Kenso — Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo
(King Records KICS-3080, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-12-13
For anyone who’s never heard anything by this Japanese (mostly) instrumental five-piece led by guitarist Yoshihisa Shimizu, it can be said that they carefully walk the line between symphonic prog and jazz-rock fusion, without being either, with some serious Canterbury influence and just enough Japanese melodic hints to let the listener know that’s where they are from. But come on, everyone’s heard or maybe even seen Kenso, at Progfest or NearFest or some-fest-somewhere, right? Even though their releases are less frequent than they used to be, anyone who has followed the band since their excellent 2002 album Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis will know what to expect, they are right along that trajectory they have set for themselves, channeling superb compositions through guitar-bass-drums and dual-keyboard arrangements, busy and complex with surprises around every turn, but you’ll always know it’s Kenso. Across the eight tracks presented here, there are numerous stand-outs and surprises, as well as many that fall in line with pieces the band has done before.
One surprise this time is the inclusion of female vocals on two cuts: on “Shinjuku Kousel Nenkin Ni Sora” (otherwise known as track 2), the voice of singer Miwako Handa is wordless, and becomes like a warm expressive instrument in the otherwise instrumental mix, but on the closing track “A Song of Hope” she sings some English lyrics, written by Shimizu, that takes the piece to a whole new level. The lyrics are included in the booklet, and it would be advisable to follow along the first few plays. For the most part, these don’t sound like the typical compositions of a guitarist, as the arrangements are elaborate and the guitar only occasionally takes a lead role, but the exception to that rule is “Kou Ten Bo Setsu,” one of the album’s standouts and generally a more classically oriented guitar based piece. There’s a crunchy rocker in “Noukou Minzoku ni Tsugu!” which is eventually smoothed out by the synth arrangements opposing a harder swirly organ sound, and here again the electric guitar plays a powerful role but leaves enough room for every other player to shine. Yeah, Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo is a Japanese import only, and you know what that means, but it’s worth every penny.
Related artist(s): Kenso
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more