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(44:00: Doone Records)
One of the downsides of being known as a reviewer who keeps scribbling words week after week, year after year (or in my case decade after decade), is that I rarely seek out additional music to listen to apart from what I have been sent. Indeed, I only grab a fraction of what is made available to me, and I am still miles behind where I like to be in terms of lead time. Yes, it’s a nice problem to have, and I am very fortunate indeed, but there are times when it is something of a pain, which brings me to Izz. This is their ninth album yet is only the second of theirs I have written about, which means my musical experience is sadly lacking indeed as this is very special. The only other album I have heard of theirs is 2009’s ‘The Darkened Room’ which I raved over, and here some ten years later I am going to be saying exactly the same. This is their ninth studio album, and five of the seven members were involved in the debut 20 years ago, and six were involved in ‘The Darkened Room’ ten years ago, so their stability is superb, and it shows in the music they are playing. This is their third album with this line-up, which features no less than four singers and two drummers, and comprises Paul Bremner (electric and acoustic guitars), Anmarie Byrnes (vocals), Brian Coralian (electronic and acoustic drums and percussion), Greg DiMiceli (acoustic drums and percussion), John Galgano (bass guitar, electric and acoustic guitar, vocals), Tom Galgano (keyboards, vocals) and “new girl” Laura Meade (vocals). What really strikes the listener is the complex simplicity, or is it simple complexity, of what is being presented. It is simple because it is incredibly accessible, an album it is possible to fully enjoy with a smile on the face the very first time it is played, yet these guys are creating arrangements which are massively over the top. This really comes to bear in the epic “42” which is nearly 19 minutes long, where everyone has their chance to shine. Four singers weaving harmonies, but they move through permutations so everyone has a chance to take the lead, and while Anmarie and Laura may be duetting, it is never quite as straightforward as that. There are times when they come across as an Americanised version of Gentle Giant, and indeed guitarist Gary Green has been involved with the band in the past, while on the acoustic “Six String Theory” (musical earwash following the intricate epic) Paul shows he is influenced very much by both Steves’ Howe and Hackett. Listen to Tom swirling piano at the beginning of “Moment of Inertia” and it is classic Wakeman, yet while these guys have been influenced by all those acts and others, they are creating modern progressive rock music which combines elements of all these and brings in so much more. The last time I reviewed Izz I said I would seek out more of their albums to find out what they have been doing and I really must. For anyone who wants their arrangements to be over the top yet to be able to easily understand what is happening, brought together with intricate melodies and superb vocals, then you too need to seek out Izz.
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