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Mandrake - Unreleased Materials Vol. 1 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.17 | 4 ratings

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3 stars Mandrake was the brainchild of Japanese composer Susumu Hirasawa, most notably known for his work with New Wave/Synth Pop act P-Model.The band existed between early to late-70's with no official recordings, at least not outside the Japanese borders.In 1997 Belle Antique released an album entitled ''Unreleased Materials Vol 1'' with four recordings from the band's early days, featuring, besides Hirasawa on guitars/vocals, bassist Tohru Akutu, drummer Sadatoshi Tainaka, keyboardist Yasumi Tanaka with Fumiyasu Abe guesting at the fourth track on vocals and violin.

As all liner notes are written in Japanese, it is hard to tell more about the band's history, the music though has some very impressive things to offer.The opening ''Kazari mado no dekigoto'' follows the likes of KING CRIMSON and ELOY, sort of Psych/Symphonic Rock with dominant Mellotron parts, flashy synthesizers, Classical organ and heavy psychedelic guitar playing, a hainting monster piece of progressive music.The 14-min. ''Shumatsu no Kajitsu'' is more of the same, featuring impressive Mellotron work and haunting organ sounds with a later psychedelic-sounding section and a good synth-based ending part, again the Japanese vocals prevent this from being an outstanding piece.''Okasareta Kyuden'' has a very brutal and poor recording sound with Hard/Psych guitars dominating and vocals being quite amateur, Mandrake really sound like a Kraut-Rock act on this one and only some synth, organ and Mellotron parts recall the early sound of GENESIS or BEGGAR'S OPERA.This compilation will close with the complex 20-min. epic ''Sakuran no tobira''.It kicks off heavily influenced by mid-70's KING CRIMSON with some trully captivating guitar performance by Hirasawa, before turning into a Heavy Rock jam section, Mandrake really sound like a Kraut-Rock band to this point.The middle section offers vocals in English (!), another shine the band was influenced by Western Prog acts, the KING CRIMSON influence becomes more apparent with the slow violin passages, before turning again into a Heavy Rock beast with some adventurous guitar and bass performance, although the sound quality is at moments unbearable.

It is not easy to just skip the average sound of these recordings, which stands really unfair to Mandrake's true potential.But the overall dramatic, dark and innovative musicianship in the vein of Classic Prog bands, especially on the first couple of tracks, have something to offer.Cool band, cool archival release and a recommended album, despite the recordings' flaws.

apps79 | 3/5 |


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