There is no doubt the world has been through dramatic change in the last few years, as have Ifsounds, with only Runal (lead vocals), Dario Lastella (guitars, bass, synth, vocals) and Lino Mesina (drums) still members of the line-up which recorded 2018’s ‘An Gorta Mór’. They have been joined by Lino Giugliano (piano, organ, synth, keyboards), Italo Miscione (bass), and Ilaria Carlucci (lead & backing vocals) while ex-member Claudio Lapenna is one of four guest singers on the opening track, and he also provides piano on another. Recorded over two years, it is bookended by “MMXX” and “MMXXII”, one year which changed all our lives forever and another where we look back with a sense of loss.
I love choirs, as if it wasn’t for a choir, I would never have been born, so I can literally say it is in my blood. My grandfather was the founder of Brixham Orpheus Male Voice Choir, my mother was the accompanist, and she and my father met when he decided to join a choir in his new town to meet people. I listened a great deal to choirs when I was younger, my mother was also a well-respected singer and soloist, as well as sang in them myself, but I never thought I would hear a song where choirs were being used to perform in connection with progressive rock, but we get that in the opening title track, which is more than 24 minutes in length! That it starts with the choir, with enough reverb to make it sound as if they are recorded in a cathedral, is even more shocking and caused me to look at what I was playing to make sure there had not been an issue with the download. Does it work? I think the answer to that is a qualified “yes”, and I only qualify it as I am sure there are plenty of progheads who have no understanding of this form, and consequently may not appreciate. When the vocals stop, we go into a section which is led by an organ, again keeping the classical form to mind before we have male lead vocals. It does not always gel quite as it might, but to even think of undertaking music which attempts to blend such diverse styles together is incredible.
The songs in the middle are more traditional prog, if there is such a thing, yet there are times when they bring in huge elements of jazz, especially with some of the piano and they are crossover in its very truest sense as they shift into different sub genres, with some elements of RPI and others of Neo. It is a fascinating piece of work, and I am still having issues with deciding if this is a work of sheer genius, or if it totally misses the mark. What I do know is I have not heard anything quite like this previously, as they really are attempting to blend two complex forms and using the choirs to drive the sound forward instead of just using them as a harmony support, which is often the case. This is an album with those who have open minds about what progressive rock truly is, but if you want something attempting to do something different as opposed to cloning others then this may well be for you.