The release of if…sounds created more interest about our very first albums.
I’ve seen this on ProgArchives where Guillermo Hernandez (alias memowakeman) and Torodd Fuglesteg reviewed our albums if and In the cave.
The reviews are not very positive, but I can agree many things they wrote: those albums were still too “amateurish” and they lack direction (especially “In the cave”). I’m sure there are great moments in, but all in all there are too many things to fix.
Thanks to Guillermo and Torodd for the reviews. You can read them above or here.
“In the cave” reviewed by Guillermo
Their first moments!
When one of our fellow collaborators is doing a great job publishing interviews with some lesser known bands, we should take advantage of that and explore those unknown realms. While I read those reviews, I have felt interested in some bands that I didn’t know previously, one of them was this Italian band called Ifsounds, whose name was previously If, but who decided to change it because there are several bands called If, and with Ifsounds they are developing their own brand.
So I read the interview and got interested, then decided to look for their music and Torodd enlighten me and told me there were some free to download albums on their website. I did not hesitate and got them. Now here is my review of their debut album entitled “In the Cave”, released in 2004, featuring ten songs an almost an hour of running time.
The first song is “Syd is Back” and starts with an electronic (Nintendo-like) sound which suddenly stops and disappears. Then a soft piano and vocals appear, but all of a sudden a theatrical and heavier feeling enter, the guitar work is nice, letting you know their rockish roots, there is a great guitar solo.
The title track (“In the Cave”) has some robotic and far voices, while a spacey mood appears, the same sound prevails until 2:30 where new vocals enter, some drums here and there, but after a short stop those robotic voices return. This song fails with me, because I honestly felt bored almost all the eight minutes.
“Summer Breeze” does not rise up that mood; I mean the sound is still soft and in moments boring, but the vocals sound a bit different, raw and touching, so that is a good point. Then the keyboards and new elements put some spice in the plate, which helps the song reaching a goal.
“One May Love” has some kind of bossa nova touch, cool drums and bass lines. A minute later, female backing vocals appear and the song turns delicious in moments, quite enjoyable. “Classmates” is a short but heavier song whose guitars will attract all your attention; the vocals are very rare, not the best actually.
“An Angel has Opened Wide the Door to Hell” is a soft song that suggests a moment of reflection, the sound might be simple and even poppish, but you can’t deny that it was composed from the heart. There is a nice guitar solo in the last minutes. “You” is a very nice song. Those female backing vocals return accompanying a male lead one and some good keyboard sound as a background. The mood is very tranquil and even relaxing. The structure is the same all over the song, but it is not bad at all.
“19 Red Roses” is one of my favorite here due to its intriguing rockish sound which is like a combination of 70s with 80s moments. That soft mood shared in the previous songs, contrast with the sense of power provoked by this one. Pretty good track, though I don’t think this is the kind of song the band wanted to adopt as representative.
“You Know” has a slice of 80s sound, it is like a ballad or a love song (what a change from the previous song). A leader female voice appears just before minute 2 but it fades out one minute later. The structure is the same, but the good thing about this is its last two minutes where a great bass sound appears, together with another nice guitar solo.
And the album finishes with “Dreams” which starts with an acoustic guitar which later is accompanied by piano, drums and vocals. The mood is like s swing and it is the same plain thing all over the song, so don’t expect any change. There is a hidden track later, which sounds really odd, it is like a weird compilation of the songs included in this album.
The problem with this album is that in my opinion the band did not have a clear identity, so in moments it seems not to have a goal. But this was only the beginning, because new and better things have passed since its release, I’ll tell it in my other reviews. Now, I’ll give this debut album only two stars, there are some great moments, but in general I believe there are so many things to correct. Anyway?
“if” reviewed by Guillermo
Now the second!
Once again, I want to mention that you people can discover new bands whenever you want, one option is just click on the interviews section and read some of them, I bet you will have interest on some bands, no matter if you are not familiar with their music.
