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4 stars Some wrote earlier that Kenso 3rd is where the the band first. Kenso II should really consider Kenso's first true band record. Tracks such as Sora Ni Hikaru, Anesthesia (Misui)PTII,and Hyoto have been staples of Kenso's live shows for many years (Sayonara Progre occasionly gets a live hearing such as on Ken Son Gu Su and the band first video document,Hitokusei Shinsho

This album was done with a lot of pent up energy and it shows.It was recorded while Yoshihisa Shimizu,Shiro Yajima,and the late Atsushi Makuichi were at Kanagawa Dental College. In fact it was recorded in the music appreciation room according to the sleeve inserts inside the current Pathograph reissue.,

Defenitely a must fot Kenso fans like me who missed out on the ealy period of the bands career.

Report this review (#4229)
Posted Thursday, September 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For the second Kenso album keyboardist Atsushi Makiuchi and bassist Matsumoto Kimiyoshi, who had been guest musicians on the debut, have been promoted to full-time members after the departure of bassist Tanaka Masayuki.The album was simply entitled ''Kenso II'' and was self-released in 1983.

For the first few albums the titles of Kenso's albums definitely lacked fantasy, but the main reason had to be that the band put all this fantasy into the compositions.So, this is again some excellent, frenetic and fiery Prog/Fusion albums with plenty of symphonic interruptions and impressive technique by the members.''Kenso II'' is another tremendous work filled with fascinating interplays and constant battles between the musicians, while here and there the mainly jazzy approach is supported by slight doses of Classical breaks and symphonic sections, driven by Makiuchi's deep keyboards and Yajima Shiro's high class flute-lines.The overall style recalls the best of FOCUS, AIN SOPH or FINCH, but noone can accuse Kenso for lacking identity, their music has this virtuosic Japanese touch, offered by this underrated Prog scene.The atmosphere delivered is full of dramatic passages and melodic solos with a top-notch rhythm section accompanying Shimizu Yoshihisa's Fusion-like guitars and the endless themes of the keyboard and flute players.

Yet another impressive work by Kenso.Adventurous, intricate and technical Symphonic/Fusion all the way.No less than highly recommended, especially if you find the CD reissues with the bonus tracks.

Report this review (#161173)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah, the young Kenso. This is where it first really came together, and the compositions on this album are so strong that half of them have been the cornerstone of Kenso's repertoire ever since. But the orchestration on this album is quite different from where Kenso would later go, giving many of these pieces a very different--and special!--character from their later appearances. Speaking for myself, though Yume no Oka and later efforts are very strong indeed, this happens to be the Kenso album I would most likely take to a desert island.

What I most love about Kenso is the way they skillfully and almost subversively work traditional Japanese scales and melodies into a jazz and prog rock context--that Japanese influence is particularly strong on this album. Though Kenso is known as a jazz rock outfit, there's also a surprising amount of symphonic rock influence on this album--not just in the pieces themselves, which are carefully composed as always, but with the orchestration, as the band skillfully employs vintage synthesizers, augmented by flute. Finally, of course, there's the fact that the level of musicianship is high across the board, and the music on this album successfully employs every shred of it.

It's hard for me to call out highlights on this album, as the quality of all the songs is outstanding. "Sora ni Hikaru" and "Umi," the opener and closer, are excellent representatives of Kenso's style, and their definitive renditions are here. "Umi" in particular is one for the ages--the pentatonic modes are the flute and vintage synthesizers give it an expansive quality, there's a super-sweet, lightning-fast synth solo at 4'28" that no later performance seems to have been able to recapture, and a thrilling, whirling flute arpeggio puts a lot of extra juice on the finish. Those same flute and vintage synthesizers also work their magic on "Hyoto," transforming this from a simple and reflective piano solo into a symphonic masterpiece. "Masui Part 2," "Brand Shiko," and "Sayonara Progressive" (hm, wonder what that's all about?) are all strong, consistent, and energetic pieces that form a backbone of the album and show up in later live albums, but I'd like to call out some of the songs that you probably won't find elsewhere:

"Harukanaru chi e" starts from a startling and curious turn to a Weather Report-like rhythm groove before melting into a interesting blend of Kenso-brand rock, reverse-gated vocals, electric piano, and Hackett-like guitar solo--it's an odd but alluring melange of stuff.

"Naibu e no tsukikage" is a gorgeous tone poem with female vocals and synthesizer that really belongs on an anime soundtrack somewhere.

"Inei no Fue" is as close as this album gets to straight-up symphonic prog, full of dynamic contrasts and development, with a fantastic double-tracked guitar solo. It's a great lead-up to "Umi."

No Kenso fan should overlook this gem, and symphonic prog fans are especially encouraged to give this a whirl, even if fusion's generally not your thing. Finally, if you are a fan of Japanese music and culture, I think the way it is incorporated into this album is well worth a listen.

Report this review (#226852)
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Idea considered so that band leader's Yoshihisa Shimizu may start this "Kenso" in full scale at student's time. Or, it is guessed that the zeal conceived power to make only at that time. The band started exactly at beginning of event of the 80's. Of course, they had formed the band at high school student's time. However, the leader was talking that there were some obstructions in the situation in which they were left so that they might walk in full scale in the history of music as "Kenso".

The band of their Prog Rock for the market of Prog Rock of Japan of the 80's though the band had been acting since student's time. Or, it is true not to be in order of the situation for Scene of Jazz Rock either. All works are announced exactly in the form of independent production for their initial works.

And, the situation of the music of Japan to the real start of the member and the leader of the band of Kenso for advancing the band. Or, the situation in which the leader is left. Coexisting of work to have originally until shifting to band leader at student's time. It is guessed that there were a little trouble and a flow to the band. However, the intention and zeal that starts advancing the band in full scale though the form of independent production is taken appear completely in the work.

They have been discharging energy that had it really at that time since the time of 1st Album announced in the form of independent production in 1980. Prog Rock exactly faced the state of the revolution for the market of music in the early the 80's. To establish it, the flow to which their musician took the element of minority at that time, Prog Rock on the dawn in the 70's might have spent a lot of time. It is said that "Sora ni hikaru", "Hyoto", and "Sayonara Progre", etc. had been completed at time when 1st Album has already been announced. The situation of a band active as the form of independent production was taken in Prog Rock Scene of Japan that faced the revolution period including them at the dawn might have been really difficult. I think that their debuts were the especially impacts for the listener in Japan.

The zeal is a composition of the tune to have already appeared in an initial work and not to think that it is a band in Japan completely. Or, how to make the sound. And, the height of the technology of the performance. The method of the expression by the composition of the band splendidly makes the directionality of the music at which they aim at that time an embodiment though the flutist existed in their initial works.

The sound of other various bands will be able to be imagined if it listens to the tune of the band. The idea of Prog Rock and Jazz Rock that the Japanese thought about though it had the element of PFM, Gentle Giant, and Brand X will have been exactly the challenges to music from another angle. It doesn't stay in the home country, and as for this album, there is very an evaluation and the fan that says the masterpiece this album might be not few in foreign countries either. Kenso contributes to the item of Prog Rock and Jazz Rock with the technology of the superior performance at the time of beginning.

Report this review (#235747)
Posted Saturday, August 29, 2009 | Review Permalink

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