It should be pointed out that 'Isabel' is the first part of a trilogy following the fictional character Dr. Amelia Isabel, who is a passenger on the spaceship 'Celestina' which gave its name to the character of the previous trilogy. I hope you're keeping up at the back. So this is essentially another cosmic, interstellar concept album. Being a largely ambient group that touches upon psychedelia, the opening two songs are instrumentals made from steady, slow, plucked guitar and strings creating a mood. It's kind of post-rock, only minus the rock part. The two fit together almost as one song, although 'Isabel II' does begin to sound more threatening as it reaches the end. The album really comes alive on '...III', the first song to incorporate vocals and the first to sound truly celestial; suddenly we're in this sci-fi land and it's quite breathtaking.
The journey continues with 'IV' which is part Elizabethan folk music and part cosmic symphony; it's a curious combination but it works well. There are points where the ride becomes daunting and perhaps a little perilous, as you'd maybe expect from such a fictitious venture, and 'V' with its moody strings and electronic pulses captures this well. Vocals return for the slightly forlorn, twinkly dreampop of 'VI' and this is another highlight. More soundscapes follow, with 'VII' being particularly good and 'VIII' being little more than an ambient piece that could have come from a soundtrack; by it's very nature this album has a cinematic feel. The final songs to include lyrics are the ominous sounding 'IX' which again has something of a medieval feel to it, despite being a space-age fantasy, and it also uses retro sounding electronics heavily towards the end; and lastly 'XI' in which the vocal tone makes it difficult to grasp the emotion of the track, although this seems to be the point. Things need to be left hanging slightly in the balance as there will be more to follow. It might be a lengthy project, but it's not without its moments.
17 Pygmies' website
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