Poseidon Records latest
Poseidon Records, home of most of Japan’s prog bands, sent over a couple of batches of CDs recently — too many to write them all up! But some highlights include the following. Check poseidon.jp for more details on all of these and many more.
Shinsekai’s self-titled CD comes packaged in a DVD-style case with a bonus flexi-disc, and the whole production is quite something. The four-piece band includes Yu Shimoda on keyboards of all kinds, including a Mellotron and Minimoog; Masaru Teramae on guitar and Tadashi Teramae on drums; and Akinobu Kajimoto on bass. The eight songs here are admirably to the point, totalling to only 37 minutes, though a couple do top six minutes in length. The band is in high gear much of the time, with swarming keyword and guitar lines dueling over suitably dense and complex rhythms. There’s no doubting the band’s technical prowess, but what makes it enjoyable is that they don’t wallow indulgently — the slower parts are pretty and don’t outweigh their welcome, while the faster parts rock out and have fun doing it. I have to admit that I also appreciate the fact that the band is instrumental. Good stuff.
Naoki Ishida’s Fazing Redust has a mysterious title, and appropriately mysterious sounds as well. Information is slim, but it would seem that everything here is guitar and programmed electronics, but the quietly bubbling sounds are more often than not unidentifiable. Seems as though there might be some field recordings dropped in too, but it’s hard to say. Guitar strums, synthesized hummings, organ-like textures, sequenced tones, and odd little sounds populate these seven songs, with titles like “Evening Primrose,” “Tranquility Bug,” and “It Started Certainly In A Sense” (my favorite). The chirping birds in my backyard as I listened didn’t seem at all out of place. Very nice stuff. Visit kitten-recordz.com for more info (this is distributed by Poseidon).
Here’s another atypical entry, not exactly prog except that the crazy time signatures and techniques don’t really let the band fit anywhere else either. Salle Gaveau was formed in 2003 by notorious guitarist Natsuki Kido, known from his work with Bondage Fruit and many others. With Kita Naoki on violin, Sato Yoshiaki on accordion, Hayashi Masaki on piano, and Torigoe Keisuke on contrabass, you know immediately that isn’t any sort of a normal group.
In fact, Salle Gaveau are self-described melting pot of high-technique improvisation blending tango, polyrhythmic jazz, gypsy and eastern European styles, prog rock, and more. It’s pretty much impossible to accurately describe the band, and a listen to their album Alloy won’t even help, because it’s all over the place. This isn’t to say that the band is unfocused, because they’re not. It’s just that each song combines so many different elements that, while the music is internally consistent, it’s still impossible to say exactly what it is you’re hearing.
Visit Maboroshi no Sekai’s site for more info; this is distributed by Poseidon.
Damn, Free Love kick out the jams here. The almost-six-minute opener, entitled “Kashmir,” is an odd mutation of the Zeppelin track and is just as heavy as the original. One of the nice things is that you can actually hear the bass, which is thick and really important to the overall weight of the playing. Ai Tatsuya, with drummer Atsushi Motohashi, lays down a super-solid rhythm section throughout. Hiroki Matsui’s organ and synth fill in the nooks and crannies, with Hiroaki Shibata’s guitar tastefully sprinkled across the songs. On the rock side of the prog house, or perhaps the other way around, this is some fun stuff.
The band stretches out, and sometimes embraces a bit of calm before the storm, but what’s fun here is that they seem happiest when it’s pedal-to-the-metal, blazing fuzz guitar leads, organ swells, bass and drums slamming away. The end of “Island” is a fine example, with the fantastic guitar leads over massed keys and a powerful rhythm.
Perhaps the closest comparison I can come to for Free Love is bands like the Warlocks or perhaps Nebula, psychedelic powerhouses, but Free Love aren’t afraid to throw in the prog rock twists and turns as well. Hell, “Maze of Psycho” even starts with a drum solo, so there you go. Enjoy. Visit the band’s web site for more info.