This band made three fine albums - I love the restrained urgency of the first album and the spacier sounding 'proto Brand-X' affair that was the third one, but it's this album 'Illusion' that always did it for me. The band members gel perfectly, whether cooking up a storm as on the opening track, or in more contemplative frame of mind such as on 'Spanish Sun'. This is the one album of the three that features Hugh Hopper on bass and the tracks benefit greatly from his fantastic timing and imaginative use of 'devices', so as to not just give rhythmic support to the band, but to create some mood and drama where required too.
I was holding my breath waiting to hear how the remastering had gone on this, as those responsible have let a few 'Remaster Disasters' slip through recently but am happy to say that it's retained it's atmosphere. Drum sound is perhaps a little thin, but the real bonus is the clarity of separation of instruments in the louder, busier sections - greatly appreciated as there's an awful lot going on in there sometimes !
Finally, the writer of the liner notes makes reference, quite rightly to the fact that there still exists a rather sniffy attitude to British Jazz-Rock. In my view, much of the work of this band, as well as Soft Machine and Brand X stands solidly up against the music of a similar vein being made 'across the pond'. Speaking of Soft Machine, and bearing in mind the time that 'Illusion' came out - one does wonder if Karl Jenkins et al were so impressed by this album that they decided to bring a guitarist into the band for the first time shortly afterwards ?
Anyone with a passing interest in melodic, exciting and imaginative prog and jazz music who hasn't heard this album yet should do so without any further hesitation !
on 19 December 2008
From the gripping first couple of drumbeats on the first track, Illusion, this is an engrossing disc of great British jazz-rock from the 1970s (1974 to be exact).
Gary Boyle's lightening guitar (electric and acoustic) work characterises much of this, but is superbly backed by drummer Nigel Morris, keyboardist Laurence Scott and Soft Machine's Hugh Hopper, whose characteristic growling bass adds real depth to every tune.
There are some memorable tunes here, each with their own pace and style from funk to Spanish, & jazz-fusion to plain weird.
I've been told Isotope's 1st album is even better but all I can say is that this is a fine album in its own right.
on 23 October 2012
Ah, jazz-rock -the melding together of average jazz and self-indulgent rock to make music for inhaling beard fiddlers everywhere, and that's just the women. There's something in that, and indeed there are moments on this reissue which first hit the streets in 1974 when the finger can be pointed. But there are also moments of lithe grace, not the least of them being `Lily Kong' despite the fact that guitarist Gary Boyle goes into a kind of hyperactive frenzy in the course of his solo. Maybe Lily was a persuasive girl........
`E-Dorian' is largely down to Hugh Hopper, whose presence converts the star rating from 3 to 4. He brought not only his singular bass guitar playing to proceedings, but also his fuzz pedal, which on this occasion lends the music such a distinctive air that this is probably the only Isotope album that belongs in the average collection. It's a pity the thing fades out after two minutes to be followed by `Frog' where Boyle goes all fearsome on us again, spinning out fast lines as though he was being paid on a pound-per- note basis.
The suspended swirl that is `Sliding Dogs / Lion Sandwich' -how did they get THAT title?- is kind of anti-virtuosic in its way, and it's easy to imagine how the amplification on former dentist Laurence Scott's keyboards might have reminded him of the dulcet tones of the drill.
As was perhaps compulsory in those days `Golden Section' gets pretty close to music for a downright impolite cop show at first, then settles down into a relatively mellow groove which alerts us to the fact that this wasn't merely a band for blowing.
In 2012 it's all about as fashionable as a deerstalker and meerschaum combo anyway, but those beard fiddlers can replace their vinyl and digitally relive those heady, profoundly analogue nights at the town or student union hall.