“Well, it’s all topsy-turvy”, sings Peter Hammill as his second collaboration with Isildurs Bane starts to swing. “Everything’s turned upside-down”, he continues as In Disequilibrium, part 1 kicks off their latest album. It’s the first section of a three-part title track, and it sets us up nicely for 45 minutes of good, old-fashioned symphonic prog rock.
Isildurs Bane is a Swedish symphonic rock band; Peter Hammill, as most Crotchety readers will know, is the founder and lead songwriter of the prog rock band, Van der Graaf Generator. The young Crotchety Man couldn’t quite adjust to Hammill’s voice when he heard VdGG’s H to He, Who Am the Only One in 1970 (or thereabouts). I still find it discomforting. The instrumental substrate of In Disequilibrium, though, is a particularly fine blend of symphonic and progressive rock.
As a sample of their style, here are the first two tracks on the second side of the album: Gently (Step by Step), parts 1 and 2.
I’ve listened to this album a couple of times now, and I still can’t get on with Peter Hammill’s voice. But there’s more than enough in Isildurs Bane‘s instrumental contributions to make up for that. At least, until the Hammill wail sets my head spinning and tumbling again. Somehow, the title of this release seems all too appropriate on this side of the hi-fi speakers.