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Asturias - Electric Asturias: Trinity CD (album) cover





3.84 | 115 ratings

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5 stars Japanese project Asturias has had an unpredictable history, initially forming around multi-instrumentalist and composer Yoh Ohyama in the late Eighties, with a reworked line-up appearing about fifteen years ago. Since that comeback in 2003, the predominantly instrumental group jumps between `Acoustic' and `Electric' Asturias discs, and like other bands from the same country - Ain Soph and Ptf instantly come to mind - the band/s combine a symphonic grandiosity with the dynamic fire of jazz/fusion, and their latest work under the `Electric' banner, 2019's `Trinity' offers violin and piano constantly met with electric guitar and keyboard colour, all delivered with a cracking energy, nuanced emotion and supreme technical musical precision.

Opener `Closed World' sets much of a template for the disc, unleashing Tei Sena's constantly ravishing violin, Yoshihiro Kawagoe's whirring keyboards and Satoshi Hirata's red-hot guitar races, all torn through at great speed with a dazzling urgency. Taking its title from Emily Brontė's influential novel, `Wuthering Heights' taps into that Mike Oldfield-like sweeping fancy and instrumental diversity that has long been a constant Asturias influence. `Skelter' was originally written for a fight scene in a video game, and appropriately the piece holds plenty of duelling guitar, violin and keyboard soloing passages throughout its victorious up-tempo momentum.

`Crow', inspired by a late period painting from Vincent van Gogh, slows things down for a sombre reflection on `a talented but unrewarded life', and the observation that van Gogh himself felt he was `like a bird in a cage' of his own personal demons contributes to the melancholic yet defiant piano, bass and violin musings so prominent throughout the piece. `Rogus' also hails from a late Eighties video game, and it's a prog-rock workout of icy synths, Yoh's coursing thick bass and Kiyotaka Tanabe's rumbling drums powering behind crisp electric guitar themes and sprightly piano.

No prog-related album should be without a multi-part epic, and the three-part `Gorgon' suite that closes the disc is an ambitious, twenty one-plus minute interpretation of three mythical female creatures with snakes for hair of ancient Greek literature! Opening chamber-prog passage `Medusa' offers a gloriously gothic atmosphere built around imposing church organ and spectral synths that are ultimately ripped apart with searing violin strains and snapping drumming. Fans of Zeuhl originators Magma will love one of the most violent and frantic Asturias pieces to date, `Stheno's mud-thick grumbling 'n' grubby Jannick Top-like bass oppressiveness, skittering percussion and devilish piano mania suitably sound-tracking the most independent and ferocious of the three gorgons! The tale of third sister `Euryale', known for her bellowing cries, is carefully set to highly emotional music with its sorrowful yet achingly beautiful violin strains and thoughtful guitar ruminations that rise to freeing heights for a refined and uplifting farewell.

`Trinity's cultured approach to often adapting classic literature and art means it always remains evocative and sophisticated, and the album remains endlessly melodic at all times without ever sacrificing technicality and ambitiousness. Trinity' is dramatic and intelligent instrumental music at its very finest, and is not only the third stunning Electric Asturias work to date, but already one of the standout progressive music releases of 2019.

Five stars.

Note - Electric Asturias are currently performing on the 2019 Cruise to the Edge tour, and attendees would be highly recommended to skip looking in on some of the `bigger names' if it means a chance to witness this first-rate band in action - a group who will quite literally blow most of the other bands out of the water! ;)

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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