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(25 min, Musea & Poseidon)
TRACK LIST: 1. Adolescencia 4:26 2. Global Network 5:08 3. Distance 5:23 4. Bird Eyes View 4:54 5. Ryu-Hyu 5:03 All tracks: by Ohyama. Produced by Acoustic Asturias. LINEUP: Yoh Ohyama - classical guitar Yoshihiro Kawagoe - acoustic piano Kaori Tsutsui - clarinet & recorder Misa Kitatsuji - violin With: Kanako Ito - vocalization (4)
Prolusion. "Bird Eyes View", subtitled as "Acoustic Asturias", is the third album by Japanese outfit ASTURIAS, marking their return to the ranks after a 15-year hiatus. Both of the band's previous albums were released in the second half of the '80s: "Circle in the Forest" (1988) and "Brilliant Streams" (1990). Unfortunately, I could not access the band's website to learn more details of their history.
Analysis. According to the CD press kit, Asturias previously played symphonic Art-Rock in the vein of Camel and Mike Oldfield, while their new works recall the most melodious pieces by Eric Satie. I am not able to debate about the band's past creation, but the latter comparison doesn't seem to be fully corresponding to the actual state of affairs. Well, the music isn't extremely intricate, and the melody is the essential component of it indeed, but I don't find any minimalist manifestations here. Being a small chamber ensemble in its current appearance, Asturias followed the traditions of Romanticism in European Academic Classical music when they worked on this material, and I am almost certain they played it from scores. Each of the musicians equally contributed to the album, though it can be traced without difficulty that most of the soloing patterns are built around the acoustic guitar. About Adolescencia and Distance: Each is a set of up-tempo and intensive, yet, almost totally affirmative movements with a Mozartian approach to combine complicated textures with bright melodies, which rarely gives way to more quiet material. The arrangements are ever changing, with the violin often playing a primary soloing role. The opening themes of Global Network and Ryu-Hyu are a more brooding melody, first played by the guitar with a wonderful accompaniment on the piano and the clarinet, respectively. When the other two instruments joined, the music turned to the traditional, faster and more adventurous, realm, performed with what I would call a feathery tightness. With some variations, that trick at times returns on these, and also appears in the middle of the title track. The spicy condiment, lacking across some sections of this composition, is countervailed by the fascinating textures of the quartet and by the sensitivity of the violin, whose selective use of vibrato is especially striking and effective here. Thanks to the careful performance, the material allows every single detail through - an approach, which has obvious benefits in music as multi-layered as this. All in all, this is flawless material, to say the least. I only regret the shortness of the CD, 25 minutes in length.
Conclusion. "Bird Eyes View" by Asturias is a masterwork, and I would have added an exclamation mark to the rating had the CD been at least seven or eight minutes longer. Highly recommended, above all to the lovers of Classical Academic music performed by dints of a chamber quartet.
VM: May 8, 2005
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