciating. GRADE: E.
Inner Dialogue (USA): Inner Dialogue (Ranwood R 8050, with insert, 1969)
Lynn Dolin (joint lead vocals), BJ Ward (joint lead vocals)
With dreamy dual female vocals and lots of sweeping strings, this is a charming if ultimately unexceptional baroque soft pop LP. Nonetheless, there is some complexity, not to mention pretension, on offer in both the music (the classically-tinged ‘Yesterday The Dog’) and lyrics (which often deal with psychological concerns, as the band name suggests). BJ Ward later went on to cut a sought-after solo album Vocal Ease. GRADE: C.
Inner Dialogue (USA): Friend (Ranwood R 8074, 1970)
Lynn Dolin (joint lead vocals), Kay Cole (joint lead vocals)
Whilst perfectly pleasant, this is rather less creative than their first: four cuts are covers, whilst the originals are fairly conventional MOR pop with nothing as out-there as ‘Yesterday The Dog’. This must have sounded quite dated even in 1970, and it’s hardly surprising that they never got to cut a third LP. GRADE: C.
Inner Drive (Russian Federation): Oasis (Lizard CD 0104, CD, Italy, 2014)
Natalia Filatova (flute)
This Russian jazz-fusion band’s album is richly melodic, beautifully crafted and very virtuosic, but there’s nothing surprising, fiery or particularly memorable here. In addition to flautist Natalia Filatova, a couple of female musicians guested on the album: Tatiana Kanevskaya plays guitar on ‘Chaos’ whilst Inna Klubochkina contributes violin to three tracks. GRADE: C+.
Inner Ear Brigade (USA): Rainbro (Altrock ALT 025, CD, Italy, 2012)
Melody Ferris (lead vocals)
The band describe themselves as RIO, but despite a passing resemblance to Cos, this is more a fusion of jazz/rock, sympho-prog and space-rock, with the emphasis on the former. With some rather wacky lyrics and a few mainstream rock leanings, it’s also distinctively American and although occasionally mildly experimental never becomes dissonant. A consistently good album, it’s ultimately more pleasant and inoffensive than it is startling and compelling. GRADE: C+.
Inner Ear Brigade (USA): Dromology (Altrock ALT-057, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2017)
Melody Ferris (lead vocals)
This time round, their musically is clearly RIO, right down to the deliberately off-key singing throughout. However, it’s definitely at the more conventional end of the genre – whereas I’d describe the greats of the style as radical, startling or even astonishing, I’d describe this as accomplished, mellow and pleasant. GRADE: C+.
Innovation (Canada): Innovation (Birchmount BM577, 1970)
Terry Murphey (joint lead vocals), Patty Lewis (joint lead vocals)
A quartet of two men and two women, whose obscure album is now quite rare. Despite their name, this is quaint harmony hippie folk/pop and pop/rock with a mixture of self-penned songs and covers, all with a gentle, summery feel. Even by the standards of the era, this is a short LP, at around 25 minutes. GRADE: C.
Inquisition (Denmark): Inquisition (Generation GRL 8518E, 1985)
Tina Siel (occasional vocals), Dorthea Hermann (occasional vocals)
Blending mainstream rock and neoprog in a style similar to the Dutch band Kayak, this Danish project is a concept album about witchhunts using different singers on each track. Some of the more symphonic passages are rather pleasing, but the more uptempo numbers embody every eighties rock cliché. Although issued on what appears to be a private label, this was obviously quite a big-budget project, as the album comes with a very attractive book sleeve. GRADE: C–.
Inri-Ezel (Puerto Rico): Aunque La Tierra Tiemble Debemos De Cantar (Roka RK-316, 1972?)
Teresa (joint lead vocals, pandereta)
This melodic garage psych album is one of the rarest private pressings from Puerto Rico, and also among the scarcest Christian LPs in the world. The religious message never detracts from the music, which is excellent (and very well recorded) basement guitar rock with some good riffs and solos. GRADE: C+.
Insect Ark (USA): Marrow Hymns (Profound Lore PFL-196, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2018)
This project by prolific bassist Dana Schechter offers an odd series of instrumental vignettes drawing on doom metal but also ambient and all other kinds of music. Dark, sinister and echoey, it could also have some appeal for fans of modern psychedelic sounds, and whilst the music doesn’t really go anywhere, it’s a very atmospheric journey. She/they also released an earlier album, Portal/Well, that I haven’t heard. GRADE: B–.
