[Review] Isobar – III

Isobar are a Progressive Rock band from San Jose, California with an elaborate sound that covers a wide range of genres and styles. Their third album “III” was released on January 20, 2023 and contains 9 tracks. “Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?” opens the album with interweaving keyboards with symphonic traits and a solid, elaborate rhythm section. The guitar offers beautifully crafted solo inserts, then develops with continuous tempo changes and intricate rhythms. Interweaving keyboards, guitar and violin characterise the track, alternating darker passages with more symphonic and dreamy ones, immediately immersing us in the band’s characteristic progressive sounds. More dilated atmospheres and Fusion traits mingle in “Parts of Harvey,” a track that combines virtuosic traits with classic Prog. The song’s structure is slower in the first part and then increases in intensity in the second part, evolving melodies with continuous solos culminating in a dreamy keyboard finale. Mirroring the imprint of its predecessor, “Face in the Blue” is a track that evolves into a crescendo after a gentler beginning. Dark traits permeate the track with a mixture of Prog, Jazz and Fusion, enhancing the individual technique of the band’s musicians who perform continuous solos and intricate textures. “Shadow Green” is a track that traces the more classic Prog sounds of bands like Gentle Giant, with retro atmospheres offered with the band’s personal touch. Keyboard and guitar textures merge to create an overall sound and a purely Prog atmosphere with elaborate and technical passages. Energetic and powerful, “The Trouble With Buttons” continues to explore the more classic sound of prog, with the organ prominent in the melodies and solo parts. The guitar intertwines, the rhythm section is energetic and enriched with tempo changes, again managing to bring the atmosphere of the 70s into a modern and personal context. A pompous and sombre id mellotron background characterises “4th Leg,” a very intricate track with elaborate and slower drumming. The Jazz/Fusion traits mix with Progressive Rock, creating a succession of virtuosic and more symphonic openings that are very sophisticated and well crafted. The shortest track in duration “Objet” is also the most delicate and symphonic, characterised by flute and keyboard elodie. The acoustic chitrarra creates dreamy arpeggios that intertwine with the keyboard orchestrations, softening the tone between the album’s most intricate tracks. “The Mimus Polyglottos Alarm Clock,” on the other hand, is the longest in duration, exceeding 10 minutes in running time. An introductory keyboard part evolves into a rhythmic and engaging track with continuous tempo changes and keyboard and guitar interlacing, which not only enhances the band’s technique, but also fully demonstrates their musical concept. A very pleasant and dynamic journey between Prog’s present and past. The album’s heaviest track, “Full Nelson,” closes the first part, creating a dark atmosphere with keyboards and electric guitar in evidence. In th”e middle part until the finale, the track takes on more Symphonic traits, without losing intensity, leaving us wanting to listen to the album again in the future. A band that confirms itself to be one of the best in modern Prog, offering another album of absolute calibre. Classic Prog traits are mixed with Jazz and Fusion, always offered with the band’s personal and original touch. Skilled at bringing the atmospheres created by the great masters of the 70s into a modern context. A recommended listen for all anti of the most elaborate Prog with forays into Jazz and Fusion, to be listened to again and again.


1. Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been? (07:44)
2. Parts of Harvey (07:28)
3. Face in the Blue (05:01)
4. Shadow Green (06:27)
5. The Trouble With Buttons (05:32)
6. 4th Leg (06:38)
7. Objet (03:42)
8. The Mimus Polyglottos Alarm Clock (10:12)
9. Full Nelson (05:02)


Jim Anderson / Bass
Malcolm Smith / Guitars
Marc Spooner / Keyboards

With: Mattias Olsson / Drums

Evan Weiss
/ Trumpet (5, 6, 7)
Ben Bohorquez / Saxophone (5, 6, 7)
Joanne Wu / Violin (1, 8)

Isobar |Official Website|Bandcamp|Facebook Page|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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