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Vienna - Overture CD (album) cover

OVERTURE

Vienna

 

Crossover Prog

3.07 | 11 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer
3 stars "Vienna" was a kind of Japanese super-group because of inclusion of 4 musicians who used to play in popular prog-rock bands: Yukihiro Fujimura ("Gerard"), Shusei Tsukamoto ("Outer Limits"), Toshimi Nagai ("Afflatus" & later also "Gerard") and Ryuichi Nishida ("Novela" & "Mugen"). What could go wrong with such splendid line-up? In fact music presented by this formation on their 3 studio albums isn't very original or groundbreaking. More or less it can be described as mix of neo-prog and harder edged pop-rock with hints of symphonic progressive rock. Rather average (especially taking in consideration this promising line-up!) but without doubt worth checking by fans of 80s Japanese music.

Let's check songs included on their debut album called "Overture":

1. "Follow You" - first song immediately welcomes us with rather dated sounding drum beat and some digital synth sounds. Typical 80s stylistic I can say. It was 1988 after all, so we can't expect sophisticated percussion work or too many vintage keyboards here, but don't worry it's not so bad. In fact soon you'll probably become used to overall atmosphere here, I surely did. Anyway "Follow You" is the shortest song of the album and the most commercial sounding but I somehow like it. Yukihiro Fujimura's vocals are competent just as during his "Gerard" days, not joyfully goofy as some other Japanese vocalists (i.e. Hisakatsu Igarashi from "Novela") but also not significantly strong. Anyway he's a much better guitarist for me, and he proves it during lovely, Spanish-like acoustic guitar solo.

2. "Seek a Sign" - Shusei Tsukamoto was famous from playin' modern synthesizers in his mother band "Outer Limits" but during his years in "Vienna" he sometimes ventured into 70s prog roots. And this song is a prefect proof that he definitely knows how to handle Hammond organ! Thanks to his phenomenal organ work "Seek a Sign" successfully blends traditional symphonic prog and more recent pop-rock tendencies. Defnitely I can think of Emerson's approach in "Karn Evil 9" here. Fujimura's electric guitar riffs are also great.

3. "The Metamorphic Time in Paradise" - another good track starts with charming harpsichord melodies, soon afterwords replaced by big pipe organ ones. Rick Wakeman would be proud! More melancholic vocals ale suit here perfectly. Later on tempo significantly speeds up and guitar & high-tech keyboards become more prominent. The second part of this mini epic have many moments filled with synthesizers pyrotechnics in the vain of Toshio Egawa from "Gerard" & "Novela".

4. "Overture" - more complex track with untypical signatures and adventurous drums work. Nagai's bass is very prominent here and Fujimura's guitar is more aggressive. However vocal fragments are too poppy for me and all of those modern keyboards (for 1988, mind you...) sounds can become tiresome.

5. "Magic Motion" - this song begins with quite impressive instrumental work where especially Yukihiro's guitar shines in its full glory but soon "Magic Motion" degenerates into rather sloppy pop offender. Disco-like keyboards sound atrocious! Only slightly better than J-schlock music presented for example on last 2 albums of "Novela". In fact there are also some decent solos in here, but lenghty vocal parts sound really shoddy.

6. "Canone" - come back to great form! Very symphonic sounding mini-epic very similar to early "Gerard's" staff. Very melodic keyboards, acoustic guitar licks and decent drum work. Everything is here. I only have one complaint: too repetitive fragments where vocalist sings again and again: "It can't be true"(yes, this time in English). But overall it's a good ending for the album.

Summarize: average but entertaining album for all neo-prog & symphonic-prog rock fans who aren't afraid of digital synthesizers onslaught, pop music inclinations and some harder-edged guitar moments. I can especially recommend it to people who already checked up such bands like "Gerard"(first 4 albums), "Novela" or "Scheherazade". But if I'd have to point only one band the most similar to "Vienna", it it would be "Moondancer" - very obscure but decent Japanese prog-rock formation from late 70'.

In general "Overture" is not a bad album at all, but if you want to start your journey with "Vienna" I suggest you to listen to "Unknown"(1998) first. Their last album doesn't feature this cheesy 80s atmosphere and Shusei Tsukamoto plays much more Hammond organ there.

Best track: "Seek a Sign"

3 stars from ozzy_tom for this band's debut.

ozzy_tom | 3/5 |

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