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 quite duties 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

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Motis - L'homme-loup & Live Crescendo – Motis is a talented French group who create what might be called medieval progressive rock. They are deeply influenced by the literature and myths of the Knights of the Round Table, the Song of...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues