“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary music” say Isildurs Bane, Sweden’s leading and most forward thinking chamber rock ensemble, as they return with a new album – and they have certainly delivered.
Isildurs Bane have been very successful in attracting quality artists to collaborate with them on their recent music, including Marillion’s Steve Hogarth and Van der Graaf Generator legend Peter Hammill. Here they again invite Hammill to add his considerable vocal and lyrical talents to the two contrasting suites of music within In Disequilibrium. His uncompromising approach and intensity sits well within theses tightly composed pieces. Hammill has stated that “these were the first lyrics I came to write while the world was in the grip of the Covid pandemic and this undoubtedly had some influence on the way this turned out”.
This album is Isildurs Bane’s first since the acclaimed 2019 release In Amazonia, which I had the privilege to review for TPA, also featuring Peter Hammill. In Disequilibrium took fourteen months to record and is a wonderful testament to international artistic cooperation, with musicians contributing from their home countries of Denmark, Italy, Belgium, UK, Sweden and the USA.
Mats Johansson, the band’s keyboard player and principle composer since the mid-1970s, always had Peter Hammill in mind when he began the writing process, recording a demo of the two pieces which he then sent to Peter. Hammill was encouraged to find places within the music that would benefit from his vocals, and his lyrics are – as usual – insightful, describing the effects that extraordinary events have had in wrong-footing so many people, to which many of us can relate in this upside-down and jumbled world we now find ourselves in.
The opening suite In Disequilibrium is divided into three parts which flow seamlessly into each other. The shifting musical landscape is punctuated by Hammill’s vocals, his attack providing extra meaning and emphasis to the lyrics. The superb musicality of the band and the careful choice of instruments help to promote the ebb and flow of this beguiling music, maintaining a high level of interest for the listener.
The second suite, Gently (Step by Step) is a collection of four parts, again flowing seamlessly into a complete whole. It gets off to a gentler start with Mats Johansson’s piano taking the lead, the song continuing to develop throughout with further excellent lyrics from Peter Hammill. The track offers some glimmer of hope and positivity towards the end, maybe, exemplified by the closing line “Leave the darkness of the past behind you because tomorrow will be a better day”.
This partnership appears to be the perfect one; Hammill’s skill at inserting lyrics into the flow of Isildurs Bane’s music is quite extraordinary, providing us with another excellent release, repeated listens enabling the listener to discover new layers and emotions within the tracks. This is going to be in my top five releases of this year, the band continuing to push boundaries with their masterful craft of creating engaging and fresh music.
01. In Disequilibrium
– Part 1 (6:49)
– Part 2 (9:32)
– Part 3 (8:36)
02. Gently (Step by Step)
– Part 1 (2:20)
– Part 2 (6:28)
– Part 3 (2:13)
– Part 4 (8:23)
Total Time – 44:21
Katrine Amsler – Keyboards, Sound Design
Klas Assarsson – Marimba, Vibraphone, Percussion
Luca Calabrese – Trumpet
Axel Croné – Bass, Woodwinds
Samuel Hällkvist – Guitar
Mats Johansson – Keyboards
Liesbeth Lambrecht – Violin, Viola
Jan Severinsson – Live Sound
Kjell Severinsson – Drums
Peter Hammill – Vocals, Guitar
~ additional musicians:
Xerxes Andrén – Drums
John Anderberg – Choir
Pieter Lenaerts – Cello, Double Bass
Pat Mastelotto – Drums
Johannes Person – Electric Guitar Solo (track 1, part 3)
Adam Sass – Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Record Label: Ataraxia
Country of Origin: Sweden / U.K.
Date of Release: 24th September 2021