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Yuka & Chronoship - Dino Rocket Oxygen CD (album) cover

DINO ROCKET OXYGEN

Yuka & Chronoship

Neo-Prog


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4 stars Yuka & Chronoship's record "Dino rocket oxygen" was released earlier this year and I have listened to parts of it for a long time but I haven't listened to it all until tonight and I must declare it's a very tight and lush release. The band is ruled by Yuka Funakoshi who sings(a bit) and plays keyboard. Her band mates are Takashi Miyazawa (guitar), Shun Taguchi(bass) and Ikko Tanaka(drums). This Japanese band was formed 2009 and has earlier done one record and this one is their second.

I find this music lovely, really. They play a retro style progressive rock. It's almost instrumental apart from some vocals in some of the last songs. The record is full of symphonic pleasure and the 70s are always present in these songs. I have hard to pick favourite tracks but "Dance with dinosaurs" and "Ruler of the Earth" are two lovely tracks amongst others. All instruments make their job to finish this progressive journey: the keyboards sound sometimes like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and sometimes like something else, the guitar has both a heavy rock approach and a more melodical progressive one and the bass and drums are also magic.

I hope others will find and enjoy this record from this very talanted Japanese band. I am so happy they are not trying to make prog like pop or use ingratiating vocals. They are honest and interesting and I recommend them. If I would complaim on anything it could be the (almost) lack of vocals. More vocals experiments would have been nice. The cover isn't either very arousing. Indeed they have taken the Roger Dean style with their sign but the cover is very boring. Though is the record very good. Four stars!

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#1058669)
Posted Friday, October 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars If it's one thing I love, it's a good instrumental prog album, and frequently throughout the year I'll blindly order several and more or less hope for the best. I'm rarely let down, but once in a while a particular disc will really stand out, and this is the case with Yuka & Chronoship's second album, `Dino Rocket Oxygen' - yes, just get your head around that title for a minute! Along with PTF's violin/piano fusion driven debut `Percept From...', this work displays ample proof that Japan is producing some exquisite modern progressive rock, however this one is in a more proudly retro and hugely symphonic style instead. Led by female keyboard virtuoso Yuka Funakoshi, the four- piece play vintage-styled progressive rock that fans of modern bands adopting the style such as Glass Hammer, Trion and Willowglass will instantly fall for. Even the Roger Dean designed lettering of the band's logo on the front cover should be a bit of a giveaway to the kind of prog the listener will discover inside. Anyone who loves the keyboard dominated moments of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Camel and Pink Floyd, as well as some just good old classical bombast all performed with the usual Japanese technical skill will simply adore this one.

Although the star of the album is, of course, Yuka Funakoshi herself, the rest of the Chronoship band are all exceptional musicians as well. Takashi Miyazawa's electrifying guitar soloing takes on some delicious twisting turns, drummer Ikko Tanaka has no shortage of foot tapping yet restrained grooves, and Shun Taguchi likes to gently hold back then break through to the foreground with some seductive and prominent fluid bass runs when suitable. All of the musicians are perfectly restrained, never showing off but still offering numerous exciting and professionally executed solo spots.

The three extended suites offered on the album are broken into 11 tracks here. The `Dinosaurs Suite' (13:57) opens with a heartbeat set to a Mellotron veil that's worthy of being a Watcher of the Skies. Yes, that's regal scratchy Mellotron right from the second the disc starts, it even reminds me of the beginning of Twin Age's `Lialim High'. The piece soon moves through a range of tempo/time changes back and forth, bombastic sections of fiery fusion balanced with slow-burn emotional bursts. It's Triumvirat-styled one minute, smoother mid-70's Pink Floyd the next and given a classical grandiosity for good measure. Yuka's supremely confident piano and dazzling Wakeman styled Moog solos are incredible, and just listen out for her tense and heartfelt classical piano solo spots in the third act, simply sublime.

