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Asturias - Fractals CD (album) cover

FRACTALS

Asturias

 

Neo-Prog

4.25 | 26 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars I'm not going to lie, it upsets me greatly when an outstanding progressive album such as this seems to fly completely under the radar and goes almost totally unnoticed - you've all been warned! Although listed as Neo-prog, Asturias has a number of jazz-fusion and classical elements worked into their take on instrumental progressive rock, with great focus on furious and passionate violin by the stunning Tei Sena that gives this band a definite unique sound of their own. `Fractals' is overloaded with memorable instrumental melodies and stunning musicianship, with not a single moment of filler amongst the wonderful compositions offered here.

Opener `Double Helix' is a frantic crash of uptempo neo-prog styled keyboards, commanding violin and winding guitar. Amongst the classical sound there's a snappy aggression to the performance, especially the driving drum-work. The band sounds so confident charging in with this one! The suitably titled `Voice From Darkness' has a more somber dramatic mood, heavier and displaying even occasionally brief sinister moments. Very stirring and darkly sophisticated, nice hypnotic synths and bass throughout too. `Castle In The Mist' is the first epic, with a lovely reflective violin theme at the start and end of the piece, a heartfelt piano/bass middle section, and a powerful main guitar theme reprised throughout with a fiery solo to end on too. The punchy `Moondawn has very neo-prog electric guitar melodies and matching synth runs, with a nice playful jazzy improv section in the middle. A shorter track, it serves as a nice break between the longer pieces. The second epic `Silent Tears' opens with an endless emotional guitar melody and solo, playing in a lonely Santana style with lots of sustained notes that makes it quite heart-wrenching. A weeping violin soon comes in with the rest of the band playing the same melody, but even just the single instrument change dramatically alters the mood. The band then heads in a jazzy fusion direction with piano and full band, the violin and guitar play the exact same melody but take turns to briefly solo - a wonderful and tasteful duel!

Now we come to the three part epic `Suite Of Fate" - We prog fans do love a good multi-part suite! `i. Fugue' is a darkly classical short instrumental performed on church organ and electric guitar. Little bits of Genesis and ELP in this, as well as fellow Japanese band Ars Nova but with less bombastic aggression! The highlights of the upbeat `ii. Argus Last Stand' are jazzy piano, a couple of cool synth solos and a busy drum showdown flying around the dancing violin. After a misleading delicate piano intro, `iii. The Lancer' is a great snappy and energetic number where all members get rapid-fire solos and standout moments.

The album seems to be only available as an expensive imported Japanese CD, but is worth every cent. Not sure if it's hard to come by already, but I urge listeners who are impressed with online sample tracks to get themselves a copy. This album is credited to Electric Asturias to differentiate from the project's acoustic albums. While I love the visually simple but striking front cover artwork, I'm a little conflicted about the the CD's bright pink spine, but at least it's easy to find on the CD shelf!

Easy to listen to, but full of subtlety, hidden complexity and surprising depth, `Fractals' offers the perfect balance of restrained talented musicians knowing when to hold back and let the music breathe, while still impressing with their technical prowess and ear for good memorable hooks. This incredibly energetic, intense and inventive album is a complete joy to listen to, and exactly the reason why we listen to progressive rock in the first place. I'm glad to see several raters have also awarded the album the highest rating.

Along with the most recent `Kotobel - Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble', this one offers some of the finest instrumental progressive rock music of recent years, really raising the bar for other bands. Couldn't be more highly recommended, and I couldn't imagine my collection without it.

Five stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |

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