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Stomu Yamash'ta - East Wind: Freedom Is Frightening CD (album) cover


Stomu Yamash'ta

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Certainly Yamash'ta's most acclaimed album by connoisseurs anyway, even if the Go experiments are much better known because of the high profile musicians. Apparently East wind was supposed to the group of musicians accompanying Stomu (I don't have the full infos), but Freedom Is Frightening is the only album (to my knowledge anyway) bearing that name. As with all too many of Stomu's works, this album cries out for a Cd reissue. Even the original vinyl with its excellent day/night draw, artwork gracing both sides of the cover, leaves few infos as to what and why in the album.

Just four announced tracks on this album (but there is a separate short vocal piece at the end of Rolling nuns), and they are stunners too. Opening on the slow developing title track, the musicians start very atmospherically, to slowly shift to early Barrett-less Floyd, gradually introducing a harder edge music through organs and electric guitar, By half the track, they are rocking solid with an infectious spacey groove, which continues to grow until its death. Rolling Nuns is a much quicker tempoed affair based on a funky bass (SM's Hugh Hopper is brilliant throughout the album) that moves from organ to splendid quick guitars (Gary Boyle , ex-Auger and future Isotope is also excellent), and the track ends in the afore- mentioned unnamed celestial vocal movement, lasting roughly two minutes.

The flipside takes on a much jazzier tone with Pine On The Horizon, but there is an annoying fiddle throughout most of the first part, but once it stops, the track veers red-hot funk-jazz with some good brass parts, then the track slowly dying on organs growls, spitting their guts out. The closing aerial Wind Words (so calm that it sounds new-age avant-la-lettre) starting with a melancholic violin, then irritatingly strident electric piano. Definitely the weaker track on this album.

One of the few Yamashta album's begging for a Cd reissue although still flawed, this album is warmly recommended as an introduction to his 70's career, which is the only one really worth investigating for progheads, his 60's and post 70's works being avant gazrde free-form "classical" music.

Report this review (#164704)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Stomu's East Wind was formed off the success of his touring theatre shows but the group delivers something more than a 'side project.' The compositions on Freedom is Frightening do have a theatrical feel and are quite dramatic at times but I enjoy that. In some ways, the music reflects longer moments from his earlier soundtrack to Man from the East, making good use of builds and dynamics, especially on the title track, where the swirling and droning eventually gives way to soloing from Boyle, and actually, Stomu plays with a fair amount of restraint. It works for the song, but I still would have liked some more aggression from him in the closing minutes.

The album is actually a fairly high-energy outing for the most part, evidenced by the repetitive but spiky 'Rolling Nuns' which is like the downhill slope after the build up on the title track. Once more Boyle is all over the piece and again he's assisted by Gascoigne's fuzzy synth, which brings just enough menace to the piece. Stomu plays harder, driving the song from the drum stool and it doesn't really let up until everything stops for a reverb heavy vocal outro. Some of the nice percussive touches here are continued in the more mid-tempo centrepiece, 'Pine on the Horizon' which almost brings Gentle Giant or Mahavishnu Orchestra to mind at times, or at least, a more sedate version of either band. Not just due to violin and guitar interplay but in the composition, it's probably the most varied song structurally, bringing in a range of rhythms and moods to its eleven-plus minutes. It really gets rocking toward the end as Boyle cuts loose again, where a horn section makes a surprise appearance, and while not awkward, seems to be a little bit tacked on, as if the brass could have been incorporated further.

Bringing down the curtain is 'Wind Words' where Stomu's wife Hisako takes the lead, her violin soaring over Gascoigne's vibes and the acoustic guitar. It's a haunting piece and a fantastic way to end a mostly charging album.

Stomu fans will want to get this one, it's one of his best, in a varied discography, and those who enjoyed Go may want to do so too. Just keep in mind the space-feel is not present here, it's classic fusion with a flair for the theatrical, though fans of Isotope may want to check this one out for Boyle alone.

Report this review (#660533)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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