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
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.
Related artist(s): Marge Litch
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
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
Hawkwind - It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous – The latest incarnation of Hawkwind comprises Dave Brock, Alan Davey, and Richard Chadwick. It Is the Business... takes all but the most open-minded Hawkfan by surprise for one reason: It's so... (1994) » Read more