Rock Impressions

by Michele Maestrini

Your first cds are very different each other, some are progressive in the vein of Camel, others have a fusion feel, than the turning point with Cheval who began the new course of the band. How do you see today this sort of journey the band did through the years?
I think you are correct in regarding Cheval as a musical turning point for IB. Mats Nilsson, the guitar player, left the band just before the album was recorded, which had a major impact on us. We had to change our sound and our arrangements. We also started working with musicians outside of IB’s core group, which led us – in a natural way - into other types of music, certain aspects of art music for instance.
It has been a constant musical journey, and we still don’t know where or how it will end eventually. 2003 is an interesting year considering we have managed to work on two diametrically opposed CDs. MIND Vol. 3 is largely improvised music based on fairly loose ideas, short themes and loops, stressing musical freedom. On September 6th, IB’s latest studioproduction will be released. This album has a completely different approach to composition and places a focus on vocals.
If we will release a MIND Vol. 4, it could be a combination of these extremes. We’ll see what the future has in store for us.

Anglagard, Ritual, Anekdoten, Landberk....can you explain why Sweden is so prolific for progressive rock bands?
No, I’m afraid I can’t. Back in the seventies, this type of music was criticized by the press and ignored by the larger record companies in Sweden. You shouldn’t exaggerate the importance of progressive rock in this country. It’s still a minor subculture, with a small but enthusiastic audience. However, I do have a feeling of a growing interest in progressive music lately.
The bands you mention are really the second generation of Swedish progressive rock in Sweden. IB are somewhere in the middle between, on the one hand, bands like Kaipa, Samla mammas manna and Dice and, on the other hand, Landberk, Anekdoten etc. The interest in more recent Swedish prog seems to have started something of a new era for this type of music, which is great. Roine Stolt and The Flower Kings belong partly in the 70’s, partly in the 00’s. I have no explanation for this other than the fact that Sweden is quite a good country for music generally, particularly within the fields of pop and jazz.

What creative process do you use for the composition of Isildurs Bane’s songs?
An easy question which is hard to answer since the process is quite straightforward, but different to what people seem to think. I never sit down to write an IB-composition, it just happens to turn out one way or the other. I get asked to compose music which is to be integrated with other forms of art fairly often, theatre music, for example.
When the music has been used in its initial environment, it may surface as an IB-composition, but most of the time sounding completely differently. The tempos may have changed, but most importantly, the instrumentation has changed. A good example is “Celestial Vessel from MIND Vol. 2, originally a piece composed for the inauguration of an eight-metre light-statue on December 31st 1999. Originally, the composition featured four musicians (keyboards, guitar, percussion and trumpet) but in later versions the arrangement has changed, now featuring IB plus a horn player. The form of the piece has also changed after being performed live and the current version has expanded to a more epic and dynamic work.

You made a substantial number of albums in the past years.... what do you think is the most important for the history of the band and what is the most important for you?
Managing to develop The Voyage from a piano piece via a piano trio, and later an electric setting to an orchestral version was a big thing for IB. The successful integration of acoustic and electric instruments can be credited to the conductor/violinist Joachim Gustafsson and the arranger Jan-Erik Sääf. They did a fantastic job.
The possibility to experiment but, at the same time, to feel safe in our artistry, has always been fundamental to the band. Objectivity is important to reserve the right to be a part of the arrangement. The music is always at the main thing and this has a lot to do with IB’s history, something new members sometimes have a hard time understanding. Wheather you like it or not, you are part of an almost 30-year old group which has always worked in a very dynamic way.

Can you tell me something about the Zorn trio and his role inside the band?
The Zorn Trio are good friends of ours, and it comes naturally to exchange musical favours, the idiom permitting. Metamorfosi Trio is another example of a highly successful collaboration. Joachim Gustafsson, the violinist of The Zorn Trio, also works as a conductor, which has meant a lot to IB regarding connections with formally trained musicians.

Today we are in front of a lot of good bands in the progressive rock vein,what are your favourites? And what kind of music do you listen to, apart from progressive?
Very rarely do I listen to progressive rock. I’m not even aware of the names of the more recent bands within this type of music. I suppose I’d better shape up! I’m happy for the success of the Swedish bands you mentioned above although I’ve only heard fragments of their music. But to answer your question, I must say that Gentle Giant really were something else. The sound, the compositions and not least the kindness that I’ve only recently understood existed between some of the band members. The way I see it, they have no followers. King Crimson keep the flag flying, but they have never really accepted to be defined as a prog-rock band, which is probably a good thing. I also like Peter Gabriel’s music a lot. Vangelis is another musician I find interesting, not only as a keyboard player, but also as a composer and as a conceptual artist. Outside of prog-rock, there are lots of artists, composers and musicians I enjoy listening to. John Cage, Erik Satie, Terje Rypdal, Arvo Part, Dmitri Shostakovich, Björk, Aphex Twin, Frank Zappa, Anton Webern, Claude Lloyola Allgén and Viking Dahl, just to mention a few.

I think Mind vol.1 is one of the most brilliant albums of the last years; after that you made the vol.2 that is another masterpiece. Now Mind vol.3 who is very different from what you did in the past and i think it wrongfooted a lot of listeners who probably were expecting another cd in the vein of Mind vol.1... what can you tell me about the work you did with the Metamorfosi trio and how did the collaboration begin with them?
Thank you for your kind words! I would like to answer your question by asking a counter-question: How can you move on as a group if you do not dare to try new things? When I say new things, I mean new things for IB, not for music in general. Having worked with Metamorfosi Trio on MIND Vol. 3, I hope that we will be somewhat freer in our way of working with IB’s music. This is an important development for IB and it has been made possible thanks to Luca Calabrese’s, Franco Feruglio’s and Christian Saggese’s humble approach to working together as musicians. Our meeting was coincidental but now it’s crystal-clear that we will continue to collaborate. Personally, I think that MIND Vol. 3 is the most progressive thing we have done so far and the positive reactions we have had from our audiences please me enormously. I hope that our collaborations will continue, and who knows, maybe there will be more records of this line-up.

In these days there is a lot of music downloadable from the internet;how do you see this? do you look at internet in a positive way or in a negative way for music in general?
Positive, of course! As far as putting getting your music out there without spending an arm and a leg, the situation is better than ever. The Internet should change the music business radically during the next few years and it will be exiting to see where this development leads. You should never forget that the big money is being made by the major record companies, and as a composer and musician you are always certain of the fact that whatever happens, you will always be at the short end of the stick.

Why did you choose not to sing in your last albums? how do you see the possibility to have a singer for the future of your band?
As a matter of fact, the new album is a vocal album. It features not one, but four vocalists, three of them women. This will obviously be very different from MIND Vol. 3. The question is, how will it be received by our audience? We have put in a huge amount of energy and hard work in order for this CD to be as good as possible and we are looking forward to September 6th.

What are your projects for the next future? are you planning a Vol.4? and what direction it will have? are you planning some tour for this summer?
Currently, I am composing music for a children’s play featuring a string quartet and a percussionist – Kjell Severinsson of IB – which will be premiered in September. The play is to be performed at least 69 times. As far as IB goes, we will perform at Würtzburg, Germany on June 15th, in Falkenberg, Sweden on August 5th and in Gothenburg, Sweden on August 16th. On September 6th, we release a new CD and at the end of October, IB will do a short tour of Sweden, Italy, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. Check our website ( for updates.

Thank You! Everyone in IB gives their regards!


Reviews (in italian): Mind vol.2; Mind vol.3

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