It's not too often you encounter an album where nearly all the songs are potential hits and all the players are stars. But that's the case with IZZ, an upstate New York quintet whose sophomore effort, "I Move," is destined to be a classic. Throughout the fifteen tracks here, IZZ meld moments of classic prog with radio-ready pop (contemporary and otherwise) with an effortlessness that will leave young upstarts and seasoned veterans alike taking notice.
Whether highly-infectious grooves ('Spinnin Round,' 'I Move,' 'Oh, How It's Great'), sensitive, atmospheric ballads (the hazy just-past-sunrise atmosphere of 'I Already Know,' the late night whisper of 'All The New,' and the almost unsettling but wholly nourishing and uplifting 'Believe'), not to mention blazing traditional prog ('Star Evil Gnoma Su') IZZ nail it. While other bands falter with such wide aural palettes to work from, IZZ move seamlessly throughout without the slightest hint of apology for such eclecticism. Of course no apology is necessary and in the hour-plus this disc occupies, you never grow tired or wish for a more unified musical vision, a testament to the band's prowess and potential.
Conceived, in part, as one continuous composition it would be perilous to argue that there's any one moment that epitomizes the "I Move" experience. Still, 'Coming Like Light' features several that prove worthy contenders: the way the early, Steely Dan-esque moments (established by the fabulous fusion-drenched playing of keyboardist Tom Galgano and guitarist Paul Bremner) give way to a "Red"-era meltdown before resolving into a Floyd-like finale. Fleshed out by John Galgano's bass lines-rendered with a consistent precision throughout, his playing is often reminiscent of Geddy Lee's most groove-driven work-and the unobtrusive but nevertheless powerful double percussion attack of Greg DiMiceli and Brian Coralian, the track promises to become one of the band's signature tunes. Having said that, listeners will no doubt find pleasure in the late-night ballad 'Another Door,' the dramatic 'Knight of Nights' or 'The Mists of Dalriada,' a fists-in-the-air jig that ends far too quickly.
No matter what your favorites wind up being one thing is for sure: you'll always walk away from this release feeling like you're in the presence of new masters. Keep an eye on IZZ, they're bound for great things.
Reviewed by Jedd Beaudoin