The Invisible Band! - "The Queen Of Memes" (Ethereal Music 2002, EM CD-052)
The Invisible Band! - "Castles In The Sky" (Ethereal Music 2003, EM CD-055)
The Invisible Band! - "It's Music, Jim. But Not As We Know It" (Ethereal Music 2004, EM CD-062)
From Aural Innovations #29 (October 2004)
The Invisible Band is a solo project from UK based musician and writer Alazarin Mobius (aka Rory Cargill). His web site indicates an extensive discography dating back to 1981 and the earlier Invisible Band was apparently a full band. Polly covered a couple earlier CD's in AI #22, and the three covered here are the most recent.
The Queen of Memes is a single hour-long instrumental musical journey that rocks hard in space from the first seconds of the CD. This is heavy driving space rock with a progressive rock edge from the keyboards. We start off with heavy rhythm guitar chords and swirling space guitars that intermingle beautifully with the keyboards and space synths. I hear Hawkwind influences, some of Alan Davey's solo work comes to mind, shades of Ozric Tentacles, and working together with the space tinged prog keyboards gives Mobius an out of this world roller coaster ride space rock sound. The music zips along at a rapid pace throughout, the theme varying a bit along the way, but overall this might have probably worked better as a more concise 20 minute or so piece, as I would have expected some more dramatic transitions and changes of pace in the course of a full hour. It does move from full blown space rock into a more space influenced progressive rock sound. There are piano segments where we really get to hear what an accomplished musician Mobius is. And there are some very cool moments that brought to mind ELP as a space rock band. So there are changes in the general sound and feel of the music, but the fundamental rhythmic drive and musical theme itself doesn't really change. But this shouldn't dissuade readers from checking out The Queen Of Memes as it's an excellent ride for those who want to blast off and hurtle non-stop through the cosmos for a full hour.
Mobius describes Castles in the Sky as his neo-classical album. It includes 4 tracks all in the 13-15 minutes range which are from 1996 and 2001-2003. This is a very different animal from The Queen Of Memes. The music is beautifully composed, like a keyboard and synth driven symphony. And it really does sound like a full symphony. Any complaints I might have had about The Queen Of Memes not varying its theme enough is more than made up for here. Very impressive from a compositional standpoint. All those filmakers that hire Vangelis because they like his symphonic progressive style would do well to give this a spin. My favorite parts combine lush sympho keyboards and piano. Mobius' fleet fingers are like a dance troupe across the ivories. He really plays beautifully. The third track, simply titled "Muzik 104", is slightly different in that it includes some chanting vocals that add a trippy quality to the music, a seemingly odd combination of styles that works really well. But overall, Mobius more than capably transforms his ideas into something that fans of classically influenced symphonic keyboard driven music will find truly magical.
Mobius describes It's Music, Jim. But Not As We Know It as a simpler stripped-down album which was originally intended to be a live set for a 3-piece band featuring himself on guitar and keyboards, accompanied by a bassist and drummer. Unfortunately the band never materialized so Mobius forged ahead as a solo effort. From the opening 14 minute track, "Llamadome", it's clear that Mobius has returned to progressive influenced space rock territory, and it is in some ways a crossroads between The Queen Of Memes and Castles In The Sky. The keyboards dominate at the beginning and things sound more prog rock oriented, but the space is definitely in yer face, with freaky bubbling synths injecting a powerful alien factor into the music. But around the 5 minute mark Mobius kicks in with the guitars and we're rockin' hard with some cool rip roaring solos and cosmic power chords, all blended in nicely with the keyboards. Far out! And that's only the beginning. "Underworld" and "Sports Model" both kick up the ROCK factor several notches and we're treated to full blown ripping space rock. Th Hawk factor is high, but I also imagined if the Ozrics were more of a prog rock band we might get something like these tracks. Killer guitar work. Mobius is a man possessed. Absolutely monstrous shit. "Seven League Boots" and "Locomotiv" are both 15 minute tracks of heavy rockin' space-prog bliss. That space rock ELP sound I referred to on The Queen Of Memes crops up here too and it's mightily awesome. Heavy progressive for the Hawkwind crowd. Highly recommended. If you're game to check out The Invisible Band and want to wade in slowly with only one disc then this is the one start with. Absolutely.
In summary, Alazarin Mobius has varied interests, all of which reveal his interests in space and progressive rock. And he does an outstanding job of bridging the gap between the two realms. So quit standing around and take the plunge by visiting his web site.
For more information you can visit http://www.etherealmusic.co.uk, or http://www.myspace.com/alazarinmobius.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz