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

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Edward Ka-Spel - Dream Logik Parts One - Three – Chris Macbeth of Beta-lactam does it again with two lavish solo releases from Edward Ka-Spel. Dream Logik Part Two comes housed in a in a deluxe ten panel book bound case with ten different...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues