Bellaphon — Firefly
(Musea FGBG 4194.AR, 1987/1996, CD)
Bellaphon — Delphi
(Belle Antique 95140, 1986/1995, CD)
by Steve Robey, 1997-02-01:
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.
Related artist(s): Bellaphon
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
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and 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
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
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
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
Art Rock Circus - A Passage to Clear & Tell a Vision – Easy to follow narratives within the comfortable confines of a pop progressive melodic framework. Nods to epic classic rock arise here and there. In some places you can hear traces of Genesis,... (2006) » Read more
Gamelan Sekar Jaya - American Works for Balinese Gamelan Orchestra – The tiny island of Bali in Indonesia carries over a thousand years of rich musical tradition, originally founded in the collision of Javanese, Hindu, and indigenous cultures, the music of Bali is... (1994) » Read more
Perfume de Mujer - Variaciones en la Cuerda Vol. 2 & 3 – This 1996 CD release from Cuban ensemble Perfume de Mujer is a compilation of their two albums L’Ultima Cena and Aquarium. Ten participants are credited here though most of the action seems to... (1997) » Read more