Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Big Takeover reviews "Isabel II: Abaddon Rising" by 17 Pygmies

17 Pygmies


PHILIP DRUCKER AKA JACKSON DEL REY is nobody's idea of an unambitious slacker. The ex-SAVAGE REPUBLIC guitarist has made artistic 17 Pygmies records since 1983's Hatikva EP, yet he's been most fruitful since 2007's dynamite solo score for SERGEI EISENSTEIN'S 1925 Battleship Potemkin and, starting in 2008, a nine-CD/three-book 17 Pygmies project. This fifth CD of that boundless booty is another beaut, at times their comeliest, coming after Celestina I, II, and III and Isabel I. Drucker's graphic novel, short story, and film script record the trials of futuristic fugitive Isabel and fellow heroine Celestina; augmented by the sensuous singer MEG MARYATT, the group's ongoing soundtrack fits the chronicle: Isabel II is a potpourri of sonorous classical strings (a force), Eno-esque keyboards ("Isabel XV"), acoustic folk guitars, piquant piano, twinkle bells, and methodical drums or electronic dance beats. Wish all artists gave so much.

Your Music Blog reviews 17 Pygmies release "Isabel II: Abaddon Rising"

Blogsite Your Music Blog based in The Netherlands reviews new 17 Pygmies release. 

17 Pygmies
Isabel II: Abaddon Rising

Actually the picture 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!

Textura reviews 17 Pygmies new release "Isabel II: Abaddon Rising"

17 Pygmies: Isabel II: Abaddon Rising
Trakwerx Records
It can, admittedly, be a challenge keeping 17 Pygmies' various stories straight. Between 2008 and 2012, the group, officially in operation since 1982 and spearheaded by Philip Drucker (aka Jackson Del Rey), released its three-part opus Celestina (whilst also making room for 2009's The Outlaw J.D. Ray) and then turned its attention to another multi-part epic, Isabel. They're not wholly distinct projects either, as their respective narratives do overlap in key ways. Adding to the challenge, Isabel II: Abaddon Rising is identified in the accompanying promo text as some kind of follow-up to 1985's Captured in Ice as opposed to 2013's Isabel.
Complications aside, the new release holds up fine, and the listener will derive ample pleasure from it whether the music is approached on its own terms or as part of a larger project. Whereas the text exemplifies a sci-fi character, the forty minutes of music feels more like the soundtrack to a children's fairy tale or even young adult fantasy; generally speaking, the disc's ten parts are highly melodious and harmonious, and the Pygmies' art-pop, especially when the singing's primarily handled by Meg Maryatt, goes down smoothly. In addition to the group's formal members, Del Rey (guitar, synth, bass, vocals), Maryatt (vocals, classical guitar, synth, accordion), guitarist Jeff Brenneman, and drummer Dirk Doucette, guests appear, most conspicuously Jean Sudbury, whose strings and mandolin add much to the album's soundworld.
That Isabel II: Abaddon Rising picks up where Isabel left off becomes evident when “Isabel XII” opens the album with a lilting ballad elevated by Sudbury's luscious strings and Maryatt's serenading voice. A rustic folk feel infuses the song, but elements of prog, pop, and classical are present, too, and Maryatt's lead is appealingly complemented by background singer Lea Reis. Only about half of the tracks include vocals: on the instrumental front, a lightly swinging dance groove powers “Isabel XIII,” its quasi-house pulse augmented by glockenspiel sprinkles and strings; “Isabel XV” presents a multi-hued paradise rich in sumptuous detail; and the entrancing folk laments “Isabel XVII” and “Isabel XIX” evoke the rustic countryside in their blends of strings, accordion, and guitars. On an album marked by sometimes surprising change-ups, the concluding track ventures into dance-funk territory, proving that the group still has a few tricks up its sleeve decades after it first appeared.
Accompanying the CD is a small booklet containing twenty-six pages of text by Del Rey. A nice supplement to the recording, the multi-chapter story recounts the experiences of a number of figures, among them: Isabel, a Centre fugitive newly acting as a raconteur sharing tales with an underground people's children about Captain Mora, His Holiness, and others; Celestina interfacing with Abaddon, a program seemingly intent on promoting rage and hate as productive forces; and William, a soldier fated to come face-to-face with Celestina at the second part's end, and his wife Saro. It's a perfectly engaging narrative, though, typical of middle sections, it feels rather truncated, separated physically as it is from the first and bereft of the resolution that its concluding part presumably will confer. The text would have benefited from a couple of things: a single-paragraph recap of the opening part to re-acquaint the reader, and a more careful proofread to correct the small number of typos that mar the text. Weaknesses aside, the release, another memorable addition to the 17 Pygmies canon, is certainly better with the booklet than without it, and it's also enhanced by a lavish visual presentation that sees the CD cozily housed within two foil-stamped sleeves.
January 2016

Distorsioni Reviews new 17 Pygmies Release "ISABEL II: ABADDON RISING"

DISTORSIONI, An Italian Music Magazine reviews "Isabel II: Abaddon Rising" (17 Pygmies)


Rough English Translation:
17 pygmies Cover Album Quanto are far the distressing palpitations post-punk of early eighties for the column of experimental and obsessive Republic Savage, Philip Drucker alias Jackson Del Rey; thirty-two years to the outside out of the band of "Tragic figures" the prolific Californian guitarist is still on the scene thanks to yet another ambitious work of his 17 Pygmies, the project gave birth with the help of his friend keyboardist Robert Loveless, in the aftermath of Licher and away from shareholders.

Dark plots by new wave and alternative work at an initial complex and intricate crossover infused with folk, prog symphonic and space rock; synthesizing the artistic evolution of the 17 Pygmies passes across from here. Active from 1983 to 1991, during which time he had become architect of the construction of four significant works of study, the ensemble ritrovatosi US in 2007 has experienced a second youth artistic flourishing of compositions daughters of a striking metamorphosis expressive music.

17 pygmies Cover Booklet gave rise to the trilogy dedicated to the ship Celestina and his travels deep into the cosmos; 2008-2012 Del Rey & C., inspired by an ancient text of Fernando de Rojas in 1449, spared no effort in making real music for images cloaked black holes and peaceful robots that animated their futuristic stories.

Among the protagonists of these fantastic events the character of Dr. Isabel has carved a prominent role, so that in January 2013, the 17 Pygmies have well thought of giving a sequel to the novel starting dedicating a specially heroin disk space. The new "Isabel II: Abaddon Rising" resumes with its ten movements (ordered from the twelfth to the twenty-first) the continuation of the previous album. The fight against evil Abaddon project and the risk of human transformation into insensitive killing machines is the leitmotif of the new chapter of the saga created by Del Rey. Ten tracks that emerge all the talent and skill of sensual vocalist Meg Maryatt (adept at dispensing peaceful and distended sensations through the rarefied tones) and superfine melodies of violins and synthesizers intersected in the appendices aftertaste krautrock and new age.

It is in this context constantly hovering between neo-prog and electronic, in its center (moving from the seventeenth to the twentieth), found its way even fascinating evidence traits bucolic folk confirming a drawing shades wide and hard to categorize a genre defined. In the current line-up alongside the factotum Del Rey and the 17 Pygmies are Maryatt, percussionist Dirk Doucette and guitarist Jeff Brenneman; appear in the role of special guests Julien Imstepf on bass, Lea Reis choirs and Jean Sudbury violin. As usual, even for Isabel II: Abaddon Rising 17 Pygmies have not spared in the packaging of wrappers and special enclosures for their sound recordings.

For the occasion, the compact is accompanied by a booklet of twenty-six pages printed on high-quality paper and bound by an elegant silver ribbon containing the narrative threads of the concept. All set in a refined sugar-colored envelope paper marked by shining engravings. Fine and shiny as the artistic ambitions of this unique idea made in California.
Voto: 7.5/10
Alessandro Freschi

Monday, July 8, 2013

Passion Progressive adds 17 Pygmies to Archives


~  17  PYGMIES  ~
U S A -  prog rock symphonique, experimental, space rock  **

17 Pygmies est un groupe américain dont les débuts remontent à 1982.
Il faudra attendre 2008 pour la sortie de "Celestina" premier volet d'un
triptyque. La formation propose un pop rock atmosphérique, une musique
planante qui 
se situe quelque part entre les errances lourdes des premiersTangerine Dream ("Alpha Centauri", "Zeit") les titres lents d' Anathema
(pour les parties chantées) et  
Jean-Michel Jarre ( en beaucoup plus triste ).
de belles mélodies, la musique de  17 Pygmies  fait preuve d'une grande monotonie, une musique idéale pour la relaxation !


Dirk  Doucette  -  claviers, batterie, guitare -
Jackson  Del Rey  -  chant, guitare, basse, claviers - ( 08, 13 )
Jeff  Brenneman  -  guitare, claviers - ( 08, 13 )
Meg  Maryatt  -  chant, guitares, claviers - ( 08, 13 )   -  Heather  Lockie  -  alto (invitée) - ( 11 )
   -  Jackson  Del Rey  -  chant, guitare, basse - ( 11 )
   -  Jeff  Brenneman  -  guitare, claviers - ( 11 )
   -  Meg  Maryatt  -  chant, guitare, claviers - ( 11 )

Radio Free Europe reviews "Isabel" by 17 Pygmies

17 Pygmies-Isabel

Isabel es un nombre que me tiene atado al recuerdo, a lo agridulce de la memoria. Isabel es un nombre mágico, compuesto de anhelos, sueños y todo aquello que no es aprehensible en la realidad. Dicho nombre  es solo una fuerza misteriosa que subyace debajo de algunos momentos determinados de mi vida, Pero "Isabel" también da título al nuevo álbum de los norteamericanos 17 Pygmies (banda que ya cuenta con algunas décadas a cuesta pero que siempre se ha mantenido al margen de la industria en favor de su libertad artística) un trabajo conceptual en torno a la doctora Emelia Isabel, que es una especie de luz que ilumina todo el fantástico relato. La música es delicada pero por momentos se vuelve tensa. Los recursos sonoros son múltiples, las cuerdas son rayos de luz, el ritmo es por momentos lento pero también desafiante, los violines son puentes hacia lo sublime, mientras que los sintetizadores se encargan de ralentizar el tiempo en una atmósfera de multiples colores. Es un poco difícil definir "Isabel" si es que no tenemos en cuenta que todos los elementos giran alrededor de la historia, del concepto. El álbum se entiende en su conjunto, porque solo de esa manera podemos entender acerca de su riqueza. Por eso resulta coherente escuchar en un mismo disco diversos géneros, desde  la música orquestal, pasando por la electrónica, el ambient, el krautrock, etc. que en su conjunto confeccionan ese claroscuro llamado "Isabel" que es más que un trabajo sosegado porque lo apacible no es necesariamente productivo, y en "Isabel" subyace una tensión constante que coquetea con la ternura. "Isabel" ilumina, acaricia, susurra pero también intriga, tensiona y cuestiona. Y es que "Izabel" es luz, pero también deja espacio a unas cuantas sombras que la humanizan. Es como la Izabel que me ilumina, siempre dejando al descubierto las sombras de mi corazón.

Rough English Translation:
Isabel is a name that has me tied to memory, to the bittersweet memory. Isabel is a magical name, composed of hopes, dreams and all that is not graspable in reality. This name is only a mysterious force that lies beneath some specific times of my life, but "Elizabeth" also the title of the new album of Americans 17 Pygmies (band has already cost some decades but has always remained the outside the industry for artistic freedom) conceptual work around Dr. Emelia Elizabeth, who is a kind of light that illuminates the entire fantastic story. The music is delicate but at times becomes tense. The sound resources are manifold, the strings are light rays, the pace is slow at times but also challenging, violins are bridges to the sublime, while the synths are responsible for slow time in an atmosphere of multiple colors. It's a bit difficult to define "Isabel" if we do not consider all elements of the story revolves around the concept. The album is meant as a whole, because only in this way can we understand about their wealth. So is consistent listening on one disc various genres, from orchestral music, through the electronics, ambient, krautrock, etc. which together concoct this chiaroscuro called "Isabel" is more than a job because the peaceful quiet is not necessarily productive, and "Isabel" constant tension underlies that flirts with tenderness. "Isabel" lights, caresses, whispers but also intrigue, stresses and challenges. And is that "Izabel" is light, but also leaves room for a few shadows that humanize. Izabel is like that illuminates me, always revealing the shadows of my heart.

Interview with Jackson Del Rey.

1. Isabel is an album with many nuances and various influences. What was the creative process to elaborate an album with so much elements?

The one rule about the musical influences and direction of 17 Pygmies is that there are no rules. At the end of the day, whatever is "on the surface" is "on the surface" and that is what goes out. The process is fairly simple. As with Celestina I, II and III, the Isabel I short story was broken down into 11 separate scenes. Band members then choose at least one scene as the inspiration for their track. Eventually, all of the tracks are compiled together, "harmonized" and then mixed. The entire recording is then placed into a microwave oven, baked on "high" for 60 minutes and Voila! Ready to serve.

2-Who is Isabel? Why the choice of this character? 

Dr. Emelia Isabel was the ship's physician on the Celestina. Once on Earth, Isabel is forced to flee from Centre and finds herself seeking refuge in the catacombs below Paris. There, she encounters a group of half-human half-machine outcasts shunned by the society above. Isabel teaches them that they are in fact as God planned them to be and therefore "perfect" in every respect. It is the documentation of these events and revelatory "teachings" that make up the text of Isabel I, II, and III. These teachings are later incorporated into the gospel of Celestina and serve in large part as the foundational elements of "Celestia," a "religion" created and documented in the Book of Velaquez (to follow the Book of Isabel) by Celestina. That's about as clear as I can make it at the moment.

