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Mahoujin - Babylonia Suite CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.21 | 17 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Mahoujin was a Japanese power-trio with a keyboard-based framework: now, this may sound as inherently inviting to the development of ELP-ish influences, but the fact is that this trio moved toward a less aggressive direction, more related to Novalis' spacey symphonic prog, Wakeman's stylish pomposity and Greenslade's warmth vibrations, with slight touches of "Spartacus"-era Triumvirat. "Babylonia Suite" is a very pleasant album, dominated by a sense of moderate energy and a delightful colorfulness (which perhaps may sound a bit underdeveloped in places). Obviously, keyboardsman Atsushi is in charge f providing the basic harmonies and dominant melodies, particularly featuring string ensemble and lead synthesizers. Meanwhile, the dynamic rhythmic foundation elaborated by Yasushi and Shiro states a proper balance of rocking sensibility and jazzy swings, in this way enhancing the enthusiastic moods that patently prevail in the repertoire's compositional dimensions. The sidelong namesake suite fills the album's first half in a definite attempt to expose the band's symphonic approach with no strings attached. That's how it goes, as simple as that, with the first section: pleasant melodies, global arrangements delivered in a reasonably constrained fashion, a vibrating rhythmic framework, a politely delivered epic feel. The suite's second section is slower and more ceremonious, providing partially a sense of cosmic mystery not unlike Eloy or Novalis. The third and fourth sections pretty much recreate the first part's mood, even enhancing it to a degree that would have made the guys of Triumvirat a bit jealous, since the overall sonic scheme happens to sound more vital and more technically accomplished. That's something you can easily notice when you pay attention to the jazz-rock-friendly rhythm duo. The suite's epilogue consists of a brief piano solo piece, melancholic and distant at the same time: it is clearly evocative of a memory for something that is long gone. the album's second half kicks off with 'Cariot', with an effective combination of "Criminal Record"- era Wakeman and a jazz-oriented Greenslade, plus some ounces of a guitar-less Camel from the "Moon Madness" days. 'Tower of Babel' gives room for a bigger expansion on the jazz-rock factor, with Yasushi and Shiro stating a Weather Report-like installment while Atsushi indulges in some exciting cosmic layers and phrases (imagine a mixture of Bardens on 'Lunar Sea' and Detlev Schmidtchen on 'Poseidon's Creation'). This track encapsulates a very interesting idea, but its 3 minute span does not allow the ensemble to expand on it toward some sort of climax or powerful culmination. It is such a pity since this piece might as well be the album's apex had it come closer to the amazing grace of SFF's first album or Eloy's 2Ocean". Anyway, things are as they are and there is no way around it. But eventually there is a way around "Babylonia Suite", and that's when 'Festival' arrives to settle in the closure. This is the closest to ELP that Mahoujin ever gets, mostly due to the featured presence of the Hammond organ. But, all in all, this track mainly completes the symphonic vision that the band has delivered all throughout the album. Mahoujin is a name very much worthy of an addition in any symphonic prog lover's collection list, since their sole album "Babylonia Suite" displays a pleasant and melodically pristine exhibition of most of the genre's qualities. The only noticeable flaw is the flat, uneven sound production. The music itself is very good, no doubt about it in my mind - 3⅓ stars from my part
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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