ISO has taken another great and exciting step in their musical career. ISO’s latest album, Polydimension, is one of South Africa’s most exciting releases for Alternative rock in the past year or so. ISO’s sixth studio album marks the band’s decade-long run in the local music scene and international success.
It’s the kind of album that would fit a contemplative road trip, or a night time drive under neon lights, racing down the highway for the hell of it. This album’s beautiful and intricate atmospheres and memorable songs are the masterful work of Alan Parker’s nimble fingers at the keyboard, the Nick McCreadie’s complex and dynamic drumming , Franco Schoeman’s heavy and intricate bass playing and Broekensha’s clean vocals and dynamic guitar playing, showcase the band’s unique musical intelligence and accessible sound. Are there even any other local bands to which you could headbang and slow dance to in the span of a single song?
One of this album’s most prominent features is the dynamics in its sound. “Walk Through the City” jumps from intricate little riffs of keyboard and guitar to a chorus line reminiscent of the Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple album, to heavy industrial guitar riffs and heavy keyboard effects. The progressive nature of this band’s work never gets old and engages their audience throughout entire songs. Their heavier moments are countered by catchy clean vocal melody and light atmospheric tones. Their take on the “Loud Quiet Loud” techniques of alternative and progressive bands of yesteryear takes an intelligent twist in these songs. The band, time and time again, blends atmosphere and heavy riff so successfully and surprisingly, that the album has to be listened to over and over again. The listener will find something new every time.
“The Field” opens with a guitar riff that rivals heavier bands. The tension of the song, both found in the lyrics and this opening riff, are captivating. Intricate and complex drumming interludes, accompanied by vocals and the bass, provide spaces for thinking and feeling that I have never encountered in any other band.
Many of the songs on this album offer a different experience due to the band’s dynamic style. ‘No Other Way’ features complexly picked guitar, with a slightly darker and romantic sound, not afraid to dabble in foreign scales and momentary atonality. “From The Skyline” provides a deeply intimate experience. The keyboardist, with a more acoustic piano take for this song, provides the verses with an atmosphere and longing that the vocalist could not do on his own. “Rabbit Hole” acts as one of the album’s singles, with a slightly progressive indie sound to it and catchy vocals. “State of Blue” provides an odd mixture of Indie tone with funk riffs interjecting in between. “Touch of Innocence” has strange Middle Eastern and video game synth sounds.
With its incredibly diverse, intelligent and atmospheric sound, Polydimensionis one of the best albums of 2016, and a hallmark album for the band’s decade long career. Polydimension is a significant contribution to SA’s music scene by ISO- one of South Africa’s most important alternative rock bands.