The first Italian progrock album I ever experienced was Levitian's 1990 album Bee Yourself. Levithian had a mixed up style which contains elements of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Marillion and IQ. I think we can say that Italian progrock, most of the times, contains one or more of these named bands.
Later on I really began to like this genre and started some sort of hunt after new Italian progrock bands and -albums. The core Italian progrock has something special and something unique. Most of the band are heavily influenced by the 80s and 90s progrock bands. And also the Mellotron is commonplace in a lot of tracks. That all said it's time to jump to The Ikan Method.
The Ikan Method is a new project by Luca Grosso, former drummer of Projecto, Narrow Pass, Marcello Chiaraluce and The Rome Pro(g)ject. Luca started searching for musicians who wanted to collaborate with him on this project. At long last the following line-up was composed: Luca Grosso (drums, keyboards), PJ Abba (keyboards), Marcello Chiaraluce (guitar), Davide Garbarino (voices), Giacomo Grosso (flute) and Fabio Zunino (bass). On the album it turns out quite fast that these guys aren't mediocre musicians.
Blue Sun is an album with a lot of more or less complex changes, -breaks and atmospheres. My first impression, after the first turn, was that The Ikan Method developed a fantastic way to mix up 80s and 90s influences from bands as Marillion and IQ with their own modern sound. On this modern sound I will come back to in the next part of this review.
The album opens with the track The Great Opening. It's a mid-tempo track in which two aspects catch the eye straight away. At first the guitar sound, which has as well as clean a distorted nice 80s chorus effect on it. Marcello Chiaraluce turns out to be a great guitarist. He uses great chord progressions, plays contrary the keyboard parts and is very melodic. So far the album is a relief to me.
The second thing which I immediately noticed were Davide Garbarino's vocals. The vocals have interfaces with IQ's Peter Nicholls. I am only talking about the timbre of the voice. For the rest Garbarino has his own way of singing and sings English without an accent.
The complete technical story of this band in the first track it is obvious that PJ Abba keyboards sound very 80s-like. They are supporting the song and are prominent present were they have to.
The rhythm section is extremely steady. Luca Grosso is a creative drummer. I think he proved it on The Rome Pro(g)ject, these are the albums I know best of him.
The track has large instrumental intermezzos, which are caress for the ears. The Great Opening is what you call a great opening. The first time I heard the track I was flabbergasted.
The Journey, the second track of the album starts with incredible Mellotron soundscapes. Over the layers of the Mellotron the guitar at first starts to play spooky sounds. After a while it gets more melodic. The whole track is an instrumental one. The tension in the songs is high and that makes the track great.
The album continues with No More Lies. No More Lies is an up-tempo track with great vocal parts and catchy verses and choruses. Once you listen to them, you will remember them. The sound colors remind me a bit of IQ. But by no means is this a copy paste track. The band always gives several twists to make the song completely their own.
The Long Way To Madness is once more an instrumental song with a lot of tension. The track contains some interesting keyboard parts on which the guitar is participating. That is one of the things I like of IQ so much. They also always have keyboards and guitar which play “against” each other. The Ikan Method found their own way. The guitar is playing great chord progressions and scales. These scales especially bring an incredible amount of tension to the song. I can't describe this, you have to hear it.
The intro of The Storm brings us back to the 80s. Mellotron sounds, classic guitar sound and flute are creating the base of this intimate intro. The song develops into a mid-tempo song with the usual great tension.
Golden Cage I personally find the least track on the album. This mid-tempo track is technically okay. But I think it has a lack of melodic themes. Only the vocals bring the melodic touch that is needed, in my opinion.
The album continues with Time Lost. This track is instrumental and breathes the atmosphere of IQ's Nostalgia. This atmosphere only has regards on the sound color of all the instruments. The composition itself is different. Time Lost is an excellent song. All instruments get enough space and the musical skills of all band members are proven. At this point of the album I started to realize the “what a band” effect. This band is really great.
The title track Blue Sun is a mid-tempo song with weird synthesizer soundscapes and also weird guitar intermezzos. And weird I mean in a positive way. It means that it sounds other than most of the nowadays progressive rock bands. Maybe you can call the track a little psychedelic. Psychedelic in a modern way. This song is also instrumental by the way.
The album ends with the track Changes. The track opens with piano and keyboards. They linger on for a while. Then the grotesque voice of Davide Garbarino joins in and the rest of the band joins also. This is the only track on which the chorus reminds me of an IQ song (Harvest Of Souls). They only use the chord progression of this IQ track. For the rest it is completely different.
The Ikan Method with this debut album Blue Sun bring a unique album to the progressive rock market. They mix up 80s and 90s IQ- and Marillion sounds with their own modern interpretation and own modern concepts. This makes the band an above average debutant.
Blue Sun is a consistent album with a constant flow and really high musicianship. I listened to the albums several times now and I am sure that this is an album I am coming back to.
When you love IQ and Marillion, especially from the 80s and 90s, this could be an album for you. At least give it a try. It won't disappoint you.
On their website The Ikan Method describes this album as a project. I only can hope that this project will get a continuation in the future. This is too good and it has to be continued.
With regards to the rating, there is only one way to rate this album: 5 out of 5!
***** Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2020