Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
Isotope were one of the major (and earliest) British jazz-rock bands of the 1970s, coming along chronologically only just behind Soft Machine and Nucleus, the two UK pioneer bands in the genre. Isotope was formed by guitarist Gary Boyle in 1972. After about a year, the band signed with a major U.K. management company who got the band signed to a independent label which was owned by a film company and things really took off. By the time of their second and best-known album, Illusion, the band consisted of Gary, ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper keyboardist Laurence Scott and drummer Nigel Morris. This version of the band lasted nearly 2 years and played hundreds of shows. Golden Section is over 65' of all unreleased material, taken from 3 different dates, all from the period when Hugh was a part of the band and lent his strongly distinctive style to the group; from the opening notes of the album, it's readily apparent that Hugh is in the house! More than half the CD is a program recorded by Radio Bremen in Germany for broadcast. During this time, the band included a fifth member, percussionist Aureo de Souza, who played with the group for several months during spring/summer 1975 and added a definite Weather Report-inspired flair, but whose tenure with the group has never before been documented on record or heard! In addition to the music, Golden Section includes a 12 page booklet with exclusive interviews with the musicians, conducted by Aymeric Leroy, that gives an overview of the entire history of the band and tells the full story of the period covered by these recordings. Also included are never-before seen photographs of the group.
We played a lot of gigs with Isotope, touring all the time in the UK and Europe and once in the States. The band had good sponsorship and backing, and jazz-rock was almost desirable for a few months in 1974-75! We were playing at least four or five times a week, all the time. Isotope certainly was good for me from the point of view of doing a lot of music. Since we were gigging so much, I was probably playing with more technical facility than when I was in Soft Machine. --Hugh Hopper
Guitarist Gary Boyle leads the charge here, along with famed Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper; appearing on the Illusion album, and drummer Nigel Morris, serving as the standouts...keyboardist Laurence Scott render(s) flashy electric piano riffs to augment this band's upfront jazz-rock approach. Elements of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra are imminent here, as this group navigates tricky time signatures, spearheaded by Boyle's speedy, fuzz-toned licks and Morris' polyrhythmic timekeeping. In addition, Isotope's line of attack consisted of memorably melodic hooks and fierce soloing endeavors. These two recordings created a buzz during the early jazz-fusion days, although the ensemble didn't stay around long enough to reap the benefits of success. But these are strong efforts, characterized by the artists' synergistic interplay and their often-inspiring compositional frameworks. --Glenn Astarita (speaking about the reissue of the group's first two albums)
Aureo de Souza