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TRACK LIST: 1. Dharani 4:01 2. A Voice in Blue 5:56 3. Forest Fairies 4:48 4. Sunset 3:41 5. Eternity 3:29 6. Land of Spirits 5:58 7. Rerakamuy 5:15 8. Into Existence 3:39 9. To the Memory of a Person 4:15 10. Sensitive Air 4:23 11. Gleam 6:22 12. Spiral Dream 6:02 All music & lyrics: by Uemura, except 7: lyrics by Naritomi. LINE-UP: Masahiro Uemura - guitars; keyboards Karo Uemura - drums & percussion Yan - basses With: Miori Naritomi - vocals (on 2, 7, & 12) Produced by Kalo. Engineered by M Uemura. Executive producer: H. Masuda (Poseidon Records)
Prolusion. So as the prolusion to this review is to consist of at least a couple of sentences, I had to write the first one, which, as you see, has been done rather successfully:-). "Spiral Dream" is the first outing by the Japanese band KALO.
Synopsis. Although most of the titles in the track list of "Spiral Dream" are in English, this language was never used on the album. (It would've been more prudent to present all the track titles being translated into English, though.) There are generally little vocals, which, above all, is due to the fact that nine of the twelve tracks here are instrumental compositions. Well, songs are with Japanese lyrics, of course. The main mastermind behind the band, Masahiro Uemura, ably manages both guitars and keyboards. But since the latter are the prominent soloing instruments on the album, which is just according to its compositional conception, Masahiro has probably decided to make the first track, Dharani, the benefit performance of him as a guitarist. The music is mostly intensive and high-speed and is Symphonic Art-Rock where, yet, an electric guitar plays the first violin throughout, while the parts of keyboards (Mellotron) are always supportive. The following track, A Voice in a Blue, is a song and is somewhat of a keyboard counterpoint to its predecessor, as all the principal soloing parts here are done by synthesizer, harpsichord, a string ensemble, piano and Mellotron. Here we have Symphonic Art-Rock with rather massive orchestral arrangements related to classical music, and this is what each of the following eight compositions has in its basis and is especially notable for as well. In short, classical music as such and the like musical structures are widespread on the album and, thus, they form its predominant stylistics. Classical music in almost a pure form is presented on Forest Fairies, Eternity, Land of Spirits, and To the Memory of a Person (3, 5, 6, & 9), and being performed by dints of Symphonic Progressive on Sunset, Rerakamuy, Into Existence, and Sensitive Air (4, 7, 8, & 10), the second of which is the only song among these. The first four consist almost exclusively of various orchestral arrangements, while Rock instruments aren't 'welcome guests' there and can be heard rarely. Consequently, for the other four are typical mixed textures. The arsenal of keyboards and that of the sounds of chamber instruments used on most, if not all, of the album's centerpieces is very solid and, apart from those of piano, Mellotron, harpsichord and harp, includes a fantastically realistic sounding 'violin ensemble'. The arrangements are full of dramatics with low, deep and somewhat sad passages of violoncello being very often at the helm along with those of piano and the piano (quiet) pizzicatos of viola. It's a very warm, soulful and, what's probably most important, original music. The last two tracks: the instrumental Gleam and the song Spiral Dreams (11 & 12) could have been kept to be used in the beginning of the band's sophomore output. Well, it's a joke, and the songs are on the right place here, on this album. The point is that these are much in the same direction as the two opening numbers and, being balanced well in every respect, are better than them.
Conclusion. Kalo's "Spiral Dream" is far more than a merely promising debut, as the band was able to show their distinctly original vision of Prog, as well as the maturity in composition and musicianship, straight from the beginning of their activity. Yes, all of this is rather typical for the Japanese Progressive in general, but it's not the case to detract the beginners from the Land of the Rising Sun from the merit they're worthy of.
VM: April 28, 2004
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