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Cherno (Japan) - 2003 - "Slight Trick All Around"
(65 min, Poseidon)


1.  Oil 3:54
2.  Alternative Be-Bop 5:12
3.  13th Step to Hell 3:40
4.  Deus ex Machina 7:34
5.  Day & Night 5:00
6.  Object F 4:26
7.  Scarlet Panther 4:23
8.  Are You OK 5:13
9.  Bloody Mary 6:54
10. Dancing Stone 5:45
11. SQARP 7:17
12. Dancing Magma 8:00

All tracks: by Kishimoto, except
4, 9, & 10: Sugawara, & 11: Sugawara & Kishimoto.


Kishimoto Junichi - guitar, guitar-synth; programming
Sugawara Shin - alto sax; wind synthesizer

Prolusion. "Slight Trick All Around" is the third album by CHERNO and is my first acquaintance with the creation of this Japanese outfit. Their previous albums are: "Trigonometric Reactor" (1997) and "Missing Illusion" (2000).

Synopsis. Like in the case of most, if not all, artists from the Poseidon Records family, the members of Cherno are the adherents of genuinely original and highly intricate music forms. I am acquainted with the works of a few bands experimented with blending RIO and Metal, but none of them were as brave in their approach to work with these (so different!) genres as Cherno. So I can also be brave enough to say that a confluence of Rock-In-Opposition and Metal presented on "Slight Trick All Around" is really something special, and you've never heard anything like this. In fact however, I think here we have a new progressive sub-genre RIO-Metal rather than a blend of Prog-Metal and RIO or vice versa, and the stylistics of ten out of the twelve compositions on the album should IMHO be defined exactly so. The music is for the most part both highly eclectic and intensive with really heavy, yet, always incredibly diverse and inventive riffs of electric guitar being mostly in constantly developing interplay with shrill and, often, wild, yet, always fantastically virtuosi solos of saxophone and the overdubbed parts (or sounds, if you will) of a few of the other, credited and un-credited, instruments. The tenseness of musical events, a positive hypnotism, and amazing tempo contrasts are typical for all of the compositions done within the framework of the album's predominant stylistics. The exceptions are Alternative Be-Bop and Object F (2 & 6). The first of them is also notable for highly intensive and complex arrangements, though unlike the other tracks, it consists almost exclusively of improvisations and represents a jazzy RIO with very few heavy elements. Another is about a classic RIO with distinct symphonic tendencies and is the only piece on the album, which is more or less quiet in its entirety. Perhaps it has been placed straight in the middle of the album so that the listener to have some rest before being absorbed in the further musical events that are even more eventful than those on the previous tracks.

Conclusion. Well, Cherno is a duo and they use a drum machine instead of a real, acoustic or electric, drum set, which might incline some of you to be skeptical about the sound of the album. As for me, I don't attach much importance to such things when music is as brilliant and attractive as that on "Slight Trick All Around", especially since all the parts of drums here are thoroughly programmed and sound excellent. In any case, I believe the album will please most of the connoisseurs of RIO, and especially the most adventurous of them and the likes from a Prog-Metal camp. (I can't call the most open-minded music lovers "freaks".) Of course, all the necessary changes in >Top-20 albums of 2003 are already made.

VM: January 1, 2004

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