The brainchild of long time friends and writing duo Dave Cureton and Adam Gough, IO Earth came into being as a challenge they gave themselves to write an album of music that was truly unique. That album exploded onto the progressive rock scene in 2009 and was instantly branded one of the most important releases of the decade.
Dave Cureton & Adam Gough IO Earth © Wendy Vissers-Hagenbeek 2014
Truly genre defying and impossible to categorise, the IO Earth debut album blended styles, ideas and emotions seamlessly into almost 100 minutes of music the likes of which had never been heard before. Starting with a seven minute piano and string piece entitled simply "Introduction", this debut album is set to surprise the listener with each new track. Immediately following the first piece is a guitar melody based tune reminiscent of Vai and Satriani, although the way in which Cureton approaches the performance sidesteps with ease the usual overplaying that can be found in any piece with such influences. The rest of the album continues on a journey of musical discovery, calling upon rock, jazz, dance, ambient, electronica, classical and other styles and blending them together into one cohesive and innovative whole.
Whether you are a fan of the power ballad, the guitar instrumental, ambient dance or orchestral pieces, there is something for you. Moreover, once you are pulled in, you'll begin to understand what Dave and Adam mean when they say that all styles and genres can contain interesting and provocative elements and you will find yourself enjoying even the pieces that are outside of your usual tastes. With the release of their second album in 2012, it is obvious that their unique style is still growing and maturing and it is hard to think of anywhere that they cannot go with it.
With songs again ranging from powerful rock ballads to ambient dance grooves, mashed up with sweeping orchestral soundscapes and elements of Jazz to name but a few, it seems that these two artists have perfected their unique ability to blend the most unusual groups of genres and produce something that somehow still makes sense and remains pleasing to the ear and true to their own sound. Every new track comes with a sense of curiosity and excitement, the likes of which you experience with very few acts. You experience first hand that curiosity and sense of fun in their creative process and are drawn into the music with a constant need to know where they are going next.
IO Earth are unique in the way that their listeners, dubbed the "IO Earth Family" are included in their work. After such a large and unexpected response to their debut album in 2009 - an album which they have said was written for themselves, in the belief that it would be "too weird" to gain a following - they realised that nothing is too weird for the world of Progressive Rock, which immediately embraced them and welcomed this new innovative style of composition. It is easy to hear the effect that simply having this following had on them as a writing partnership when you hear the second album.
It is brimming with confidence and holds nothing back. From the majestic, sweeping guitar melodies and solos (often accompanied by a harmonising soprano saxophone and sitting on a luxurious keyboard-built soundscape) to the spine tingling orchestral arrangements and samples of Winston Churchill... "Moments" keeps you captivated and on its conclusion at just over the 60 minute mark, leaves you wanting more!
Of course, if it's more that you're after, 'IO Earth Live' is something that you really need to experience. The live reproduction of this complex, emotive and multi-layered music is something that many assumed would not be possible and assumed that IO Earth would be a "Studio Band". But they couldn't have been more wrong. Their live performance is not the clinical, precise reproduction of the material with which many Progressive Rock fans would be used to. What you get at an IO Earth show is strong, tight performance, masses of energy and overall feeling that the band is, above all, having fun on stage. The 2013 release "IO Earth Live In The USA" showcases this perfectly.
Dave and Adam have put together an incredibly strong group of musicians to accompany their guitars and keys and through the complexity of their music, each band member having the opportunity to showcase their talents. The biggest additions to the ensemble being Christian Nokes on bass, vocalist Linda Odinsen and Luke Shingler bringing in layers of sax and flute. Newbes Christian Jerromes on drums and Jez King as added violinist and guitar. The group now consists of seven musicians.
Cureton and Gough have been very clever in their arrangements of their songs for live performance. Having realised that an exact duplication would be just about impossible for a seven piece band, they have focused on the elements that make the songs what they are - strong, powerful and emotive, based in melody and feeling. IO Earth concerts have a real sense of purpose and fun which is sorely lacking in live performances these days. The open and playful presentation of the music results in a relaxed, inclusive vibe to the gigs, even in venues whose large capacity usually make that incredibly difficult.
This unique performing style has afforded them the opportunity to appear alongside many greats of the Progressive Rock genre. Their back to back performances at Cruise To The Edge 2013 and 2014 put them on the same stage as Yes, Steve Hackett, Tangerine Dream, Queensryche, Marillion, to name but a few. They have also made barnstorming appearances at prestigious festivals such as Baja Prog in Mexicali and RoSfest in Gettysburg.
In early 2014, IO Earth announced that they are currently busy working on their third studio album. Dave and Adam have said that release, consisting of two disks, in many ways harkens back to the first album in style and in the varied genres included within the content - but still forges forward the way that the second album did, further exploring and expanding their unique "IO Earth Sound". Dave and Adam are pushing the boundaries of contemporary composition and they believe they are creating the best IO Earth album to date.
At Cruise To The Edge 2014, they debuted three songs from the upcoming release. The title track, "New World", a startlingly unique and energetic rock tune, "Journey To Discovery" and a powerful guitar ballad called "The Rising". All three tune were received with excitement and enthusiasm by the crowds and if they are anything to go by, "New World" will be breaking New Ground once again for this genre defying duo and their cohorts. If you only see one Progressive Rock gig this year, make it IO Earth. You will not be disappointed!