Saturday, May 21, 2016

Isotope - 1975 - Deer End...

Deer End...

01. Mr. M's Picture (4:54)
02. Crunch Cake (3:55)
03. Another Side (4:00)
04. Black Sand (5:45)
05. Pip Dream (6:27)
06. Attila (4:25)
07. Fonebone (4:25)
08. Deep End (8:22)
09. Mr. M's Picture [Remix 2001]* (4:54)
10. Crunch Cake [Remix 2001]* (3:55)
11 .Black Sand [Remix 2001]* (5:55)
12. Deep End [Remix 2001]* (8:18)

* bonus tracks on CD release

Line-up / Musicians
- Gary Boyle / guitars
- Nigel Morris / drums
- Zoe Kronberger / acoustic & electric piano, string synth, clavinet, vocals
- Frank Roberts / acoustic & electric piano, synthesizer
- Dan K. Brown / bass

guest musicians:
- Morris Pert / percussion
- Neville Whitehead / acoustic bass
- Hugh Hopper / bass
- Laurence Scott / keyboards

This is the third and final Isotope installment, not as strong overall as their unique "Illusion" album which thrilled prog mostly due to the presence of the amazing Hugh Hopper from the Soft Machine. There is something inherently charming about Isotope's music, a unique style that does not necessarily leap out at the listener but leaves quite a positive impression. Besides the Soft comparison, there are also some strident similarities to Brand X or its suburban cousin Wilding-Bonus, playing a very British form of jazz-rock, slightly funky, quirky and humorous, proven by the presence of Robin Lumley at the control board.
The sheer technical prowess of Irish master guitarist Gary Boyle (easily among the leaders in the most underrated musician category) rivals the pedigree of such illustrious players as John MacLaughlin or Allan Holdsworth while drummer Nigel Morris is in the same drummer class as other Brit luminaries Jon Hiseman or John Marshall.. Previous keyboardist /dentist Laurie Scott is replaced by the groovier duo of Zoe Kronenberg and Frank Roberts, thus emitting a cooler style to the proceedings. Lots of groovy Fender Rhodes electric piano (a glorious instrument severely lacking in today's scene!) of which I am an unashamed addict, some occasional clavinet and some chirpy synthesizers are strewn throughout the disc to complement the swirling and ultra-busy Boyle fretboard . Some may complain that this music seems outdated by today's muddled standards but may I remind you all that prog (as well as good jazz, Beethoven, Mozart and Bartok!) is essentially timeless while being a symbol of its times. All the tracks are of interest such as the choppy "Pipe Dream", the suave "Black Sand" , the rumbling "Mr.M's Picture", the "Crunch Cake" funk ride, the lovely "Another Side" with loads of Spanish guitar, the Asian-tinged "Attila" , the Hopper penned and played "Fonebone" and the sultry title track, an 8 minute+ sonic ride that enthralls completely . 4 of these tracks have a 2001 remix version that only increases the pleasure. Admittedly this is not for everyone but if you like massive doses of e-piano, fabulous guitar and prolific drumming, this is definitely for you. I adore my 3 Isotope albums, precious additions that simply transcend the prog norm.

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