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Ikarus: Ikarus: Through birds, through fire, but not through glass

Geannine Reid By

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Film music without a film is the theme for the Swiss quintet calling themselves Ikarus. Their debut EP is entitled Through birds, through fire, but not through glass, named after Yves Tanguy's painting. In Tanguy's surreal otherworldly landscape, with an ultra- realistic depiction of the unreal by employing a deliberate, precise method of painting, the painter evokes a scene from a dream state to compel the viewer to search for a deeper meaning or truth in the artwork and furthermore, life. IKARUS music is composed and performed in a manner that is to evokes a dream-like or other reality sensation in the listener, an inner film of thoughts, emotions and aural surprises. The songs, meant to create surreal landscapes and go beyond the boundaries of the ordinary. "The songs make you dream and create original images in your mind's eye. They are like film music without a film," explains Ramón Oliveras, the band leader and composer. On stage, Daniel Eaton's light design and Antonio Ruperez' fashion form a congenial world of fanciful sound and fantastic imagery.

The quintet consists of: Stefanie Suhner vocal, Anderas Lareida, vocal, Lucca Fries piano, Mo Meyer double bass and composer Ramón Oliveras on drums. The quintet uses elements from jazz, classical and pop to create a colorful contemporary mix that is very original. The EP presents four songs by Oliveras that highlight the cabaret/operatic potential of the two vocalists over the piano, bass and drums trio.

"Locrya," begins with a steady bass drum and bass pulse with expanding inclusion of the remainder of the drum kit and layering of chords and single note fills from the piano. The melody is presented with Suhner's voice being doubled in the piano over an ostinato figure in the piano. Oliveras sings long guide tones in a supporting role that embellishes the exotic mood of the melody. At the conclusion of the melodic phrase the ensemble fades to silence, eventually broken by upper register chords that create a suspended dream-like atmosphere. Quietly, the original bass and drum quarter note figure crescendos in, under the dissonant upper register piano chords. Eventually, the left hand of the piano is used to embellish the quarter note figure and to build right hand trills and long notes from the voices which build to the original melody with piano variations and new guide tones from Lareida. In fact, the counterpoint of Lareida and Suhner is exploited to the fullest throughout the EP by the creative compositions from Oliveras. "Zarastrus" is a celestial counterpoint for the two vocalists that organically build in intensity and passion with the multilayers of the supporting trio.

"Sanctuary" is built around a 7/8 ostinato figure in the piano with Suhner's and Lareida's clear and accurate vocals providing contrasting counterpoint. Each of the three instruments is used to the fullest potential in creating layers. Oliveras is a master of not only creating layers on his kit, but creating a logical stratosphere of rhythmic figures in his compositions that flows alone or as a whole. The theme is built and developed until a "release" which takes us to a new repetitive piano figure with Oliveras laying down a rockish groove to start the next segment of layering. With Meyer's warm sustained arco and the two vocalist singing long notes the illusion of a synthesizer sound is almost produced, with very nice orchestration from Oliveras. The final selection is "City of Glass," although all four songs form a suite that flows together, borrowing ideas from each other and building upon key elements. Oliveras again uses an ostinato figure in the piano as in "Sanctuary," allowing an organic flow between the two compositions, but this time Meyer's bass immediately provides a bass figure. Larida's voice is used to continue the piano figure with the addition of Suhner's angelic long phrases. This section feels like an interlude from the previous selection, organically bringing the listener to a beautiful ballad with Suhner's voice taking the lead. The trio builds under Suhner's lines to a med tempo duet between the vocalist, each displaying a supreme range and control of pitch and articulation. The duet builds to a fine drum solo from Oliveras for the climax and he releases the tension with his symbol work to take us back to the variation of the opening theme and ending statement.

Through birds, through fire, but not through glass is a very creative collection of compositions that contains abstract tonal colors, many rhythmical layers and beautiful dreamy vocal duets. The infectious rhythmic developments and varying sections make this an entertaining listen.

Track Listing: Locrya; Zarastrus; Sanctuary; City of Glass.

Personnel: Stefanie Suhner: vocal; Anderas Lareida: vocal; Lucca Fries: piano; Mo Meyer: double bass; Ramón Oliveras: drums.

Title: Ikarus: Through birds, through fire, but not through glass | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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