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Bellaphon (Japan) - 1987 - "Firefly"
(55 min, "Made in Japan")


1.  Jade
2.  Le petit prince
3.  Mistral
4.  Belle du jour
5.  Vent du midi
6.  Evros
7.  Firefly
8.  Labyrinth

Mitsutaka Kaki    - keyboards
Toshihiro Tanaka  - guitars, bass
Masahiro Torigaki - bass
Taiqui Tomiie     - drums

Recorded at MU studio, Kyoto, January 1987.

This is the debut album by Bellaphon. Up to now it still remains the band's only album, though Bellaphon-2 will be officially released in the beginning of the year zero.

1. Jade. Opens in a typical Art (Symphonic) Rock key with some beautiful passages by keyboards. The next few minutes are crammed with masterly guitar solos. Then the music gets more rhythmical with a powerful drumming, light bass lines, and not complex, gentle playing of synthesizer. This theme continues in quite a slow tempo with a prominent role by synthesizers. Guitar's sound, unlike all the other instruments, is exceptionally original, diverse and virtuostic.

2. Le petit prince. Begins with some nice melodies from synthesizer, though later the vibraphone adds here a bit more adventurous sound. This short piece doesn't contain a really interesting material.

3. Mistral. Beginning with excellent keyboard passages and solos, it turns to a more adventurous, polyphonic sound, created by different modern instruments. Very original guitar solos sound together with virtuostic solos by synthesizer. It's a rhythmical and very heavy composition, full of interesting guitar, bass and keyboard solos and above all outstanding drumming. The last theme has in it a few excellent interplays between keyboards and guitars.

4. Belle du jour is a short, almost fully keyboards (electric piano) based piece. Some pseudo-piano passages are fine here, though, as a whole, this composition couldn't be really described as a traditional work of the Classic Symphonic Art Rock Genre.

5. Vent du midi. Begins with originally sounding guitar, heavy fuzz-bass riffs, and excellent drumming. Then the synthesizer puts forth diverse solos, some of which sometimes sound great. The next episode is full of more or less smooth drumming, the background on which we hear adventurous solos and interplays between guitar and synthesizer. Later enters an excellent guitar passage, followed at first by originally sounding electric guitar then keyboards and some excellent interplays between two electric guitars, recorded with some good overdubs. Electric guitar solos come to the forefont accompanied only by a quiet rhythm-section. The majority of electric guitar solos are incredibly original and virtuostic. The composition ends with several virtuostic solos by varied keyboards and guitars.

6. Evros. Opens with a few fine interplays between soft sybthesizer solos, but the next theme is very powerfull, full of varied arrangements from the soloing instruments (guitar and keyboards). Drumming and a strong work by bass is supported by a really heavy guitar riffing, plus some good passages from originally sounding synthesizer. In the next move dominates the electric guitar by means of varied, always enjoyable solos. Then in the accompaniment of synthesizer the rhythm-section begins its special work, with electric guitar and synthsizer always near the basic theme. Later we hear a number of moderately complex, tasteful solos by keyboards and a busy, complex electric guitar. All the guitar solos are incredibly fast and original. Nearer to the end the piece sounds loaded with heavy guitar riffing and finishes with the synthesizer.

7. Firefly begins with a quiet slow theme until two minutes an outstanding soloing by originally sounding synthesizer mixed with simply incredible fast guitar solos and heavy guitar riffs take this intro into a speedier realm with truly incredible solos from synthesizer and some excellent (really!) interplays by the soloing bass and drums. This is, on the whole, a quiet, gentle, slow composition with some nice, not complex solos from the keyboardist, whereas the guitarist shows his amazing technical mastery coupled with originality. BTW, all the guitar solos on that album sound always a little longer than the solos and interplays from the keyboards. Composition completes with very accessible short synthsizer solos.

8. Labyrinth. A bonus track for this CD, an instrumental piece, which was composed several years before the recording sessions of "Firefly". Being an earlier track of the band, it sounds way more adventurously and originally (with some great electric guitar solos) than any piece on the "Firefly". The middle of the song contains good mid-tempo drumming, busy work of bass guitar, several quite accessible melodic solos from the synthsizer. Labyrinth develops then a high heavy guitar theme in a Prog Metal key.

Summary. Very interesting album, though the level of complexity doesn't stand up to such their countrymen as Mongol, Kenso, Il Berlione, The Outer Limits, Ars Nova. Keyboards solos and arrangements are very nice, but not as virtuostic as guitar work. Anyway, this is a very good album, much better than the majority of contemporary Japanese Neo Prog bands. content

VM. January 15, 2000


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