The Incredible String Band

Hard Rope & Silken Twine

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Listening to the Incredible String Band could either be a joyous or excruciating experience -- sometimes both in the space of the same song, and this album is a prime example of the extremes they could reach. Here Mike Heron contributes the wonderful "Make of Island," while Robin Williamson contributes "Dreams of No Return" with some delicious sitar work. But it's in the epic "Ithkos" that the band's full ambitions show themselves. At a full 20 minutes, it's certainly a long piece, and one that evolves through many changes, starting (as the title implies) with a Greek root before becoming folk, then guitar-driven prog rock, a neo-symphony, and finally adding synthesizer. Like much of the band's material, it's impossible to categorize, but frustrating at times where it seems as if it might have worked better as a number of different songs -- and the final section appears rather contrived. Given that, and the fact that some of the songs are far from their best work, it's perhaps not too surprising that this was their last studio album before disbanding.

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