17 Pygmies: Isabel (Daria Records, 2013)

Sutileza, delicadeza, sensibilidad… substantivos que podrían encuadrarnos todos para hablar de la música de 17 Pygmies, una banda algo inusual y con ya largo recorrido, que acaban de publicar The Book of Isabel, Part I, la continuación de Celestina, su disco de 2008.

Su música es algo así como un cruce de caminos entre Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, el Folk de los sesenta y el Ambient o los sonidos más vanguardistas.


Keeping in mind that we are talking about a band with a 30+ year history, 17 Pygmies are a band that has admittedly undertaken many personnel changes (the only original member is Jackson Del Rey) and diverged in any number of musical directions finally decided to “play it straight” or at least “play it as straight” as such a band can. In 2008 Jackson put together the now referred to as the “Celestina” era of the band featuring core members Meg Maryatt on vocals, Jeff Brenneman on guitar and Dirk Doucette on drums to undertake an ambitious 331/3 song 3 CD set concept trilogy about a rather odd feminine robot growing up in outer space a somewhat innocent, childlike manner intermittently interrupted by acts of incredible violence (she has a bad habit of trying to snap a human neck every now and then.) 
In 2012 the last CD, entitled “Even Celestina Gets the Blues” not only ended the Celestina trilogy, but also left the story line at such a point that it was only logical to continue the story and further explore the cosmic space operatic poppy space soundtrack music terrain already previously established. Isabel is the first part of another three part concept CD in the vein of Celestina, but following the exploits of Dr. Amelia Isabel, one of the other passengers of the Celestina (the ship and the main character share the same name). The music is at times pensive, brooding, introspective, poppy, proggy, jazzy and orchestral. 
There are many musical “touchstones” to Isabel, the most obvious being Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Harold Budd, Brian Eno, John Foxx, The Incredible String Band, “Lamb” era Genesis, Samuel Barber, Arvo Part, Jerry Goldsmith and Christopher Young. 
Interestingly, 2013 also found the re-release of a 2 CD retrospective containing three remastered versions of the bands’ early works Hatikva (1983) Jedda By The sea (1984) and Captured in Ice (1985). So when we say 2013 is the year of the Pygmy, we ain’t kidding! 
Over a 30 year period, there is obviously more to discuss, but let’s leave it at that for now. All we know is that we are all present in the here and now. Buy the ticket and take the ride. 
So for those of you who are already onboard, as well as those who are about to enter into our world, thank you for coming along on this part of the voyage. We could not have done it without you, whoever you may be” (Sonicbids.com)

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