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Vermilion Sands - Water Blue CD (album) cover


Vermilion Sands


Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 40 ratings

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5 stars A Japanese symphonic prog band that only produced one album (though a second was prepared and released at the death of their lovely lead singer, Yoko Royana).

1. "My Lagan Love" (3:10) a perfect vocal from singer Yoko Royama on this cover of the traditional 19th Century Irish song from County Donegal. It was correct of the band to keep the instrumental support to a minimum. I find it interesting that this song was seldom covered on any records before this. (9.5/10)

2. "Ashes of the Time" (12:12) I hear a little bit of UK, Thomas Dolby, and Ryuichi Sakamoto in the wonderful opening section. At 1:50 we transition into a little NeoProg with some shlocky/dated keyboard strings. A minute later this turns into GENESIS-like 12-string guitar weave over which Yoko sings in her pristine mezzo-soprano. Due to the crystalline female vocals, there's quite some similarity to mid-1970s RENAISSANCE here, as well. At 4:35 it turns more uptempo folk (think Strawbs or Spirogyra) with some very quick-changing chord play from the guitar as keys play a greater role (synth & piano). Very strong drum play here as well as nice work on the electric bass. At 6:30 we transition into a more classical piano bridge that leads us into a sparsely-synthed section over which Yoko sings what sounds like a kind of eulogy. Strummed guitars, bass and drums join in for a choral approach to a chorus melody. Strings solo takes over from Yoko as the section continues with Yoko performing solo vocalize in the background. The song finishes with Yoko's final notes and a little 12-string arpeggio and single strum. Quite a lovely song!(23/25)

3. "In Your Mind" (7:36) opens with a palette, pace, and melodic sense (varied) like GENESIS' "Afterglow." Yoko's vocal melody choices--as well as the bridges into the chorus section and chorus itself--are different/their own entities. Nice guitar solo in the middle (as well as nice fretless bass beneath). That middle instrumental section is really divine! At 4:24 we return to the main vocal--this time a cappella save for a second background vocalise track from Yoko. Gorgeous! Just perfect NeoProg, every bit as beautiful as the music of Genesis--though totally refreshing. The Steve Hackett-like guitar solo just keeps getting better and better as the extended instrumental passage in the second half of the song, playing out to the end. (14/15)

4. "Coral D - The Cloud Sculptors" (5:51) nice guitar and synth weave provide a 75-second intro before the full band kicks in with a purely RENAISSANCE motif (including Yoko singing a wordless melody Annie Haslam style). Multiple voices in the Genesis-like bridge to the next part sound so much like Renaissance! The third motif is slower and more easy-going with a bit of Emerson organ play but then a mandolin-sounding guitar strumming frenzy takes us into a more TONY BANKS-like organ solo over the Renaissance music. More Genesis-like bridges before Yoko picks up her vocalize again, but the song ends with the band jamming as strong wind sounds blow everything away. Great song if a bit overly familiar. (9/10)

5. "Kitamoto" (4:41) gently picked guitars provide a background weave for Yoko (and, later, a synth) to solo over the top. I love it when the band use multiple tracks of Yoko's voice to harmonize or counterpoint her main vocal track as they do here. Piano, bass, and drums join in during the second half of the second verse and into the chorus. Interesting weave of gentle guitar arpeggi with tune-shifting Wurlitzer-like organ and then fretless bass solo. Then we're back into the vocal motif for another crack at the chorus. Cool song! There are frequent moments in which several elements remind me of Genesis' classic tune "Stagnation." (9/10)

6. "Living in the Shiny Days" (4:16) an uptempo tune with more of a true Prog Folk flair to it. There's also a bit of a YES (in one of its poppier moods--like "Wondrous Stories" or "And You and I") feel to this one. (8.7/10)

7. "The Poet" (7:43) with a cross between Renaissance and Neo Prog band Beautiful though it does drag on one- dimensionally a bit too long. The Hackett lead guitar stylings at the end of the sixth minutes are superb. Yoko Royama's Annie Haslem-like vocals are, stylistically, perfect imitations. The excellent final two minutes really bolster this one upwards. (13.5/15)

Total Time 45:29

The perfect NeoProg blending of the softer, gentler sides of GENESIS with classic RENAISSANCE stylings and structures. The bonus songs (on the CD only) are well worth hearing as well.

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of NeoProg and something that I think every/any prog lover would like.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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