Exposé Online banner

Bi Kyo Ran — Go-Un
(Belle Antique 95149, 1995, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:

Go-Un Cover art

Known for years as the group that sounds more like King Crimson than King Crimson themselves, Bi Kyo Ran have reformed after many years away, in the process growing from a trio to an eight-piece of dual guitars, bass, keys, triple-percussion, and multi-voices, augmented by guests on woodwinds, brass, and chorus. Along the way they have nearly completely lost their early image as a perfect clone of 70s-Crimson. The new Bi Kyo Ran is a very adventurous unit, covering a lot of new territory, the added multi-percussion and second guitar have offered plenty of room to explore – and I expect that some looking for the band of yore will be profoundly disappointed. But progressive rock involves growth and change, and that's precisely what is offered here. Could one have expected the band to come back after twelve years (with five new members, no less) and serve up the same old dish? I think not. Not surprisingly, many of the tunes center around percussion and voice (five band members offer vocals, not counting guests), and the interplay of acoustic and electric guitars (as on the Spanish flavored "Psycho, Part II." On the other hand, the piano and synths are rarely heard. Some of the material is very quiet and subtle – and very Japanese, for example the closer "21st Century Africa," on which two kalimbas are joined by various other percussives in a lengthy intro that finally gives way to some irregularly timed rock with Fripp-oid guitar leads. This is a more subtle album, far away from their earlier in-your-face approach. It takes a few listens to grow into, but patience will reward. Welcome back!


by Mike McLatchey, 1996-03-01:

Bi Kyo Ran were the Japanese equivalent of mid period King Crimson from the obvious "Larks Tongues in Aspic" copy at the beginning of their self-titled debut to one of their recently released live compilations which is all King Crimson covers. Regardless of these obvious influences, Bi Kyo Ran were still great, both their debut and second album, Parallax, are fine albums, the latter amongst the best of all 80s Japanese progressives. How Bi Kyo Ran could live with such a strong comparison is beyond me, but now the band after over a ten year hiatus have reformed with a new album and an effort to put the Crimson references to rest... well almost. The opening track, "Ran Part II," here is the only one that brings back the Crimson spirit with very angular Frippian guitar work and a flashback to the early Bi Kyo Ran sound. The rest is a mixed bag and hard to describe. Bi Kyo Ran have definitely modernized their approach, the tones have more in common with the underground Japanese scene a la God Mountain label (most of the bands on Neu Konservatiw would be decent pointers) yet not in any way industrial. Certain things annoy me about the change, the discoid female vocals on "Journey's End" remind me of bad Talking Heads and practically ruin the song. Most of the music is good though and except for the intro is practically devoid of King Crimson references and seems much more indigenously Japanese. It should be interesting to see what happens as Bi Kyo Ran evolves their new style (they have a new live album already out since this title). Certainly not as good as their first two albums, but definitely more original.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 9 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Bi Kyo Ran / Madoromi

More info

Latest news

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Electrum - Frames of Mind – Here are three guys who love Rush and decided to record an album together of songs influenced by the Canadian trio. It's a scenario I've seen played out over and over (see Afterlife in these...  (1999) » Read more

The Art of All - Morgan – The Art of All is a young band (Peter Aliferis drums and keyboards, Ruben Ruiz vocals and guitar, and Chris Debari bass) based in Massachusetts who characterize themselves as a progressive trance...  (2008) » Read more

Radiohead - OK Computer – We can all think of examples of a progressive band over time starting to play music more in the mainstream (Genesis, Yes, pick your example), but how many times have we seen a mainstream band, as...  (1998) » Read more

Cobra High - Sunset in the Eye of the Hurricane – I have learned to be wary when the mainstream press describes an artist as “progressive” – you never know what they really mean, since the vast majority of progressive music is...  (2003) » Read more

Standarte - Standarte – This new Italian band has a sound that hails unmistakably from the early 70s heavy progressive scene. Though no guitar is credited in the notes, this is classic guitar and keyboard driven, mostly riff...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues