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

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Mani Neumeier & Peter Hollinger - Meet the the Demons of Bali – Wooaah, wait a minute, hold the phone, and just a cottin' pickin'... Mani has really done something different here! Some may remember the Privat CD reviewed last time. There, he took on every...  (1999) » Read more

Koenjihyakkei - Angherr Shisspa – It’s been amusing to read the attempts of reviewers in the alternative/independent press to write about this album. They find the music so strange that they have difficulty describing it, even...  (2006) » Read more

Bill Bruford / Michiel Borstlap - In Two Minds – Drummer Bill Bruford’s desire to pursue an on-going dialog with pianist Michiel Borstlap continues with this live recording across four separate 2006 European gigs. Each piece is an improvisation...  (2009) » Read more

Ziff - Stories – This is the first release I've heard on Musea's new side-label Angular Records, so it's too soon to predict what the 'sound' of the label will be, but for this release at least,...  (1995) » Read more

Carla Kihlstedt / Matthias Bossi / Shahzad Ismaily - Causing a Tiger – Here we have three principals of various Bay Area art-music assemblages of recent vintage creating something new and radically different from their usual endeavors. Most readers will know violinist...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues