Exposé Online banner

Ars Nova — Fear and Anxiety
(Made in Japan MCD 2923, 1992, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-02-01

Fear and Anxiety Cover art

Here is one of those albums that I hate at one listen, and love at the next. Ars Nova is a Japanese instrumental trio of mega-keyboards, bass, and drums, playing pretty much in the tired old keyboard trio format pioneered by The Nice, ELP, and followed by so many others since, most notably in this case another Japanese band, Deja-Vu. But it can't be dismissed that easily. The sound is busy, multi-layered keys handling just about everything – keyboardist Keiko Kumagai is certainly competent, and offers some very interesting compositions with passion, fire, and rhythmic intensity – as well as some very cheesy, derivative and overblown moments, often within seconds of one another. Bassist Kyoko Saito and drummer Yumiko Saito add very little flash to the music, handling their duties quite competently but remaining buried under the dense wall-of-keyboard sound. The comparisons with Deja-Vu are not unfounded, as the main influence here seems to be European classical, both in rhythm and melody, albeit sometimes shallow and jejune. Whereas Deja-Vu at least had vocals to cover its weaknesses, Ars Nova chooses to forge ahead without a singer, indeed these compositions do not lend themselves well to vocals – too many tight, abrupt changes and chaotic twists and turns. Still, this is not bad for a debut album. Some of the album's better tracks are the furious fast-paced "d3iha:d" (no, that's not a typo), and the nine minute album closer "Fata Morgana," which offers a memorable main melody draped in synthesizer wash, articulated by other interesting side trips along the way.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 2, 1992 releases

Related artist(s): Ars Nova

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ozric Tentacles - Vitamin Enhanced – This six-CD set contains the early works of the band from the years 1984-89, heretofore only available on six cassettes that together cost more than this boxed set. For those not yet familiar with the...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues