I received many CD-releases in 2009, but none of them sounded as impressive as the debut album of IO Earth. This duo consists of Dave Cureton and Adam Gough, two musicians from Birmingham (U.K.). They have been friends since the age of twelve. At the age of fifteen, they first created something together, but this effort was never officially released. However, local music stores sold the album in small quantities. Now, several years later both musicians are more skilled, broadened their musical horizon and together they recorded something special. The info sheet quotes: ‘they are both very interested in juxtaposing completely different styles of music and attempting to show their listener that whatever the genres, there is always a common link that can be focused to demonstrate the relationships between them’.
That is exactly what we hear on this excellent album: a blend of different musical styles made by two friends who seemingly write music with their eyes closed. However, they somehow felt that the music needed a theme. Most of the music seemed to cry out for what they called ‘a unifying melody’. They started to explore the idea of creating an album based upon a theme related to our planet. Therefore, they divided the project into three movements: Water, Earth and Air. Maybe you think Greenpeace would sponsor this album, but that’s not the case. Everything had been completely self-funded. However, after contacting several musical friends, who could help them realizing their dream, they managed to find some great musicians. The biggest name contributing in this project is Steve Balsamo. He once played Jesus in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. He did a great job on the album, but it wouldn’t be fair not to mention the other two lead singers Claire Malin and Louise Graggins. They all lifted the music to a higher level. Thank God, they asked Richard Cureton a ‘real’ drummer, without whom this album would have sound differently. His grooves are strong and made me tap along more than once.
Trumpets and flugel horns are not common instruments in prog rock. The way Steve Trigg plays them, gives the music a jazzy or a fusion feel reminding me of Miles Davis. Apart from some bass guitar and saxophone playing, Dave and Adam played all the other instruments. The guitar solos performed on the album are a real treat for my ears. With the keyboards, they create very strong orchestral sounds. The use of samples sometimes provides an African or an Asian atmosphere. It must have taken Dave and Adam a lot of hard work, time and money to make such a professional sounding album.
It’s rather difficult to compare the music of IO Earth to other progressive rock acts. Dave and Adam mention Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, Yes and Enya as possible references and I can live with these names. The music certainly isn’t anyone’s cup of tea, but if you like progressive rock blended with elements of opera, world music, fusion, jazz-rock, rock, ambient and classical music you might like this record a lot. As far as I’m concerned, IO Earth made the most impressive album of 2009. Please check out the band’s website for more information.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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