The newest generation of progressive musicians is pretty exciting to me. I love receiving all these promos from up and coming bands that have absolutely brilliant ideas. I also love being able to identify and recognize influences in the music, and the debut album from Isproject has plenty of that. “The Archinauts” is a rather mature, beautiful work of art, and it released on September 29th.
The band primarily consists of Ivan Santovito and Ilenia Salvemini on vocals, and they are joined by Giovanni Pastorino on keys and programming, Simone Amodeo on guitars, Andrea Bottaro on bass, and Paolo Tixi on drums; with special guest Martin Grice on flutes and saxophones. The band hails from Italy, and I think that is very important to their sound.
I was emailing back and forth with Ivan, and I found out that he and Ilenia are good friends with one of my favorite Italian musicians, Fabio Zuffanti. I’m a big fan of Fabio Zuffanti, and I hear his influence and the inspiration of Rock Progressivo Italiano (RPI) in general all over this album. There are other elements here, but the keys and melodies present hark back to the rich, exquisite tapestries that Italy has produced.
Now, the band and label present the music as post-prog and electronic, along with other titles, like art rock and symphonic. I honestly just see them as modern eclectic prog rock, as no single element stands above the rest. Most of what they do is rock by definition, and the electronic accents are just that: accents. However, that is perfectly okay with me. The inclusion of all sorts of sounds and tones makes for an interesting and jam-packed experience that will turn heads.
So, the musical style is a mix between RPI, post-prog, and prog rock. We hear lots of sumptuous keyboards appearing as everything from atmosphere to more direct synth runs. Guitars are also very nostalgic and golden, with great solos and some very purposeful playing. The tone of the album is overall very serene and beautiful and symphonic, with rockier moments here and there, and also many transitional moments. I would also point out that the drums and bass are excellent, as is the case for most Italian bands for some reason, and Martin’s flutes and saxophones are a hovering ornament that add so much to the album. Oh, the vocals are wonderful from both Ivan and Ilenia. For some reason, Ivan reminds me of an Italian Steven Wilson.
“Oueverture” starts the album in spectacular, beautiful fashion. On display here are winding guitar passages and ornate keys, and you just feel like you’ve entered into something special. There are many special tracks like that on the album. “Mangialuce” is a fantastic track with lots of keyboard exercises. “The City and the Sky” is one of my favorites on the album. It has probably the best chorus, and also this more fantastical feel to it that I love. It also has one of the best keyboard solos.
My two favorites, though, are really something. “The Mountain of Hope” really does feel exactly like its name: hopeful and familiar. Featuring a sweet keyboard solo and more grit than the rest of the album, this is the song that really clicks the first time you hear it. The final track is “Between the Light and the Stone”, an epic length end to an elegant album, and it might outdo all the rest of the songs in portraying light and beauty. It is probably more pensive than other tracks, with plenty of transitional moments, but also contains some explosive moments that feature a fantastic run of sax and synth.
Overall, I’m very impressed with Isproject. “The Archinauts” is a sumptuous, sophisticated story of Love and Death, and the music expresses it very well and with passion. The sound is mature and modern, but with hints of golden and well-travelled ideas that really elevate the whole package. This is an album that I know you will love.