The `R is for Rocket Suite' (24:34), (dedicated to author Ray Bradbury) begins in a tense and a blood-rushing up-tempo stomp, lots of bluster and noise amongst the pounding drums, with Yuka's spiraling piano runs and Mellotron washes bringing a near orchestral sound to the music. Not quite heavy enough to be metal, it more reminds me of Italian band Il Giardino Onirico's album `Perigeo' from 2012. The second section, `Skygazer' is a beautifully upbeat spacey chill-out with an impossibly lovely melody and nice soothing wordless sighed harmonies similar to Camel's `The Snow Goose'. I cannot explain how much this piece makes me smile! A brief acoustic Steve Howe- like interlude, a heart-quickening sleek rocker full of chiming guitars, whirling Moogs and Vocoder treated voices follow, before wrapping on a mellow yet somber ballad. One of the few proper brief vocal passages, Yuka painfully cries `Goodbye green fields of my hometown, my mother, my friends, my schoolyard in summer breeze...', and it makes for a nice emotional reflection to end on.

The `Oxygen Suite' (18:53) frequently contrasts more sedate, floating synth/electronic passages and gentle atmospheres with heavier and relentless hard-rock sections. Amongst some playful and hypnotic bubbling electronics from blissful synths and pianos, frantic Dream Theater-like instrumental trickery and grand electric guitar solos that wouldn't be out of place on an Ayreon album weave seamlessly together. The album ends on a terrifically confident vocal passage from Yuka where she announces `Just like oxygen, my heart starts to breath, and hopes are there in my hands...'

Although almost as keyboard dominated as fellow Japanese female-led band Ars Nova, Yuka & Chronoship are not as aggressive and frequently attacking as that other band, and they show a lot more variety. Although I've had the album for several months, I wish I'd properly listened to it earlier, as it would have likely ended up in my personal Top Ten for 2013. Exquisitely produced and exceptionally performed, `Dino Rocket Oxygen', easy to track down on Musea Records, should be on the top of the list for anyone craving strong instrumental music. It's got a strong rock sound in many sections that fans of heavy prog may enjoy just as much as the symphonic listeners, but anyone who enjoys (mostly) instrumental works by passionate musicians can do no wrong by grabbing this album. This is one Ship that takes flight to the highest heavens!

Four stars.

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Send comments to Aussie-Byrd-Brother (BETA) | Report this review (#1151061)
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Yuka Funakoshi captains the Chronoship through three musical suites on this album - one inspired by dinosaurs, one by rockets and one by oxygen. Each suite has its own distinct style - for instance, in the Dinosaur Suite Yuka pulls off a clever musical joke by bringing out a playing style reminiscent of the classic prog keyboardists of the 1970s, whilst in the R Is For Rocket suite she plays in a more spacey style. Backed by a competent band. Yuka has crafted a solid instrumental neo-prog album which will tickle the fancy of many prog lovers, and it makes me want to see when and where this Time Lord and her crew are going to materialise next.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#1156941)
Posted Wednesday, April 02, 2014 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Yuka and Chronoship passed by my progressive radar and I did not pick up the blip, shame on me. So, my delightful Aussie-Byrd-Brother friend and colleague then wrote a definite review that managed to seduce me (which is the whole point of reading his reviews) into delving further into this unique package. And what a deal this is, a rollicking adventure of instrumental cheek, very retro at times, a cinematographic travelling circus of sounds and images. It turns out that this may be the best Japanese prog recording (with all due respect to KBB- Four Corners' Sky) ever! At least to my finicky tastes. First of all, it's brilliantly constructed with three segments that have mini-suite tendencies. Dino is for the 3 part Dinosaur's suite, R is for Rocket, owner of 5 booming pieces while the Oxygen section comprises of three acts. The instrumental crew is composed of the talented Yuka Funakoshi on Keyboard & Vocal, Takashi Miyazawa - Guitar & Choir, Shun Taguchi - Bass & Choir and Ikko Tanaka ? Drums. They are all most accomplished technicians who have a deep sense of feeling as well.

The pre-historic monster suite kicks off stubbornly with a swirling tempest of mellotron eerily reminiscent of "Watchers of the Skies" by the Genesis crew, eventually blending in various synthesized twirls as well as other keyboard compliments. If you are going to wear your influences, well, wear them well! Bombast, grandiosity, pomp and utter ceremony. The mood on the 7 minute + "Which Came First, The Dinosaur or the Egg? "is appropriately grandiloquent, explosive and lavish, Yuka displaying a Jürgen Fritz-like talent on a wide variety of ivories, allied with some sizzling guitar rants , a thundering bass guitar rambling and some seriously precision-tooled drums. There is in fact more similarities to classic Triumvirat than anything else, Yuka has that fluid knack for melody and technique that seemingly comes very easily (wish I could be born with such a gift!). At times, playful, adventurous, creative with a little dose of insanity, the suite travels over many glittering musical horizons. Miyazawa allows his axe to run riot, bending, molding and flickering like some man on a mission. "Ruler of Earth" keeps the tension on full throttle, Yuka provides extraordinary piano work once again, showcasing technique, virtuosity and command. This has a blues tinge that becomes obvious with the Gilmourian solo (a stunner), playing tag with the synthesizer. This asteroid ends the dinosaur section (sic!). Aptly titled, the Ray Bradbury dedicated Rocket suite has a different attitude, booster- powered prog engines are given a brief countdown and then 'Lift-off!'! "Cutting Gravity" follows its mission command orders and blasts into space with aplomb and grandiloquence. Nervous, fiery, explosive, the jet-propelled players really unleash speed and power in perfect harmony and interlocking instrumentation. The finale with the impulsive drumming, the rattling bass and the crazed guitar riffing is phenomenal. Once the Chronoship has attained its orbital sequence, the mood becomes more contemplative, as "Skygazer" permits a gentler conceptualization, a breezy choir-led travelogue that has a definite retro early 70s feel, with harmony "lalala' singing that is thoroughly enchanting and sorely missed in today's often over technical displays. The piece ends with a smart lullaby you will all recognize. Super cute! A brief snippet of classical music, someone walking, an acoustic guitar twinkling a la Steve Howe., "An Arrow of Glittering Music" only serves to announce the impending arrival of the "Blue Astronaut Helicopter", a deliriously fabulous synthesizer workout that mirrors the swirling swoosh of the rotors, keeping the Sea King airborne, as it scoops the beleaguered astronauts out of the salty brine. On "Beyond the Fence" they go rollicking along undaunted, the groove is relentless, upbeat and melodically astute, to the point of surprise as the ingenious vocoder (I am rarely a fan of this contraption) 'how-hows' with the piano. Yuka delivers a heartfelt little vocal that only further seduces. There is a slight nod to the Buggles, "I Love You, Miss Robot" in the overall experimental feel.

"Oxygen" is the final chapter, a nearly 19 minute extravaganza that will take your breath away (pun!) and it kicks off with a near calypso beat, marimba styles keys, raspy guitar shoots through like some tropical storm, and the bass and drum crew get to do the polyrhythmic thingy. Bubbling, overpowering and driven, the mood just intoxicates further into submission. Lot of overt winks at Wakeman and co?as there is little doubt that Yuka has spent many hours at the piano, learning the need for lyrical beauty and not just technical form, "O2" is her spotlight showcase, easily formulating bright sounds and captivating melodies that actually visualize the music perfectly. The bombast offers up contrast (hmm, that rhymed!), windswept eloquence, magical swooning to brooding shimmer, all the fluent elements are there! "O3" resupplies the breezy, high-pitched vocals (though they act as an instrument, really), fueling both the brash guitar rampage and the pushy beat to conclusive heights. Military snare drums, spooky synths loops, odd voice effects keep the flow ongoing, a sweet musical hiss filled with creative adjuncts. An album that ends on choir mellotron generally gets me something fierce, being a sheer sucker for that glorious sound. A tremendous instrumental display, easily a classic. I actually like the 'faux Dean' cover art, it's blue-ish sheen permeates the tracks.

4.5 T-Rex booster air bubbles

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#1161034)
Posted Sunday, April 13, 2014 | Review Permalink

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