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Gerard (Japan) - 2000 - "The Ruins of a Glass Fortress"
(46 min, "Musea"/"Avalon")


*****+
Tracklist:
Labyrinth (Musea version)  4:38
The Edge of Darkness  10:30
Time Paradox  5:12
Awake (Musea version)  5:01
Fall Into a Doze  7:39
The Ruins of a Glass Fortress (part 1)  3:31
The Ruins of a Glass Fortress (part 2)  8:29

All compositions written by Toshio Egawa.
Lyrics by Shingo "Numero" Veno (tracks 3 & 7 only).
Arranged by Gerard. Produced by S. Veno & Gerard.

Recorded December 1999 to March 2000 at "Studio Triade", Tokyo.
Mixed during April 2000 at "ESP Music Academy", Japan.
Engineered and mixed by Manabu Tokage.

Line-up:
Toshio Egawa - keyboards
Atsushi Hasegawa - bass
Masuhiro Goto - drums & percussion

Special guest:
Jean-Luc "F. Nazaki" - vocals (on tracks 3 & 7)

Prologue. To date, I've only heard a few tracks by this well-known Japanese band on Musea compilations. If my memory doesn't fail me, these guys from the Land of the Rising Sun (which is so rich in Prog) played much harder on their previous albums. As I guess, this group had a guitarist then, as well as a female singer who used their native lyrics. In any case, this CD released by Musea in the end of 2000, is highly different from anything Ive heard from Gerard before.

The Album. The band's latest opus "The Ruins of a Glass Fortress" is practically a true conceptual album (as I said before, even those entirely instrumental albums whose music is composed the united (conceptual) stylistic way, being additionally (yet purposely) accompanied with corresponding texts reflecting the musical events in the album's booklet, are not truly conceptual, but just pseudo or semi-condceptual). Both songs here, - like two islands in an instrumental sea, - have common ground in idealistic outlook on fragility of the illusory physical world, and thus of all the Earthly hopes and emotions. It is difficult to call such lyrics philosophical since, first of all, they're too short here. Despite the skills and originality of the guest vocalist, there is a slight accent in his pronounciation which is obvious even to me, though English is not my native language. However, due to the vocal talents of the singer, prog-lovers should not be bothered by such minor defects. Foreign singers with strong accents are widely accepted now, not to mention that we are becoming more and more used to hearing the original languages from a lot of foreign bands. But to me, albums with songs which I don't understand rarely remain in my collection. For all Poles, Venezualans, Hungarians and many others, who join the international Progressive Rock scene, it is necessary, in my view, they won't forget about the average international listener, as only English is presently really an international language, and also this is an original language of Rock since the UK is the country of its origin.. In my reviews I frequently go off-topic and talk about things that aren't always related to music, but in the letters I get people support me in such a "thoughtful approach to reviewing the albums". So, I'll probably carry on writing in this manner with the same influence of spontanaeity on what I write about. But it's time to return to music on this album. Stylistically (only) Gerard are close to the early works of ELP, but I would never name Gerard as a kind of their derivatives. Although the fact that this trio is inspired by ELP and their early works is obvious, you won't find on "The Ruins of a Glass Fortress" any borrowing themes, episodes, solos, etc, at all - either from ELP or from any other bands I know, and I know plenty of them. But in terms of style, it is not breaking any new ground.

Summary. All in all, this album will be interesting only to 'experimental listeners', and I can see that will be above your typical 'neo-progger'. However, for such people in the latter group, who want to step above cheap imitations like GLD (I can't even recommend that these fools look for inspiration even in LSD, - God forgive me! - inspiration is beyond them), I recommend the best work of IQ (from 1983, 1985, 1993, 1997 & 2001), Saga's "Generation 13" from 1995, as well as most of the Marillion albums (except their Classic masterpiece "Brave" from 1994). After such preparations they may begin to understand more complex works like "The Ruins of A Glass House".

VM. June 11, 2000


Related Links:

Musea Records


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