Gotcha! is the iconic and memorable name of a new six track release from Slovenia’s Ivansson, and what a project. This collection hits hard as the sort of characterful and rhythmic rock music that used to fill the airwaves not too long ago.
The great thing about these songs is that you hardly even notice that every moment is entirely instrumental, free from lyrics or vocals, crafted and composed entirely on the organic and stylish energy of instrumental, guitar-led music. From the opening and title track, the riffs cascade and collide in a satisfying and notably memorable way. You carry that leading riff with you long after listening. The way the music changes key, rising in intensity, evolving throughout as the moments pass by – the meeting of creativity and professionalism is superb, as is the sheer level of individuality that comes through; occasionally a difficult thing to achieve in instrumental music.
Special Swedish Steel changes the vibe entirely. This beautifully soulful and hypnotic guitar solo falls seductively across a vibrant and thoughtful acoustic chorus of other elements. Then once again, the composer’s artistic awareness and utilization of structure comes into play – the whole thing sweeps you off your feet and surrounds you in this dramatic and emotional soundscape that is forever changing. It’s a powerful thing to witness, and the playing is just stunning.
The amazing thing about this music is that the further you get into the collection, the more you realise how intense the depth and emotion of it is. As you consider each title, and the passionate and often chaotic journey that each respective piece then takes you on, your thought process begins to change, and the music starts to affect you in a profound way – no longer providing merely the backdrop to your day, but fulfilling that inner desire for escapism and insight.
Chemtrailin’ (Things Are Not What They Seem) – a mellow paced yet intensely atmospheric piece of music, reminiscent of the depth and space that once surrounded us when Pink Floyd were putting out records. The peaceful melancholy of the ambiance is contrasted in a striking and mesmerising way by the character and angst of the that ongoing guitar solo – this meeting of reverb and distortion, this unpredictable, melodic journey; it’s beautiful, fascinating, and later addictive as the drums and the energy come into play.
The mood changes once again for Brave New World?, a colourful and joyful piece of music, not without hints of sadness and uncertainty, but glowing for the most part with hope and possibility. This combination of feelings is unusual in music, and not always easy to portray. Ivansson creates with the exact intention of portraying these complex and ultimately very real emotions and experiences in a genuine and truthful way, with only a couple of words in every case to point you in the right direction. The development on this track leads to a somewhat retro moment of electronica alongside of an acoustic guitar and an equally unpredictable electric guitar part; all of which are not often found these days within the walls of a single composition.
Monsanto Baby Blues provides another deeply reflective moment of consideration. The calmness of the introduction contrasts heavily with the upcoming march of the beat and later the manic and fast paced energy of the entire piece. The movement is intense, as is the concept, and the use of authentically soulful blues here fits beautifully. The underlying concept of this entire project becomes clearer and clearer the more you listen, reiterating the title of the EP and providing a sort of eureka moment wherein you realise what you’ve really just been a part of. There’s far more to this than just music.
Thingamabob is the closing track. The energy is high, though the backdrop for the most part has a spacious and even distant feel to it. The mood isn’t explicitly clear at first, what seems to be sadness intermittently becomes joy, the manic shuffle of the rhythm acts as a sort of conveyor belt upon which our varying ideas and thoughts pass by as the music progresses. In an age of perhaps shorter attention spans, the quick succession of events in each of these tracks is perfectly fitting. You’re attention is held at every moment, the mood keeps you feeling involved, yet the creative changes keep you feeling as if you don’t want to miss a moment – so you turn it up, and if interrupted; you listen back. As this final track continues the soundscape becomes something else entirely, keeping you locked in throughout, yet meandering in an unpredictable manner – much as the state of the natural world does, more and more as time goes by.
The strength and beauty of this music is phenomenal, particularly considering once again that there isn’t a single lyric or vocal part at any time. Ivansson is a masterful composer and a supremely skillful musician. The size of this project is immense, as is the effect of its presence in your life. Listen in full to really feel the power of the concept and the creativity.