Exposé Online banner

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

by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:

Firefly Cover art

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.


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.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 11 , 1996 releases, 1987 releases

Related artist(s): Bellaphon

More info

Latest news

2019-12-11
There's No Time Like the Present – The Belgian band Present has been one of the best avant-rock bands in the world since its formation in 1979. Over the years since then, Present has released nine amazing albums, and now they're ready to start work on number ten. They're looking for some financial help from their fans around the world. » Read more

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

David Pack - The Secret of Movin' On – Former Ambrosia guitarist and vocalist David Pack has become the quintessential example of L.A. pop music roadkill. Well past his peak of commercial success and fame and ten years since his last solo...  (2006) » Read more

Picchio dal Pozzo - Picchio dal Pozzo & Abbiamo Tutti i Suoi Problemi – Slight changes in style between albums is common for most all groups, but Picchio dal Pozzo is not like most groups. Upon listening to their second CD after hearing the first, I did a double take and...  (1995) » Read more

Dead Can Dance - Spiritchaser – A group I've only had the chance to hear on one previous occasion (their Spleen and Ideal album), Dead Can Dance didn't take me by storm then. But I have always awaited a chance to hear them...  (1997) » Read more

Shigekazu Kamaki - Magatama – Some may remember Kamaki from his days as the finger-blistering axeman in Mr.Sirius, others from his own jazz-rock band Kehell — still together and gigging fairly regularly. Magatama is...  (1999) » Read more

Rick Wakeman - Simply Acoustic – Recorded live at the Cavalry Chapel in Costa Mesa, CA in March 1994. Simply Acoustic is a solo piano retrospective through his career work with Yes, David Bowie, and even Cat Stevens. Modern radio...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues