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Terutsugu Hirayama - Castle Of Noi CD (album) cover


Terutsugu Hirayama

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars An exciting, mostly instrumental, busy, 2 sided (in vinyl terms) concept album for technical keyboard fans. It's a very listenable, sung in Japanese, pompous, rolling and forceful prog... and a kitty cat choir!


Credited to Teru's Symphonia in the album notes (which is among the ONLY English words written) and recorded while he was still in Novela. Teru-san soon quit Novela (mabe in 85-86) and officially formed Teru's Symphonia. The idea was planted in 1983 but came to life soon after. His last album as Teru's Symphonia was in 1999. No one knows what he is doing now.

And so... 1983's Terutsugu Hirayama's Castle Of Noi is a fun listen. Defiantly and definitly a prog rocker. Great, complex arrangements remind me of Rush: it's drums and bass very prominent. A Genesis and Yes vibe is throughout and the smidgen of Styx's pomp... for lack of a better explanation adds to the timbre. I don't know too much of the other bands Signore Hirayama was in, but he has a history of being in a top Japanese Prog band, Novela, whose sound is not too far off. His old band spawned a Keyboard legend, Toshio Egawa, who formed the prog unit "Gerard"... an ELP wanna be band.

Pure dynamic and powerful Symphonic Prog complete with business, surprises, moments of rockin', spots of atmospheric reflection with all instruments being dominant. Some great female vocals (uh oh, misogynists beware) and not so great male vocals. Many atmospheric Casio/DX7 keys, piano, Moog style leads, aggressive Rickenbacker bass, punchy and compressed to hell rapid-fire drums, and tasteful guitar. It has enough to hold the interests of the snobbiest prog rocker save for the singing which is in Japanese...

...and the kitty cat mini-opera.


From what I gather, from the CD case's inserts/comic (I have the vinyl, too... yes, a really fat Italian-American has the vinyl), the story is about a little boy, Kuya (Koo-ya), who ventures to the Mystical World some how, inhabited by walking-talking kitty-cats (who might own the Kingdom of Noi, I suppose), elves, living trees and D&D things, through a dream (shown in the last illustrations) or through Jon Anderson's ear for all I know, to head to or save the Castle Of Noi, or whatever. After being briefed by the Kitty Cat King, Queen and the "Captain of Cat Solder" (?), or something, this poor 8 to 10 year old child, equipped with a spear, is newly recruited to fight (damn fascists) after getting drunk (!) with the other cats, and soon must battle or dethrone the monster, Teles, who might or might not have be defeated or befriended because he looks like a cute Muppet. Then our hero returns home safe and sound in bed after a tearful, heartfelt goodbye. This concludes our Anime soundtrack!

Who knows. I'm confused. I used up my comma quota for that one. The comic insert is very detailed and beautifully drawn. You can guess what's occurring. I don't know Japanese. The CD insert has all the lyrics, history and other essays included. The album has no essays.

I really enjoy the whole thing! Everyone should give this a go! The is serious musicianship on this album. It has alot to offer from a country whose music isn't heard much. It's not a difficult listen. I love the song Mystical World most. Yes (in the vocal backing as well) meets Hemispheres era Rush. Full time, half time, double time, odd time, keyboard brakes, crazy drums, Rickenbacker 4001... it's there.

It's not going to blow you away but there is not a dull moment.

Domo Agigato, Teru-san and Teru's Symphonia!


Report this review (#950994)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I first became aware of this album when Greg Walker from Synphonic Music sent me a list of his all- time favourite albums, and of course this was part of that list. I've had this for a couple of years and to be honest it just isn't my style of Prog. Very symphonic which is good but it's the orchestral moments that turn me off along with all the ELP-like bombast that makes me squint a lot. This is the project of Terutsugu Hirayama who is from Japan and is very talented at not only playing the guitar but at composing music as well.

This is a concept album by the way and it starts with "Opening And Main Title" a less than 2 minute orchestral intro to "Mystic World" which thankfully is more of a "rock" tune with some aggressive guitar. It changes before a minute with female vocals. Not a fan of her style but the contrasts will continue. The guitar is amazing but this is too bombastic for my tastes. "Nelfelti" has accordion and weird male and female vocals. The latter are operatic. Some strange vocal melodies as well. Not a fan. "A Boy And Soldier" is very orchestral with the guitar playing over top. "The Scene" opens with piano and reserved male vocals for about 2 1/2 minutes then it turns dark with sweeping synths. Nice. Back to the piano a minute later. At 4 1/2 minutes that dark mood with synths returns. It turns symphonic late. Good tune.

"Teles Pheres Maris" is divided into two parts. This sounds really good early on. Some heaviness here as the male vocals join in. Check out the guitar solo 2 1/2 minutes in. The keyboards are really good as well. This is my favourite song on here. "Castle Of Noi" is the almost 11 minute closer. It's divided into 4 parts. It's orchestral early on then female vocals arrive as drums, bass and synths help out. Not a fan really but I do appreciate how upfront the bass is on this release. The vocals stop as it becomes bombastic with guitar and some strange goings on. It settles back then picks back up. A calm with piano 8 minutes in then the orchestral keys(think SATELLITE) lead before the song ends.

Cetainly many consider this a classic but this just doesn't do a lot for me despite the obvious talent that went into this. If you love lots of keys and bombast this is worth checking out.

Report this review (#1261811)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Going straight to my analysis: First and second tracks seem to form the same set. I'll analyze them as one song. It begins pompous and gentle. Soon the keys get faster, with great combination of tunes, and drummer acompanies splendidly, making excellent transitions and combinations of cymbals, toms and drums. Great female vocals, despite being sung on their language. Its Performance on the whole album to me is almost as good as Hiroko Nagai , from Pageant and Mr Sirius. Bass is generally present - firm and quick. Guitar is very grandious, with high and long notes.

A friend of mine had a japanese girlfriend, and he made her tell him what the lyrics were about. They're part or parts of the story(ies) contained in a japanese cartoon. This helps to explain some peculiar vocals on third track that are a bit childish and theatrical. I love it. Even though I don't understand anything of japanese, helps me to feel a bit of the mood and vibe of each character.

What a marvelous composition is executed on 4th track! It resumes the pompous symphonic prog of second track, enrichened by the use of marching musical phrasings. Guitar is particularly inspired.

A piano with an erudit touch opens the next track. The male vocals are good but not phenomenal. Fortunately, vocals are used only on the first half of this song. Instrumental is smooth and enveloping.

The whole song that opens side B is a killer! Harmonies switch very nice from one to another, mantaining intensity and fluidity. Even the male vocals here are great, very passionate.

Last track starts similar to the first, but quickly changes the mood. Again they bring the superb female vocals. Instrumentally, some complex and fast harmonies from one and a half minutes beyond are played, and sometimes some of those childish vocals appear, in very precise occasions. This gives the composition a special touch. And their criativity and proficiency goes further, because they also add some lyric parts and some piano.

This is one of the great symphonic prog efforts from that country. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#2935478)
Posted Sunday, June 25, 2023 | Review Permalink

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