Well a New Prog Kid is Now on The Block

IOEarth’s debut was arguably one of the biggest surprises in recent progressive music, totally blowing away this seasoned reviewer, along with most of my PA colleagues, with an unexpectedly charming 2 CD set, too much material being an atypical circumstance that rarely succeeds. It did and in spades. The review I sent in to PA is still foaming from the trembling sense of adulation I worded in passionate terms and I could scarcely believe the recent good news that this will not be a one-shot wonder situation (a tendency to sadden me immensely when the quality is there to behold). The core is still there with Dave Cureton and Adam Gough running the show and I daresay that “Moments” simply seeks to consolidate this special band’s place in the prog firmament by taking their craft one step deeper into the future.
The suave title track has scents of Andalucia (superb acoustic guitar passage) that possesses a sonic collision of Arab and Iberian, coated with some colossal symphonic colorations that add massive depth to the music, giving it an almost cinematographic feel. On can draw parallels to Polish gem Lebowski’s Cinematic. The IO Earth kitchen is expertly able to add spice and flavor where needed such as the clever use of modern electronica, just a pinch to keep things exciting.
The 2 part “Live Your Life” has full time vocalist Claire Malin, much-maligned in being cast to take over the sizzling microphone crew on the debut (the male but female sounding Steve Balsamo). The first part is spine tingling piano and voice, in a minimalist rendering of emotion and reserve. Part 2 is the exact opposite, grandiose and bombastic, A wild and untamed guitar rampage leads this one forward, providing clues that Satriani and Vai are not too far away from the Dave Curaton muse. The typical prog alternation between soft and hard, acoustic and electric is what makes this ticker tock. The sweeping symphonic chorus shows Claire’s mighty lungs to be an effective instrument on its own. There is a strong vibe that hints at Breathing Space (much lamentably gone from the scene), Mostly Autumn (please restoke your inspiration soon, Mr.Josh!) and Karnataka (how about staying together for a while. Eh?). “Please come back to me”, she whispers!
“Drifting” has a Gregorian chant intro a la Enigma, a heady beat with an occasional “haaa” to keep things in flux, a tremendously moody piece, contrasting the medieval with the futuristic, a rarely successful venture that is aced here! This is a stellar track with a surreal trumpet solo that defies the senses, deeply melancholic and emotive. As our Mellotron Storm likes to phrase it, “This is my kind of music”. Claire’s vocal delivery is emphatic, rooted in goose bumps and dizzying heights of expression. “Cinta Indah” continues in the same esoteric vein, a desperate lament of love with distinct Indonesian tinge, caressed by a monsoon-like torrent of whirling symphonics and intimate lyrics about a lost love.
“Brothers” maintains the same feel, an all-instrumental platform that infuses intense soprano saxophone, as well as sultry flute both courtesy of Luke Shingler (no relative of Oskar Schindler!) , whilst blockaded by some solid drumming from brother Richard Curaton. Another evocative slice of powerful music.
Insanely attracted to modern sounds as well and to continually stretch the prog boundaries, “Come Find Love” has a powerful electronic hook (“I will make you feel alright”) that is closer to current non-prog acts Massive Attack, Groove Armada or Bomb the Bass that showcases their modernistic vision. The same can be said for the historically poignant recall of Britain’s valiant defense of its homeland against the Nazi beast in “Finest Hour”, sampling in segments of Winston’s famous war time speech. Very cinematic like the Lebowski lads mentioned earlier. This is prog’s finest hour, a mind-blowing sense of combining the glorious past with a hopeful future.
True to their debut album, IO Earth enjoys creating profound ballads or love songs if you will, like the fabulous “Come With Me” and “Take Me” from their opening opus, so they opted to write the delicious ” Turn Away”, a spine tingling 10 minute + opus about courage under fire , complete with colossal waves of mellotron , ringing piano and sad drums. Male vocals could have used Steve Balsamo’s powerful delivery but the track required a broken voice to go with the broken heart but Claire does come to the rescue with some huge wailing that will freeze your mind into abject pleasure. Talk about crescendo! When Dave rushes in with his sublime guitar, the sheer power of the arrangement comes to the fore, nimble fingers racing along the fretboard, pulling, teasing, hurtling and growling like a man in love pain. Churchill finishes off the deal with the end of his famous speech. Bravo, is all I have to say!
Well a new prog kid is now on the block and their 2 records are scintillating and monuments to progressive rock eternity. Definitely a futuristic prog icon, so c’mon everybody, get down and get with it.