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KBB - Four Corner's Sky CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.98 | 54 ratings

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4 stars Anyone that has a little world culture will tell you that Japan is probably the most enigmatic country anywhere, with peculiar quirks: a society that simply cannot infuse foreigners (hence no immigrants but baseball is OK), great at exporting (Toyota, Sony, Nintendo, Sushi), a land with the most hairy (the aboriginal Ainu) and least hairy humans but also probably the most appreciative audiences anywhere, just ask Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Styx (Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto), McCartney, David Beckham or Tom Cruise. I have never heard of a famous nipponese rock band (except for the odd Sadistic Mika Band and the quirky Yellow Magic Orchestra) and while Japan literally saved prog from total oblivion in the 1980's by reissuing past prog glories on CD, they have a rather poor catalog of local progressive bands. Yeah! Ars Nova, Gerard, Bellaphon, Asturias, Kenso and Mugen were decent prog bands but the list of cheesy, wimpy and plastic copycat wannabes are sadly abundant. That's until KBB showed up on the radar, like a proud samurai ready to challenge the Prog world with the all-instrumental "Four Corner's Sky". Any band led by a violin can only bode well and Akihisa Tsuboy is a no disappointment. Unlike the jazzier JL Ponty or Didier Lockwood, the raw power of Jerry Goodman and the somewhat uninspired David Cross, Tsuboy can display virtuosity as well as versatility, plowing through material that audaciously explores the various confines of the Prog Frontier. He is ably abetted by some absolute stellar accomplices: the elegant Toshimitsu Takahashi on various keys and synths, the inventive Dani on whiplash bass and thunderous guitar and the brilliant Shirou Sugano handling all matters percussive. They can all rock & they can roll. They also can shred, bash, caress, groove and sizzle. The kickoff begins with the 7 minute "Discontinuous Spiral", a JL Ponty like piece that highlights a deep lyrical melody, held together by solid rhythm work, giving the maestro free reign to worship his violin with unabashed passion. But the magnum opus and cracking next track, the oddly named "Kraken's Brain is Blasting" delves very deeply into Larks Tongues/Starless & Bible Black/Red territory, showing how Wetton, Fripp and Bruford would of benefited with a true violin virtuoso (Cross was good but frankly out of his league even by his own admission). This 9.36 minute track erupts fiercely, spewing massive flows of reptilian bass, devastating crunch guitar, hysterical synths gone berserk and Sugano's monstrous drumming. You will need some liquid refreshment after this one, trust me. Next up is the gentler respite of "Horobi no Kawa", led by bucolic piano, inspired fretless bass and slick stick work that conjures up an image of a Tokyo jazz club, real chill stuff, the violin gliding along, gently swaying in the storm's lull. Awesome catskin runs slowly spiral into a spirited affair, proving again that these guys can play with the best. "Backside Edge" is even more pure classic jazz, with twists, turns and summersaults, bopping bass with a brilliant solo, grooving piano, swirling organ and rifling drum work, cymbals galore. Just some preparation before the violin kicks this sucker into overdrive with a dazzling solo that "howls" uncontrolled into some of the deepest realms of the prog universe. "Slave Nature" offers up a more Mahavishnu Orchestra-like environment, the violin pied- piping the flock into some organ driven landscapes, sparkling e-piano runs and some gritty electric rock guitar by Tsuboy. "I am not Here" is a 9 minute exploratory piece of music that navigates some avant- garde areas, with some liberal dashes of dissonance, a fiery Tsuboy solo that scrapes, claws and scratches along mercilessly, with various atmospheric interludes that defy any logic or direction (very free), stop-starting the proceedings in a typical improv manner. As the title may imply, this is spooky stuff, sort of like a possible soundtrack for the movie "I am Legend". Not quite my cup of sake but I am impressed by the audacity. The finale "Shironiji" is another genial highlight, a 10 minute composition that features some more stellar guitar work by bassist Dani, this time less Fripp and more Holdsworth, with some adventurous and at times, vertiginous fretwork that duels nicely with the Vivaldi-esque violin. All in all, a sturdy recommendation for those who enjoy a little virtuosity without falling into an aimless chopzilla contest. While not a masterpiece, this is a most pleasant offering from a land that loves its prog. Domo Arigato, indeed. 4 Rising suns.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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