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Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.17 | 75 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sometimes genius simply cannot sit still long enough to endure the inconveniences of trivial matters like song style categorizations and constructing a well thought out running order for a CD. Fortunately for us, Kenso's leader Yoshihisa Shimizu did not allow his musical genius to distract him from such pragmatic matters of attention to detail. This is a fabulous collection of well constructed and skillfully performed hard rock jazz fusion tunes.

My only complaint is that many of the shorter sound experiments/pastiches which are sprinkled throughout the second half of the album are not given an opportunity to develop into anything substantive. Perhaps Yoshihisa was concerned about them overstaying their welcome. Well, they don't do that, but in most cases, neither do they establish a satisfying and/or memorable musical statement.

Don't allow that to deter you though. If you are a fan of jazz-rock fusion, this is a "must listen" album IMO!!

Track by track:

The first track (Fist of Fury) clearly establishes that this will essentially be a guitar led hard rock jazz fusion album (with soaring synth solos and a strong rhythm section).

The second track (The Cunning Madrigal) is a beautifully interwoven composition of various lines and instrumental voices. Keys, guitar, bass and drums all shine (often simultaneously as a synergistic whole). Highly recommended.

Track #3 is a similar hard rock jazz fusion tune which curiously introduces a palpable ethnic twist toward the end. This ethnic element will come and go, ebb and flow throughout the rest of the album. I like the way this track introduces it so very prominently. I think this helps make the many re-introductions of ethnic intricacies seem much more subtle and less surprising than they might have been otherwise.

Track 4 (Wooden Horse Pathos) is a more straight-forward jamming slice of fusion with some humorous outbursts which remind me of classic RIO a bit. There is a rather short but very melodic and elegant piano interlude toward the end which cannot restrain the song for long. In the end, it wraps up with a familiar outburst of energy.

Track 5 - The Split Gate The first minute or so features ethnic instruments in what sounds like a street performance. A unique instrument reminds me of tuned drums. Whatever that instrument (or patch) is, it will reappear to play prominent role again before this album's running time is complete.

There is much more 'back and forth' sharing of leads between guitar and "tuned drum" as well as keyboards and "tuned drum". And this should go without saying... the drums and bass are powerful and tight throughout the entire album.

Track 6 - Rebellion This jazz rock fusion tune is a bit more straight-forward on the rock side. We catch our breath a bit at about the 2 minute mark with a passage of slower more melodic interplay between keys and guitar. But worry not! The intensity starts to pick back up a little before the 3 minute mark. Nice syncopation adds energy and spice at around 3:14. The song wraps up festivities by letting us down quickly yet gently which sets the stage for the lighter mood of the next piece.

7 - The stairs for dreaming This song features relaxing acoustic guitar which soon encounters a subtly experimental collage of sounds including a loop of a semi-intensely spoken word.

I'm not typically a huge fan such noise patchworks experiments, but for some reason the various noise elements are treated so musically that I does seem to actually "work" for me.

This song foreshadows that additional shorter experimental collage pieces will be coming our way later on in the album.

8 - Echoes From Romano is a beautiful symphonic piece. There is a Renaissance feel to this tune that is not entirely unlike the general "feel" of track #2 (A Stunning Madrigal). But it is less bouncy, more smooth and serene. It is reminiscent of some of Gentle Giant's more melodic pieces.

Somewhere around 1:40, a rock beat kicks which Kenso would typically be expected to followed with blistering electric guitar or synth leads. But instead of rock guitar - SURPRISE - accordion takes the center stage! But the intensity doesn't totally drop. The juxtaposition of rock drums and bass with accordion is quite interesting. It is a bit hard for me to tell when the accordion ends and organ begins in this song. It has its frenetically energetic passages. But it is also very memorable for shimmering with utter beauty.

NOTE: Five of the next seven songs will be shorter pieces many of which in some way or another will be either "experimental" or at least venture a bit "outside" the normal musical range of the rest of the album.

9 - The Daughter of a Recluse The Renaissance feel continues on this short and tightly composed piece. This is wonderful music. If someone had told me this was a restore, remastered and newly published demo from Gentle Giant's hey day I just might have believed them!

10 - A way of living as Taro recalls shades of track 5 (The Split Gate) but in a shorter less satisfying manner IMO.

11 - Doppelganger in the night begins with a quasi-Hendrix styled guitar lead. This piece feels too much like an INTRO to something that unfortunately never happens for my taste. Right when I got the feeling that the prelude had been established and we were about to TAKE IT somewhere, the piece suddenly ended, leaving me cold. I feel like there is a more full SONG to flesh out from these melodic phrases when suddenly our progress is stilted and the entire proceeding is suddenly truncated. Game over.

12 - Isolated Jiro could be considered a bit related to the previous track. It explores some similar ideas where the previous track left off - but not convincingly. Fortunately, it is a much more satisfying piece in its own right. This is remarkable music. It jumps effortlessly from idea to idea

13 - The Understanding is exquisitely beautiful pastoral piece featuring whistle-like synth, piano, organ and clean melodic electric guitar. Alas, it is too short IMO. This is another piece that DESERVES a FULL SONG IMO. When you have as many great IDEAS as Yoshihisa Shimizu, I suppose you can afford to leave many of them unexplored. But it is a bit disappointing to me as a listener. To speak in terms of food, it is like being given a SAMPLE TASTE of a wonderfully appetizing new dish which I will NEVER get to eat. Am I happy for the sample? Or am I frustrated by it never turning into something I can sink my teeth into? It is a bit of both - but I'm afraid it is a touch more the LATTER. I would gladly trade in 3 of these shorter tastes for 1 more fully developed main course.

14 - A grim diary - This is an experimental jam piece which manages to interlock contrasting rhythms into genuinely interesting poly-rhythms. Well done.

15 - Amalgamation of Self and Others. This is the one short piece which does not leave me wanting more. The idea may have potential but the competing sound sources of music and noise just don't do much for me. Your milage may vary though so be sure to check it out!

progpositivity | 4/5 |


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