This is the second album of these Italian guys once named If, now named Ifsounds, and the title of this production has that first name?If. The album is shorter than their debut, with 8 compositions and a total time of 45 minutes. To make a reference of what Claudio from the band said in the interview with Torodd? “Conceptually “if” was like a collection of our past experiences, memories written when we were teenagers”
The first song “Don’t Go” is a pretty good track, in moments reminding me to Queen due to the guitars. Contrary to their first album, since this very first song I felt attracted they acquired some identity, or at least they were in the good road. I must mention that the quality sound of the production here is much better than their debut.
“I Wish” is a beautiful composition where delicate acoustic guitars appear together with the voice, some seconds later female vocals enter as background and add more beauty to the already existent. There is like a cello sound, but I am not sure if it was done with the keyboards or if it was actually someone playing the instrument itself, the melody is quite pleasant until the last minute where an acoustic guitar solo makes it even more enjoyable.
After that beautiful passage you will suffer a heart attack when the next song begins, because all of a sudden “Blisters” appears like a lightning, with an aggressive sound that reminds me to some punk bands of the 80s. If you like punk, then you can enjoy this, but if you don’t like, then skip it.
“Sweet Friend” starts with a raw vocal sound while some nice ambient is being produced by keyboards, the bass sound adds a dark touch, so the mood is in moments tense and desolated, but in others gentle and promising. The last minutes are excellent, with great guitar work and a great atmosphere. One excellent song!
“Loser” is a longer song which is a ballad with soft vocals and a delicate piano sound. A couple of minutes later the mood and rhythm are up, and the song is performed with great emotion, very touching. There are some backing vocals that along to the rockish guitars, remind me again to Queen.
“Las Vegas” is another short track, and like in Blisters here you will listen to a heavier and moving piece. There is a funny thing here that I noticed since the very first listen, and it is that the vocals here remind me a lot, but really a lot to Les Claypool of Primus, I don’t really know if they are aware of Les’ existence, but If not they should take a listen to them. Anyway, this is a song I enjoy listening, the rock element is always present and those guitar and keyboard solos are great.
“Midsummer Raving” contrasts again with the previous song, here it is again like a ballad but this time led by acoustic guitar and female vocals, later a piano appears and again a cello sound enters, the ballad is nice but plain, I would have loved if they make some changes within the composition.
The last song lasts almost twelve minutes and is entitled “D is Dead” , the acoustic guitars here are excellent and the entrance of the electric ones better, seems that this will be a promising song. Just before minute three the guitars fade out and the keyboards appear with a church organ like and some weird spacey sounds, then some hidden vocals enter and help creating that spacey mood. The instrumental passages are excellent; the ones with vocals are good too but pollute a little bit the song. All the elements added by the synthesizer play a main role, because they help creating an atmosphere. Moments later, some military drums emerge from the nothing but the whole song does not change, until it reaches minute nine and a heavier and powerful sound appears. The last minutes are just like this, but the last 30 seconds are calm. If you were wondering where was the progressive element in this album, with this song you will be more that satisfied.
A stronger and more mature album is this. A step forward from their debut record and an open invitation to keep exploring the band’s music. My final grade will be 3 stars this time, but I am really interested in listening to their upcoming albums.
“if” reviewed by Torodd
This is not exactly what I expected from an Italian band.
I was listening to a Magna Carta album just before I started to listen to this album…….. and thought I had forgotten to remove their album from my CD player. Some confusion reigned before it dawned on me that this album was indeed an Ifsounds album.
In other words, this album starts as a folk rock album with some country and Queen inspirations before it races towards the safe AOR territory. Some female vocals too enters the fraying pan. The Magna Carta references is not far off the mark, although Ifsounds is far more AOR orientated. Some piano too brightens the landscape and there is even a punk like uptempo song here.
…… And then there is the contentious matter of quality. Frankly, I am not impressed. The music tags along without really making any impression. That fast punk like song seems out of place. The ballads feels too calculated. I wonder where the soul is on this album. It feels, well, calculated. The sound is AOR with folk and country influences. Prog rock…….. Where ? In short, this album is not for me, I am afraid.