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(35:48 / Vital Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Synchronous Move 5:46 2. From Japanesia 4:38 3. Long Walk 5:12 4. Naraku No Soko 1:14 5. Parts of Yawn 2:06 6. Rough Life 5:03 7. Crying Cave Man 3:25 8. Re Love In Funland 2:21 9. Rough Life Demo 6:01 LINEUP: Eishow Mutoh - guitar; keyboards; vocals Naoyuki Seto - bass; programming Masashi Matsumoto - drums; programming With: Yukari Iijima - percussion (1, 2, 8) Yuji Kawamura - saxophone (1, 7) Yuji Orio - keyboards (2)
Prolusion. "Cracks" is the first offering from this Japanese outfit, SYNCHRONOUS YAWN.
Analysis. The nine compositions on this recording only run for about 36 minutes, besides which the last track here (6:01) is nothing other than a demo version of the fourth piece, Rough Life, so one way or another this is an EP rather than a full-length album. With the exception of Crying Cave Man (a song with English lyrics) and From Japanesia (which features some vocalizations), it's an all-instrumental creation, most of which has quite a strong psychedelically hypnotic quality to it despite pretending to be related to Jazz-Fusion. I believe only the opening track, Synchronous Move, fully meets the requirements of that genre, and although there are plenty of conventional techniques deployed here, it reveals enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. Another piece that has a distinct jazz smack, Long Walk, is a ballad in the end, refined and beautiful, but with no undercurrents. Otherwise the group is focused much more on composition than on improvisation, with the rhythm being usually put on the top of the list. From Japanesia falls squarely into the category of World Fusion, an uncomplicated, yet fascinating, aptly titled piece of music, richly flavored with corresponding cultural colorations. Lacking a better definition, Rough Life, Parts of Yawn and Crying Cave Man would all be Rock with a slight improvisational slant, lead lines this time around coming mostly from guitar and bass, while most of the backing is from electric piano and synthesizers. I don't hear any direct influences, but nevertheless each has an almost danceable appeal, very much like The Alan Parsons Project's instrumentals (particularly those with Mel Collins on sax), just with a slightly edgier jazz-fusion vibe, maybe. Of the remaining two pieces, Re Love In Funland and Naraku No Soko, the first reminds me of a traditional East European folk tune, while the latter is simplistic E-music, both sounding like somewhat incomplete demos.
Conclusion. Though these young Japanese play without resorting to any cliches, apart from literally a couple of tracks (Long Walk and From Japanesia) their music surprisingly doesn't leave an impression of freshness. I can say the strongest feature of most of the disc's pieces is their instantly memorable melodies, but this automatically means they're likely to be lacking any depth. If you're into melodic prog-tinged Fusion you should be delighted with these "Cracks", otherwise look elsewhere.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: Febrary 1, 2008
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