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Asturias - In Search Of The Soul Trees CD (album) cover




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Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams
4 stars With fresh air...

ASTURIAS has come back with the masterpiece. Their passion and motivation are not lost In Search Of The Soul Trees at all. Please listen at first.

Spiritsshows exactly spirits dancing with pleasure. The key instrument should be Yoh's acoustic guitar, added with keyboard, synth strings, horn sections, and electric sounds. Feel that some spirits are dancing...sometimes quietly, and sometimes actively...little by little flying up toward the sky...and away from us abruptly. On Revelation piano backing is so beautiful and impressive. In the latter part, passionate electric guitar sounds are great, and of course steady and strict rhythm sections can construct the part completely. The last battle with multi-instruments should be like shining stars. Reincarnation - Fountain has the important point of repeated keyboard backing. All sounds are streaming smoothly, and let me say especially in the middle part of Fountain piano solo should make me weep deeply. As if I was dreaming an illusory dream I can feel... Go further away. Exactly mysterious Woods. What can I find in the wood and trees? Lots of plants and animals are living there calmly but powerfully. Of course, I am! Beautiful piano solo and violin sounds are in Pilgrimage. Rhythmical percussions follows and we can feel as if we should walk and climb up the soul mountain TOWARD A CLOUD IN THE SKY (the next song) do you feel? :-) Well, over the cloud is Paradise. Oh, absolutely fantastic world. With piano and recorder chandelier and stardusts around us, we can enjoy a momentary dreamy dream...without any forebodings of Storm... Suddenly! Sharply electronic and percussive rainstorm has attacked and driven us away. Umm...can we stand...until helpful Soul Trees coming. No problem. After the storm, a wonderful world will open! Soul trees with kind mind can defend us from every hard, horrible and painful thing. All instruments - guitars, keyboards, synths, drums & percussion, strings - complexly are twined around the soul trees and lead them to the sky quietly...I feel so. The remnant is only fresh air around us.

With fantastic feeling. The story is surely ASTURIAS itself!

Report this review (#216154)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Since Asturias mastermind Yoh Ohyama has been often called the Japanese Mike Oldfield, the similarities between his music and that of the English multi-instrumentalist will not come as too much of a surprise. However, it would be very unfair to tag Asturias as a clone band, as here we are mainly referring to similarities in the structuring of albums, and in the emphasis on instrumental compositions rather than conventional songs.

"In Search of the Soul Trees" is a wholly instrumental effort, a suite divided in two parts, each comprising five sections. The concept on which it is based has with a definite 'new-age' flavour - a spiritual journey deeply rooted in nature, the titles of the various sections suggest. Even though all this might sound rather déjà vu, the good news is that the music actually succeeds in reflecting the content, and makes for a worthwhile listening experience.

For the recording of this album Ohyama has gathered an impressive roster of talented musicians to complement his own remarkable skills. The result is a rich, well-rounded orchestral sound, with lots of variation within the same section to keep the listeners' attention alive. The natural flow and clarity of the music make the listening experience a real pleasure, even for those who are not particularly into instrumental albums. Moreover, each of the ten sections of the suite seems to have a sort of personality of its own that allows it to stand alone.

Opener Spirits immediately sets the tone, with a recurring main theme weaving in and out of the composition, and seamless interaction between the plentiful instruments. Some of the keyboard passages can bring to mind the trademark Canterbury sound, while the lilting sound of the glockenspiel provides an evocative, magical note. More Canterbury references crop up in Reincarnation, which also features some Spanish-flavoured, acoustic guitar licks, and Fountain, with its brisk, march-like drum pattern. The first half of the suite closes with the stunningly beautiful Woods, a stately piece richly woven with strands of violin, guitar and keyboards, as well as liberal sprinklings of sweetly chiming glockenspiel.

The keyboard-led Pilgrimage opens Part 2, followed by the beautiful Paradise - featuring some ethereal chanting, as well as the deep, mournful sound of the cello and the more uplifting ones of the recorder and the harpsichord. On the other hand, in Storm Asturias come very close to prog-metal territory (not surprisingly, given the title), opening with driving keyboards and guitar, then alternating gentler passages with more energetic ones. The album culminates with the majestic Soul Trees - a genuinely symphonic piece that gives equal space to every instrument, and a real delight for the dedicated prog fan - with lyrical, baroque strings, emotional lead guitar, lush keyboards, even the tinkling sound of bells. The gentle strains of Dawn, a long duet between piano and a beautifully clean-sounding guitar then bring the album to a perfect close.

"In Search of the Soul Trees" is sure to appeal to fans of well-crafted, skilfully played instrumental music with plenty of melody and atmosphere. Another excellent offering from the contemporary Japanese prog scene, and a solid 4-star rating.

Report this review (#261526)
Posted Monday, January 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yoh Ohyama leads this Japanese chamber rock ensemble through a collection of elegant and scored pieces which come together well as two separate pieces on In Search of the Soul Trees. Earlier albums from Ohyama include 1988's Circle In the Forest, Brilliant Streams two years later and Cryptogram Illusion in 1993.

"Pilgrimage" has moments mimicking After Crying's grand pacing and harmonious blending of instruments. Another touchstone might be early Gandalf, but I never heard Gandalf as inventive or able to bring out the best in the whole band as Asturias. Most songs are a mix of acoustic and electric instruments, with Yoh Ohyama pulling out the Mike Oldfield setting on his electric and acoustic guitars quite often. Ohyama's acoustic guitar playing can also make his songs sound like a Michael Hedges piece.

Each piece is a study of a very disciplined and integrated band, with a very rounded sound like Camel. "Storm" brings out the full force of the ensemble, electrified like a rock band, and with a big percussion group. The tracks for the two Parts are not separated by quiet space, but merge into each other, which creates a very nice listening experience.

Very recommended for Mike Oldfield and Japanese offshoots like Shengetsu, Flat122 and LU7.

Report this review (#534933)
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars After two jazzy and purely accoustic opus, Asturias is back on the prog and rock track with SEARCH OF THE SOUL TREES and the re-apparition of the electric guitar, mellotron and drums on a significant level.

Mike Oldfield influence as well is back full strenght on learly all tracks.

Fountain would have passed unaltered into the 70's Mike Oldfield discography, except it's one of the shortest track. Woods would have made it into Incantations.

Pilgrimage is near perfect. Paradise gives us some rest before the contrasted Storm and (most of all) Soul Trees, the most appealing track for prog fans. Now that's waht we call dynamics !

An album that will probably please this website readers more than any previous Asturias effort. A fully instrumental and mesmerizing product.

Would give a clear 4,5 if possible.

Report this review (#726271)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2012 | Review Permalink

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