WETTON/DOWNES – Icon Zero
As to the musical content of "Icon Zero", it harkens back to those creative and glorious years that were the 80s, which is quite evident when listening to the programmed drums that figure on some of the tracks, the glacial synthesizers, and the production as a whole. You can tell that this was recorded ages ago and that Wetton and Downes were brimming with great ideas whenever they sat down and crafted song material together. The fifteen songs that make up "Icon Zero" all bear the trademarks of the Downes/Wetton songwriting partnership, which is to say that it bears more than a passing resemblance to ASIA, but the great thing about this record is that it sounds a little more spontaneous and loose compared to the outputs by the aforementioned band, almost as if Wetton and Downes wrote these songs without considering how, when, and where to use them. That is quite endearing and cool in and of itself. The thick and pulsating bass lines courtesy of Wetton coupled with Downes’ superb keyboards and melodic flair are a the stuff that AOR dreams are made of. "Walking on Air" is a rather moody composition while "I Would Die for You" and "Only You" bring to mind Foreigner in places. Not every song is a winner (a couple of them are borderline cheesy) and due to the songs having been recorded at various studios and involving different musicians and so on, "Icon Zero" is hardly the most cohesive or coherent album in existence, but it was never intended to be either. In many ways, we are dealing with complete songs as well as demo versions and even outtakes, so this is more like an audio diary documenting various get-togethers between Wetton and Downes.
Although boasting great and memorable tracks such as "Walking on Air", "Don’t Say It Again", and "Oh! Carolann" (the latter is the demo version of the aforementioned "Kari-Anne"), "Icon Zero" is primarily aimed at the completists and fans of Downes and/or Wetton, but that does not make it any less fascinating or rewarding to immerse oneself in. Personally, I really dig the intuitive vibe of these cuts and the entire affair has a certain charm and depth to it that is simply undeniable. These are the songs that nearly got away and were forgotten about, so to say. Thank heavens someone had the sense to finally remaster and reissue them. You ought to give them a spin or two if ASIA and/or the works of Wetton and Downes appeal to you. There is a lot of wicked stuff to be found here.