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Social Tension - It Reminds Me of Those Days CD (album) cover

IT REMINDS ME OF THOSE DAYS

Social Tension

 

Symphonic Prog

4.04 | 8 ratings

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ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Second album of Japanese power trio Social Tension called "It Reminds Me of Those Days"(spelled on artwork as "It Remainds Me of Those Days"!) isn't on the same level as groundbreaking debut one, but it's very entertaining release for symphonic prog fans. The main problem of this disk, is it's very short duration time. I suppose that less than 36 minutes wasn't enough even in 1990 (it was already era of cassettes and CDs!). But as I've heard the band call it a day during recording process so maybe they just weren't able to include all ideas into "It Reminds Me of Those Days" because of budget circumstances...who know? Anyway while "MacBethia" was a top notch gem from beginning to the end, this effort includes more uneven moments which can be a slight disappointment considering short length of this CD (especially dumb "Childish Concerto"). But don't worry, 80% of disk space is still filled with high quality Hammond/synthesizer/mellotron/pianos-drenched ambitious music in the vain of ELP, Trace or Triumvirat. I can add that Masahiko ’ta got bigger chance to prove his vocal abilities here too, but of course his incredible bass guitar skills are the most evident.

1. "Evil Intention" - album begins very unusual for this band because opening track doesn't have too much in common with Social Tension's style. It's harder & more straightforward than anything these guys recorded on the debut. "Evil Intention" is an up-tempo heavy prog song which would perfectly fit on Deep Purple, Birth Control or Frumpy's album. Extremely sharp-sounding, over-driven Hammond organ is the main attraction here, those mean riffs and two furious solos remind me Lucian BŁeler's work in Krautrock formation "Wind". Masahiko's vocals seem to be a bit goofy in this aggressive style, but they're good enough. By the way the most funny thing is that this track seems to be some kind of cover (plagiarism?) of song called "Copper Sunset" from repertoire of obscure British 70s act called "Aardvark". I don't know if the lyrics are the same (I don't know Japanese) but the main melody is absolutely the same. I love it anyway.

2. "It Reminds Me Those Days" - opus magnum of the album is this 18 minutes long super epic which can be a direct competitor for lengthy "Go on my Way" and "MacBethia" from their debut. It's a truly amazing composition loaded with memorable melodies played on a wide range of vintage keys. Musicians often switch between more aggressive Hammond/Moog-driven fragments and more romantic parts with sheer virtuosity. Synth-made orchestration which occasionally enters the space is also great, never too loud to not distact listeners from the main music themes. It's just excellent addition to classical-influenced atmosphere of this suite. While I love the whole epic, I have to admit that my favorite part is of course this extended organ solo between 11th and 12th minute. Melancholic vocal delivery in softer moments are also very beautiful, especially together with fantastic mellotron eruptions. While the most surprising is the madness between 6:30-8:40 minutes, when Nobuo Endoh tries to create as crazy noises from his organ as possible (like Keith Emerson during concerts or British Canterbury scene band Egg). In general I can describe this staff as a perfect mix of ELP/Trace-style of bombastic prog with melodic symphonic staff of Genesis and Yes.

3. "Childish Concerto" - I've heard people saying that Social Tension sounds cheesy but mostly this accusation are completely wrong. However on "Childish Concerto" these guys prove that they can sound horribly corny. Simplistic piano melody, artificial sounding orchestration and annoying children's singing "lalalala". Disgraceful! Thank God it's only 2 minute long.

4. "Waltz" - very pleasant progressive waltz with very melodic vocals and perfect combination of string-machine and baroque-like harpsichord. Maybe a little too mellow and slightly cheesy compared with standard Social Tension's keyboards extravaganza, but I still love it. This one is much more in Rick Wakeman or Michael Quatro style than usual.

5. "Out of March" - the last track is an instrumental which have two "faces": one "face" is a flashy organ-driven, ultra-symphonic face in clear ELP style, while the other "face" is shoddy tetris soundtrack-like melody played on sloppy-happy synthesizer. Thankfully 75% of "Out of March" is occupied by the first "face", so we can enjoy plenty of roaring Hammond organ solos here. So my general rating for this one is positive as hell.

Overall "It Reminds Me of Those Days" is another solid example of keyboards-driven symphonic prog-rock gem which was sadly forgotten by ambitious music audience. It's a pity that is has never been re-released, so most of people have to rely on compilation "It Reminds Me of Macbethia" which includes all songs from their first album & only two tracks from this one ("It Reminds Me Those Days" suite & "Out of March"). Of course I recommend this disk to fans of ELP, Trace, Triumvirat, Refugee, UK, Par Lindh Project, Nexus, Gerard, Ars Nova etc., but as usual I'd like to mention some more obscure formation with similar style. So let it be Mahoujin, very little-known Japanese prog-rock trio from 70s. Both bands have quite much in common.

Best track: "It Reminds Me Those Days"

4,5 stars from ozzy_tom

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |

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