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**** Iris -- Crossing the Desert

A lot of times, you pick something up with certain expectations and then find that what's on the disk is completely different. That's much the case with this album, coming from Arrakeen guitarist Sylvain Gouvernaire and Marillion's drummer Ian Mosley and bassist Pete Trewavas. Given that both Marillion and Arrakeen are neo-progressive bands that tended away from overly complex music, it's a pleasant surprise that this is a true progressive rock album that hearken back to some of the better work of the early seventies. As Gouvernaire is something of a Steve Rothery clone, you'd expect tons of noodling solos, but there's less of that and much more keyboards. Good guitar, to be sure, but that's not the focus here. The album is on the heavy side, although parts definitely border on new age. Of the three 1996 Marillion "solo albums" (Hogarth's Ice Cream Genius and Rothery's Carnival of Souls being the other two), this is surely the one prog. fans want to pick up. (Note: There is another band called "Iris". As this is the only album that this group has released, if you come across something else, it's not this band.)

Reviews by A. D. Jensen
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