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Il Berlione — Il Berlione
(Belle Antique 9229, 1992, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, 1996-03-01:

Il Berlione Cover art

It must have been 1991 or so when I received a tape from a friend of this group. Dutifully impressed to say the least, I couldn't believe that they had no CD releases yet. But finally, after a few private demo tapes, and an appearance on Lost Years in Labyrinth, Belle Antique had them record an entire album made up of new works, plus a few reworkings of pieces from their cassettes. What you get on Il Berlione is one of the most impressive-sounding albums from any Japanese band. Imagine an RIO-type approach, melded to a level of virtuosity found in fusion, and tempered to perfection by a sensitivity to progressive rock, and melodic structures. They manage to avoid any of the excesses of either RIO (noise) or jazz-fusion (soloing). This group really turned the tide around stylistically, and played an important role in shaping the course of Japanese prog in the 90s. I believe Il Berlione may have been influenced by Kenso's music. But they have given it a spicy twist, and on this album have an uncanny knack at sidestepping any particular genre. This is some of Japan's most unique music.

by Peter Thelen, 1993-10-01:

No, this is not another lost 70s Italian reissue, but instead a powerful new Japanese quintet featureing guitar, bass, saxes, keys, and drums. Their sound could best be described as a Canterbury / RIO influenced rock with a healthy dose of mid-period King Crimson. There are strong jazz elements, comparable to the Hopper / Dean period of Soft Machine, and the angularity and moodiness of Univers Zero. Guitarist Naoya Idonuma dominates many of the tracks with his ever finger-blistering leads, playing in a multitude of textures, reminding at times of Beck, Fripp, even Zappa and Santana, but the similarities are more event driven than any sort of conscious emulation, fitting a style to the moment. Hiroo Takano (saxes) generally works in close conjunction with Naoya, but does split off from time to time for some eloquent solos. More than anything else, it is his saxes and the restless rhythm section that connects their sound to the Canterbury / RIO style. Keyboardist Hirofumi Taniguchi maintains All taken, this is one excellent album, especially considering it's their first! Fans of Soft Machine, Crimson, National Health, and Henry Cow will most certainly enjoy this one.

Filed under: New releases , Issue 1 , 1992 releases

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