Ikarus - ECHO

Ikarus – Echo

Ikarus are based in Zurich and variously describe themselves as “minimal groove”, “Nordic soundscape”, and “prog jazz”, and they are indeed all of these and more. Chief among the self-penned descriptions on their Facebook page is “EVOCATIVE MUSIC”. The uppercase is theirs, and suitably enough for it nails their sound.

Sparse but not Spartan, the grooves on this record interlock jazz rhythms and wordless vocals in economic arrangements. The voices veer from the breathily subtle interweaving of Andreas Lareida and Stefanie Suhner to Stefanie’s lonesome and soaring clear tones. This live video of a performance of the SubZero gives it all away…

Sometimes these minimal arrangements create melancholy hues, at others they make for eerily suspenseful trips, as on Locrya where the building quiet piano and percussion gently but insistently hammer away, only to be brought back round to the beginning by Stefanie’s purposeful but never strident tones.

The album is jointly produced by band leader Ramón Oliveras and that doyen of modern jazz minimalism Nik Bärtsch, on whose Ronin Rhythm Records Echo appears. The connection to Bärtsch’s own music is obvious, yet Ikarus stamp their own sound. If Loss of Fire were played by an avant rock band, inevitable comparisons to Zeuhl would be made, and Hotaru commences with a bleak European feel akin to an even more atmospherically stripped back take on Bowie’s Berlin period instrumental work. The emotional bleakness is achieved by an object lesson in “less is more”, with occasional keening vocals echoing Lucca Fries’ piano as it reduces to single notes played in the slowest arpeggio. Evocative, indeed!

City of Glass sees a rare piano solo from Lucca Fries, who merges classical and jazz forms with an easy panache. Bassist Mo Meyer seems to be hammering from under a thick layer of ice on SubZero, while an ice skater traces circles over the top, eventually breaking to a stop. Andreas’ scat vocals accompany Ramón’s clattering drums on the short but strange Sakura, and all too soon we arrive at the last track. Revilio has Andreas wordlessly reflecting on… well, whatever you want, really. The tune progresses at a stately pace, almost hymnal, and again, evocative is the word.

This is Ikarus’ first album, and it shows more than a little promise.

01. Sanctuary (5:25)
02. Ligulin (4:58)
03. Locrya (4:41)
04. Loss of Fire (4:30)
05. Hotaru (8:06)
06. City of Glass (6:24)
07. SubZero (4:13)
08. Sakura (2:30)
09. Revilio (3:55)

Total time – 44:44

Stefanie Suhner – Vocals
Andreas Lareida – Vocals
Lucca Fries – Piano
Mo Meyer – Bass
Ramón Oliveras – Drums, Composition

Record Label: Ronin Rhythm Records
Catalogue#: n/a
Year Of Release: 2015

Ikarus – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp