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Intelligent Music Project VI: The Creation

Now onto his sixth album under the guise of Intelligent Music Project, Bulgarian keyboard player and composer Ivo Stefanov has managed to keep his guest list impressive, evolving and yet cohesive as he’s taken a journey through what is, for the main, gentle AOR with a hint of prog. Initially the project employed the vocals of ex-Uriah Heep man John Lawton, and from there the likes of John Payne (Asia/GPS) and Carl Sentence have, amongst others, come to front a revolving cast of musicians. That said the latter two have now appeared on multiple IMP albums and both, although rather fleetingly, show up here. The main player now, as he was on V: Life Motion, is Ronnie Romero, a man best known for helping to fleetingly and somewhat unsuccessfully, truth be known, resurrect Rainbow alongside Ritchie Blackmore. Since then the Lords Of The Black singer has become a real in demand presence in the melodic hard rock scene, although admittedly I’ve always found him more capable than outstanding.

Arguably, what the singer provides here, however, is among his best work and as such helps raise The Creation higher than the more recent offerings from this grandly named outfit. The mid-paced, relaxed pomp rock of “Sometimes” goes a long way to revealing why things click into place, Romero reminding of Robin McAuley (Grand Prix/MSG) as he adds a gritty authority to a keen keyboard/guitar tradeoff that lands somewhere between Asia, Perfect Strangers era Deep Purple and House Of Lords. Payne shows up to share vocals on “A Shelter” and it has to be said that Stefanov undoubtedly knows how to tailer material to the theatric tones of the ex-Asia man. The more traditional French accordion jaunt of “Back To The Truth”, where Rick Grisman takes the mic, alters the tone quite considerably, but when followed up with the jazzy sway of “Let It Go” - which does admittedly grow into a pulsating, if controlled rocker - the sideways slide of attack possibly slips too far off course.

Thankfully, “I Know” rocks things up quite considerably as Romero is asked to revive a classic Rainbow vibe for this album’s best moment, while “Serve” closes proceedings out in the theatric fashion that’s never far away from the core of everything this project has long been known for. Even with all of that in mind it’s hard to shake off the notion that this album - which also at times features percussive powerhouses Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow) and Todd Sucherman (Styx) - doesn’t continue to play it all just a little too safe, while never offering up any new takes on its familiar ideas. Still, the performances are all top notch and, as is a theme with this band, there aren’t any songs included that don’t offer up some sort of interest. If you’ve enjoyed the output of Intelligent Music Project before, then be prepared to love this but for me we’re more in the territory of good, but lacking that killer touch of magic.

Track Listing
1. A Sense Of Progress
2. The Story
3. A Shelter
4. Listen
5. Your Thoughts
6. Sometimes
7. Back To The Truth
8. Let It Go
9. A Sight
10. That Something
11. I Know
12. Serve

Added: July 4th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Intelligent Music Project online
Hits: 911
Language: english

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