[RATING: 5] When The Ironsides first hove into view with their Stig & Steen cover Sommer in 2020 it was as a Monophonics side project (of bassist Max Ramey, along with his brother Joe) doing atmospheric but rhythmically funky cinematic soul. Even then the potential was clear: the production was amazing; the combo of orchestral strings and funky rhythms their USP. Recent singles have only kindled anticipation further and their debut long player, Changing Light, very much delivers on early promise yielding a lushly-orchestrated set to score all the retro-the movies of your mind – mainly those featuring sweeping Californian Big Sur locations or perhaps Italian coastline ones. Indeed Ramey freely admits that the tracks were, “inspired by landscapes.”
As implied above, the key inspirations are very obviously soundtrack and library music compositions of yore. It seems the band first approached New York arranger Lou King, subsequently hiring a group of Bay Area musicians with experience in everything from jazz to classical and the album was recorded in Transistor Sound Studios in the North Bay Area. While it is relatively short, at eight tracks and thirty-five minutes, the tracks themselves are all (bar one) over three minutes long and, of those, six are over four minutes long – each one an experience you’ll be happy to have envelope you. The title track is the initially contemplative opener evoking dappled sunlight and perhaps a journey’s beginning – a relatively pedestrian drive on dusty minor roads in coastal mountains maybe. The Web is altogether more epic with a wall of fuzz guitar going up against strings periodically as we enter a more dramatic aural vista of booming surf and towering cliffs while Ligurian Dream – as the name implies – finds its inspiration in Italy and is a dreamy sunset groove employing steel guitar. I could go on but you’ll have your movie landscapes to imagine or recall – and that’s part of the fun anyway. If you’ve got a road-trip planned soon, this is absolutely your soundtrack; if you haven’t, put it on anyway, close your eyes and pretend you are on one.
(Out now on Colemine Records)