By Russell Elliot
(10 March 2012) In the creation of their second IOEarth album, Dave Cureton and Adam Gough decided that it shouldn’t be a follow-up to their debut. Entitled Moments (IOEarth (UK), 2012), the hour-long nine-track progressive masterwork embodies the sound of the debut but has continued to evolve over the course of the founders’ partnership. Listeners will recognize the recurring themes that span the material. The individual tracks are all relatively long however only the final track which runs about eleven minutes might be called an epic.
IOEarth’s lineup includes Dave Cureton (lead guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, vocals, programming); Adam Gough (keyboards, guitar, acoustic guitar, theramin, vocals, programming); Richard Cureton (drums, percussion); Claire Malin (vocals); Christian Nokes (bass); and Luke Shingler (flute, soprano saxophone). Additional contributing musicians included on this album are: Steve Trigg (trumpet); Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek (spoken words); Jayna Maye-Noa Vissers (spoken words); and Nicko Cureton (percussion). In addition to a wide variety of critical reviews of their debut album, the band’s live performances over the past two years have brought them significant acclaim. While the album’s IOEarth roots are crystal clear, Moments is somewhat more reserved in comparison to the band’s debut album.
The band cite their influences being Steve Vai, Led Zeppelin, Beniot Atras (Cirque Du Soleil), Groove Armada, Massive Attack and others. Having seen all of the current Las Vegas productions, we believe that the new IOEarth album has clear Cirque Du Soleil allusions throughout, with the rhythmic instrumentals being among the strongest for comparative purposes. The tracks flow effortlessly from one to the next despite vast tempo and style changes between and within them. Claire Malin’s vocals are a stunning accompaniment to the instrumental arrangements. The CD is presented in a lovely brown-hued trifold digipak designed by Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek. It includes all lyrics and full album credits.
The title track “Moments” opens the album with spoken words that lead to very powerful instrumental arrangements and brief yet beautifully delivered vocal passages. An album standout, the track embraces almost all of the styles present on the album and provides a great overture for the material that follows.
“Live Your Life” is a two-part suite which, like the opening track, spans a range of styles. It includes a tremendous piano ballad sung by Claire Malin. Listen to her crystalline soprano vocals tenderly deliver the lyrical passage. Instrumentals carry the last segment of the first part and serve as a segue into the guitar laden and percussive Cirque du Soleil-sounding second part. Claire’s vocals are joined by self- and male-backing harmonies. Claire’s vocal power is evident atop the rich instrumentals.
“Drifting” is the first of two sharply contrasting tracks. Somewhat reminiscent of “EEEE” from the IOEarth album, the track features intense Cirque-style rhythms and layers of worldly chanting vocals and orchestral arrangements before the primary lyrical passage powerfully powerfully by Claire Malin begins. She is backed by the chanting achieving a great effect. The balance between the various instrumental passages and vocal work is superb. In a similar style, “Cinta Indah” includes Claire’s gorgeous ballad offset by a rhythmic instrumental passage and Hindu-sounding chants. Listen for the light acoustic guitar solo in the break and Claire’s powerful vocal delivery in the song’s crescendo. The blend of these various styles by IOEarth works very well.
The album’s one pure instrumental is “Brothers.” As the listener will expect by this point in the album, the track builds arrangements around themes introduced earlier in the recording. Luke Shingler’s sax and flute melodies alternate and are complemented by xylophone and tubular bells in the pulsing arrangement. Also listen carefully to Richard Cureton’s powerful drums driving the track.
IOEarth really demonstrate their musical chops in the almost-club styled track “Come Find Love.” It must be heard to fully appreciate. In another rhythmic number, IOEarth build on the “Finest Hour” speech delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on June 18, 1940. The lyrical passage is delivered harmoniously by Dave Cureton, Adam Gough and Claire Malin alongside recordings of the speech that have been embedded within the song’s powerful arrangements.
“Turn Away” is the album’s concluding eleven-minute track. The piano-backed ballad clearly illustrates Dave Cureton’s talent and vocal prowess. While he is gently backed by the other singers and gentle washes of additional effects, vocalise and instrumental arrangements, his polished and warm delivery carries the lyrical passages. The band explodes in an instrumental guitar-laden frenzy before the song comes to a conclusion with a further piece of Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech.
IOEarth have delivered a progressive masterwork, clearly demonstrating significant artistic growth from their debut. Purchase the album from the band’s website. Clearly one of the most rapidly emerging progressive bands of this decade, these musicians are sure to broaden their following with Moments. Bravo!
By Russell Elliot