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TRACK LIST: 1. Blivits 6:35 2. Waltz No-4 6:10 3. Gymnesia 3:40 4. Shuyojo 7:05 5. Epistrophy Variation 5:06 6. Habanerege 8:16 7. Johnson Blues 4:19 8. Konzert Opus-24 3:02 9. Bugmeat 4:21 10. Mineral Tasmania 11:30 All tracks: by Shimizu, except 5: by T. Monk / A. Webern & 8: by A. Webern. Produced by Shimizu. LINE-UP: Kazuto Shimizu - keyboards; clarinet Yuriko Mukoujima - violin; vocalizes Hitoshi Watanabe - basses Reichi - drums Hiroyasu Yaguchi - saxophones (1-6, 10) Osamu Matsumoto - trombone (1-6, 10) Tsuneo Imahori - electric guitar (1-6, 10) With: Masami Shinoda - saxophones (7-9) Tatsuo Kondo - keyboards (7-9)
Prolusion. Unfortunately, I don't possess any info on the creation of the Japanese band (rather, little orchestra) O-U, but the fact that this album is untitled may indicate that this is either O-U's debut or their only album in general (which would be a pity).
Synopsis. I have and always had a very respectful attitude towards Progressive 'exporting' from the Land of the Rising Sun, and there are too few of the weak Japanese Prog albums on my memory to have any doubts that the coefficient of efficiency concerned the quantity of releasing progressive music production is in this country is higher than anywhere in the world (OK, on Earth). O-U presents a highly original, complex, and polymorphous music full of eclectic and very intriguing arrangements with constantly developing interplay between the parts of all of the instruments listed above with piano, violin, and wind instruments being mostly at the helm of them. It's not that easy to describe the contents of this unique album, but I'll try as best as I can. Blivits, Gymnesia, Epistrophy Variation, and Mineral Tasmania (1, 3, 5, & 11) consist for the most part of intensive arrangements and are the representatives of the album's predominant stylistics, which is a complex conglomerate of RIO, Classical Music, Avant-garde, and Jazz and, perhaps, Avant-garde Academic Music and Jazz Classical Music, too. Filled with unusual, highly complex stop-to-play movements, eclecticism, and atonalities, as well as instantly comprehensible harmonies of symphonic textures, these four are my favorites on the album, though almost all of the other compositions I also regard as masterpieces. Quite a melodic (if it's possible) RIO based on classic symphonic and jazzy structures, amazingly intermixed with each other, is presented on Shuyojo and Johnson Blues (4 & 7). These two are on the whole quite comparable with Habanerege and Bugmeat (6 & 9), but the latter pieces contain the less number of Jazz-related stuff and are the only tracks on the album that feature female vocalizes. Waltz No-4 (2) is not a waltz - unless it's some unearthly waltz. Musically, it is as far from the waltz we know as earthly mankind from a complete morality. Consisting of slow and more or less harmonious, yet, highly eclectic interplay between passages of violin and solos of clarinet and saxophone (no other instruments here), it's somewhat of an Avant-garde RIO with elements of Classical Music. The contents of Konzert Opus-24 also don't correspond to the conception laid in the title of the track, and all the parts of the involved instruments (piano, violin, clarinet, bass, some drums) are chaotic rather than even chaotically eclectic. This pure Avant-garde is the least favorite track of mine on this brilliant album, and I don't see any contradictions in what I've said here.
Conclusion. "O-U" will be a dainty dish for all the profound and open-minded Prog-heads in general and all the omnivorous representatives of lovers of RIO, Jazz, Classical Music, and Avant-garde in particular. Thus, the number of people who will feel happy with this in many ways eternal music should be large, which, though, is very relative. Everything is very relative on a planet where, for most people, Prog is associated with the continuous tuning of musical instruments.
VM: October 23, 2003
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