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(55 min, Garando Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Downing Prolog 1:42 2. Class V 5:05 3. What Can I Do 5:00 4. Glass Balloon 3:52 5. Twilight in My Life 4:43 6. Butterfly Dance 4:15 7. Uou-Saou 6:36 8. Alcatraz Wind 3:49 9. Languid Morning 10:14 10. Namu-Amidabutsu-III 5:19 11. Downing Epilog 5:15 LINEUP: Hisashi Furue - guitars; recorder; keyboards; vocals Shigeharu Toyooka - keyboards, piano Michanobu Matsuhashi - drums; b/v May - basses; b/v Kanako - lead vocals
Prolusion. "What Can I Do" is the debut CD by Japan's ZETTAIMU, brought out six months ago by their native small recording company, Garando. However the group have already managed to release another album, "Miroque", a launch which took place this last January - this time around via the renowned Poseidon label.
Analysis. This 55-minute recording is made up of twelve songs some of which feature only a female singer Kanako, though in most cases she shares the vocal duties with Hisashi Furue, who also handles guitars and keyboards. Four of the songs are in Japanese, and while the others come with English lyrics (I only wonder, why?), the language coming from their mouths being so heavily accented that it is often generally hard to make out what is they sing about. All this would've been acceptable if Zettaimu had played largely instrumental music, but not something totally opposite - Alternative, to be more precise. The brief instrumental prelude to Class V just repeats the central theme from Another Brick in the Wall, instantly pushing me to join in ("We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control"), though judging by the cut's title, plus taking into consideration that most of the album's content doesn't remind me of anything, I can assume it was done intentionally. On the other hand, I've never heard enough things in the said style to assert there are no other influences in this creation, apart from those I am able to identify. Back to the songs: Class V, Alcatraz Wind, Downing Prolog and Butterfly Dance are all more than merely vocal-heavy tunes with a standard verse-bridge-chorus approach and no pace shifts. Mainstream is the word. Four more numbers, Glass Balloon, Twilight in My Life, Uou-Saou and Namu-Amidabutsu-III, all draw a similar picture overall, but these can be taken as prog-tinged Alternative, since each features a couple of instrumental interludes, besides which there are some nice string arrangements to be found in places within their vocal sections. The lushly symphonic Languid Morning, which in addition resourcefully involves acoustic guitar and piano, exceeds 10 minutes in length and - although most of the music is slow - reveals relatively many transitions and is generally an impressive tune, reminding me somewhat of Rock Opera. Nonetheless my favorite tracks are the one eponymous to the album and Downing Epilog, both standing apart from the others in style. The music is lushly symphonic Hard Rock, at times with certain progressive tendencies - no matter that it's much in the style of late Led Zeppelin, especially the former which is strongly reminiscent of In the Evening from the zeppelins' last studio effort, "In Through the Out Door".
Conclusion. Not counting their strange exercises with English, Zettaimu leave the impression of being a well-rehearsed group which potentially has a chance to achieve success in the field of mainstream Rock. I have no idea so far where they go on their sophomore release, but most of their debut recording lies completely beyond the interests of people preferring progressive music.
VM: March 10, 2007
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