On my first listen to Italy's Ifsounds I wasn't quite sure what to expect, for while the band has been around since 1993 and has previously released several albums (MMXX is their seventh studio album), this was my first exposure to them. What I was greeted with was a brilliant blending of Progressive rock, Jazz fusion, Classical and Choral arrangements and a level of musicianship which, at times, can take your breath away.
According to the band's bio “The ifsounds project brings together the talent of a group of musicians, all of them very different from each other, whose idea is to create a sound that could express an emotion, describe a state of mind, tell a story, help to make a journey into the realms of inner consciousness.”
The album opens with the epic title track MMXX (which accounts for more than half of the album). Featuring amazing vocal performances from Runal and Ilaria Carlucci and a choral ensemble and some blazing guitar solos from Dario Lastella. The glue holding this massive track together though is the shining keyboard work from Lino Giugliano
The Collector starts out as a more straight-ahead rocker of a track, which after a rather striking synthesizer solo tr.ansforms into moves into a very melodic ballad
Stendhal Syndrome and Kandinsky's Sky venture down the path of pop-prog - both tracks being very accessible and enjoyable. The guitar solo in Kandinsky's Sky is absolutely brilliant!
MMXXII concludes the album with a stylistic return to the fusion and classical elements that opened the album.
While I believe that fans of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Van der Graaf Generator or even Return To Forever would find much to enjoy on this disc, Ifsounds is in no way anything but original. Their sound is completely their own and they present it here flawlessly.
This is an album that gets better and better with subsequent listens and may just sneak its way into my top 10 in a year that has seen some very impressive releases.
****+ David Carswell
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