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Mahoujin - Babylonia Suite CD (album) cover

BABYLONIA SUITE

Mahoujin

 

Symphonic Prog

3.18 | 9 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This album doesn’t really offer anything new or innovative in the area of symphonic, keyboard-driven progressive music, but it is an interesting period piece from the late seventies when symphonic rock was still being made quite a bit in Japan even though the style was in decline elsewhere. Mahoujin pretty much came and went with this release and didn’t leave too many remains behind besides this record.

My first impression on hearing the opening keyboard strains (Yamaha and mellotron mostly) was that this sounded an awful lot like game soundtrack music, which means there are a lot of polysynth progressions and extended instrumental passages (in fact the whole album is instrumental). One of my kids has informed me that the title track, or at least something sounding a lot like it, was the theme music for one of the Space Quest Roger Wilco games of the late eighties, so there you go.

The music owes a lot to ELP, and pretty much all of the few reviews you can find today for this album note the debt. The album consists of the side-length title track and three shorter but rather similar works, all of them presumably connected thematically (hence the album’s title), although the overall point of the album is somewhat lost on me. The band member’s names are in Japanese so they are difficult to decipher, although a couple web sites have listed them. One is drummer Shiro Sugano who would end up in the fusion band KBB a decade later, but I don’t know what happened to the keyboardists or the very talented bass player.

Other than the ambitious but unexceptional title track, the other mildly interesting number is the short but lively “Tower of Babel” which features heavy bass lines and a fusion-leaning rhythm. The mellotron is prominent here but not very complex, with some flute sounds and otherwise mostly just extended notes from that and the Yamaha.

The cover is a painting from the surrealist and somewhat tragic painter Remedios Varo. It is a tasteful touch but again I’m not clear on the relevance to the theme of the album.

This is a minor symphonic album from a mostly forgotten group who nevertheless are often seen mentioned as an influence in the biographies of later Japanese progressive musicians. The album makes for decent background mood music, but is not something that stands up all that well against the major innovators of this style of prog. I’ll go with three stars largely on the strength of the multilayered keyboards, and also for the bassist who outplays the rest of the group on most of the album. Recommended for people who are looking for something to push out of their speakers while playing RPGs on a dreary Saturday afternoon.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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