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TRACK LIST: 1. Introduction 6:01 2. Escape 8:17 3. Mother Earth 2:27 4. Metamorphosis 6:17 5. Humanoid's Breakfast 3:12 6. Against the Meteors 3:27 7. Trust to the Future 15:21 All music: by Kumagai. All lyrics: by N. Ueno, Kumagai, & R. Allen. LINE-UP: Keiko Kumagai - keyboards Akiko Takahashi - drums Mika - vocals & backing vocals With special guests: Atsushi Hasegawa (Gerard) - bass Masuhiro Goto (Gerard) - percussion; guitars Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) - electric guitar Lucio Fabbri (PFM) - acoustic violin Gianni Leone (Balletto Di Bronzo) - vocals; keyboards Alex Brunori (Leviathan) - vocals &: A few more session musicians Produced by Ars Nova. Engineered by M. Kokado at "Triade", Tokio.
Prolusion. "Biogenesis Project" is Ars Nova's sixth studio output and their first album, which features a lot of guest musicians, whose names might be well known to most Prog-lovers (see lineup above). In the very beginning of my activity as Progressor:-), I have reviewed their then-new album >"The Book of the Dead", though generally, I heard most of their albums. Ars Nova is the band that I really want to like and not only because this is the only female progressive ensemble.
Synopsis. The music is still rather strongly influenced by classic ELP, but less than their previous albums, which, at least partly, is due to the presence of pronounced guitar parts, as well as different singers. Some comparisons with their countrymen Gerard, especially with the band's late creation, are also appropriate. Only three of the seven tracks here contain vocals (with lyrics in English, of course). These are Escape, Mother Earth, and the 15-minute Trust to the Future (2, 3, & 7), each presenting another lead vocalist: Brunori, Mika, and Leone respectively. Another notable change about this album concerns the participation of Arjen Lucassen, who adds a really dynamic guitar presence within the band's traditional sound on most tracks, and also a violinist, who shines on Escape and Trust in the Future. Some tracks are with narration, all done with a heavy accent, as well as some principal vocal lines, though. They would have better used lyrics in Japanese and Italian. But well, why should I judge them or call into question their sincere desire to sing in the universal language. Especially since the music is excellent throughout. The purely instrumental arrangements predominate almost everywhere on the album, including both of the longer songs (2 & 7), and are either dramatically heroic in character with some 'necessary' in such cases anthem-like themes or have a clear, genuinely dramatic feel to them. The music is a classically influenced Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal (on Introduction, Escape, Metamorphosis, and Trust in the Future: 1, 2, 4, & 7) and without them. Mother Earth is the only track here, which consists exclusively of soft, purely symphonic arrangements with solos of acoustic guitar and passages of piano at the helm. Humanoid's Breakfast and Against the Meteors (6) are rather intensive in their entirety, while for each of the longer compositions is typical the alternation of dense and mild structures. Most of the songs contain episodes, the contents of which are related to Classical Music. The main soloing instruments are still various keyboards, masterfully handled by Keiko Kumagai: organ, piano, and synthesizers, including a string ensemble, and, sometimes, Mellotron.
Conclusion. Although I haven't heard "Android Domina" (2001), I've read the reviews of it, so I am inclined to think that "Biogenesis Project" is one of the two best albums by Ars Nova (along with "Transi"). Highly recommended to the fans and newcomers alike. These Japanese women are experts in Symphonic Progressive.
VM: March 15, 2004
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