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Tracklist: 1. Sighs of the Water 2. From the Deep 3. Pain In the Bubble 4. Keep a Memory Green 5. Cry For the Moon 6. Aqua Dream 7. Spring Tide All music by Toshio Egawa. All lyrics (on tracks 2, 4, & 5 only) by Numero Ueno. Line-up: Toshio Egawa - keyboards Atsushi Hasegawa - bass Masuhiro Goto - drums & percussion; + lead & back vocals (2, 4, & 5) Guest musicians: Jean Nakaji - lead & backing vocals (on 4 & 5) Mika Nakajima - backing vocals (on 4) Produced by Numero Ueno, Toshio Egawa, & Bernard Gueffier. Recorded & mixed by Manabu Kokada at "Studio Triade", Japan.
Prologue. Gerard was formed in 1983. Unlike most of the other veterans, this Japanese band still continues developing their compositional and performing skills. Furthermore, since 1996, Gerard's progress is especially evident, and the band's previous album, "Ruins of a Glass Fortress" (2000), was, IMHO, their best album - at least in the last millennium. To read the review of it, click here.
The Album. Above all, the new Gerard album "Sighs of the Water" shows that Toshio Egawa's inspiration to compose the music that would be both intricate and interesting seems to be really inexhaustible. Three out of the seven tracks on the album, From the Deep, Keep a Memory Green, and Cry For the Moon (tracks 2, 4, & 5), are the songs, though there are just a few of the vocal parts on the first two of them. Both of these songs, From the Deep and Keep a Memory Garden, and all the other tracks on the album, all of which are, of course, instrumental pieces, were composed within the framework of a unified stylistics, which is typical for the late creation of Gerard. Certainly, it represents nothing else but a real, intensive and hard-edged, Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. There are many of the different moods, such as tense and dramatic, calm and light, etc, changing each other almost kaleidoscopically on all the tracks on the album, except Cry For the Moon (5). The instrumental palette of this song almost completely consists of tense and dramatic colors, while the lead vocals are slightly distorted and are of a sinister rather than dramatic character. Unlike those tracks on the album where the riffs of bass guitar sound like those of electric guitar only episodically, on Cry For the Moon they are heavy and aggressive throughout it. The fast and virtuosi synthesizer solo of a certainly Eastern 'origin' is a hallmark of one of the six different instrumental parts that are present on this song. However, especially impressive are here those arrangements where the harsh riffs of fretted bass and the low-tone moves of two synthesizers sound in unison and in fourth (or fifth), while the fast organ solo, along with an incredibly diverse and complex drumming, cross them like the unimaginably complex parabolas. (By the way, I have never heard such musical acrobatics from Japan's another well-know keyboard trio, Ars Nova.) In fact, seemingly atonal interplay between a few of the soloing instruments, as well as the unexpected changes of tone, tempo, and mood that happen almost exclusively with the use of complex time signatures, are quite typical for this album as a whole. The bass guitar sounds very diverse throughout the album, though, of course, modern synthesizers, like those on Sighs of the Water (1), are incredibly rich in various sounds, most of which are quite realistic. (By the way, Toshio Egawa uses exclusively "Korg" synthesizers). Apart from a wide variety of the 'traditional' solos and passages of synthesizers, the solos that are not unlike those of Hammond organ play also one of the prominent roles on this album. However, the musical palette of it as a whole is wonderfully rich in sounds of various instruments. For instance, the guitar-like fluid solo is clearly heard on From the Deep (2). The diverse, masterful, and very realistic (what is central, though) solos and passages of synthetic violin sound on the album's title track and Cry For the Moon (1 & 5), though the latter song is also marked with the excellent flute-like solo. The electric piano passages that sound not unlike those of an acoustic piano are present on Keep a Memory Green and Aqua Dream (4 & 6). The magic sounds of Church Organ and clavier are parts of the arrangements on the same Keep a Memory Garden, though the parts of synth-clavier are featured also on Sighs of the Water. Finally, a virtual string ensemble that plays throughout Aqua Dream is simply amazing. Apart from the aforementioned Cry For the Moon, Pain In the Buble (3) is another composition that is also rich in the heavy guitar-like riffs of bass.
Summary. The Classic Symphonic Art-Rock that the band presented on both of their latest albums, both of which are real masterpieces of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, is distinctly original. The early creation of ELP is only the object of inspiration for the only mastermind behind Gerard, the keyboard player Toshio Egawa. None of his solos and passages will remind you of those by Keith Emerson, while technically, Toshio is on par with that legendary maestro. Masuhiro Goto also uses his own method of drumming, which is notably different from that of Carl Palmer. As for Atsushi Hasegawa, it would be especially pointless to compare his harsh and, often, distorted bass solos with those by Greg Lake. At least presently, Gerard just cannot be compared to ELP and any of the other bands as well. Nevertheless, in spite of everything, one can compare Gerard to ELP anyway; simply because they are a keyboard trio as well. Today however, this band, IMHO, is the best keyboard trio on the Symphonic Prog scene, so the connoisseurs of the genre, including those of ELP, should get "Sighs of the Water" at any cost (at least on a cassette).
VM. September 18, 2002
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