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Symphonic Prog

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erik neuteboom
3 stars This Japanese band is rooted in 1977 and had some known progrock musicians in their line-up like Ikkou Nakajima (ex-Pageant) and keyboard wizard Toshio Egawa (ex- Novela, ex-Sheherazade and re-united with Gerard). It lasted until 1984 before Fromage released a debut album entitled Ondine (without Nakajima and Egawa who already had left the band). The seven compositions are or short and catchy or longer and more symphonic featuring tasteful coloured compositions featuring pleasant work on guitar, keyboards and flute, in the vein of fellow Japanese bands like Gerard, Mugen and Pageant. The final song is a bonustrack from 1981, it sounds very alternating and delivers lots of surprising breaks. A nice album that shows a frequent 'Prog Archives Rating dilemma'': 3 stars is too much for this CD (it's nice, not good) but 2 stars is too little (it's nice but fans only sounds too negative) ... so I rate 3 stars but I mean 2,5!
Report this review (#73674)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars While I was listening to the opening track of this album, I thought: "He! I know this song". But I couldn't tell on the spot which one. But it became quite obvious after the chorus: "Candy's Going Bad" from "Golden Earring" was the song. A partial rip off should I say.

What's nice, are the peaceful flute interludes that brings a definite prog side to this track. What's not nice are the extremely poor vocals (but this is not the first Japanese band to deliver this). If only this track would have been purely instrumental...

The music alternates between gentle and sweet flute combined with heavy rock elements during which the guitar is soaring jolly good like during "Ultimate" which is my preferred song from the whole album (it is also purely instrumental).

Melancholic symphonic music can be experienced during the title track: a simple structure, a nice melody and a catchy guitar break are definitely pleasant. Just a pity that there are some vocals in here?

The long closing number "Tsuki-ni-hoeru" allows the band to expand more in the several directions which they have investigated with the shorter tracks from this debut album.

More subtle moments, more great guitar parts; but not more vocals (thank god!). Some jazzy and groovy passages also provides some eclectics to this song which is pretty enjoyable to listen to. A fine moment in perspective for symphonic prog fans. (like the good bonus track as well).

Three stars for this good album that could have been rated higher if only the vocal department would have been on par.

Report this review (#260361)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A Japanese group from late-70's, formed in Kyoto and featuring later Gerard's leader Toshio Egawa and Pageant's guitarist Ikkou Nakajima in their early line-up.However the band did not release anything around the time and we would have to wait for 1984 when the Fromage quintet debuted with ''Ondine'' on Belle Antique.By the time female musician Manabu Higashizawa was handling the flute, Yoshie Shimamura was the keyboard man, Yoshihiro Kondo the guitarist, while the rhythm section consisted of Hirozaku Taniguchi on drums and Tomohisa Hayashi on bass.

The album opens with ''Extermination''.Interesting flute work,careful use of synths,some great breaks but also a cliche groove and ultra-cheesy vocals complete a fine but rather uneven track.The following ''Inspiration'' is pretty awful.Sort of bluesy Pop Rock mixed with 80's synths and unbearable vocals,a total failure.''Ultimate'' is a winner to say the least,instrumental keyboard-driven Symphonic Rock with a slight commercial edge, headed by the fantastic flute work of Higashizawa,the nice synths of Shimamura and the STEVE HACKETT-influenced guitars of Kondo.The eponymous track is actually a long symphonic ballad with good electric solos and decent synthesizers in a very grandiose mood,not unlike early GERARD.''Color Vision Night'' is the worst track by far,absolutely uninteresting Synth- Pop with distorted guitars and horrible poppy vocals.The band however decided to save the best for last,the 17-min, grand epic ''Tsuki-ni-hoeru'',a composition with a fair amount of diversity.Melodic symphonic Rock with hints of CAMEL on the flute work, pretty nice use of synthesizers in a GENESIS vein and a touch of FOCUS on the guitar lines.And the only track along with the eponymous one,where vocals are pretty bearable.

Two CD reissues followed by Belle Antique in 1994 and 2007 respectively,I would definitely recommend the second one,which features the decent 10-min. bonus track ''Kishibe no nai umi''.Pretty commercial but certainly well-played Neo/Symphonic Prog with some nice breaks,fiery hard rock soloing but also very interesting keyboard and piano parts in the vein of QUASAR,surprisingly the forefront bass work is also very good.

Not an excellent album,but ''Ondine'' holds a fair amount of interesting material to satisfy the Progressive/Symphonic Rock fan.Typical Japan product of the time,if you skip a couple of embarassing tracks,the rest of the album is easily recommended.

Report this review (#588861)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink

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