Isildurs Bane & Peter Hammill - In Disequilibrium - 2021

albumcover

    

“... a remarkable album full of strong and emotional melodies ...”

intro

The included info sheet is talking about extraordinary times that call for extraordinary music. And as a reader of the progVisions reviews, you will know that Sweden's leading chamber rock ensemble Isildurs Bane is on top of a (new) wave of inspiration. The band has joined forces once again with the legendary Van der Graaf Generator vocalist and composer Peter Hammill. "In Disequilibrium" the new album, their first since 2019's acclaimed "In Amazonia" consists out of two contrasting suites. Besides contributing artists from Denmark, Italy, Belgium, the UK and Sweden another big name is contributing to this remarkable album. From the USA, King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto is on board. Isildurs Bane's principal composer and keyboardist Mats Johansson had Peter Hammill in mind when he began writing the pieces. And he was right because Peter Hammill's full-throated attacking vocals have meshed perfectly with the energetic and forcefully arrangements of the unique music of Isildur's Bane. "In Disequilibrium" is a remarkable album full of strong and emotional melodies.


line-up

Musicians on "In Disequilibrium" Part 1:
Katrine Amsler - Solina; Xerxes Andrén - Drums; Klas Assarsson - Marimba, Tam-Tam; Luca Calabrese - Trumpet; Axel Croné - Bass Clarinet, Bass Guitar, Bass Piano, Double Bass, Electric Guitar, Tenor Saxophones; Peter Hammill - Vocals, Electric guitar; Samuel Hällkvist - Electric Guitar; Mats Johansson - Arp 2601, Clavinet D6, Oberheim Xpander, Minimoog, Prophet 10, Roland String RS202, Treatments; Kjell Severinsson - Drums

Musicians on "In Disequilibrium" Part 2:
Katrine Amsler - Buchla, Solina; Xerxes Andrén - Percussion; Klas Assarsson - Glockenspiel, Marimba, Tubular Bells, Vibes, Xylophone, Concert Bass drum, Tam-Tam, Percussion; Luca Calabrese - Trumpet; Axel Croné - Bass Guitar, Clavinet D6, Electric Guitar, Tenor Saxophone; Peter Hammill - Vocals; Samuel Hällkvist - Electric Guitar; Mats Johansson - Arp 2601, Mellotron, Moog One, Oberheim Xpander, Prophet 10, Treatments; Kjell Severinsson - Percussion; Liesbeth Lambrecht - Viola, Violin; Pieter Lenaerts - Cello, Double Bass; Pat Mastelotto - Drums; Adam Sass - Trumpet

Musicians on "In Disequilibrium" Part 3:
Katrine Amsler - Programmed Choir, Solina, Synth Bass; John Anderberg - Choir; Klas Assarsson - Glockenspiel, Marimba, Vibes, Concert Bass Drum, Tam-Tam; Luca Calabrese - Trumpet; Axel Croné - Bass Clarinet, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Nord A1, Percussion, Piano, Pro One, Snare Drum; Peter Hammill - Vocals; Samuel Hällkvist - Electric Guitar; Mats Johansson - Arp 2601, Kurzweil 2600, Mellotron, Minimoog, Moog One, Nord A1, Treatments; Liesbeth Lambrecht - Viola, Violin; Pat Mastelotto - Drums, Electronic Percussion; Johannes Persson - Electric Guitar solo

Musicians on Gently (Step by Step) Part 1:
Katrine Amsler - Programmed Beats, Casino Slot Machine; Klas Assarsson - Vibes, Concert Bass Drum; Axel Croné - Double bass, Electric Guitar; Peter Hammill - Vocals; Mats Johanson - Air Noise, Electronic Pads, Big Balloons, Grand Piano, Machine Drones, Minimoog, Water, Treatments: Adam Sass - Flugelhorn

Musicians on Gently (Step by Step) Part 2:
Katrine Amsler - Electronics, Programmed Choir; John Anderberg - Choir; Xerxes Andrén - Additional FX Drums, Bells, Cymbals, Percussion; Klas Assarsson - Glockenspiel, Marimba, Vibes, Tam-Tam; Luca Calabrese - Trumpet; Axel Crone - Bass Clarinet, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Piano, Roland RS202; Peter Hammill - Vocals; Samuel Hällkvist - Electric Guitar; Mats Johansson - Mellotron, Moog One, Moog Sub37/Voyager, Oberheim Xpander, Yamaha CS80, Treatments; Liesbeth Lambrecht - Viola, Violin; Pieter Lenaerts - Cello; Pat Mastelotto - Drums, Electronic Percussion; Adam Sass - Flugelhorn, Trumpet, Effects

Musicians on Gently (Step by Step) Part 3:
Klas Assarsson - Vibes, Concert Bass Drum, Tam-Tam; Axel Croné - Bass Clarinet, Double Bass; Mats Johansson - Noise, Minimoog, Piano FX, Variable Speed Synthesizers, Treatments, Vocals

Musicians on Gently (Step by Step) Part 4:
Katrine Amsler - Keyboards, Sound Design; John Anderberg - Choir; Klas Assarsson - Glockenspiel, Marimba, Vibes, Concert Bass Drum, Tam-Tam; Luca Calabrese - Trumpet; Axel Croné - Bass Clarinet, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Elektronika EM-04; Peter Hammill - Vocals; Samuel Hallkvist - Electric Guitar; Mats Johansson - mellotron, Moog One,Oberheim Xpander, Prophet 10, Yamaha CS80, Treatments; Liesbeth Lambrecht - Viola, Violin; Pieter Lenaerts - Cello; Pat Mastelotto - Drums, Percussion; Adam Sass - Trumpet


review

On the "In Disequilibrium" album you will find two suites; "In Disequilibrium" and "Gently (Step by Step). The first one "In Disequilibrium" is divided into three parts. The first suite is an overwhelming experience with complex rhythm patterns, intricate arrangements for mallet instruments, rhythmic counterpoints and Peter Hammill's full-throated attacking vocals. It brings us back to the heyday of his band Van Der Graaf Generator. It always brings back some memories of a school trip I attended as a young boy, in Berlin, we did see a real Van Der Graaf Generator. It was impressive even before I discovered the music of this band. By chance last week the box with the Charisma Years of the band was delivered at progVisions headquarters. Sometimes you have to spoil yourself with a present. But this is another story. Isildurs Bane's principal composer and keyboardist Mats Johansson had Peter Hammill in mind when he began writing the pieces. Predecessor "In Amazonia" was put together one piece at a time and slowly assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. This time Hammill was sent the compositions as a completed instrumental demo. He was encouraged to find places within the music that might benefit from his vocals. Especially the first suite "In Disequilibrium" shows Isildurs Bane as a mixture of Avant and Chamber rock ensemble. You could describe the music as contemporary, complex and truly progressive. Peter Hammill is impressing me with his unique way of finding new ways of weaving vocal melodies into the complex music of Isildurs Bane. As I said before "In Disequilibrium" is an overwhelming listening experience. Not for the faint-hearted but for the open-minded music lover ... impressive!

The second suite "Gently (Step by Step)" opens with a beautiful piano, synth, marimba and trumpet part. After all that impressive and forcefully music of the previous suite, this sounds like a welcome rest point. Peter Hammill now comes with beautiful vocal lines that are placed next to the wonderful chamber music like music. The contrast between the two suites is big. Love the delicate trumpet playing of Luca Calabrese which reminds me of some great ECM albums. "Gently (Step by Step)" is more influenced by Classical and Electronic music. As you can read in the line-up's above, the band uses a wealth of instruments. Viola, Violin, Cello, Marimba, Xylophone, Flugelhorn and loads of synths and percussion instruments. Isildurs Bane is now a kind of Chamber rock orchestra with injections of Electronica. Part three includes some wonderful Bass Clarinet parts that are played by Axel Croné. Like on the first suite Peter Hammill is very present on this suite. The vocal melodies on the fourth part of "Gently (Step by Step)" are very beautiful.


conclusion

If you are familiar with the music of Isildurs Bane and the vocal capacities of Peter Hammill, this album will blow you out of your chair. There is so much going on and the musicians push each other to great heights. The musical craftsmanship is of a very high level. "In Disequilibrium" is one of the most intriguing and overwhelming albums I have heard this year. Highly recommended for the open-minded music lover. As I said before, this music is not for the faint-hearted. Open your mind and let yourself be taken into the world of Isildurs Bane.


author - date - rating - label

Douwe Fledderus - October 2021 -  - Ataraxia Productions