Exposé Online banner

Various Artists — Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome
(Belle Antique 9464, 1994, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:

Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome Cover art

The Japanese symphonic rock scene didn't really pick up steam until the mid-80s, at least as far as record releases were concerned. Numerous bands existed prior to that time but were generally ignored by the Japanese labels, many releasing only demo tapes or flexi-discs. A few of the uncompromising outfits (like Shingetsu, for example) were picked up by majors, but quickly dropped when their albums didn't sell well, while others, like Novela, had to moderate their albums with more commercially viable material. The CD release Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome on Belle Antique attempts to document the studio recordings of four of Tokyo's most uncompromising bands who never made it to a proper album release. The Made In Japan session band is first up, a four-piece featuring members of Outer Limits and two other bands in a special studio side-project from 1981, and the only track on this compilation featuring vocals. Next up is Time Unit, featuring Takeshi Naganuma who would later go on to Lacrymosa and Golden Avant Garde; their contribution, the heavily Crimson influenced "The Clap" was originally released on a flexi in 1982. Aquapolis offers their "Aquapolis Suite," a sixteen-minute epic from mid-1981 that has never seen release in any form until now. Likewise with Green, offering the collection's shortest track at six minutes, "Miyako" exhibits a high degree of originality, fusing intense ELP like keyboards with an almost-Magma-esque rhythm section. Since most of the material here was taken from old tapes or flexis, the sound quality tends to be a little substandard, but is more than made up for by the inspired performances.


by Mike McLatchey, 1994-10-01:

Japanese progressive compilations are always an interesting listen, and this one's no exception — a collection of groups that never made an album but performed live in Tokyo in what sounds like the early 80s. The Made in Japan Session band is up first, with their "Babylonia," a lush and rich symphonic track that immediately moves into high gear with a brilliant Kit Watkins like keys solo. Moving through upbeat and mellow phases, this is a great way to start off this collection — dynamic emotional, and compelling. Time Unit's track "The Clap" starts out with a Crimson like feel — similar in style to bands like Bi Kyo Ran, Arachnoid, or Shylock, with picked angular chords over a solid rhythm base. This long track shows Crimson influence in various ways, especially in the Larks' Tongues era, and moves in various phases from driving Ain Soph like jams to mellow atmospheric parts. This one grows on you over listens. Aquapolis' self titled suite is the compilation's gem, although unfortunately the sound quality gets a bit hissy throughout it. While it almost sounds like it was pieced together posthumously, the 15 minutes works well as a suite. This is a very picturesque track, one of the most lush and vivid I have heard. The bubbling, twittering intro is very effective, giving a very good underwater impression. The music moves from spacey to upbeat back to Vangelis like melodic synth over its course, and it works great. I'd like to hear more by this group. Green's "Miyako" is possibly a distillation of the previous three into five or six minutes, a dense web of progressive with a decidedly Italian flavor to it similar to Kenso — complex, innovative, and surprising.

Filed under: New releases , Issue 5 , 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Various Artists

More info

Latest news

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tsunami - Anthem of the Great Wave – Tsunami are a Dutch five piece of guitar, keys, bass and drums and a very obnoxious lead vocalist who doubles on guitar. This guy is your typical quasi-emotional overbearing neo-clone nasal-whining...  (1994) » Read more

Martin Archer - In Stereo Gravity – This sprawling two-disc set of experimental musical vignettes is as interesting as it is difficult to describe, but as always, this writer will do his best to communicate its essence in words. The...  (2010) » Read more

John Lees' Barclay James Harvest - Legacy Live at the Shelpherd's Bush Empire 2006 – The 2006 resurrection of Woolly Wolstenholme’s Maestoso gestated into a full on BJH reunion tour once guitarist John Lees got on board the rock and roll bandwagon. Picking a representative set list...  (2008) » Read more

Bass Communion - Pacific Codex – Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree has his hands in any number of diverse musical projects. One of them, Bass Communion, is his ambient drone explorations with Theo Travis. Bass Communion has been...  (2008) » Read more

Marissa Nadler - Ballads of Living and Dying & The Saga of Mayflower May – The voice is crystalline and exhilaratingly haunting, a crisp and refreshing elixir. Her muse is resolute, hewn from emotion, fashioned from a steadfast rock that never falters. Melancholy is a...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues