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TRACK LIST: 1. Magnetic Factor 6:46 2. The Fourth Way 7:49 3. Everything Becomes Circle 7:01 4. The Enneagram 9:36 5. From Sri-Lanka to Titan 8:41 6. The Age of Horus 5:57 7. Introduction to Richard 3:48 8. Richard 5:46 All music: by Shima, except 7: by Seino. All lyrics: by Shima, except 8: by Ura. Produced by Shima. Engineered by M. Fukushima. LINE-UP: Hideyuki Shima - - 4 & 5 string electric bass, fretless bass, - acoustic bass; keyboards; vocalizes With: Chizuko Ura - vocals Takumi Seino - guitar Shinju Odajima - guitar Toru Morichika - saxophone Hiroshi Matsuda - drums Eisuke Kato - keyboards Kunihiro Kameda - keyboards Special guests: Akihisa Tsuboy (of KBB) - violin (on 3) David Sinclair (of Caravan) - organ (on 8)
Prolusion. "Prayer" is the second album by Six North, which is the main band of the well-known Japanese bassist and composer Hideyuki Shima. Among Hideyuki's other projects, >String Arguments and >Budderfly are especially notable, in my view. The review of Six North's debut album is located >here.
Synopsis. Five out of the eight tracks on the album (3, 4, 5, 6, & 8) are songs, though three of them (4, 5, & 6) contain only a few vocal lines with lyrics (in Japanese). Nevertheless, Chizuko Ura's singing is always beautiful, warm, and very feminine. Wordless vocals are used more widely, and one of the instrumental compositions: Magnetic Factor (1) is just filled with them. Hideyuki's vocalizes (additional vocalizes, to be precise) are present only on one song (5), and two tracks on the album: The Fourth Way and Introduction to Richard (2 & 7) are purely instrumental. The latter of them is quite an abstract Ambient-like piece, which is completely out of the album's stylistic concept. For the most part, it consists of the so-called soundscapes, i.e. varied sounds of electric guitar. Indeed, this piece can hardly be regarded differently than just an intro to its follow-up. Unlike Six North's debut, there are no even shades of RIO and Fifth Element on "Prayer". The predominant stylistics of the album is Classic Jazz-Fusion with elements of Space Fusion and is presented on those compositions that feature either little or no vocal parts with lyrics: Magnetic Factor, The Fourth Way, The Enneagram, From Sri-Lanka to Titan, and The Age of Horus (1, 2, 4, 5, & 6), though the first two of these contain also elements of Prog-Metal. The alternation of dense, intensive, and complex arrangements and those with atmospheric structures is typical for all of these tracks. The latter of them are most often represented by diverse and masterful, uniquely sounding interplay between solos of bass and those of either sax or electric piano performed on the background of slow passages of synthesizer and accompanied by silent beats of drums. Both of the real songs on the album: Everything Becomes Circle and Richard (3 & 8), the first of which features violinist Akihisa Tsuboy, and another keyboardist David Sinclair, are mellow and are romantic in character. They're more accessible than any other track on the album and are about Jazz-Fusion in pure form. While the most diverse and intriguing compositions here are Magnetic Factor, The Fourth Way, and From Sri-Lanka to Titan.
Conclusion. The second Six North album is less rich in innovative ideas than the band's (glorious) debut "I'm Here in My Heart" and, in my view, is inferior to it in some other respects as well. Nevertheless, this is an excellent album, at least, and if you like Classic Jazz-Fusion in general, you won't be disappointed with "Prayer", to say the least.
VM: December 19, 2003
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