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Pochakaite Malko


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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Pochakaite Malko's debut album is a kind of Zeuhl/RIO/Symphonic hybrid that is very much a product of the contemporary progressive scene in Japan. Bassist Shigekazu Kuwahara was in the first Koenjihyakkei line up, and his playing is heavily influenced by Jannick Top and Bernard Paganotti. The drummer is firmly in the Zeuhl/RIO camp that produced Yoshida Tatsuya, and over this rhythm section two keyboard players weave complex patterns of the Emerson/Banks/Bardens variety.

This is a band with its roots firmly and proudly in the early 70s. On the first listening I was reminded at various points of Heaven and Hell by Vangelis, Zappa's RDNZL, ELP's KE9 and Tarkus, all underpinned with a growling, rumbling bass and the kind of precise yet unpredictable drumming of Magma and their Zeuhl acolytes. As appealing as all this may sound in theory, it doesn't always work that well in practice. It's not often that prog fans complain that the music features too many keyboards, but that's the downside of this album; as good as it often is, and the writing and playing is generally excellent, the arrangements sometimes get bogged down in dense layers of organ/synth sounds where another instrumental voice could have injected more colour and life into the performances. This is borne out by the two tracks which feature guest performers; Trinity is a largely acoustic world music interlude with a strong Indian feel, while 5th Element features an ethereal female vocal which is an effective foil for the synthesiser melody which runs through the piece, and these are the most memorable tracks on the album.

Newcomers to Japanese prog, especially the burgeoning Zehl/RIO scene, could do a lot worse than start here, but Ruins' 'Symphonica', Koejihyakkei's 'Nivrayam' and Happy Family's 'Tossco' all explore similar territiory more effectively. Ultimately it's a bit like an over rich chocolate cake; enjoyable in small pieces, but difficult finish in one go. Worth checking out, but subsequent Pochakaite Malko releases are better.

Report this review (#117065)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was love at first listen for me. I didn't realize that there would be such a Zeuhl flavour to this music, then I found some sites who actually list this band under Zeuhl. Some of these guys were in a MAGMA cover band, while the bass player was in the great Zeuhl band KOENJIHYAKKEI. Interesting as well that keyboard player Kazuo Ogino is from the band GHOST. He composed most of the songs on this album. Certainly the Zeuhl sound comes from the bass / drum duo, but I was also impressed that there are two keyboardists in this band. They really fill out the sound with the vintage keys, mellotron, synths, piano and organ.

"G-13" opens with all these intricate sounds that mesh so well together. Some great organ and piano in this one. Heavy drums and bass create a lot of bottom end. Check out the hammond organ 5 minutes in. This is the perfect song to open with. "Ukraine" features a pounding rhythm that includes piano. It gets heavy after 2 minutes. The soundscape is filled with beautiful sounds like a UNIVERS ZERO song. "Lanka" opens with a flury before settling down. Hammond organ comes screaming in after 2 minutes. I'd love to see this song played live because there is so much going on. Incredible ! "Cat Field" is really the first laid back tune. Light drums and keys lead the way. Mellotron waves. It picks up a little 1 1/2 minutes in.

"Funeral" opens with piano. This has a dark atmosphere with mellotron. The piano is slowly played, the mood is haunting. This song brings to mind UNIVERS ZERO. "Arrhythmia" is an uptempo blitz. The song settles down 4 minutes in briefly with mellotron. "Trinity" features a guest guitarist playing relaxing melodies in this laid back intro. Percussion follows leading the way as the tempo picks up a little. "5th Element" is dark with drums and synths to open. A jazz vibe 2 minutes in as some guest female vocal melodies arrive. Lots of piano 3 1/2 minutes in. "Acid Rain" is an interesting track with a heavy sound as piano and synths play over top. "Holy Mountain" ends the album on a high. Haha. Some excellent piano as bass and drums pound away. Mellotron floods. I love the sound 2 1/2 minutes in.

If your into Zeuhl or dark Rio-Prog like UNIVERS ZERO you need to check this out. Heck, if your into keyboards at all you will get giddy listening to this incredible recording.

Report this review (#155278)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Review Permalink

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