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Ringing Ring - 2007 - "Ancient Stones"

(60:52 / Poseidon & Musea Records)

TRACK LIST:                   
1.  Pavane 1:46
2.  Gaillarde 2:03
3.  The Lark in the Clear 2:01
4.  Welcome Home 3:36
5.  Never Weather 2:13
6.  Canarie 2:12
7.  La Reveuse 6:29
8.  Two William Davises 1:32
9.  Coh Que la Lavare 1:31
10. L'Arabesque 4:40
11. The Butterfly 1:57
12. Delitae Musicae 1:15
13. Suite r-Moll 13:56
14. Allemande 2:33
15. What Child is This 3:18
16. Mille Regrets 1:31
17. Divisions 6:56
18. Jouissance 2:57
19. Les Bouffons 2:44


Yasuo Asakira - ac. guitar, lutes, theorbe; percussion
Yuri Yamamoto - recorders, crumhorn
Nozomi Yamamoto - vocals
Kenji Imai - recorder
Ichiko Tubota - viola da gamba
Mari Yasui - Irish whistle, flute
Mari Tanaka - Irish harp; bodhran 

Prolusion. The press kit is quite sparing in information concerning the history of RINGING RING, just saying this is a contemporary Japanese ensemble and that their "Ancient Stones" album was completed in February 2007. So this is most likely their debut release.

Analysis. With the exception of Delitae Musicae (penned by Jan Akkerman of Focus and solo fame) and two traditional Irish tunes, this recording consists of covers of the pieces by various Renaissance and Baroque music composers, of whose names only one is familiar to me, John Dowland. As is clear from the lineup above, no other instruments have been used apart from those necessary, well, in this particular field, though I didn't mention there that Yasuo Asakira plays exclusively Baroque and Renaissance lutes. Most of the 19 tracks on this CD are enjoyable, but most of all I am pleased with Never Weather, What Child is This, Mille Regrets and Jouissance. Only on these four is featured Nozomi Yamamoto, who is a wonderful operatic vocalist, and since her singing in all cases unfolds to the accompaniment of acoustic guitar, each reminds me in some ways of that only tune from Steve Hackett's "Voyage of the Acolyte" with Sally Oldfield behind the microphone. I understand this album is just a set of covers, but anyway I strongly regret the band didn't hit upon the idea to make variations on some of the compositions, taking into consideration Nozomi's talent in, say, transforming into gold everything she just touches. For instance Suite r-Moll, which is an acoustic guitar piece, would have certainly sounded much richer had Nazomi sung on it, at least in places. In my view, this piece isn't thematically diverse enough to be called a suite, sounding generally somewhat samey, in which is no surprise though, since the music is invariably slow throughout all the 14 minutes of its length. The other and, at the same time, the last track that doesn't impress too much would be Les Bouffons, concluding the recording. The only one number involving the guest musicians (see lineup above), this is a cover of a composed piece, and yet it sounds like a trivial Gael dance - curiously unlike the two traditional Irish tunes. Two more cuts with only acoustic guitar in the arrangement, Canarie and Coh Que la Lavare, both seem to be perfect as they are, appearing to be compact rather than short. Apart from recorders, Pavane, Gaillarde, Two William Davises, The Butterfly and Allemande all feature a few more ancient instruments, each bringing to mind a picture of a ball at the court of some medieval king, with a lot of the splendid pairs dancing to the music which is somewhat prudish, yet still both majestic and beautiful. Figuratively speaking, the acoustic guitar is back on the remaining six cuts, surprisingly intensifying their minstrel feeling. The Lark in the Clear, Welcome Home, Delitae Musicae and Divisions each find that instrument consorting with recorder and flute, while on both La Reveuse and L'Arabesque it dances in a ring with a viola da gamba. All these are strong compositions, particularly the latter two, both being the most complex pieces here. La Reveuse reminds me of Johannes Sebastian Bach in style.

Conclusion. Although almost all of the creations, that Ringing Ring have chosen for their virtual journey deep into the ages of the last millennium, are rather simple, the group appears to be competent players who additionally rather well reproduce the spirit of the epoch whose music serves as a source for their creative inspiration. If you are eager to dive into the atmosphere of the baroque, the acquiring of this CD is arguably the easiest way to realize your desire.

VM: July 3, 2007

Related Links:

Musea Records
Poseidon Records


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