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Kenso - Sparta   CD (album) cover

SPARTA

Kenso

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I listened from this Japanese band so far only this album and Kenso III, which is the better one of the two. According to their webpage their second one and Yume no Oka are supposed to be their strongest ones. I still have to try to get those ones. Still they're offering here some great symphonic Jazz fusion with twin keyboards and it's a very enjoyable listen.

The album opens with Good days, bad days, initially a rather mellow and dreamy piece which is shifting after 2 1/2 minutes to a more up-tempo theme. Not really a bad one with many tempo shifts. Bifuka has a very short acoustic intro with guitar and flute sound, then the track is floating along quite nicely with many theme changes. In The stone of the golden hair village the sound changes quite significantly and one can hear clearly that there is a different line-up playing now. The drums are sounding more aggressive and less dampened. Shunji Sægusa is presenting quite a good bass play in replacement for Matsumoto. In fact this is really not a bad one, but as well not very exciting, nice one for letting it run in the background.

GOOD album, but not an essential one (3 stars)!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#35842)
Posted Thursday, June 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
chris@fonya.c
5 stars This album holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps because it was the first work of Kenso I ever heard, it became my favorite Kenso album (I have most of them) and one of my all-time-favorite listens since 1994.

True, it has a distinctively 80's fusion production, but that is something I have always liked. The playing on this album is stellar throughout, the compositions are top-notch, and it flows nicely from track to track.

The strains of this album have sounded in the background of many stupendous road trips and camping expeditions through the mountains and desert of Colorado and Utah and they are fitting sounds indeed!

The main reason I wanted to post a review here was to at least give one 5-star rating to this underrated gem. Chris Fournier

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#110835)
Posted Tuesday, February 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album like it's predecessor and Kenso II are for me the three best albums of the eighties! Sparta takes the symphonic structures further than ever before. Still the fusion-rhythms are there and powerful fusion-prog songs do exist on this album. The Stone Of Golden Hair Villa and Miskatonic for example. This album proved once and for all that Kenso could play mellow and purely symphonic prog without relying on fusion-rhythms. Something that Brand X failed on 1979 Product. What makes this album so special? It's a pure piece of Montesquieaian sharing with fusion, symphonic prog and japanese music. You can float in mellow and beatiful landscapes and just seconds later swing around your room due to the grooviness of Kensos rhythm. What makes this album different from Kenso III is the fact that the drummer Yamamoto and bass-player Matsumoto only played on the two first tracks. The rest of the tracks where played by Masayuki Muraishi (who would stay on the band until 2002 only to be replaced by Keisuke Komori) and Shunji Saegusa who has stayed with Kenso since.

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Send comments to BrainStillLife (BETA) | Report this review (#475293)
Posted Monday, July 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1986 Kenso released their first ever live work ''Music for unknown five musicians'' and in 1987 comes a private-pressed compilation of tracks from their early albums, titled ''Self portrait''.Around the same time recordings for their upcoming album ''I Sparti'' had already started, this prooved to be though a slow work in progress, partly due to member exits and the fading trend of progressive music.Haruhiko Yamamoto appeared in only a couple of tracks, before being replaced by new drummer Masayuki Muraishi.Things were starting to roll over again, before in 1989 Kimiyoshi Matsumoto quit and new bassist Shunji Saegusa was inducted to the line-up to complete the album.''I Sparti'' was eventually released the same year on King's branch-label Crime Records.

For the first time Kenso were performing with the standard assests of keyboards/guitar/bass/drums without the use of an expanded instrumentation, this fact along with the hard period for progressive music led to a more synthetic and modern sound, far from the 70's flavors of their early releases.Even under these difficult circumstances the band managed to keep an honest faith in the intricate roots of their Fusion sound and the album comes like a combination of STEVE HACKETT-like dreamy keyboard/guitar orchestrations, smokin' ALLAN HOLDSWORTH-like Jazz Fusion and the inbetween HAPPY THE MAN-flavored aesthetics.The compositions are all in a very high level, the turn towards more jazzy and Fusion deliveries is more than apparent in the tricky synth lines and the piano as well as in Shimizu's impressive guitar moves, but there are still some symphonic breaks of excellent inspiration with a nice and ethereal atmosphere.You can listen to some strings popping up in several tracks, but these are propably played via the keyboards.What I like about Kenso is that these guys never overdo it, the have clearly understood the meaning of composition even in progressive arrangements and they always add some lovely melodious themes between the more emphatic and technical executions.Great synth and piano interludes are sitting next to bombastic Fusion pyrotechnics and the drumming is phenomenal, extremely pounding and technically efficient.

I certainly miss some of the more human sounds of their self-titled works, but this is 1989 and ''I Sparta'' really shines among the year's releases.This is solid, grandiose and melodic Fusion with a couple of mindblowing pieces.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1363216)
Posted Friday, February 06, 2015 | Review Permalink

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