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Vermilion Sands - Water Blue CD (album) cover


Vermilion Sands


Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 40 ratings

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Squire Jaco
4 stars The Japanese symphonic prog group Vermilion Sands only made one album (1989's "Water Blue"), and it's one of the best of this genre that I've seen come out of Japan. Sort of a blend of Renaissance, Camel and Genesis, they put together a few pleasantly driving songs here that make the album worthwhile overall. Production is fine (except on the two live bonus tracks, where it's merely acceptable), and the musicianship is pretty good (especially the drumming), though not up to the level of their idols. The female lead vocalist Yoko Royama (now deceased) is frequently compared to Annie Haslam from Renaissance; personally, I found her to be noticeably inferior, with a couple of spots where she actually sounded a bit weak or even off-key. By the way, the lyrics are sung alternately in English and in her native language.

And yet, those shortcomings should not detract too much from one's enjoyment of this cd, especially if you are in the mood for more of a folky, mellower, sweeter type of prog. The cd includes a solid 73 minutes of music (including 27 minutes of bonus tracks), though the first 4-minute track is kind of dreamy/ambient. There are frequent moments where they get into a nice instrumental groove reminiscent of Renaissance or Camel, but with more electric guitar than Renaissance. And the liner notes provide a decent overview of the history of the band.

You don't see a lot of Japanese bands making this kind of music, so it's sort of a nice cd to own. Just not a lot of new ground being broken, or any of the complex prog that we prog heads sometimes find thrilling.

I do not give out bonus points for beautiful album artwork, but MAN - that IS a nice album cover painting, isn't it?...

3-1/2 stars

Squire Jaco | 4/5 |


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