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TRACK LIST: 1. Improvisation 6:30 2. From Sri Lanka To Titan 13:29 3. Everything Becomes Circle 8:28 4. Silence & Darkness 15:53 5. One Summer Afternoon In Kyoto 12:15 6. Kundabuffer 13:50 All tracks: by Shima, except 5: by Okamoto. LINE-UP: Hideyuki Shima - bass Hirofumi Okamoto - guitar Akihisa Tsuboy - violin Shinju Odajima - guitar Hiroshi Matsuda - drums Produced by Shima & Tsuboy. Recorded live at Live Spot RAG in Kyoto.
The Album. While not of a completely unified stylistics, "The Encounter" is more than a unique musical entity and can't be compared either to any of the previous albums by Shima & Co, nor to anything else. All six of the compositions here are masterpieces, but the longest three of them: From Sri-Lanka To Titan, Silence & Darkness, and Kundabuffer (2, 4, & 6) are just uncommon gems of Progressive Jazz-Rock. To be more precise, the music on each of these three epics represents a highly original, diverse, hard-edged, and intensive Jazz-Rock / Jazz-Fusion with the pronounced elements of Symphonic Art-Rock, Prog-Metal, and Classical Music. Both of the latter pieces feature in addition the tunes of music of the East. Most of the arrangements here are dramatic in character and all of them are in the state of constant development. All three of the other compositions on "The Encounter": Improvisation, Everything Becomes Circle, and One Summer Afternoon In Kyoto (1, 3, & 5) are about a unique blend of Jazz-Fusion and Symphonic Art-Rock of quite a quiet character overall. Nevertheless, all the arrangements here are in the state of constant development as well. (Just for example: there are lots of repetitions on the famous "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy" by Return To Forever, which however, remains a doubtless classics of the genre.) What's interesting is that apart from the joint jams, the episodes where each of the soloing instruments (bass, violin, and two electric guitars) play a prominent role are present on each of the tracks on the album. As for drums, there are the separate solos of them on Silence & Darkness.
Summary. Unlike "Budderfly", I doubt that there are any spontaneous improvisations on this album, which, moreover, has a much richer sound than Shima's latest effort. Also, "The Encounter" consists of completely consistent structures, and Her Majesty Harmony rules on all of the tracks here. In that way, I believe that this masterpiece will have a really large audience. Highly recommended to all the open-minded connoisseurs of progressive music.
VM: April 21, 2003
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