IIVII is Josh Graham, multi-instrumentalist, composer and founding member of Red Sparowes and Battle of Mice. He's also a welcome guest at performances by Jarboe, Tombs and Tribes Of Neurot. So if that doesn't get you up and running to the nearest (quality) record store, I hope the rest of this review will. Of course you can also order it online, download it for now and have a couple of exciting days of anticipation. That's up to you. All I'm suggesting is: give it a try.
There are seven tracks on this album, each of them being a great piece of science fiction inspired ambient. Opener 'Signals From Home' for instance, drives on sublte soundscapes and a deep, minimal and slow beat. It's the longest track on the album and it gruadually evolves into an elaborate sonic dream which is quite irristable. By the end of the songs, the strange, cosmic atmosphere takes over through eerie sounds, like signals and voices from places unknown.
From there on the album gently moves forward on these electronic soundscapes, sometimes nudging towards the drone-genre, sometimes coming up with electronic pads, sequences and percussion. 'Transmissions Illumine I' for instance, sounds like Biosphere meets Bersarin Quartett, using a number of strings over a minimal but rhythmic click. Though it's clearly an ambient song, it has a strong sense of tempo and gradually incorporates more and more layers of sounds and samples.
The combination of electronics, modern classical elements and a deep ambient makes this album somewhat unique and definitely worthwhile. Often IIVII layers them on top of each other, creating an intense sound and barely avoiding the noise-factor. This is quite remarkable and it keeps the album enjoyable for the entire duration. Besides, there's plenty of variation. 'Black Galaxy', my favorite track, is probably one of the most uptempo ambient tracks I've heard, mainly because of the immersive sequence and great percussion.
I can't wait until Incubate where IIVII will perform this magic live. Although I'm quite curious about how he pulls it off on stage, there's no doubt in my mind that this will be an amazing concert. With my eyes closed, 'On the Shores of Markarian 335' will surely take me on a strange but beautiful mental trip through space, passing Saturn and all the other heavenly bodies. In fact, I'm going to play the album again and to exactly that: close my eyes and fade away...
...or something like that.