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Katra Turana - Katra Turana CD (album) cover

KATRA TURANA

Katra Turana

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.91 | 6 ratings

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TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The evidence that the world is full to the brim of amazing and wonderful music can be demonstrated every time one discovers an album as breathtaking and wonderful as this one, and finds out that it doesn't even classify as a cult classic!

Katra Turana are an underground Japanese avant-garde band with a very melodic, theatrical sound that is lead by the male and female vocals of Atsushi Hiroike (you read that correctly; he does both). The music is very lovely, with a great lineup containing xylophone, violin, and piano (as well as other instruments) that create very organic sounding music.

I have fallen pretty much head over heels in love with this album. It is a bit difficult to find nowadays (probably always has been really) but it is definitely worth the time to seek it out, and at the very least there are some tracks available for streaming on youtube.

The second track is a superb example of why this album strikes such a chord with me. It starts of very simple - xylophone timidly and tentatively starts to form the first melody, but it stumbles and it falters, as if it is unsure of itself - then suddenly the piano emerges, itself a little tentative, but it says, "Wait, i think I see where you are going." and the xylophone gains a bit more confidence. Together they come closer to the actual melody, until they "find" it and are joined by very subtle drumwork. Then the strength of the music seems to carry them forward, until a lovely accompanying violin line joins in (oh, that violin! It seems to breathe confidence and structure into our previously timid instruments), and before you know it, the whole band has joined in, but the xylophone holds on to the melody, now adding fills where before there were gaps. And my heart! Those violins, which play a different melody alongside, really tug at the heart strings! But then there is a sad turn - the other instruments leave and the xylophone and piano stumble and falter again - before the lovely vocals of Atsushi arrive (here, singing in his "female" voice).

This in fact only describes the opening movement of the track, and it proceeds to follow the optimistic-but-still-somehow-fragile vocals of Atsushi, and a new melody is introduced that, while perhaps not quite as bittersweet as the opening melody, will immediately entice you. We also get a bit of a sense of where the avant-garde tendencies come from as the melody seems to almost distort and age; truthfully it makes me think of a building that is brand new, then watching it age without care in fast forward. But this melody is not to be lost and returns several times throughout this piece, often accompanied once again by a lovely violin counter-melody.

For the most part this album does stay quite lovely and the violin is one of the stronger voices on the album (although that may just be my personal bias; I LOVE violin). We get a nice mix of the melodic and the experimental in all places. Atsushi really does a lot with his voice on this album. The fourth track, which I believe was the track I heard that lead to me buying the album on CD, has a childlike feel to it and is almost eery but also catchy. On the fifth track he sings in his regular voice, and he is in fact quite good at that as well although I do actually find I prefer his "female" voice.

These three tracks that I have mentioned are probably the best on the album but this album is a true joy from the first track until the end, and one that you will want to spin many times. This is a band that did not exist for very long before they quietly disappeared, but I cannot imagine this is because there is no audience for this music. Now, in the age of the internet and music being readily available, they should finally find that audience.

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |

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