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Mr. Sirius - Barren Dream CD (album) cover


Mr. Sirius

Canterbury Scene

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4 stars Mr. Sirius is multi-instrumentalist Kazuhiro Miyatake. Actually, it's the name of his solo musical project. His main partner in crime is Pageant vocalist/keyboardist Hiroko Nagai (a.k.a. Lisa Ohki). Her clear-toned yet powerful voice is perfect for this pastoral, dreamy take on symphonic prog.

In tried-and-true fashion for 80's Japanese prog, lush pillows of orchestrated keys form the musical bed for this album. To compare this to Renaissance would be a bit glib, but not entirely inaccurate. Miyatake's classical guitarwork is a devastatingly lovely component of the band's overall sound, as is his lilting flute work throughout. The piano playing (by Nagai on "Intermezzo" and Miyatake elsewhere) is likewise quite a nice touch.

It's not all willow branches and buttercups, though. There are touches of fiery fusion, as on "Sweet Revenge" and the climax of "Eternal Jealousy", the latter featuring Black Page guitarist Raven Ohtani.

Report this review (#47268)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Meltingly beautiful autumnal and harmonically advanced chamber-prog, mixed with odd but very ferocious fusion interpolations with Canterburyish bent. I spent years trying to find a cheap edition of this and then finally got one free. Hackett fans should not hesitate for a SECOND. Miyatake is now selling umbrellas in Japan. The BRING BACK MR SIRIUS movement should start here! Buy this - it's a classic.
Report this review (#94648)
Posted Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Barren Dream is the debut album from Japanese progressive rock band Mr. Sirius. They are catagorized here as Canterbury scene which is totally wrong IMO. This is symphonic prog rock with a few ( very few) moments of fusion jazz rock. What shouldnīt be desputed is the quality of the music though because this is excellent and very original prog rock. Mr. Sirius is a three piece which consists of Chihiro Fujioka on drums, Hiroka Nagai on lead female vocals and composer Kazuhiro Miyatake on flute, keyboards, Mellotron, bass, accordion. There are a few guest appearences on guitar on some of the songs on the album.

The music is cleverly composed and very classically influenced. Itīs very dynamic and there are both quiet and more bombastic symphonic parts. Itīs very pleasant music with lots of flute, vintage keyboards and female soprano vocals. Some of the songs have pretty complex structures like All the fallen people or Eternal jealousy, but all songs are pleasant and beautiful. I like the subtle quiet parts a lot. The few fusion jazz rock moments occur in Sweet revenge and Eternal Jealousy and those moments are great for the diversity even though they are not a dominant part of the album.

The musicianship is excellent and I have to give a special mention to Kazuhiro Miyatake for his outstanding composing skills. He must be classically trained. The female vocals from Hiroka Nagai are also very good. One time I was reminded of Kate Bush but generally Hiroka Nagai has her own style.

The production is very good but I do have a small problem with the voice production which is a bit hollow at times.

Barren Dream is a very enjoyable symphonic prog album and it certainly deserves 4 stars both for the performances and the outstanding compositions. Forget about the Canterbury Scene tag though as itīs very misleading. Anyone who loves symphonic/ orchestral music should be able to enjoy this. This is a highly recommendable album.

Report this review (#182683)
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars ''Barren Dream''is a really interesting album by a not widely-known Japanese progressive rock group.When I first listened to this album I felt overwhelmed with strong emotions and feelings, as I have to say that several melodies it contains are indescribably wonderful.In my opinion it is a four star album, with the whole atmosphere bringing in mind something of Canterbury Scene music (which although I can't exactly explain) The first track called ''All the fallen people'' is absolutely wonderful with admirable vocals by Hiroka Nagai and some signs of traditional japanese music.What I also like at this first track is the flute which gives a feeling of Symphonic Prog.''Sweet Revenge'' is a track that mostly plays a connecting role between the first and the third track.''Step into Easter'' is my favourite song of this album.It begins with flute and a melody reminding soundtrack music.Then come the vocals giving an ethnic colour to the track accompanied by a gentle guitar play.At the sixth minute the flute makes its appearance again in order to bring softly this wonderful track to an end after some more really unique vocals by Hiroka Nagai.''Intermezzo'' is a track based firmly on classical music with the vocals giving an even more tempting colour.''Eternal jealousy'' starts with the prelude which is a wonderful piano play by Fumiaki Ogawa and goes on with the Intake where the song takes a much quicker rhythm till the end with two more pieces Stillglow & Return.This album ends up with two more tracks, Lagrima (which is basically a repetition of ''Step into Easter'') and ''Barren Dream'' which is a well-designed combination of all the previous songs and probably the most suitable in order to put an end to this highly recommended progressive rock album!
Report this review (#217484)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Japanese multi-instrumentalist Kazuhiro Miyatake was involved in most japanese Symphonic Rock projects during the 80's,mostly playing acoustic guitars and flute.So,anyone can find him in the line-up of bands like Mugen, Pageant, Pazzo Fanfano di Musica or Magdalena.By mid- 80's he adapted the name MR.SIRIUS and formed his own band,followed by PAGEANT's lead singer Lisa Ooki (she uses the name Hiroka Nagai on MR.SIRIUS) and Chihiro Fujioka on drums.After a 1986 EP,the trio releases their debut LP ''Barren Dream'' the next year on Made In Japan,re-released on CD by King Records with a different -cover plus a bonus track.