3-Reading some reviews, I noticed that some critics label the album as peaceful. However, to me, its seems as you tried to make an emotional album, at times mysterious.....what kind of album are you trying to elaborate?

It's funny but I am never quite sure how to answer that question. I don't think Isabel is peaceful at all. This may sound a bit odd, but I think of Isabel, as with most of my music, as trying to find the beauty in broken glass, where the jagged edge co-exists with the smooth and translucent surface that allows light to pass through it. If I can share a past experience that might have some relevance, I once received a letter from an asylum asking could I send them a copy of one our of our earliest recordings,Jedda by The Sea. It seems the asylum had a copy and every time they played it most of the inmates would sit down, listen and become calm. Unfortunately, one of accidentally broke the disc. To be honest, I initially ignored the request because I thought it was a joke...until they CALLED me and literally begged for another copy. I sent them two, just in case. 

4-You have been around 30 years in the musical scene, what are your thoughts on the actual music industry? Do you think that the business is changing substantially due to the diffusion that offers internet?

That is actually a funny question and I'll tell you why. I don't think the "Music Industry" (capital "M" capital "I") has changed at all. In my estimation the "Industry" is, was and will always be a bunch of cynical nabobs trying to get rich off of the creative energy of others. If anything, it's gotten worse. At least 30 years ago it wasn't considered a complete waste to pay the artists. Now...But with that said, the Internet machine has made it easier for artists to make a direct connection with their audience and in many ways I do feel that is a very good thing. Again, not to ramble on, but if I can relate a recent experience it may help to illustrate my point. I recently went to see Greg Lake (remember him?) play a show that he billed as an intimate get together to tell the stories of his musical career. The show was quite good and in the middle he did answer questions regarding his earlier days with King Crimson and ELP. However, it did not escape me that he in true "rock-star" fashion came from backstage to the stage and when finished, exited backstage and immediately left the building. Why I mention this is that absent the "pay for your ticket and you get to see me on stage" there is no interaction between the artist and his audience, and apparently, Mr. Lake likes it that way. For what it is worth, I never felt that way, still don't and actually like the idea that I can connect with persons who are interested in what I do and are usually doing interesting things themselves. As a matter of fact, isn't that what we are doing right now? Viva le Internet!
5-What are your next projects?

That is always a good question. The next step would be to write the short story of Isabel II and then do the recordings for Isabel II. We are also still working on the Celestina I comic book with our in-house artist Natalya Kolosowski. The 22 page comic is about half done and I must to say is looking very, very good. A live presentation of Celestina is also in the works. Lastly, we are always very interested in adding more visual components to our music. So, if there are any potential videographers or filmmakers who wish to collaborate, feel free to get in touch with us. You never know...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Time Trip Radio premiers "Isabel" by 17 Pygmies

from Brian Imig of Time Trip Radio:
The amazing "Isabel" is premiered on the July edition of Time Trip Radio.
In the "Timeless Journey" section there are two pieces from the wondrous 17 Pygmies. One piece (Isabel IX) toward the start (1:00 or so) and one piece at the end (Kyrie).

july2013 / part 2: TIMELESS JOURNEY

LORD LITTER'S MAGIC MUSIC BOX 2013 plays 17 Pygmies "Isabel"

LORD LITTER'S MAGIC MUSIC BOX 2013 - 7 (german show)
              will be on air / cable / etc ....july 7th 2013 via

these channels channels will spread the program...
1. >>   UKW 106 und 92,3
3. >>   Kabelnetz der VSENET SAARLAND

20 UHR- MARABUs Start in den Abend an der Costa Blanca auf UKW 92,3 und
21 UHR- MARABUs D.N.A.PARTY- EuropesAlternativeMusic PURE- in jeder Stunde
   3 sommerliche Tracks von einem MARABU Star
24 UHR- MARABUs LORD LITTER- die Musikshow aus Berlin


       2013 - 7  via
       am / fm / shortwave / satellite / online


1. Petting - Tout De Suite Baby - vinyl LP / CD - Joli Garcon - -

LITTER Classic ..................
2. The Equals - Hey Baby It's Time You Got Going - double CD - Black Skin
Blue Eyed Boys...the anthology -

3. Thunderegg - We kissed again, then ran some more - CD - C'mon Thunder -

4. Charles Rice Goff III - Colt 45 - CD - Imagination On Judgment Off -

Lord Litter presents .................................
  saturday 10 August 2013 - The Borderline, London, U.K.

5. Sendelica - 80% Neon Bridge Of Sighs - from > Strange Fish, a new series
of instrumental albums from Fruits de Mer records, comprising two 12" albums
and two 12"double albums plus an exclusiv, free bonus CD for buyers of all
the vinyl albums ......

6. The Pretty Things - Helter Skelter - double 7" EP - The White EP

7. Jack Ellister - Citadel - Vinyl Single

8. The Luck of Eden Hall - This is strange - Vinyl EP - The Luck of Eden
Hall ....................

9. Schorsch & de Bagash - Isardelta - CD - mit offene Knia -

10. 17 Pygmies - Kyrie - CD - Isabel - -

Lord Litter presents ........ Francois Couture .............
11. Francois Couture - Preludes 04 - CD - Dal Segno
13. Francois Couture - Trail- CD - Downtown Ride

commin to Europe in september/october ...........
14. Ross Falzone - Slanted Perception (Slave Song) - CD - Politics, Religion
and other works of fiction -

15. Schee Daneem - Im Radio gschbuid - CD - Wo ist schee daneem? -


  L O R D    L I T T E R
 musician / DJ
Renegade of Culture since 1984
NEW / Relaunched website - ALL YOU need to know ..
... plus downloads/links .........


Babyblaue Prog-Reviews publishes "Isabel" review

Von: Siggy Zielinski @

Nach der "Celestina"-Trilogie macht der 17 Pygmies-Chef Jackson Del Rey (aka Philip Drucker) unermüdlich mit "Isabel" weiter. Die erste (offenbar streng limitierte) Auflage von "Isabel" kommt mit genähten Mustern (!) auf dem Cover und wurde von den Musikern signiert. Die Muster auf dem Cover sollen zeigen, dass das Album dem geometrischen Aufbau von Blumen gewidmet ist, der auf eine geheimnisvolle Intelligenz hinweisen könnte.
Zum Gesamtkunstwerk gehört auch eine Kurzgeschichte, die man entweder im CD-Heft der Erstauflage, oder auf der Webseite der Band nachlesen kann. Die Geschichte zum ersten Teil von "Isabel" (wird daraus wieder eine Trilogie?) handelt von einer Sci-Fi-Realität, in der mechanische Cyborg-Intelligenzen einander rücksichtslos bekämpfen. Zwischen den Kämpfen, Exekutionen und dergleichen finden die Cyborg-Wesen immer wieder Zeit für die philosophischen Diskussionen über sich, die Vorzüge der Menschlichkeit (einige schwer entstellte Menschen wurden bisher am Leben gelassen) und alle möglichen Themen, die einem halt sonst so in vergleichbaren Situationen einfallen.
Und dann gibt es noch - nicht zuletzt - die Musik, um die bizarre Welt von Jackson Del Ray zu vervollständigen. Die Musik ist leider (?) bedeutend gefälliger und entspannender, als die Erzählungen von Del Ray. Aber, solange man noch den ersten Teil der bizarren Geschichte zu "Isabel" in Erinnerung hat, wird einem selbst die sehr ruhige und harmonische Musik möglicherweise etwas seltsam vorkommen. Schlimmstenfalls nur deswegen, weil sie auch zu der schrägen Sci-Fi-Geschichte von "Isabel" gehören soll.
Wenn nicht gerade die angenehme weibliche Stimme von Meg Maryatt dem Hörer ein esoterisch-folkiges Lied vorsingt, wird man mit sehr harmonischen Instrumentals für Geige, akustische Gitarre, Glockenspiel und Keyboardwolken konfrontiert. In dieser Idylle gibt es nur sehr selten Platz für kurze, leicht bedrohlich wirkende Passagen. Das wirkt dann, als würde man dem sehr harmonischen Kammerprog ein wenig vom symphonischen Retroprog beimengen.
Das Ganze kommt ohne die herkömmlichen Rock-Grooves und ohne echtes Schlagzeug aus, auch wenn die Beteiligten auf dem Papier eine übliche Rockbesetzung ergeben würden. Die selten vorkommende rhythmische Begleitung für die schleppenenden Rhythmen wird von einem Drum Computer (oder Vergleichbarem) beigesteuert.
"Isabel"-Teile IV, V und VIII entfalten sich als atmosphärische und hörenswerte elektronische Musik. Mit "Isabel VII" ist ein wirklich hübsches, fein strukturiertes Folk-Esoterik-Retroprog-Stück ohne Gesang gelungen. Die World Music-Anklänge in "Isabel IX" entführen einen in die Zeit, als man noch Liebe statt Krieg machen wollte.
Schwer zu sagen, wem der einigermaßen originelle New Age-Prog von 17 Pygmies zusagen dürfte. Vielleicht werden es die Anhänger von psychedelisch-folkigem Krautrock mögen. Wer eine friedliche und nette Prog-Scheibe zum Entspannen sucht, liegt mit "Isabel" genau richtig. Die Frage, was die friedliche Musik mit der oft grausamen Isabel-Geschichte zu tun hat, kann wahrscheinlich nur jemand von den 17 Pygmies beantworten.
Vergleichbar mit:
Veröffentlicht am:30.6.2013
Letzte Änderung:30.6.2013

Rough English Translation:

After the "Celestina" trilogy makes the 17 Pygmies-Chief Jackson Del Rey (aka Philip Drucker) tirelessly with "Isabel" on. The first (apparently strictly limited) edition of "Isabel" comes with stitched patterns (!) on the cover and is signed by the musicians. The pattern on the cover to show that the album is dedicated to the geometric structure of flowers, which could point to a mysterious intelligence.

To the work of art is also a short story that can be read either in the booklet of the first edition, or on the website of the band. The story for the first part of "Isabel" (again it is a trilogy?) Is about a sci-fi reality, ruthless fight each other in the mechanical cyborg intelligences. Between battles, executions and the like, the cyborg beings always find time for philosophical discussions about yourself, the benefits of humanity (some people have been severely disfigured left alive) and all sorts of issues that a halt in otherwise similar situations occur.

And then there's - not least - the music to complete the bizarre world of Jackson Del Rey. The music is unfortunately (?) Significantly more pleasing and relaxing than the tales of Del Rey. But as long as you still have the first part of the bizarre story of "Isabel" in memory, is a self may appear very calm and harmonious music a bit strange. At worst, only because they should belong to the slanted sci-fi story of "Isabel".

If not the most pleasant female voice of Meg Maryatt the listener sings an esoteric folky song, one is confronted with very harmonious instrumentals on violin, acoustic guitar, glockenspiel and keyboard clouds. In this idyll, there are very rare place for a short, slightly menacing passages. This then acts as if you were at the very harmonious Kammerprog narrow a little bit of symphonic Retroprog.

The whole thing comes without conventional rock grooves and no real drums, even if the parties would result in the paper a standard rock lineup. The rarely occurring rhythmic accompaniment for the tow rhythms is contributed by a drum machine (or comparing items).

"Isabel" Parts IV, V and VIII unfold as atmospheric and worth listening to electronic music. With "Isabel VII" a really pretty, finely textured folk Esoteric Retroprog-piece without vocals succeeded. The world music echoes in "Isabel IX" kidnap in a time when people still wanted to make love not war.

Hard to say who would predict from 17 Pygmies of reasonably original New Age Prog. Maybe it will be like the followers of folky-psychedelic Krautrock. Anyone looking for a peaceful and nice prog disc to relax is right on with "Isabel". The question of what the peaceful music has to do with the often cruel Isabel story can probably be answered by  only someone from the 17 Pygmies.

Arlequins (Italy) reviews new 17 Pygmies release "Isabel"

Nell’era della smaterializzazione, in cui le nuove generazioni tendono a distaccarsi sempre più dall’esigenza di un supporto fisico, è un vero sollievo per me avere fra le mani un’opera del genere, che si possa ascoltare ovviamente, ma anche toccare, guardare e leggere e che racchiuda in un certo senso dentro di sé un pezzettino dell’anima di chi la ha creata. Proprio come fecero ormai più di quaranta anni fa gli svedesi Handgjort che, in opposizione alle logiche di spersonalizzazione del processo industriale, decisero di realizzare a mano, una per una, le copertine del loro album di esordio, così anche i 17 Pygmies ci offrono opere personalizzate e ricche di dettagli. La copertina presenta un bellissimo intreccio di fili laminati che vanno a formare una stella, con colori che variano da copia a copia, e il booklet, di trentasei pagine, in carta pergamenata dai riflessi metallici, è accuratamente rilegato con un bel nastrino. E poi c’è la parte letteraria con una nuova storia che si svilupperà, come per il precedente concept “Celestina” di cui questo “Isabel” rappresenta il sequel, in una trilogia. E non è finita, perché il gruppo ha commissionato alla disegnatrice Natalya Kolosowsky un book illustrato ispirato alla nuova saga, venduto però separatamente rispetto al CD ma sinergico ad esso nel nutrire la fantasia dell’ascoltatore. La dottoressa Isabel, tornata sulla Terra dopo la missione esplorativa di un buco nero, dettagliatamente raccontata, come detto, nei precedenti tre album, si ritrova in una situazione di pericolo, assieme all’astronave ipertecnologica e umanizzata Celestina. Il centro studi cui afferisce infatti vuole cancellare tutte le tracce del recente viaggio che le aveva permesso di scoprire una colonia di robot dai sentimenti umani, custode di un messaggio mistico da affidare all’umanità. Proprio questo messaggio che espande il concetto di fede, salvezza, coscienza oltre le barriere della vita biologica viene considerato come una minaccia e a Isabel e Celestina non resta che scappare, rifugiandosi in moderne catacombe con l’aiuto del cyborg Alfons. Non voglio svelare qui il contenuto dei primi dodici capitoli di questa saga, racchiusi in altrettante canzoni, designate, a parte la conclusiva “Kyrie”, da numeri progressivi, come ormai nelle abitudini del gruppo, proprio perché la lettura del booklet è estremamente rilassante e piacevole, soprattutto se viene accompagnata dalla musica. La musica, dal canto suo, non è mai sopraffatta dalle parole che rimangono sostanzialmente sulla carta e nella mente di chi legge, lasciando che siano i contenuti strumentali a creare la giusta atmosfera. Come per la trilogia di “Celestina” la voce limpida e rassicurante di Meg Maryatt viene inserita con grande parsimonia in un contesto musicale che prima di tutto assicura un dolce fluire di emozioni. Le atmosfere sono sempre meditative e molto ampie, ma forse ancora di più che in passato acquisiscono colorazioni “terrestri”, grazie alle piacevoli tonalità vintage delle tastiere ma anche grazie a leggere spolverate di soft folk che non rendono fuori luogo accostamenti con gruppi come Fairport Convention, anche se qui tutto è più spirituale e celestiale e ricoperto da una leggera ma ben identificabile veste sinfonica. Qua e là ritroviamo qualche particolare elettronico, come è ovvio in una storia che parla di intelligenza non umana, ma si tratta soltanto di abbellimenti di cui il gruppo non abusa o che provvede a mescolare con altri ingredienti in modo tale da non far prevalere sensazioni artificiali. Un esempio può essere l’effetto a cuore pulsante di “Isabel V”, o il delicato loop che somiglia quasi al frinire di una cicala alla fine di “Isabel IV”, traccia peraltro molto sinfonica nel suo complesso. Ma già dalla traccia successiva tornano archi, con viola e violino di Jean Sudbury e tastiere, con un grande lavoro svolto da Jackson Del Rey e dagli altri componenti che più o meno tutti hanno curato questo aspetto, a scaldare il cuore e fresche e microscopiche gocce di psichedelia e folk. Si potrebbe quasi dire che la musica arriva a toccare le corde dell’anima o dell’inconscio prima ancora delle orecchie e della corteccia cerebrale e riesce a trasmettere sensazioni pienamente positive, se ci si predispone sulla giusta lunghezza d’onda per un ascolto rilassato. Per la descrizione della musica potremmo tirare in ballo anche Amon Düül o Tangerine Dream, come ad esempio accade in maniera più evidente in “Isabel VIII”, dal retrogusto crauto, ma le sensazioni evocate sono sempre molto pacate e piacevolmente fluttuanti. Molto bella la scelta di ricorrere al Surbahar, strumento indiano simile al sitar, suonato dall’ospite Chris Bergstrom, che con i suoi ritmi offre vibrazioni piacevolmente psicotrope ed ascetiche. Direi che l’album riesce a fondere perfettamente l’aspetto tecnologico con quello umano e spirituale, mettendoli in relazione, e forse queste belle simmetrie musicali sono la chiave per capire se effettivamente dietro alla perfetta geometria di un fiore vi sia la prova di un progetto basato sull’intelligenza superiore. Questa ricerca verrà sviluppata lungo un percorso musicale che prevede la pubblicazione di altri due album, come accennato, e che saremo sicuramente lieti di percorrere se la strada è quella aperta da questo CD. I 17 Pygmies hanno sicuramente trovato un proprio universo musicale, una propria chiave di comunicazione e un proprio modo di rileggere alcuni aspetti tipici del Progressive Rock e direi che vale la pena fare la loro conoscenza, specie se state cercando qualcosa in cui immergervi totalmente lasciando che tutte le percezioni siano ricoperte da questa sorta di liquido scintillante fatto di melodie eteree. Una citazione speciale la riservo per il pezzo di chiusura “Kyrie”, una splendida ballad romantica e sinfonica con delicati ricami orchestrali e morbidi tratteggi vocali che sicuramente è la porta di ingresso verso l’ancora ignoto secondo volume di “Isabel”.

