Island (CH)
Pictures


4.5
superb

Review

by e210013 USER (97 Reviews)
December 11th, 2017 | 29 replies


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is one of the most weird and original albums ever heard by me. It represents one of best examples of prog in the end of the 70’s.

“Pictures” is the debut and only studio album of Island and was released in 1977. The line up on the album is Benjamim Jager, Peter Scherer, René Fisch and Guge Jurg Meier.


Island is a progressive rock band from Switzerland. The band was lead by Benjamin Jäger. Island was loosely related to Brainticket, only because the band’s vocalist Jäger was with a group called Toad, which featured Cottonwoodhill era members of Brainticket. Toad was supposedly a more conventional hard rock band and they had nothing to do with Island. Island was an unusual progressive rock band from the 70’s, perhaps one of the most experimental at the time. We can see lots of wind instruments (particularly saxophones), keyboards (Hammond organ, Mini Moog and piano) and drums, percussion and Moog Taurus bass pedals. But, there aren’t absolutely any guitars or bass guitars on the band.

“Pictures” is an album influenced by many and varied music styles, such as the Canterbury scene, the jazz rock/fusion and the RIO Avant/Prog. The sound of the band certainly approaches to progressive rock from the darker end of the spectrum. This is also an album deeply influenced for some of the best and most charismatic progressive rock bands of the 70’s. The main influence we can find on Island is certainly from Van Der Graaf Generator. If we take a look to the line up of the band we can clearly see it. They are also four and they have no guitar and bass. And they have saxophones and flutes and the keyboardist also plays bass pedals, which is the usual thing on almost all the albums of Van Der Graaf Generator. But their album is in fact even more complex and disharmonious than even Hammill & Co. were at their most weird. The influences of Gentle Giant are pretty obvious too, especially in terms of vocals. The King Crimson’s influences are also evident, especially due to their album “Islands”. Perhaps the name of the band wasn’t really a coincidence. We can also see influences from Emerson, Lake & Palmer especially on the keyboards. However, we can’t say that Island is a clone of those bands. The band was able to have a very own sound and an original identity.

The musicians are all excellent. The individual virtuosity of them is staggering. They obviously worked very hard on these pieces. Synthesizers are used a great deal on the album too and although the sounds that Peter selects are very good, the decision was made to replace a bass guitar with the bass pedals. Although, I prefer to hear a bass guitar in the mix, the mechanical and synthetic texture of the bass pedals works well with this music, which is extremely disciplined. The saxophone work is also nice and the way it’s used on the album reminds me of both, Gentle Giant and Henry Cow. To make an excellent album even more, the vocals are also very good and Benjamin has a somewhat high pitched vocal style. Finally, the drummer is out of this world. He is really amazing. He really drives each piece along.

The album opens with “Introduction”, a very short number. It causes an atmosphere which gives the mood to the album which reminds us the soundtrack of “Alien”, which isn’t a strange thing. After the short introduction the album follows with the instrumental number “Zero”. It’s based on a great organ and saxophone theme and is the least complex track on the album. Then comes the nearly 17 minutes long title track. In addition to their very Van Der Graaf Generator’s influenced sound, the band also uses some very distinctive percussion. The track is loaded with great themes and instrumental parts. It has lots of saxophone and a very powerful organ. Any Van DerGraaf Generator’s fan will love it. “Herold And King/Dloreh” is exactly so weird as the title suggests. It’s very energetic and powerful, and as I said, the complexity is unbelievable. The last track, “Here And Now”, is more laid back but still is very complex and probably is the least accessible track on the album. The atmosphere here is a little bit more light and optimistic than ever before.

Just one more thing. The cover of the album was made by the Swiss artist Giger. He made the cover for “Brain Salad Surgery” and was the man who made all the sceneries from “Alien”. I love this cover. It was perfect for this album.


Conclusion: “Pictures” is an album with long tracks and without weak points. I must confess that I was blown away with “Pictures”. It surpassed all my expectations. I listened to the album several times and it never ceased to impresses me and it always grows on me with the auditions. This is almost a perfect album, a real forgotten and hidden jewel that needs to be discovered. It’s a pity that they have made only this album. This is without doubt one of the greatest progressive rock albums from the late 70’s, and you have no other thing to do than just listen to it. In the punk and disco dominated world of 1977, it’s nice and comfortable to see there were still a few progressive rock acts not willing to make compromises. And Island proved that. This is truly not an easy album to get in to it and it easily will have its detractors. But if you’ll have patience and if you’re a truly progressive lover of its dark side, maybe you can love it too.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

After the end of Friday 13th prog tourney, and as I promised then, it's now time for a new review, a review of the album in the second place of that tourney. It's true that I had already read something about it, but I don't knew it already. Since I listened to it for the first time, I always loved it. It's an amazing prog album from the 70s, a great testament of the end of that decade. It's very strange and obscure but it still remains a great album, even now. I hope you enjoy it. It's time to rescue it out of the dust of time.

