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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Kings' Boards CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.50 | 4 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars "Kings' Boards" is a rather obscure compilation including 5 compositions recorded by 5 well-known and not so much well-known Japanese keyboardists along. All of them play completely new tracks which have never been recorded anywhere else before or after (with one exception). Standard formula for all of them is instrumental keyboard-led power-trio (with no guitar), so you probably expect some ELPish bombastic prog, but in fact music presented on this disk can be better described as typical Japanese 80s and early 90s mix of melodic symphonic rock and neo-prog influences without too many flashy solos. Anyway it's quite interesting material worth to be listened and described more precisely:

1. Motoi Sakuraba - "Drama Composition" - album begins with composition recorded by the most famous musician presented on "Kings' Boards" - Motoi Sakuraba (who just left his ELP/UK-ish band "Deja-Vu". "Drama Composition" is a very good track full of rather catchy synthesizer solos but driven mainly by up-beat acoustic piano chops. It gives rather relaxing and slightly soundtrackish feeling. Definitely one of the best here although surprisingly Motoi doesn't play any organ here what is quite unusual for him. It's only a pity that later Sakuraba included this track on his first proper solo album ("Gikyokuonsou"), so if you already have it (and if you're looking for such obscurity like "Kings' Boards", probably you have) this track is not new for you.

2. Shigetomo Hashimoto - "The Maze Of May" - another track was recorded by completely unknown for me keyboardist from obscure band called Ashule (but according to rateyourmusic website they issued 2 studio albums back then). It's an atmospheric, a bit laid-back instrumental in the first half led by strange almost dance-music like beat, eerie synthesizers & digital piano. In the middle we an listen to interesting interlude with nice acoustic piano, harpsichord, glockenspiel & synth fragments. After that music takes more symphonic path with occasional bombastic outburst very much in the vain of Japanese ELP clone - Social Tension.

3. Noami Miura - "Corde Spirale" - 3rd track belong to female keyboard-player - Noami Miura, from band "Rosalia". This time she joins forces with Social Tension's bassist and drummer to present us definitely the best performance on the album. "Corde Spirale" is a very busy and dark-sounding piece of music full of innovative ideas. The most suitable comparison would be band Ars Nova, but Ars Nova didn't even existed in 1990! Anyway it's even more dark than Ars Nova and Noami Miura's style seems to be more crazy then Keiko Kumagai's. I just love her Hammond organ playing, very deep, oppressive and "gloomy" with many dis-harmonies and distortion effects. Simply fantastic! Her mix of symphonic prog and crazy-ass avantgarde elements is something I really appreciate here. What a pity that I have no other material of her work besides this track and mini-album recorded with Rosalia (called "Zillion Tears"). Did she ever record something else? BTW "Corde Spirale" is the only track here which features some vocals, but in fact they're only some weird chants. P.S. In fact according to sources Noami Miura uses Korg CX-3 organ, not Hammond one, but to be honest there is no difference in sound for me.

4. Manabu Kokado - "Ladies Of Green & Blue" - this one was played by White Fang's keyboardist (I don't know this band at all). It's pretty standard keyboard-driven symphonic tune very much in the vain of Social Tension, but without loud Hammond runs and more restraint. Anyway we can listen to many different keyboards here: pipe organ (in the intro), flute-like synthesizers, acoustic piano, string machines and also some background Hammond organ. Quite OK, but the second part of this track drags a little...

5. Nobuo 'Kodomo' Endoh - "Hungary" - to be honest I had the biggest expectations according to this arist. Nobuo Endoh is a high-skilled keyboards virtuoso from ELP-ish band Social Tension (which I mentioned already few times in the review). When I first time listened to "Hungary" I was immediately tremendously disappointed. I expected truly symphonic masterpiece full of mid-blowing Hammond and Moog solos...but I received half-baked, rather boring instrumental which sounds like soundtrack for cartoon (manga) or something like that. Almost whole track is taken by repetitive digital piano/synthesizer melody which seems to never end. The only redeeming factor is glorious pipe organ fragment in the middle, but it's still to short to save this piece of crap.

I can conclude that "Kings' Boards" is fairly interesting disk with a couple of pleasant neo/symph compositions and one real gem ("Corde Spirale"). All in all rather average staff but should be checked by all keyboards-oriented rock geeks out there. So I recommend it to such people because I'm one of them and I rather enjoyed it (with few exceptions). Just don't expect too many ultra-fast-technical-mindblowing-flashy moments here.

The best track: Noami Miura - "Corde Spirale"

3,5 stars from ozzy_tom

ozzy_tom | 3/5 |


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