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Group Therapy (Japan) - 2000 - "Digitalive"
(34 min, "GT")


1. Melatomania
2. Incidents in Damascus, Parts 1,2 & 3
3. Atlantis, Parts 1,2,3,4 & 5

All tracks - Kitada. All recorded digitally live at Space-R, Ashiya, Japan on April 8, 2000. Recorded and mixed by Mitsumoto Suzuki. Mastered by Naoyoshi Matsuyama. Produced by Hiroyuki Kitada.

Line-up: Hiroyuki Kitada - guitars, guitar-synthesizer; Hidetoshi Inoue - soprano sax; Keidoh Igarashi - trombone; Takashi Kawasaki - guitars; Yasunori Yoshida - bass; Atsushi Mukai - drums

The Album.

34 minutes of playing time are already corresponding to conception of the full-length (live) album, but surely, "Digitalive" is a kind of demo or pre-production material, as in reality Hiroyuki Kitada is planning to release the official second Group Therapy album sometime next year.

There are 2 new compositions of three in all on "Digitalive", and the old one is the titletrack of Group Therapy's previous work (please read the review Here). It is still clear, Atlantis was a central piece (in spite of originally this is the last track on the album), a real nucleus and undoubtedly the best track on the band's debut album. Need to say, some arrangements on its live performance are quite different from the same studio ones, and so on the whole, "Digitalive" has its own specific sound from the beginning to the end. Add here that none of the three pieces, presented on the album, sounds less than 10 minutes, but that's the main thing, each of these pieces has its own as if personal sound (ie structures), while their basic stylistics marvellouslly remains within the framework of already familiar very original view on Jazz-Fusion, created by the band called Group Therapy.

Melatomania was already composed a bit different way than any of "Atlantis" compositions, including Atlantis itself. The only thing - the development of improvisations, but not improvisations themselves - a bit reminds me of early Soft Machine, or to say more correctly, of their improvisational manner, which is very harmonius with basic themes, though, at the same time you can feel some avant-garde motives. Qualitatively I can compare this one to Atlantis - as you read above, this was the best composition (IMHO) by Group Therapy until now. So, we already have on "Digitalive" two best pieces ever created by this Japanese band.

But... hands up, all the lovers of Progressive Jazz-Fusion! Incidents in Damascus is such a thing, which can easily intrance you! Do you like long and complex compositions with a typical Eastern flavour? Then please recall at least such a famous song as Kasmir by Led Zeppelin still is. Incidents in Damascus, however, structurally and stylistically has nothing to do with the aforementioned one. First of all, Incidents consists of a purely Arabic flavour (not Indian!) - absolutely in compliance with its whole title, ie since these Incidents "have place" exactly in Damascus (of Syria). But please listen to me now (and I believe most of my readers believe me as (more or less, but) really objective reviewer - I hope so): Incident in Damascus, IMO, is the best "Eastern composition" ever created in the history of Rock music in general. Not only the lovers of Jazz-Fusion, but also "traditional" prog- heads will love it, as they find there all the "progressive things" they love - diverse themes, complex arrangements, time signatures, excellent interplays between both guitarists and saxophonist, wonderful solos, and after all, a unique Eastern flavour, especially in the first half of this exceptionally original / thematically really all-out piece.

To carry on the way of composing / arranging / performing of Incident in Damascus - with keeping that unforgettable Eastern flavour in each composition - what I'd recommend the bandleader and composer Hiroyuki-Sahn Kitada in the future - already in preparation the other new material for the second full-length studio GT album, which of course, must contain Incident in Damascus. But, anyway, watching the band's development, I can say already now - listen to this band: you will hear a lot about Group Therapy soon!

VM. August 16, 2000


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