[Review] Isobar – Isobar II

Isobar is a Progressive Rock band originally from San Josè in California, born in 2020 when they release their self-titled debut album. On December 10, 2021 the self-produced disc “Isobar II” was released containing 11 tracks of medium duration which confirms the good sound heard in the previous one. The opener “Short Story Long” is the longest track on the album, starting with keyboards layering with intricate textures, to which guitar is added. The rhythmic session is solid and elaborate and the sound of the band complex and articulated, immediately showing the good technique of the musicians involved. A Prog with Fusion references, complex bass lines such as the constantly changing structure, giving life to a sound with personal traits. A track that immediately plunges us into the atmosphere of the album, entirely instrumental, full of tempo changes and very technical and virtuous soloist inserts but accessible to the listener. Keyboards and winds are intertwined in the intro of “Obstination” which develops with another theme elaborated halfway between Progg and Fusion with the trumpets protagonists of the melodies. The tempo changes are an added value of their sound and they demonstrate it in the passages of this song, very engaging and rhythmic where all the instruments alternate in technical solos. “Social Meteor” is more pulled in the rhythmic session, with a more powerful and at the same time dark sound, with the keyboards protagonists together with the guitar of intricate inserts. A track of Fusion inspiration but with more Heavy features, which at times recalls the sounds of Frank Zappa due to the complexity of the melodies. Refined sounds and a virtuous technique are certainly the key characteristics of this piece that takes on more Prog connotations in the second part. “Eigengrau” is softer with repeated and hypnotic keyboards and a rhythmic session enriched by percussion, to increase the intensity and become more intricate as the minutes go by. A particular piece that is characterized by rapid acceleration and continuous tempo changes between more orchestral inserts and almost New Age sounds that blend with Rock. Massive guitar riffs open “Zed the Exhaler” which unfolds with dark keyboard textures and a tight, intricate rhythm session. With a very complex structure and with synth experiments that are intertwined with the distorted guitar, giving life to a complex piece but very full of energy. Enriched with very technical solos and a softer piano section in the second part, then returning to elaborate textures in the finale. “The Suppressor of the Archives” is another long song of over 7 minutes, characterized by intertwining piano and more electronic keyboards with the guitar. The bass lines are deep and load-bearing and the drum solid and more linear, and then in the central part propose a section with percussion and sounds of traditional instruments. Many ideas contained in this piece, all well developed and performed to return to Fusion in the second part. A dreamy guitar arpeggio opens “The Impaler of Distortions” which develops with the orchestrations in the first part, while in the end of the piece the rhythm session enters and the guitar offers a good solo. “The Impersonator of Sorrows” has a deep bass line, with excellent mixes between guitar and keyboards to which the winds are added. The textures are intricate and the structure ever-changing with sax, keyboard and guitar solos intertwining nicely. Short but intense and elaborate is “The Image Motivator” which in its 50 seconds is a concentrate of energy. The keyboards are layered in the intro of “The Squire of Reason” with pompous orchestrations and an atmosphere that envelops the listener. In the middle of the song the rhythm session enters and the guitar offers a good solo cue that intertwines with the keyboards, with the return of the hypnotic sounds of the intro the track closes. The album closes with “Flannel” which is another 7+ minute track featuring powerful electric guitar riffs and a solid rhythm session. The piano and keyboards are at the center of the melodies and the guitar immediately offers an interesting solo insert. The continuous tempo changes are of fine workmanship, as well as the intricate structure of the song is an added value by showcasing all the technique of the band’s musicians. A track that closes this good album well, with technique and virtuous passages that give space for all the artists to express themselves. This second chapter of the band’s discography confirms the good things heard in the previous work, highlighting the individual technique of the artists involved. Prog meets Fusion, with intricate plots, virtuosity and a good dose of energy are the main features of the record. A listening recommended for all lovers of the most intricate sounds of Prog, with references to Zappa‘s music, a winning blend of Prog traits with Fusion music with personal and modern traits.

Tracklist

1. Short Story Long (09:27)
2. Obstination (04:27)
3. Social Meteor (05:55)
4. Eigengrau (04:46)
5. Zed the Exhaler (06:01)
6. The Suppressor of the Archives (07:43)
7. The Impaler of Distortions (03:12)
8. The Impersonator of Sorrows (03:56)
9. The Image Motivator (00:51)
10. The Squire of Reason (04:13)
11. Flannel (07:22)

Lineup

Jim Anderson / Bass
Malcolm Smith / Guitars
Marc Spooner / Keyboards
Mattias Olsson / Drums

Featuring:
Evan Weiss / Trumpet (2, 3, 8)
Ben Bohorquez / Saxophone (2, 3, 8)

Isobar |Official Website|Bandcamp|Facebook Page|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

Leave a Reply