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Yuka & Chronoship - Dino Rocket Oxygen CD (album) cover

DINO ROCKET OXYGEN

Yuka & Chronoship

 

Neo-Prog

3.87 | 28 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars If it's one thing I love, it's a good instrumental prog album, and frequently throughout the year I'll blindly order several and more or less hope for the best. I'm rarely let down, but once in a while a particular disc will really stand out, and this is the case with Yuka & Chronoship's second album, `Dino Rocket Oxygen' - yes, just get your head around that title for a minute! Along with PTF's violin/piano fusion driven debut `Percept From...', this work displays ample proof that Japan is producing some exquisite modern progressive rock, however this one is in a more proudly retro and hugely symphonic style instead. Led by female keyboard virtuoso Yuka Funakoshi, the four- piece play vintage-styled progressive rock that fans of modern bands adopting the style such as Glass Hammer, Trion and Willowglass will instantly fall for. Even the Roger Dean designed lettering of the band's logo on the front cover should be a bit of a giveaway to the kind of prog the listener will discover inside. Anyone who loves the keyboard dominated moments of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Camel and Pink Floyd, as well as some just good old classical bombast all performed with the usual Japanese technical skill will simply adore this one.

Although the star of the album is, of course, Yuka Funakoshi herself, the rest of the Chronoship band are all exceptional musicians as well. Takashi Miyazawa's electrifying guitar soloing takes on some delicious twisting turns, drummer Ikko Tanaka has no shortage of foot tapping yet restrained grooves, and Shun Taguchi likes to gently hold back then break through to the foreground with some seductive and prominent fluid bass runs when suitable. All of the musicians are perfectly restrained, never showing off but still offering numerous exciting and professionally executed solo spots.

The three extended suites offered on the album are broken into 11 tracks here. The `Dinosaurs Suite' (13:57) opens with a heartbeat set to a Mellotron veil that's worthy of being a Watcher of the Skies. Yes, that's regal scratchy Mellotron right from the second the disc starts, it even reminds me of the beginning of Twin Age's `Lialim High'. The piece soon moves through a range of tempo/time changes back and forth, bombastic sections of fiery fusion balanced with slow-burn emotional bursts. It's Triumvirat-styled one minute, smoother mid-70's Pink Floyd the next and given a classical grandiosity for good measure. Yuka's supremely confident piano and dazzling Wakeman styled Moog solos are incredible, and just listen out for her tense and heartfelt classical piano solo spots in the third act, simply sublime.

The `R is for Rocket Suite' (24:34), (dedicated to author Ray Bradbury) begins in a tense and a blood-rushing up-tempo stomp, lots of bluster and noise amongst the pounding drums, with Yuka's spiraling piano runs and Mellotron washes bringing a near orchestral sound to the music. Not quite heavy enough to be metal, it more reminds me of Italian band Il Giardino Onirico's album `Perigeo' from 2012. The second section, `Skygazer' is a beautifully upbeat spacey chill-out with an impossibly lovely melody and nice soothing wordless sighed harmonies similar to Camel's `The Snow Goose'. I cannot explain how much this piece makes me smile! A brief acoustic Steve Howe- like interlude, a heart-quickening sleek rocker full of chiming guitars, whirling Moogs and Vocoder treated voices follow, before wrapping on a mellow yet somber ballad. One of the few proper brief vocal passages, Yuka painfully cries `Goodbye green fields of my hometown, my mother, my friends, my schoolyard in summer breeze...', and it makes for a nice emotional reflection to end on.

The `Oxygen Suite' (18:53) frequently contrasts more sedate, floating synth/electronic passages and gentle atmospheres with heavier and relentless hard-rock sections. Amongst some playful and hypnotic bubbling electronics from blissful synths and pianos, frantic Dream Theater-like instrumental trickery and grand electric guitar solos that wouldn't be out of place on an Ayreon album weave seamlessly together. The album ends on a terrifically confident vocal passage from Yuka where she announces `Just like oxygen, my heart starts to breath, and hopes are there in my hands...'

Although almost as keyboard dominated as fellow Japanese female-led band Ars Nova, Yuka & Chronoship are not as aggressive and frequently attacking as that other band, and they show a lot more variety. Although I've had the album for several months, I wish I'd properly listened to it earlier, as it would have likely ended up in my personal Top Ten for 2013. Exquisitely produced and exceptionally performed, `Dino Rocket Oxygen', easy to track down on Musea Records, should be on the top of the list for anyone craving strong instrumental music. It's got a strong rock sound in many sections that fans of heavy prog may enjoy just as much as the symphonic listeners, but anyone who enjoys (mostly) instrumental works by passionate musicians can do no wrong by grabbing this album. This is one Ship that takes flight to the highest heavens!

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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