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Bi Kyo Ran - Bi Kyo Ran CD (album) cover


Bi Kyo Ran


Heavy Prog

3.56 | 44 ratings

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3 stars When I first heard this album I found it hard to take Bi Kyo Ran seriously. I mean sure the music was very good, but its resemblance to the music of Starless/Red era King Crimson was so pronounced that it really seemed like a joke ... indeed I actually burst out laughing at one point! Over time though I've gotten to develop a respect for the original moments given to us by this Kunio Suma-led ensemble.

For the most part Bi Kyo Ran is a guitar/bass/drums trio (Suma plus bassist Masahdie Shiratori and drummer Masaaki Nagasawa) although the players are augmented by guests on (surprise, surprise) violin and recorder. I've been reliably informed that Bi Kyo Ran started out as a King Crimson tribute band, but once you get pass the shocking similarities, you will eventually see signs of the band's own character developing ... Suma's unusual vocals in Japanese is obviously the most glaring departure from King Crimson's "formula".

The highlights of this self-titled debut from 1982 are the two 14-minute pieces, Double and Warning, that bookend it. I'm really hooked by the vocal melody of Double, and its delicate violin/guitar/vibes interlude starring Suma and guest violinist Toshihiro Nakanishi is excellent, as is a jam based on an angular ascending metallic riff that occurs halfway through the piece. Warning is a strange mix of David Cross like-violin leads, the eerie moments of In The Court Of The King Crimson, more Red-era guitar solos and some percussive (read Larks Tongues In Aspic) experiments! although the vocal harmony section does go a little way towards giving it a welcome flavour of its own.

Elsewhere, Cynthia is an engaging instrumental with Renassiance-era influences, showcasing the lighter side of Bi Kyo Ran (while thankfully not steering to close to any particular King Crimson track!) and Psycho (Part II) and Monologue are both furious bursts of energy, the latter also graced with some more off-beat vocals.

Despite it being a thoroughly enjoyable recording, Bi Kyo Ran's debut is still too much of a clone recording for me to deem it a compulsory addition to your progressive rock collection. ... 56% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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