Actually the picture on the left does not do justice to the packaging of this album. By now I would say “as usual” 17 pygmies spared no expense when it comes to wrapping their albums. Housed in a transparent little envelope comes a 26 page booklet, containing the essay Jackson Del Rey wrote about the story, a wrapper for the CD (beautiful) and a wrapper for the whole of it (pictured left), with the Fibonacci sequence on it (not visible here) if I am not mistaken. All very beautiful and probably costly.
And all that beauty is perhaps needed to match the music. Because beautiful is a word that pops up in my mind on a regular base while listening to this. The 10 tracks are Isabel XII to Isabel XXI, a logical continuation of the previous album. The opening track with the vocals of Meg Maryatt sets the tone. It may be mellow, but the tension building here is really great, very good start of the album and what we are to expect. Some of the songs are instrumental. Sometimes with a beat or percussion guiding the track along. Various instruments are used to help build the atmosphere needed. Especially the acoustic guitars and various violins prove helpful. The music is described as a mix of prog, classical and folk and that is a tag I understand. But for me this is a lovely album that anyone with ears and a heart will enjoy. So please give it a chance!
The band 17 Pygmies has of course been featured here before with their Celestina Trilogy. And now they have come up with the sequel to that, and if you guessed Isabel trilogy, of which this is disc 1, you are right. Even the song names follow the same route, with songs Isabel I to Isabel XI. Only exception is track 12, which is called Kyrie. Another familiar touch is the stunning housing of the disk. The cover photo on the left does not do it justice. It is handmade, protecting a staggering 36 page booklet that tells the first part of the story. The quality you hold in your hands, easily translates to the music, as it is very emotional.
If you ever find yourself in need of some music to calm down to, then I strongly suggest listening to an album like this. Just the opening minutes of Isabel I are probably all you need to regain yourself… Just some clean guitar tones picked with calm confidence before a violin kicks in and takes lead. Beautiful music, simple, but oh so effective. Overall I noticed that this album is very peaceful, even the vocal tracks. So even if this is labelled as progressive rock, I think people that are into ambient / new age, will like this very much as well.
So another round of applause to Jackson Del Rey, Meg Maryatt, Dirk Doucette and Jeff Brenneman and their cast of guests. This grabs you by the throat and sends shivers down the spine. Chilling!
On Wednesday, July 25, 2012 17 PYGMIES will launch a PledgeMusic site in an effort to fund its next CD project titled “Isabel”. In much the same way “Celestina” was the first of a three CD 33 1/3rd trilogy, “Isabel” will be the first of three CDs in a continuation of the story line and sound of the Celestina trilogy.
Currently celebrating its 30 year anniversary, 17 PYGMIES is often remembered for being one of the 1980’s era DIY bands often associated with the creation of the “College” rock sound, now know as “Indie” rock. Strangely, 17 PYGMIES are also remembered by some as “Post-Punk” while other associate the band with early “Dark-Wave,” “Gothic,” and “Ethereal Rock,” which of course is now referred to as “Dream Pop (see Captured In Ice)”. You have to admit that when combined with being one of the early “World Music” advocates (see Hatikva/Jeddah By The Sea), 17 PYGMIES has managed to cover quite a bit of territory.
However, the Earth was not enough and so 17 PYGMIES eventually took their sound to the blackness of the infinite universe and with the 2008 release of “Celestina” 17 PYGMIES shot an arrow into the sky and landed in the realm of Space/Prog Rock.
If you were part of the first 30 years, we thank you for sharing that part of the journey with us. If you were not, it’s not too late to “get on board” and enjoy the next part of the journey. Hope to see you there.
For more information, promo requests or to set up an interview, please contact Meg Maryatt at (760) 564-7222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Jack and Meg from the Trakwerx label asked me to take a listen to their current release, I could not have imagined they´d sent me the whole Celestina trilogy by 17 Pygmies. Housed in what must be one of the most precious and luxurious packages on the planet! I took a photo of it (second image) but that does not do it justice. Trust me when I say this is a one of a kind set, that just oozes class…
Musically this has to be one of the most ambitious undertakings ever. Like Coheed And Cambria, 17 Pygmies set out to put a story to music and do so within a number of albums. Three in this case. Loosely based upon a 15th century novel about love and betrayal. Now placed in a science fiction environment. CD 3 has a 42 page book to tell the story by Jackson Del Rey, who also does synths, guitar, bass and vocals. In essence the band are a 4 piece, with several guest contributing.
Each CD has 11 tracks and the song titles are kept simple. They start on CD 1 with Celestina I and end on CD 3 with Celestina XXXIII.III. Oh wait, I forgot, CD 3 has an extra track, to make it a total of 33 1/3 songs…
I have been listening to all CD´s back to back and the atmosphere created is that of a hauntingly dreamy peaceful mood. So their claim at combining classical film scores with psychedelia stands. I might add ambient / new age. So in total the chosen label of symphonic progressive rock does this justice. The vocals support these moods just perfectly. What is strong about it that the music speaks for itself. You don´t need to read the whole story to get caught by this music. If you take a comfortable seat, put the CD on and start listening, it won´t be long before you are sucked in and are probably imagining being in a film yourself. That is quality!
So a stunning discovery I hope a lot of people will follow up on. Beautiful stuff, so thank you Jack and Meg for letting me take a listen!