Poseidon/Vital prog roundup
Got some new stuff recently from Poseidon Records, home of Japanese prog rock. This set is from their Vital Records imprint, dedicated to introducing new bands, who are often playing stuff that’s outside the typical prog-rock styles, sometimes more raw and experimental.
First up is Qui, with Prelude (Vital, VR-023). The songs here by this trio are from 1997-2002, a couple of them recorded live. Drummer Yukihiro Fujimoto populates the music with intricate fills while bassist Kanji Sugano keeps up a steady pattern, and Takashi Hayashi’s guitar alternately chimes and then speeds through fast runs weaving between the rhythmic framework. It’s pretty much right up the prog-rock alley, complex and rhythmically interesting, but perhaps a bit too “smooth” for me. Listen to “Wcjc” by Qui
The oddly-named Butzmetz-LingerieZ release Butzmetz 2 – Somewhere Between (Vital, VR-026). This trio of Koh “Guts” Yoneyama on guitar, Nobuyuki Shiori on bass, and Wataru Endo on drums offer a set of five long suites recorded live during two dates in late 2005 and mid 2006. The modus operandi is mainly sturdy rhythms from Nobuyuki and Wataru, allowing Koh to explore a variety of guitar textures, but each of the players gets a chance to wander and solo throughout this workmanlike prog performance. Guest Hiroo Takano also adds in flights of flute and sax at times. Listen to an excerpt from “Theme Of Potassium Hydroxide” by Butzmetz-LingerieZ
A medium-sized ensemble, Lone Empty Bed’s debut is self-titled (Vital, VR-025). The music is composed by bassist Yuki Nishiyama, who named each of the six songs here after works of literature: “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” (here misspelled “Blooklyn”) “Les Paradis Artificial,” “Breakfast of Champions” et al. Drummer Dai Otake and Nishiyama establish a full, steady rhythmic basis for the others to play off of, which they do in extended, jazzy passages. Junichi Shiratori’s sax and Tomonori Iizuka’s trombone provide a small horn section, while guitarist Takafumi Sakuma tosses out distorted bits of ragged riffage or chiming pluckings and scrapes. On two of the live songs, Takumi Higashi joins on keyboard, which adds some nicely jazzed organ sounds to “The Martian Chronicles”. The three live tracks here suffer due to rather tinny sound quality, but the performances are good. If there’s a weak spot here it’s Sakuma’s guitar, which seems oddly distorted and out of place, not meshing with the horns. But there’s some nice work here on the jazzier side of prog rock. Listen to “Last Exit To Blooklyn” by Lone Empty Bed
Also in the package, but not from Vital, I found Electric Chair, whose “in leaf” (Electric Chair, ELHC-002) is classified as “World” when you put it into iTunes. Well, that’s not quite right, but close. The group’s music is composed by Naito Masahiko, and played by a wide array of musicians: the notes list eight mandolin players, and five guitarists. The fourteen songs here range from gentle plinks and plucks to vaguely Americana-style slides and finger-picking. “Hikifune”, for example, is a rhythmic study where a single guitar, playing a short series of notes, is joined by others until the single notes become a mass, rhythmically hypnotic. “Bunsuirei,” (“Watershed”), over ten minutes long, is a langorous, simple sprawl of crystalline mandolin, beautiful alternating notes that’s almost too pretty. A fascinating, unusual album. Listen to “Hikifune” by Electric Chair