ISLE OF RHODES ‘ALL RIVERS AND OCEANS’

The name of this band has nothing to do with the Aegean island or the current Hellenic economic crisis but reflects the fact that Robert Farren makes extensive use of the Rhodes piano along with a Hammond B3 Organ. In fact the whole album has been recorded using all analogue equipment as would have been the case in my youth. Back then (late sixties and early seventies) it was quite common for me to note somebody being credited as playing the Fender Rhodes Piano on albums. The growing availability of digital technology, however, did result in the use of this unique instrument waning considerably.

From the rather haunting opening chords and phrases I realised that this project was going to be quite different to most of the new music that I have been listening to recently. In some ways it really did feel like I had been transported back in time; I hadn’t realised just how unique a sound could be created with a combination of these two keyboard instruments. Simply taking a decision to focus on the features of one instrument and slavishly embargo the use of digital technology doesn’t guarantee success; the result could have been a mediocre gimmick. I do not believe that ‘All Rivers And Oceans’ is either mediocre or gimmicky. The overall feel of the album is generally upbeat and positive, and presents a pleasing range of content, featuring well crafted melodies, intelligent lyrics and sufficient depth to encourage me to listen multiple times.

After playing keyboards with a couple of bands, Robert Farren formed Isle Of Rhodes in spring last year releasing this album around a year later. Supporting Robert on the album are Brooks Frederisckson (drums and glockenspiel), Gerardo Velez (various percussion), Rachel Golub (violin), David and Ian Lloyd (backing vocals), and an evocative poetry reading by Nikki Farren.

In the ancient world, The Colossus Of Rhodes was named as one of the Seven Wonders; it would certainly be stretching a point to claim that this album would count as one of the seven most wonderful albums of the modern age, but I’ll certainly be keeping a watch for more from Isle of Rhodes to see how things develop in the absence of any guitars.

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