Insect Trust (USA): The Insect Trust (Capitol SKAO 109, 1968)
Nancy Jeffries (lead vocals, percussion)
First cut ‘The Skin Game’ begins as rootsy Americana, with an early-twentieth century flavour, before suddenly becoming an exciting and slightly avant-garde psychedelic freakout, finally returning to its original mood. It sets the style for one of the most interesting and inventive albums to emerge from the American underground in the late-sixties, fusing old-time jazz, blues, country and ragtime into contemporary progressive explorations. Even those who don’t like American roots music, like me, will find a great deal to treasure here. GRADE: B–.
Insect Trust (USA): Hoboken Saturday Night (Atco SD 33-313, 1970)
Nancy Jeffries (lead vocals)
Their somewhat different second and final album is even rootsier, with a heavier influence from pre-war jazz, and far fewer psychedelic or progressive elements. It’s well done, but I vastly prefer their debut – and I suspect most readers will too. GRADE: C+.
Inspiration (UK): Follow That White Line (Custom 003, 1975?)
Pop/Lounge/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Lee Sanz (lead vocals)
Of equal interest to lounge and ‘real people’ collectors, this is a peculiar mixture of MOR, pop/rock and progressive, peaking on an astonishing version of ‘The Dambusters’ March’, with a weird improvised middle section of sound effects. Elsewhere, there are covers of songs like ‘Morning Has Broken’, manic drum solos, unexpected keyboard fugues and tempo changes, and plenty of cheesy, end-of-the-pier organ and clunky rhythms. In fact, the level of eccentricity almost approaches the notorious Jumble Lane at moments. GRADE: C.
Instant Flight (Japan/Italy/Czech Republic): Instant Flight (No label MALT 3582, CD, 2001)
Lucie Rejchrtová (occasional vocals, keyboards)
Led by an Italian and based in the UK, this multinational band thank the Beatles and Syd Barrett in the liner notes to their debut EP. Those references are no accident, as this is excellent late sixties-style psychedelia, with heavy guitar work and rich layers of Hammond organ and Mellotron. Two of the four cuts were re-recorded for the band’s first album Colours And Lights three years later. GRADE: B–.
Instant Flight (UK/Italy/Czech Republic): Colours And Lights (Beard Of Stars BOS CD 41, CD, Italy, 2004)
Lucie Rejchrtová (occasional vocals, keyboards)
The promise suggested by their EP is fully borne out by this fine album, which equals peak Petals whilst having a distinctly British sensibility. Once again, there’s some lovely Mellotron work sprinkled among the very varied tracks. As a footnote, Arthur Brown (with whom Lucie Rejchrtová also worked) sings lead on two cuts, whilst Sundial’s Gary Ramon contributes a guitar solo to one. GRADE: B–.
Instant Flight (UK/Italy/Czech Republic): Endless Journey (Headspin HS402CD, CD, 2008)
Lucie Rejchrtová (keyboards, harmonica, backing vocals)
Again, this offers richly melodic psychedelia, with well-crafted, atmospheric songs. There’s nothing cutting-edge or experimental here, but Instant Flight are superb at what they do and there are few, if any, obvious weak moments. GRADE: B–.
Instant Flight (UK/Italy/Czech Republic): Around The Gates Of Morning (Rock ’n’ Rave, CDR, 2014)
Lucie Rejchrtová (occasional vocals, keyboards)
This is their most expansive album, with 17 tracks and a playing time of over an hour. The instrumentals ‘Go Ahead And Don’t Look Back’ and ‘Slow Stroll’ take them into Shadows-like territory and some of the other tracks approach pastiches of late sixties and early seventies rock styles, but it’s all extremely well done and possibly their best LP overall. Whilst most of the songs are new, this appears to compile recordings from a number of sessions, including the entire 2001 EP. GRADE: B–.
Instruments (USA): Cast A Half Shadow (Orange Twin 023, 2006)
Heather McIntosh (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, cello)
With a mixture of folky songs and pleasant instrumentals (vaguely classical-edged, but certainly not progressive), this album is extremely difficult to describe. It is, however, a very pleasant listen. GRADE: C+.
Intensity (UK): Turn-About-Inside-Out Plastic-Coated Human (Eden LP 68, 1973)
Jackie Bidwell (joint lead vocals)
This Christian-tinged album has an odd and distinctive sound: not quite acid-folk, although definitely folky, with a certain jazz influence as well, and decidedly psychedelic. The LP alternates between whimsical ballads, more than a little reminiscent of the Incredible String Band, and extended instrumental improvisations, with the key instruments being piano and clarinet. Laughably pretentious poems are interspersed between most of the tracks, hilariously delivered by a lisping aesthete whose monotone intonation strongly reminds me of Holly the computer (in its male incarnation) from ‘Red Dwarf’. GRADE: C+.
