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Isotope 217° - The Unstable Molecule (1997) review


Isotope 217° - The Unstable Molecule (Thrill Jockey, 1997) 

Beginning as a side project for Rob Mazurek, and incorporating the likes of the legendary Jeff Parker, along with Dan Bitney and John Merndon [both of the art jazz band Tortoise], Isotope 217° developed into a full blown quirky little band who create music that’s not quiet space rock, and certainly not straight ahead jazz ... being more a collage of material and sounds, with each album loosely strung together under the banner of a particular theme; though to be honest, one could certainly take any track from any album, and insert it into any other album, and it would work flawlessly.

Even with their warm introspective experimentations with both sound and space, Isotope 217° produce a very lo-fi atmospheric adventure with an assortment of instruments, creating a solid body of work, that must be appreciated as a bridge between two or three genres that sparkle with a post-rock structure, exploring the world of jazz fusion, while opening the door to the next level of jazz.  Their other releases, Who Stole The I Walkman? and Utonian Automatic are equally as delicious, though their constant perfunctory aversion to the post-rock scene, will no doubt keep them from being tied too closely with this Chicago based musical outcropping.

There’s no way I would attempt to convince you that this music is not challenging ... it is, and like anything else that requires a bit of thought and intelligence, the rewards are there for the taking, or in this case, the listening.

Review made by Jenell Kesler/2015
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