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(42 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Warning 4:00 2. Only the Light 5:10 3. Infinity 7:35 4. Caravan on the Moon 11:14 5. Blue World 14:09 All music: by Egawa. All lyrics: by Brunory. Produced by N Ueno. LINEUP: Toshio Egawa - keyboards Atsui Hasegawa - basses Masuhiro Goto - drums With: Alex Brunori - vocals
Prolusion. GERARD is one of the most well known progressive bands hailing from Japan. Their history is dated from 1983, and their discography comprises an output of ten official releases. Here they are: "Gerard" (1984), "Empty Lie Empty Dream" (1985), "Irony of Fate" (1990), "The Pendulum" (1996), "Pandora's Box" (1997), "Meridian" (1998), "Live" (1999), "The Ruins of a Glass Fortress" (2000), "Sighs of the Water" (2002) and "Power of Infinity" (2004), which is an object for exploration in this review.
Analysis. I am acquainted with most of Gerard's albums. After hearing this one, my overall opinion on their creation didn't change much. They were in their best form at the boundary of the new millennium, and the album they released then, "The Ruins of a Glass Fortress", is their best effort to date, in my view. Just as its predecessor, "Sighs of the Water", the group's latest album displays that although conservative, Gerard is creatively a stable band. Nevertheless, the signs of some tiredness are becoming apparent already in places. Basically a trio, the band is accustomed to making use of the service of guest vocalists. None of them was an Englishman, and all were laden with accented English. This time out these duties are taken by Alex Brunori, an Italian singer, from Leviathan. I don't know whether it happened accidentally or not, but nearly all of the vocal-based arrangements on the album are pretty straightforward, resembling something average between Asia in the mid-eighties and ELP in the nineties, partly due to Alex's singing, which is a cross between John Wetton and Greg Lake. Quite the contrary, everything wends off swimmingly when the trio starts on its free instrumental flight. The songs with wider lyrical assortment, Infinity and Only the Light, are especially eloquent in this respect, combining classic approach with main stream influences. Thankfully, two tracks: Warning and Caravan on the Moon are instrumental compositions, the latter being 11+ minutes in length, and one of the three songs, another epic Blue World, is largely instrumental. The former is filled up with the relatively enormous number of different themes and is the one with speedy, avalanche-like arrangements throughout. It's uncertain by what winds an earthly caravan could've been carried to the moon, but emulated violins and sitar at times give a certain oriental piquancy to the music on the implied track. It is also overwhelmed by the waves of complex meter changes, keyboard runs and lavish arrangements. The last track is vintage Gerard at their best, with really dazzling Hammond work by Egawa. Each of the three is better than probably anything Emerson, Lake, and Palmer created since their "Works Vol. 1" album.
Conclusion. Despite some flaws, "Power of Infinity" is a strong album. I can bravely recommend it to any fan, and not only. If you are into classic symphonic Art-Rock performed by dints of a classic keyboard trio, this is apt to be one of the most important bargains of the year.
VM: April 19, 2005
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