GREEN ISAC ORCHESTRA: b a r (2020)
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
“On rhythmic textures in constant renewal, b a r offers a 37 minutes of pure happiness for the music lovers that we are”
1 Volcanic 7:47
2 Le Grand Sportif 7:05
3 With Hat 3:25
4 Don Progini 7:03
5 Aarwaaken 6:10
6 Without Hat 5:50
(LP/DDL 37:14) (V.F.)
(World fusion, progressive E-Rock)
Was I surprised by this new album from Green Isac Orchestra? Absolutely! With a panoply of daring instruments such as the Theravox, baritone guitar and gizmotron as well as mallets and Gran Cassa percussions, the Norwegian quintet establishes rich structures always having that little detail that enriches the nobility of synths, mellotron and piano. Five years after the very good eponymous album Green Isac Orchestra, Morten Lund, Andreas Eriksen, Frode Larsen, Tov Ramstad and Jo Wang present an even more punchy album by happily flirting towards good progressive rock with a tone and a structure following in the footsteps by King Crimson.
And one should not trust the timid and atmospheric overture of Volcanic to get an idea of this last album soberly entitled b a r. Cello tears stretch their karma over a line of circadian pulses and other electronic sound effects. Tingles start fluttering at the same time as an innocent guitar threads its strings in a path only towards reverie. At the point of two minutes, we feel a form of intensity interfering. The ambiences graduate while following the curve of good percussive elements and a weeping violin to explode in a curt and jerky rhythm. The vase has broken, Volcanic begins to spit out rhythm in two intermittent portions, leaving crumbs of serenity to a cello and a piano which borrow an ambient panorama structured on the nonexistent flow of a shimmering arpeggios' line. Le Grand Sportif borrows a slow flow. The cello extends its prismatic vision while percussions play discreetly in the decoration. Also comes a synth wave which shakes the decor, unblocking the atmospheres to take this path of gray philosophy of Darshan Ambient. Like a cloud of azure winds, the atmospheres float in reverie mode in another peaceful duel between stringed instruments and the piano. The acoustic guitar adds to this electro-acoustic flavor of b a r which gradually becomes a lascivious oriental tribal dance. A very good title for those who like to dream with their ears filled with harmonies. With Hat offers a slower dramatic flow with instrumental intensity to throw a couple shivers down your spine. The fusions between guitar and bass on this track will go straight to your heart. Short and excellent!
Dominated by the winds of stringed instruments, Don Progini offers cinematographic music based on tribal percussions. The guitar exorcises its influences of a Robert Fripp meditating on blues while the title takes the path of an intensity controlled and dominated by the piano. Regardless, the sequencer establishes its minimalist rhythmic base which will serve to support the ascending march of the stringed instruments, guiding Don Progini towards an explosive passionate finale. Percussions play a dominant role on this album. And Andreas Eriksen and Frode Larsen unite their skill in Aarwaaken by offering percussive textures of astonishing creativity. If the violin of Tov Ramstad tries to control the overflow of these percussions, it's rather the piano of Jo Wang which succeeds. Its melodious ritornello is reviewed by Morten Lund's violin and the gizmotron. Redefined like a bonanza of emotion and intensity, Aarwaaken is heading for a final as explosive as Don Progini. If that helps you get a better handle on b a r's core, let's say it's King Crimson merged from all its stages into one. Without Hat only accentuates all the rhythmic diversity that radiates from this 12th and last album produced by Spotted Peccary Music in 2020. And the more I hear the power of percussion, the more I tell myself that Stewart Copeland must have been in this studio during b a r's mixing stage. Still, Without Hat offers a down-tempo split between ambient phases and rhythms with perfumes of Tony Banks on keyboards and synths in an atypical structure where each member of Green Isac Orchestra extends a part of his dexterity.
Another superb production from Spotted Peccary, b a r was the subject of a pressing on vinyl because of its audio quality which reignites this mythical debate LP versus CD and now digital. Regardless, it says a lot about the quality of this album, because on rhythmic textures in constant renewal and anomalous fractures, b a r offers a 37 minutes of pure happiness for the music lovers that we are.
Sylvain Lupari (December 23rd, 2020) ****½*
Available at Spotted Peccary Bandcamp