TwigTW
December 11th 2017


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"...there aren’t absolutely any guitars or bass guitars on the band."



I didn't realize this was true until after 3 or 4 listens. The album certainly isn't lacking anything musically because of it . . . Great review e21!

Digging: Elvis Costello - Look Now

e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Twig.

"The album certainly is not lacking anything musically because of it . . ."

I completely agree. It's the same with many albums of Van Der Graaf Generator.

I'm very glad you liked my review. As was you the great mentor of this album, I'm really glad that you liked my review. Anyway, this album deserved a review, at last.

bgillesp
December 11th 2017


5951 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review!

Digging: The Necromancers - Of Blood and Wine

e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks bgillesp.

bnelso55
December 11th 2017


1317 Comments


One of my favorites from the tourney. Great work, e21! I agree. This record has been around for a long time, but it deserves more exposure. Hopefully your review encourages a few more people to check this out.

Digging: Sangre de Muerdago - Noite

e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks also, bnelso.

Jethro42
December 11th 2017


15550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Music here is kind of an organized chaos, like Twig once said. It's so cold and hostile, and there is no way left to take refuge. Almost no melodies, only a few distant interplays of saxophone and organ patterns injected into that perceptible nothingness. Much disharmonious too, like you said in your review. Vocals do nothing for me. They're as cold as the music. I really enjoy the jazzy bonus track ''Empty Bottles'', but all in all, album has no really replay value for me.

Peter Hammill and Co. are way better in the songwriting department. VDGG are among the darkest bands too no doubt, but they are rarely unapproachable, and they always bring warmth, and songs all have something uplifting into them through a melody, or a warm riff... We're simply not finding these things with Island. I can see their originality, creativity and the guts they had to produce a one shot album that late in the 70s. I can also see why people praise the album, but for me, it leaves me rather cold. I realize I personally cannot give more than a 3 to it.

Cool that you covered that highly praised album, bro. Good review, but I obviously disagree with its over-optimistic nature. I hope I won't discourage the album's eventual new comers.

Friday13th
December 11th 2017


6561 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, man.



Anyone know why the band label says "(CH)?"What does that even mean? I used to be "(Switzerland)".

Papa Universe
December 11th 2017


17720 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'CH' is a code of Switzerland. It's like if the band was american, it'd be labelled 'US'

Digging: Ex-Isles - Luxury Mass

TwigTW
December 11th 2017


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's funny. I noticed it too. Apparently it's latin for Switzerland, Confoederatio Helvetica.

Papa Universe
December 11th 2017


17720 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh, I thought it meant Cunty Hacks... but oh well

TwigTW
December 11th 2017


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol, I don't know anyone Swiss, so I can't comment.

Papa Universe
December 11th 2017


17720 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i can

bgillesp
December 11th 2017


5951 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's wierd

e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ Jethro

Since the first moment I felt that "Pictures" wasn't your cup of tea. So, it was without surprise that I read your comment. For the first time we are in the complete opposite side. What you see as weaknesses, I see grandiosity. But, this is the beauty of prog. We can agree, disagreeing. For instance, many dislike Van Der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill, but I know that it isn't your case. But I have no problem with your opinion. I know that it isn't the only one. As I wrote on my review, it isn't an easy album to get in to it.

About ''Empty Bottles'', I never listened to it, really. Surelly, I must check it.

Like you, I also hope that your comment won't discourage the album's eventual new comers, ah,ah,ah.

Anyway, I'm sure that my next review, the last of this year, will please you more, since it's about an album, which I know you love.

Thanks man for the comment and pos.

e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ Friday

Thanks,man.

e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

About "CH", it's very simple. Swiss is a confederate country with three regions with different languages, the German language, the French language and the Italian language. "CH" means, "Helvetic Confederation" (Swiss Confederation). Swiss isn't a Federal Estate but a Confederate State. From what I know, it's the only case in the world.

Yeah, it can be a bit weird. It reminds me the Confederate States in USA.

TheIntruder
December 11th 2017


392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review dude. It's time to see this reviewed here. One of the great surprises of the tournament. Have a pos.

e210013
December 11th 2017


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, Intruder.



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