''Barren dream'' had to be one of the most intricate, energetic, adventuruous and nostalgic listenings for a prog fan back in the 80's (if not the most adventurous one!).Its English lyrics show that this record was headed for worldwide distribution and, as for the sound, this comes like a cross between acoustic RENAISSANCE-like melodies,GENESIS/CAMEL-influenced Symphonic Rock with plenty of flutes and highly-aggresive Canterbury Prog in the vein of HATFIELD AND THE NORTH or even better Dutch SUPERSISTER.Many different styles in here,but all of them are so inspiring and well-arranged,that you will get equal thrilling moments of listening.There is much of the typical Japanese piano/synth-driven grandiose and symphonic introductions, easily indicating the band's origin.Lisa Ooki's voice is more mature than ever with operatic vocals and sensitive choirs dominating the mellow symphonic or acoustic parts of the album (which even contain accordeon sometimes) in a dreamy way...but when it comes to the high energy,the album really gets off with the fantastic Canterbury-Fusion interplays,which come like a mix of nice melodies and demanding complexity.MR. SIRIUS prooves to be a mastermind of this style..Flutes are battling instrumental solos,melodic guitars combine with obscure synths,jazzy piano passages meet the complicated work of the rhythm section.Progressive rock at its best and I mean it!

Honestly,I do not know how much better progressive music can be,listening to ''Barren dream''.Kazuhiro Miyatake can place himself among the most significant figures of our beloved music (at least for me),after producing a masterpiece like this!A step further than extremely highly recommended,a must-have for ages!

Report this review (#262307)
Posted Sunday, January 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In the prog revival movement that started in Japan in the late 70s and became reaffirmed during teh 80s and 90s, there was room for every trend, even for this sort of mixture of symphonic prog, Canterbury-satyle jazz-prog and pastoral moods that Mr. Sirius developed as its own musical ideology. Masterminded by the skilfull multi-instrumentalist Kazuhiro Miyatake (keyboards, flute and acoustic guitars), the band's debut album "Barren Dream" remains to this day a solid example of how good prog rock continued to be as an artistic endeavor after the 70s. Miyatake had already had a wide array of experiences in his native progressive arena (for instance, Pageant and Pazzo Fanfano Di Musica), and now it was time to fully convey his vision through this band's functioning. The album starts with the first suite, "All the Fallen People", which clerly manifests the main progressive virtues of Mr. Sirius' music. This is gentle symphonic prog not devoid of stamina, well-constructed sequences of melodic bases in which the mood and motif shifts emerge fluidly, a crafted combination of serene beuaty and energy. Teh main mission of Hiroko Nagai's voca ldeliveries is to enhance the relaxing aspect of the bucolic side that Mr. Sirius imparts with academic elegance. All in all, throughout teh evident complexity devoted to this msuical architecture, a sense of warmth prevails. Netx is the brief instrumental 'Sweet Revenge' [... too brief...], which brings a jazz-rock tapestry of exciting colors. The nex ttwo pieces are focused on somethign quite different, that is, instrospective moods wrapped in a pastoral sonic landscape ('Step into Easter') or in a return to Romantic chamber ('Intermezzo'). The pairing of these tracks serves as a culmination of the road to eclecticism that Mr. Sirius designed for teh album as a whole: just by listening to these four tracks, the listener is capable of stating the band's progressive game. The album goes on with 'Eternal Jealousy', a song that steadily brings back much of the vibrant colorfulness we had met in track 1, only this time with a powerful jazzy ingredient that conditions its integral framework. It can be described as a Camel thing wrapped in Gilgamesh sheets and adding colors from Bruford's first two solo albums. This is a really excellent track: its 8 minute span feels so short once you notice that it's ended. You might as well listen to it twice in a road, but if you don't, you will be immediately treated with a lovely Rennaissance-meets-Anthony Phillips piece entitled 'Lagrima': the eerie marriage of female vocals and acoustic 12-string gutiar gets conveniently adorned with flute lines and soft percussion in places. The closing track is also the longest: it lasts almost 13 ― minutos. Essentially, it is a hybrid of the moods from the majestic 'All the Fallen People' and the ultra-dynamic 'Eternal Jealousy'. Pompous it is, but its inherent compelxity is handled solidly in order to keep things under control lest the moments focused on melodic expansions become overtly self- indulgent. "Barren Dream" is more than just an album and it is not simply a great progressive album: it is an exercise on fine pottery in the shape of articulated sound. Simply recommended to all prog rock collectors over the world, no ifs or buts...

Report this review (#282500)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the most unique and individual progressive rock albums I have ever heard. I understand why this is in the Canterbury section, because the group do occasionally drift into Canterburified jazz-rock territory reminiscent of National Health's self-titled album, but much of the music here is in a symphonic, pastoral mode. Imagine, if you will, a collaboration between Anthony Philips on acoustic guitar and the Enid's Robert John Godfrey on piano, playing in the most relaxed and tranquil moods they've ever played in, and you might have something that resembles this piece. It took a while for this one to grow on me, but grow it did, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in some genuinely challenging material which challenges all the usual assumptions about the categorisation of progressive rock music.
Report this review (#587015)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is Mr. Sirius debut album released in 1987. One of the most unique and individual progressive rock albums. The music covers the Canterbury Scene and Symphonic Prog. It's very pleasant music with lots of flute, vintage keyboards and female soprano vocals. This album is chock full of wonderful melodies sung in Lisa Ohki's (Hiroko Nagai) nightingale-sweet, soaring voice. Simply put, an absolute masterpiece and a basic addition to any serious progressive rock fan - the flute work are just flawless. This is high-quality symphonic progressive music. If you are an early Camel, Renaissance and Italian symphonic prog fan, you will love this album!
Report this review (#1866359)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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