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Round House (Japan) - Overall View


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Prolusion: Round House has existed from 1976 to 1979. Like UK and many other Progressive Rock outfits started at the time of decadence of the genre, they disbanded after having released only a couple of studio albums. Twenty years later (once again, like many other bands from the seventies), Round House has re-formed, but so far the band was able to release only one 'live' album consisting predominantly of their early compositions.

DISCOGRAPHY:

1978/2003 - "Jin-Zo-Ni-N-Gen"
1979/2003 - "Wings to Rest"
2001/2003 - "Live in Osaka"


Round House - 1978/2003 - "Jin-Zo-Ni-N-Gen"
(53 min, Music Term & Poseidon)

******
TRACK LIST:

1.  Jin-Zo-Ni-N-Gen 3:48
2.  Tour of the Deep Ocean 15:38
3.  The Last Judgement 3:41
4.  Out of Three-Dimension Space 7:11
5.  Suisha Goya No Asa 15:13
6.  Romantic Rally 8:19

All tracks: by Round House.

LINE-UP:

Masayuki Kato - guitar
Yosiaki Uemura - bass
Hiroshi Natori - drums
Kyoharu Someta - keyboards
Yoshinobu Fujii - guitar

Produced by Round House.
Recorded at "Yamaha" & "Time", Japan.

Synopsis: The beginning of "Jin-Zo-Ni-N-Gen" is very unexpected, and the album's title track (1) represents nothing else but a highly unique and intricate Prog-Metal with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. After listening to it I've thought: "Yet, another band that, like Black Sabbath and Rush, played at that time music, which is both very heavy and complicated". However, it turned out that the quantity of heavy elements in the music lessens with each of the following tracks down to their complete disappearance somewhere in the middle of the album. The first 15-minute epic: Tour of the Deep Ocean (2) consist of the mixed structures typical for both of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal genres, The Last Judgement (3) is about Symphonic Progressive with elements of Prog-Metal, while the style of Out of Three-Dimension Space and another 15-minute composition Suisha Goya No Asa (4 & 5) is Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with some touches of Jazz-Fusion. Romantic Rally (6) is in the vein of The Last Judgement, but this is a bonus track, which wasn't featured on the original LP. The first three tracks on the album just shine with high originality and innovation, while the others, being also incomparable with anything, have nevertheless a bit more 'common' sound, which, in the broad sense, is rather typical for Classic Symphonic Progressive of the seventies. What's central however is that the fluent, yet, steady change of the album's stylistics has by no means affected the quality of music, and all of the compositions on Round House's debut, without exception, are masterpieces filled with intensive and very intriguing music, which, by the way, is distinctly dramatic in character. Masayuki Kato is a fantastic guitar player, though the mastery of all the band members is just top-notch, and Round House is both compositionally and technically on par with any of the well-known progressive bands shined in the second half of the seventies. Honest! The sound quality of the reissue isn't fantastic, but it's absolutely all right with me since the music is brilliant.

VM: November 24, 2003


Round House - 1979/2003 - "Wings to Rest"
(45 min, Music Term & Poseidon)

******
TRACK LIST:

1.  A Red Rose & Devil's Whisper 4:22
2.  Endless Leep 2:38
3.  A Splendid Dangerous Person 6:19
4.  Wings to Rest 8:37
5.  A City After the Rain 5:19
6.  Softy Mist 1:27
7.  A Tear of Sphinx 6:09
8.  The Sea Wind 5:20
9.  Sweet Love 5:06

All tracks: by Round House.
Recorded at "Yamaha", Japan.

LINE-UP: Same (see above)

Synopsis: You will be laughing, but I am once again going to 'present' you my hasty pseudo-deductive reasoning concerning the heroes of this material and their music. When I saw that the band's second album is three tracks longer than its predecessor, and yet, is simultaneously eight minutes shorter than it, I've thought: "Well, 1979, the signs of the time's dictate are evident: the guys turned towards shorter forms". But although the guys have continued changing their style on their then-new album, too (this time radically), the music remained as intricate and interesting as formerly. The album's opener A Red Rose & Devil's Whisper is different from all of the other tracks both stylistically and sensitively. It represents a brilliant Symphonic Art-Rock with pronounced elements of Prog-Metal and has a distinct dramatic feel to it. The music on all eight of the further compositions, including Softy Mist (6), which was performed without drums, is an original, somewhat romantic, and mostly intensive Classic Jazz-Fusion with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock, lots of syncopations, and other Jazz-related features. If at the helm of the arrangements on the band's first album were mostly the parts of guitar, here, both guitarist Masayuki Kato and keyboard player Kyoharu Someta shine with long and highly virtuosi solos performed either in the context of the band's joint, fast and intensive, arrangements or on the basis of very frequently used highly complex stop-to-play movements provided by rhythm section. This amazingly diverse and impressive stuff has something in common with Brand X's music in the 1970s, though without those traces of accessibility (to put it mildly) available on that band's "Product" and "Do They Hurt". Overall, the second Round House album is hardly inferior to its predecessor: it's just different. Both are highly recommended.

VM: November 25, 2003


Round House - 2001/2003 - "Live in Osaka"
(66 min, Music Term & Poseidon)

*****+
TRACK LIST:

1.  The Last Judgement 4:06
2.  Romantic Rally 8:26
3.  Out of Three-Dimension Space 8:34
4.  Prayer 7:42
5.  Sweet Love 6:39
6.  A Tear of Sphinx 6:03
7.  Tour of the Deep Ocean 14:39
8.  Jin-Zo-Ni-N-Gen 4:48
9.  Super Warp 5:03

All tracks: by Round House.

LINE-UP:

Kato - guitar
Uemura - bass
Natori - drums
Yoshinori Kataoka - keyboards
Tsutomu Tamura - guitar

Synopsis: Seven out of the nine tracks performed during this 66-minute show were taken from the band's studio albums and sound just like the originals. One of the two new compositions: Super Warp (9) is clearly in the vein of the predominant stylistics of the second Round House album, and another: Prayer (4) is a piece of calm and mellow Art-Rock. In other words, on "Live in Osaka 2001" are presented all the styles Round House has ever worked with: Jazz-Fusion, Art-Rock, and Prog-Metal. This factor, illustrating all the stylistic aspects of the band's creation, the sound quality, which is noticeably better than that of any of their studio albums, and also the ability of musicians to play 'live' as masterfully and tastefully as in a studio make this 'universal' output winning in many respects. Though if you aren't as 'omnivorous' as I, and your attitude towards Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion is unequal, you should choose one of the studio albums by the band. In any case, make no mistakes: Round House is a great band.


Conclusion: Although my knowledge of the early Japanese Progressive is poor rather than good, I am almost sure that Round House was the best Japanese band in the seventies. All of their albums get my sincere recommendations, though personally, I always prefer studio recordings even if, like in this case, they're worse in sound quality than a 'live' one.

VM: November 26, 2003


Related Links:

Poseidon Records
Music Term Records
Round House


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