Exposé Online banner

Bellaphon — Firefly
(Musea FGBG 4194.AR, 1987/1996, CD)

Bellaphon — Delphi
(Belle Antique 95140, 1986/1995, CD)

by Steve Robey, 1997-02-01:

Firefly Cover artDelphi Cover art

Bellaphon are a four-piece from Japan, consisting of the standard guitar / bass / keys / drums lineup. Their arrangements are heavy on the keyboards, with Camel-like guitar breaks providing the contrasts. As a purely instrumental units, they eschew vocals in favor of the soloing strengths of Toshihiro Tanaka (guitar) and Mitsutaka Kaki (keys), which are quite impressive. Even better is when Tanaka whips out the acoustic guitar and picks out some lovely progressions. Occasional meter changes from 4/4 to 6/8 are also a plus, as on the title track, which also introduces a Hammond organ sound (albeit a digital-sounding one) and a typically lyrical guitar solo.

While this set is certainly accomplished, there is nothing too distinctive or memorable about it. The flowing instrumentals and solos seem to be not the means to an end, but an end itself. In other words, they just don't dig any deeper than skin-deep. I'm sure this is just a matter of taste; thus, I urge you to judge for yourself. The energetic instrumentals do leave a lot of room for interpretation for the listener.


by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:

Probably best known for their 1987 album, Firefly, this instrumental four-piece existed from around 1982, and co-existed with the mid-80s Ain Soph, keyboardist Mitsutaka Kaki and drummer Taiqui Tomiie being members of both bands, and Ain Soph bassist Masahiro Torigaki was involved in the earliest formation of Bellaphon. Their sound could be compared at times to early Camel, circa Moonmadness, with a strong emphasis on melodic content and heavy interplay between keyboards and guitars. Symphonic touches abound, and the compositions are quite good, yet sometimes lack some of the thematic development that might make the material classic. Other comparisons might be Finch in their Galleons of Passion period, or Sebastian Hardie, due to the prominently featured guitar and keyboard soloing.

Delphi is an album's worth of early recordings that pre-date the Firefly LP by several years, some from as early as 1982. The collection includes four studio takes and two live, a couple of which survived in rearranged form into the Firefly period. In fact these early recordings stand quite strong, probably taken from early demo tapes, and many are at least equal to the material that was eventually released on the LP. Sound quality on the studio material is good, while just average on the live recordings. Overall a good release, although for the newcomer I would recommend investigating Ain Soph and Kenso first.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 9 , 1996 releases, 1987 releases, 1995 releases, 1986 releases

Related artist(s): Bellaphon

More info

Latest news

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

World's End Girlfriend - Seven Idiots – Occupying a distinct netherworld where the realms of electronic music, avant garde, post-rock, and modern classical music intersect, World's End Girlfriend (the nom de musique of Katsuhiko Maeda) has...  (2011) » Read more

Kit Watkins - Beauty Drifting – Belying its apparent simplicity, this latest album from Kit — basically a piano album with some supporting synth work, recalls the ethereal spirit and moodiness of his classic Azure. The key to the...  (1996) » Read more

Tibet - Tibet – Musea seem to have an affinity for the late-70s/early-80s German symphonic genre — the type of music that started with Eloy and Grobschnitt and ended with a million one or two shots — you know...  (1995) » Read more

Fonya - Earth Shaper – Earth Shaper is a travel into a fantasy land. A rather colorful travel where most of the times the instruments are equal in conveying the soundscapes to these imaginary places. It could be described...  (1996) » Read more

Versus X - Versus X (Remastered) – Some may have checked out Apogee's The Border of Awareness that we reviewed in the Musea overview a few issues back, which is essentially the solo project of Versus X bassist / guitarist /...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues