Remember card catalogs at the library? You would go & find the book you wanted based on the author’s name. Sometimes the bottom of the card would have the categories or genres that the particular book fell into. For example a book might be a horror/thriller/fantasy. IO Earth‘s latest effort Moments would be a progressive/post rock/Celtic/New Age…. well, you get the idea. IO Earth is the brain child of Dave Cureton & Adam Gough. They have brought together an interesting collection of musicians. If you’ve been thinking that progressive/post rock is in need of more marching band instruments then you have found your band.
Kicking off the album is the title track Moments. IO Earth doesn’t hold back with the quirkiness of their music & we begin with some chanting a la Enigma. A little brass to underscore the spoken word intro. The transitions are smooth though and soon a solitary guitar line slides out. There’s a hint of Middle Eastern flair in the notes which is highlighted by the vocals. From there the progression turns out some Spanish guitar before transforming again. There are more interestingly odd progressions but I’ll let you discover them.
Live Your Life Pt. 1 is a classical piano piece in the beginning; think Debussy. Claire Malin‘s voice is rich & her range is well-showcased. This is simply gorgeous music–deeply meditative lyrics float easily into an orchestral break with the faint sounds of children in the background.
A piano flourish transitions into Live Your Life Pt. 2 and now the guitar is ready to shred. A more traditional style of prog guitar with the drums punches the tempo from adagio to allegro. IO Earth blazes through progressions with ease. There’s also a lot more song here. This track is nearly twice as long as it’s predecessor. The track ends with a whispered plea.
Don’t be alone/Please come back to me/my soul is pure & untouched
Not to bore us, IO Earth sets us Drifting with some Gregorian chanting. It is lovely to hear the vocals blend so smoothly. Of course it doesn’t stay simple for long and there’s a cello with drums before the song really blossoms. I’m feeling the Enigma/Enya vibe here and indeed feel like Drifting. The post rock/ambient genre really shows here with the wild vocalizations, and trumpet line.
If you’re feeling confused by Moments then it isn’t going to get better. Cinta Indah has an almost atmospheric/space rock opening with a whispered word piece. The vocals are solid & fit the lyrics well. I don’t feel like the oddness of the musical choices overwhelm Claire Malin’s voice. A blistering guitar progression forms a sort of bridge for what comes next. Some sort of Middle Eastern style of singing comes in along with a furiously paced keyboard. Back to space rock but the Middle Eastern vocals are there until…. WHAM! Spanish guitar progression. I know it sounds like a hot mess but these musicians make it work pretty well.
The beginning of Brother’s introduces the flute & some incredible soprano sax. In fact there’s a little progression where the flute, sax & xylophone play tag. It’s definitely original. I can picture this being played as part of a Boston Pops Orchestra performance. Again I find myself at a loss on how to put to words what’s going on in my ears.
Vocals are incredibly important in some of these tracks & Come Find Love is no exception. The initial progression is vocalized–a new age/Celtic style chant that sets a mellow mood which is exploded with an electrodance beat. Once the ambient electonica starts there’s a male vocal that repeats “I’m gonna let the eagle rise”. It’s Robert Miles meets Camel via Daft Punk & Fat Boy Slim.
Syncopated percussion & a little “waa-waa” on the guitar provides the teaser to Winston Churchill delivering a speech in Finest Hour. Yes…let me repeat for those of you that just did a spit take. Finest Hour begins with Winston Churchill delivering a speech. Parts of that speech are repeated throughout the song.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour. ~Winston Churchill in a speech before the House of Commons in June, 1940.
The energy around this song is so positive & uplifting. It’s an anthem and every note reflects the inspiring messages.
By contrast, Turn Away, feels like the beginning of a bad ending. I find myself a little disappointed. This is a ballad & the progressions feel plodding at first. They do smooth out somewhat but the song feels heavy until over halfway through. The vocals remind me of Leonard Cohen in timbre & tempo. It’s a nice pairing with the lyrics & one I enjoy. While I don’t like the placement on the album as far as position, the mellow and meditative theme fits nicely with the other tracks. The guitar progressions from 8:30 to 10:00 is absolutely top shelf. From the 8:30 mark to the end it is up where I was wanting it to be.
Overall this is an odd album. It has moments of prog rock genius, post rock angst & world music beats. I enjoyed the music & IO Earth is very talented. The genre-blend of Moments is a cornucopia of styles everybody…okay most everybody can find something to like. I make no guarantees for the hip-hoppers, the candy poppers or the death rockers but they should still fill up their ears with a taste.
IO Earth is : Claire Malin, vocals; Luke Shingler, sax & flute; Christian Nokes, rhythm section; Richard Cureton, drums; Dave Cureton, guitar; Adam Gough, bass