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Kenso - Yume No Oka  CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 63 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars What a band! Instrumental, symphonic prog (a la Hackett) influenced by "fusion" (in the style of Bruford and Brand X) just doesn't get better than this.

Don't be put off by the fact that Kenso are from Japan. If you played me this album without showing the cover, I'd never have guessed it. And don't worry about the fact band that leader Yoshihisa Shimizu has modelled his lead guitar sound on Steve Hackett and Allan Holdsworth. The band's compositions are so original and cheering they'll leave you stunned!

YUME NO OKA means "Dream Hill", and the album's splendid cover picture (a flock of sheep and a single shepherd on a steep, misty mountainside) captures the music's atmosphere excellently. (I keep wondering if that picture was taken in Japan, since you hardly find any livestock there.)

I tried taking notes on each piece in order to describe the music to you, but it changes so rapidly, and goes through so many moods, this proved impossible. YUME NO OKA may only last 45 minutes, but these guys pack more ideas in a limited time-span than the Flower Kings do in their notorious double CDs. By the way, it seems you can buy YUME NO OKA inexpensively online, and believe me: every minute is more than worth it!

The album was carefully planned. Fast, exciting solos on guitar and synths are followed by delicate pictures-in-sound, e.g. the marvellous 'Fuan na Kioku' ("Uneasy Memory"). Weird, unconventional rhythms (as on 'Mediterranean and Aryan') evoke memories of 'Larks Tongues in Aspic Part III'. Tunes that start out menacingly, may end on a festive keyboard climax (e.g. 'The Fourth Reich'), and vice versa. Gorgeous, truly symphonic moments with "orchestral" keyboards and triumphant lead guitar are interspersed with shorter acoustic pieces. 'Today I left OIA', for example, is a lovely interlude on "Portugal-guitar", whatever that means - sounds a bit like twelve-string... Throughout the album, many of the solo passages are so full of yearning you just can't call this a cold album. Kenso's members may be first-rate virtuosi, but they have the sense to keep their solos short (the music is constantly changing) which means YUME NO OKA never comes across as senseless jamming.

In Japan, YUME NO OKA is considered to be a prog classic. Fortunately for all of us, Kenso are still active today, still releasing splendid albums.

fuxi | 5/5 |


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