In 2009 the Birmingham based band IOEarth surprised the progressive rock community with their very ambitious eponymous debut album. On this double CD they displayed some extraordinary prog rock with a modern groove. Back then I found it rather difficult to compare the music of IOEarth to other acts. I mentioned names as Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, Yes and Enya as possible references, but I certainly missed a few names. However, one thing's for sure. Their music isn't anyone's cup of tea, but if you like prog rock blended with elements of opera, world music, fusion, jazz-rock, rock, ambient and classical music you might like this record a lot. Personally I found it one of the most impressive albums of 2009. Therefore I was looking forward to its successor.
On Moments a wider sonic palette is available which I didn't expect at all. IOEarth really stands out with their remarkable eclectic approach which is present throughout the album. Take for example the combination of oriental scales, solid guitar riffs and solos in the title track. Just excellent! The eclecticism is mostly reflected by the use of less traditional rock instruments. Listen for example to Drifting which is coloured by a Theremin played by Adam Gough and the trumpet of Steve Trigg. Another good example is Brothers with a soprano saxophone melody played by Luke Shingler over a funky groove, which is in any case a keyword on the album. The modern rhythms of bassist Christian Nokes and drummer Richard Cureton are responsible for these grooves. Listen to Come Find Love and you'll get my drift. Although this track is a real trip towards the acid jazz genre it still fits in perfectly on the album, just like all the other musical styles they use on Moments. Once again there's a very thin line between all these different genres and subgenres.
The leading role on the album is mostly for guitarist and singer Dave Cureton. He's not only great in playing strong riffs, but also marvellous melodic solos can be enjoyed on several tracks, as well as the acoustic guitar. He can play gentle, emotional parts, but also aggressive ones. On Live Your Live, part 2 you can hear wild and untamed guitar rampage providing clues that Joe Satriani and Steve Vai might have been sources of inspiration. His musical partner Adam Gough has a more modest role, but I'm sure that without him, Dave Cureton wouldn't have launched so much brilliant musical ideas. Adam's work really shines by playing excellent piano parts or providing fabulous ambient synthesizer parts.
Another leading role on Moments is for the great female singer Claire Malin. Claire's mighty lungs seem to be an effective instrument on its own. Besides she very well plays her role in a concept story about a woman's innermost feelings throughout the album. To bring this story to live Dave and Adam included several sound fragments. A good example can be heard on Finest Hour which contains samples of Winston Churchill's famous speech during WWII. But also the many spoken words by Wendy Vissers-Haggenbeek and Jayna Maye-Noa Vissers support the story very well. The Gregorian chant intro à la Enigma on Drifting adds much value to the story. All together the musical styles and sound fragments make of Moments a very enjoyable album. But first you have to get the album into your system otherwise you'll probably lay it aside too soon and that would be a crying shame. The musicians involved just deserve that their music will get a chance to be heard.
IOEarth's debut was one of the biggest surprises of prog rock albums recorded in recent years which totally blew me away. This successor is of the same calibre, but I guess this time the surprise has gone. Again the same kind of outstanding music can be enjoyed which is in a way strongly related to their debut. That's probably the reason that I enjoyed this new one as much as the first. Maybe this time it won't become the most impressive album of 2012, but certainly one of my highlights!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013