Interpose+ (Japan): Interpose+ (Muséa FGBG 4619.AR/Poseidon PRF-026, CD, France, 2005)
Sayuri Aruga (lead vocals)
This rather schizophrenic album mixes eighties-style Nippon sympho-prog (recalling bands like Teru’s Symphonia, though with less of a neoprog style) and complex jazz-fusion. They tackle both genres extremely well and even manage to mix them here and there, making for a very accomplished LP. GRADE: B–.
Interpose+ (Japan): Indifferent (Muséa FGBG 4706.AR/Poseidon PRF-042, CD, France, 2007)
Sayuri Aruga (lead vocals)
Whilst this isn’t quite as good as its predecessor – neither as diverse nor as fiery – it still contains many fine passages, making it one of the better modern Japanese albums of its type. GRADE: B–.
Interpose+ (Japan): Live 2008 (Poseidon PPS-005, DVD, 2008)
Sayuri Ayuga (lead vocals, tambourine)
Filmed at two concerts, this DVD is visually unspectacular, and their material doesn’t work as well onstage as in the studio. The result is a solid set, displaying some fine musicianship, but a far-from-essential purchase. GRADE: C+.
Interpose+ (Japan): Memories In The Wind (Muséa Parallèle MP 3297, CD, France, 2015)
Sayuri Aruga (lead vocals)
Whilst I enjoyed their first two studio sets, this one gets off to a shaky start: the recording is mediocre, the drumming is sluggish and Sayuri Aruga is noticeably off-key. Things improve thereafter, but this has none of the intermittent inspiration of the earlier work, confirming the impression of a band that is steadily declining. GRADE: C+.
See also Ars Nova
Introitus (Sweden): Fantasy (Bender Production, CD, 2007)
Anna Jobs Bender (lead vocals), Liselotte Hellström (violin), Matilda Kock (flute)
I’ve seen this album compared to Karnataka, but the resemblance is purely superficial: Karnataka are rather bland neoprog, whereas this is the real thing. The 26-minute title track is the centrepiece here, filled with dramatic instrumental diversions, heavy Dave Gilmour-esque guitar work and elements of Swedish folk. It gets a little cheesy towards the end of that suite and occasionally elsewhere, and the usual suspects demonstrate a strong influence (Curved Air, Renaissance, Pink Floyd and Camel all spring to mind). Nonetheless, this is majestic, confident, intelligent music with a few surprises, and the overall effect is impressive. GRADE: B–.
Introitus (Sweden): Elements (Progress PRCD 043, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2011)
Anna Jobs Bender (lead vocals), Johanna Bender (keyboards, percussion, backing vocals)
Nowhere near as good as their first, this is heavier and more predictable neoprog. Even with three tracks over the ten-minute mark, there’s no feeling of the band pushing any boundaries, but in fairness this is perfectly competent throughout. GRADE: C+.
Introitus (Sweden): Anima (Progress PRCD058, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Anna Jobs Bender (principal vocals), Johanna Bender (backing vocals)
Album number three offers richly crafted symphonic rock, with a mellifluous, organic flow and some lovely keyboard textures. However, this is still safe and unadventurous stuff, firmly rooted in neoprog, and it’s significant that the sole instrumental (apart from the brief intro and outro, the former of which hints towards Black Sabbath with its wintry sound effects) is by far the highpoint. GRADE: C+.
Introitus (Sweden): Shadows (Bad Elephant Music BEM069, CD, with digipak and booklet, UK, 2019)
Anna Jobs Bender (principal vocals), Linnéa Syräjä (accordion, ocarina, chalumeau, backing vocals)
This is their best since their debut, though as with their last couple it’s a bit short on excitement and as with their first it’s occasionally a bit cheesy (the clearly heartfelt ‘My Hero’). Nonetheless, it wins through – if only just – thanks to its sheer consistency, creating a lovely mellow mood with some majestic moments and some nice folky diversions. GRADE: B–.
Invisible Opera Company Of Tibet (Australia/UK): Invisible Opera Company Of Tibet (Voiceprint VP106CD, CD, UK, 1991)
Gilli Smyth (occasional vocals)
This Gong-related project was largely masterminded by Daevid Allen, Harry Williamson and singer/guitarist Russel Hibbs, but features a substantial cast of musicians. From a musical standpoint, it’s a rather odd mixture of straight rock (sometimes new wave-ish, with spoken vocals, and at others tending towards lounge, as on ‘Stormbirds’), world music elements (including quite a bit of didgeridoo and some almost Hawaiian choruses) and Gong-like spaciness, with Gilli Smyth’s space whisper. As such, it’s a mildly interesting curio but doesn’t really hang together. A UK version of the band (with no members in common, though Allen and Hibbs guested on some of their releases) was subsequently established. GRADE: C+.
See also Acid Mothers Gong, Orlando Allen, Glo, Goddess Trance, Gong, Gong Matrices, Mother Gong, Gilli Smyth