Rough English translation:
In the era of dematerialization, in which the younger generation tend to detach themselves more and more by the need for physical media, it is a relief for me to have in my hands a work of this kind, that we can hear of course, but also touch, and watch and read in a way that encompasses within itself a piece of the soul of the person who created it. Just as they did now more than forty years ago the Swedes Handgjort that, contrary to the logic of the industrial process of depersonalization, they decided to make by hand, one by one, the covers of their debut album, so even the 17 Pygmies offer works personalized and rich in detail. The cover features a beautiful blend of rolled wire that form a star, with colors that vary from copy to copy, and the booklet, thirty-six pages, in parchment paper with metallic reflections, is carefully bound with a beautiful ribbon. And then there's the literary part with a new story that will grow, as for the previous concept "Celestina" by which this "Isabel" is the sequel in a trilogy. It is not over, because the group has commissioned the designer Natalya Kolosowsky an illustrated book inspired by the new series, but sold separately from the CD but synergistic to it in feeding the imagination of the listener. Dr. Isabel, who returned to Earth after finding mission of a black hole, told in detail, as mentioned in the previous three albums, he finds himself in a dangerous situation, together with the spacecraft and hyper humanized Celestina. The study center to which it relates in fact want to erase all traces of the recent trip that allowed her to discover a colony of robots by human feelings, the guardian of a mystical message to be given to mankind. It is this message that expands the concept of faith, salvation, consciousness beyond the barriers of biological life is considered as a threat and Isabel and Celestina no choice but to flee, taking refuge in the catacombs with the help of modern cyborg Alfons. I will not reveal here the contents of the first twelve chapters of this saga, wrapped in as many songs as designated, except for the final "Kyrie", by progressive numbers, as now in the habits of the group, because the reading of the booklet is extremely relaxing and nice, especially if it is accompanied by music. The music, on the other hand, is never overwhelmed by the words that remain largely on paper and in the mind of the reader, allowing the contents to be instrumental in creating the right atmosphere. As with the trilogy of "Celestina" clear and reassuring voice of Meg Maryatt is inserted with great parsimony in a musical context that first of all provides a gentle flow of emotions. The atmosphere is always meditative and very spacious, but perhaps even more so than in the past colors acquire "land", thanks to the pleasant shades of vintage keyboards but also thanks to read sprinkled with soft folk who do not make it out of place combinations with groups like Fairport Convention although everything here is more spiritual and heavenly, and covered with a light but clearly identifiable as symphonic. Here and there we find some particular electronic, as is obvious in a story about non-human intelligence, but it is only embellishments that the group does not abuse or who shall mix with other ingredients in such a way as not to prevail artificial sensations . An example would be the effect on the heart of "Isabel V" or the delicate loops that almost resembles the chirping of a cricket at the end of "Isabel IV", which are very symphonic track as a whole. But as early as the next track back arches, with viola and violin by Jean Sudbury and keyboards, with a great work done by Jackson Del Rey and other components that more or less took care of all this, to warm the heart and fresh and microscopic drops of psychedelia and folk. You could almost say that the music gets to touch the strings of the soul or the unconscious even before the ears and the cerebral cortex and is able to convey positive feelings fully, if you are preparing on the right wavelength for a relaxed listening. For a description of the music could also bring up Amon Düül or Tangerine Dream, such as occurs more prominently in "Isabel VIII" aftertaste crauto, but the feelings evoked are always very calm and pleasantly floating. Very nice choice of using the Surbahar, Indian instrument similar to the sitar, played by the host Chris Bergstrom, which offers with its rhythms and vibrations pleasantly psychotropic ascetic. I would say that the album manages to blend perfectly with the technological aspect of the human and spiritual, relating them, and perhaps these beautiful musical symmetries are the key to see if indeed behind the perfect geometry of a flower there is evidence of a project based on higher intelligence.  This research will be developed on a musical journey that includes the publication of two more albums, as mentioned, and we will certainly be happy to go if the road is open from this CD. The 17 Pygmies have definitely found their own musical world, its own key communication and its own way of re-reading some typical aspects of Progressive Rock and I would say that is worth to know them, especially if you're looking for something to totally immerse yourself letting all perceptions be covered by this sort of scintillating liquid made of ethereal melodies. A quote from the special reserve for the closing track "Kyrie", a beautiful ballad and romantic symphonic orchestra with delicate embroidery and soft voice hatches that surely is the gateway to the yet unknown second volume of "Isabel".