Bottom Line: Igizeh is Egyptian inspired, and parts of it was recorded at the Great Pyramid. Marks brews a magical blend of of instruments, sound effects, and uplifting chants.
The opening track "Seti I" starts off softly. All you hear at first is a distant voice, like an Islamic call to prayer, and a soft ambient hum. Gradually, very gradually, more instruments join in. Drums, tambourine, keyboards, then a vocal wail. It ramps up slowly building in volume and sophistication of theme until the chant begins. The volume and intensity continues to build and it isn't until five minutes into the song that it finally reaches full bore. Though highly unusual it is very effective. You are by now thoroughly hooked by the driving beat and the stirring group chant and mesmerized by the fluttering about of electronic themes. It is a journey to a distant land where you are sitting in on a tribal song. Though the song is long at well over eight minutes, it still seems too short.
"Obsidian" is great song featuring a fabulous vocal performance by Jennifer Folker. Part torch song part techno dance track, Obsidian has a very catchy tune, impassioned singing and a very dancey beat. The lyrics switch between English and other languages and non-languages, with the key English verse being "visions of yesterday, today." Hopefully some club DJs will pick up on this great song. The song inspired a remix CD.
A male Indian vocalist starts it out "Crème Egg," giving way to an electronic interlude with a speed reminiscent of "Flight of the Bumblebee." The middle section features a south Asian chanter wonderfully mixed with swirling synthesizer, bass, and drums. It concludes again with the original vocalist.
Marks had released an instrumental version of "Glove Puppet" on The Magical Sounds of Banco de Gaia. Here, he adds a stunning emotive vocal by Jennifer Folker, improving an already great song exponentially. The very emotional lyrics are superbly sung by Folker and the electronics and vocals form a deep gothic song.
"Gizeh" is a very odd tune. Vocal samples of strange muffled shouts, the words or even language of which are indecipherable. Synthesized strings provide a Beethovenesque feel. The song is very grand in scope
"How Much Reality Can You Take?" is a sitar song in the tradition of Ananda Shankar. Upbeat from the very first bar, it is a hard driving psychedelic trip. Marks sets down the central sitar theme than plays with variations on it throughout the song, the same approach Orbital uses. Secondary themes from percussion and keyboards call and respond to the sitar. Very fast and energetic, it is impossible to sit still listening to it. It really shows off Mark's composing skill.
"B2" considerably slows down the pace with an ambient-tinged song. Synth and female backing vocals lay down a pleasant groove joined by a woodwind solo (synthesized but sounding most like a flute). Spacey and trippy.
"Fake It Till You Make It" is like a lighter version of Gizeh, with similar samples but more emphasis on the strings. About five minutes in it suddenly shifts into an early 70's funk groove and before you know it you are hearing a Hammond organ jam session. What the . . . . Unexpected but kinda cool, oops, I mean groovy. After the three minute jam session, we return to the earlier theme. At nearly 12 minutes, the song is a bit long for what it has to offer.
"Sixty Sixteen" begins with a church-like organ solo gradually replaced by a steel guitar in turn replaced by synthed strings. It is an atmospheric song gradually picking up the pace then slowing back down again.
In sum, Igizeh is mostly a trippy space album, grandiose in scale, at times reminiscent of Tangerine Dream. Really, the nine tracks are four songs. Tracks 1, 2, 4, and 6 being discrete entities, while the rest are all different expressions of the same basic musical theme. This is not a criticism as it works quite well. But unless that theme grabs you, you will get bored before you get to the end of the album. I think that explains the organ jam mid way through track 8. Still, there is so much to like about this CD. Igizeh definitely establishes Banco de Gaia as one of the foremost world fusion artists.