Electric Asturias — Elementals
((Not on label) AS-0005, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-05-18The band that started out sounding more like Mike Oldfield than the man himself has, over the course of almost thirty years developed their own style that sounds nothing like where they began, thanks to bandleader, composer and bassist Yoh Ohyama, who has carefully guided this ensemble through its long journey, over a long hiatus, and back to life into the dual configuration (Acoustic Asturias / Electric Asturias) instrumental versions that coexist together, featuring slightly different membership. Like almost all Japanese progressive bands, there is a strong emphasis on perfection, with evident long months of rehearsing until every note and melody, every drum beat, and every shift in mood is in the right place for maximum dramatic effect. The group this time is the same as their 2011 album Fractals, rounded out by violinist Tei Sena and keyboardist Toshohiro Kawagoe (both of whom also play in the acoustic version of the band along with a woodwind player), drummer Kiyotaka Tanabe, and guitarist Satoshi Hirata. There is a lot of flashy playing here, but make no mistake, every piece is fully composed and meticulously arranged, right down to the solos. The album’s centerpiece is the four part 28-minute “Suite of Elemental” that closes out the album with a fiery flash of melody and majestic power, but the four long cuts leading up to it are each equally impressive in their own right. Most Exposé readers should be familiar with Asturias, and Elementals is as powerful and intense as any they have done previously, but for those who may not have heard the band before, this latest release is as good a place as any to start.
Related artist(s): Asturias
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more