Exposé Online banner

Marge Litch — Crystal Heart in the Fountain
(Made in Japan MJC 1010/11, 1995, 2CD)

Marge Litch — The Ring of Truth
(Made in Japan MCD-2924, 1992, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1995-11-01

Crystal Heart in the Fountain Cover artThe Ring of Truth Cover art

A Japanese symphonic band that has been active since the mid-80s, Marge Litch released their first CD, Fantasien, in 1991 after a long string of cassette-only releases. The Ring of Truth and Crystal Heart in the Fountain represent their second and third releases, respectively. The most prominent feature of their sound is powerful female vocalist Junko Nakagawa, who sometimes recalls Megumi Tokuhisa in her pre-Teru's Symphonia days with the group Magdalena, perhaps with a bit more vibrato. Yet Junko is often featured overdubbed, harmonizing with herself and even in unison, creating a massive wall of vocals, in itself a force to contend with; it's a very typically Japanese sound that for many is an acquired taste. She is backed by a four piece of drums, bass, keys, and guitar, and while much of Ring hovers in the same neo-prog territory occupied by mid-period Teru's – the bonehead drumming, the digi-keys, the protracted anthems – there are plenty of points where they do break out into some very fresh and original facets – enough to make the album worth checking out. Most notable among these is the twelve-minute "Witch of Ice." Overall, the production quality seems a little underpowered, the sound concentrated in the mid-ranges, while it tends to be a bit compressed in the louder passages.

By contrast, the three years that elapsed before Crystal Heart resulted in a major step forward for the band on all fronts: composition, originality, musicianship, and overall sound quality – a textbook example of how much a band can improve. The new sound is a bit more hard-edged, with more attention given to arrangements, the new keyboardist being a major contributor to that aspect, while the drumming has improved vastly as well. The new album is spread out over two discs, even though the total playing time is barely 71 minutes – my guess is that the two-CD version is a limited edition that may be combined to one disc in the future. The first disc contains only the twenty-one minute "Suite: Crystal Heart in the Fountain," a three part symphonic rock epic that will both impress and prepare the listener for the balance of the material on disc two, six tracks in the seven-to-ten minute range that go even further to establish them as one of the best symphonic bands in Japan today. In short: Marge Litch has arrived.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 8, 1995 releases, 1992 releases

Related artist(s): Marge Litch

Latest news

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

2018-02-26
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Camel - Never Let Go – The subtitle of this live album from one of the original progressive rock bands is "official Camel bootleg." The term bootleg can conjure up some sore memories, mainly of a sound quality...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues