The project itso has an ongoing mission to “to bring back rock music into the mainstream spotlight”. They plan to do so by releasing 1 song every single month, for the next 24 months. With 40 songs already recorded, this is the timeline they have afforded themselves to make an impact on the scene. Beginning as an experiment via SM Productions (Smoke & Mirrors), Scobie Ryder and Martin Hanisch who form the core of itso, record in two different countries – Germany and Japan – and have not even met each other.
Guitars, drums, bass and vocals are the essential ingredients which drive this project, devoid of management, agents or record industry executives. In essence itso is more about the music, and less about the bullshit which surrounds it. And that comes through in their songs.
We initially laid our ears on itso, when we came into contact with their marvelously melodic and affecting track, “Mother Earth”, some months back. The band which started out in 2019, may not have garnered mainstream success just yet, but they are quietly compiling one of the most impressive rock discographies out of all their contemporaries – mainstream or not. If you were to hear segments of their strongest songs, you might understandably wonder why itso aren’t selling out arenas and climbing chart positions.
Compositionally, itso strikes a mainstream-friendly version of the balance which defines the blend of classic and progressive rock: technically intricate instrumentation and affecting emotion, both cerebral yet immediately rock n’ roll.
Scobie Ryder and Martin Hanisch’s skills as a songwriters and performers, is building elaborate yet concise songs from within accessible structures. Even when the arrangements reach their most complex moments, they rarely get lost in the noodling that plague rock’s virtuosos at their worst.
itso explore vast swathes of sonic territory, from minimalist passages which build into explosive crescendos and instrumentals which match superb vocals elements, leading to flowing expressionism, creating an immersive dichotomy.
On their latest single, “Perfect Puppets”, itso switch the template to a grittier, harder hitting form of rock. Driving guitar riffs, soaring vocals and incessant drums, march forward relentlessly, in what is essentially a protest song. It’s a musical portrait of a band that continues to deepen and diversify its sound.
“Perfect Puppets” sets up retro rock aesthetics with the technological genius of modern musical production and produces something both credible and demonstrably well crafted. The song fiercely wages its onslaught, with raging guitar riffs gnawing against the powerful strikes of drums and high-energy vocals, to create a cyclone of impactful music. The poignancy of the lyrics is underlined with dynamic instrumentation that makes for a restless listen.
itso’s latest work is a positive reflection of rock in the 21st century, and asserts how underrated Scobie Ryder and Martin Hanisch may well be. The musical execution throughout “Perfect Puppets” is concrete and distinct, in a thought-provoking and emotive song. Everything here just blossoms and flourishes into an explosive record. It’s the perfect temptation to investigate what itso has done with the rest of their catalogue.