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Mizukagami - Mizukagami CD (album) cover



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4 stars The debut album by this Japanese group proves to be high class symphonic. Mostly it is keyboard driven but there is some nice guitar leads as well. The keyboardist Junya Anan plays the main role in their music with his varied keyboards, fifteen different listed in the liner notes. On top of this is the female vocalist/flautist Tanaami Futaba. Her vocals are not a let down if one likes the many other female vocalists of other Japanese groups. She is among the cream of her crop. Very delicate and refined vocals in the style of Hiroko Nagai of Pageant fame. The flute is a nice addition as well. If you enjoy the eighties Japanese symphonic groups this should be an easy pick. The production is of high quality as well.

The best tracks are in the first part of the album, namely "Sakura", "Haru no sono" and "Suzukaze". "Haru no Sono" starts with a really beautiful theme. I'm very much against repetition in progressive music but in this case I hope it would have been repeated in the latter part of the song. You kind of wait it to appear again but it never does. Still, it is among the best tracks. In the latter part of the album the quality goes down a little but it is still very good.

Conclusion: Great Japanese symph!

Report this review (#43126)
Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars!!!

Great album, amazing vocal from Tanaami Futaba. Flute is also very impressive. "Sakura" is an absolutely masterpiece and the best number in album. I think this band with Shingetsu is the best example from japanese symphonic prog scene, becouse both this bands are very unique, you know, they haven't stolen anything from classic brittish bands and that's why admire these japan bands very much!

Excellent work, strongly reccomended! :)

Report this review (#48675)
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a wonderful starting point for anyone interested in exploring the world of Japanese Symphonic Prog. The music has a familiar, comforting feeling that reminds of classic 70's Symphonic Prog. It is usually quite airy, flowing, and light in mood and it also has a very distinct Japanese flavor... even when there are no vocals present.

The opening instrumental section of 'Sakura' is one of the best parts on the album. It summons the spirits of Yes and King Crimson and features beautiful mellotron keyboards, a distinctly Asian melody played on lead guitar, and a thick heavy bass line driving it all along. The music that follows is pure magic... the sound of a gentle stream flowing through a Japanese garden fades in and is accompanied by a melancholic flute solo.

The vocals of Tanaami Futaba, backed by the sound of singing birds, are simply enchanting and carry you to a far-off land of fantasy; pink leaves and lotus flower petals drifting on a cool breeze through an orange sky above bright green fields....

Besides the lovely vocals, classic synthesizers are the dominant instruments on the album. The bass player is very good and holds the lithe flowing music together well. The drums leave something to be desired and feel a little too stiff; they are are the weakest element of the music... but they are steady enough to not drag the rest of the music down.

'Suzukaze' is another highlight which features the most beautiful musical theme on the entire album. A haunting Japanese melody is played on a sad, heavily-reverbed piano and is framed by a wall of chilling effected mellotron. It must be heard to be appreciated, it is a wonderful piece of music.

The rest of the album is generally very high quality as well, but a couple songs do tend to wander and lose me a bit. This is one of the better Symphonic Prog albums of the past decade. A solid 3.5 effort... and a grower. The more you listen to it, the better it gets.

Report this review (#201986)
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars A very interesting stuff.

Mizukagami is one of the most impressive Japanese symphonic progressive rock bands, with a slightly difficult character. Namely, they should not be immersed in Western symphonic style but keep much essence of Japanese traditional music style and theory in their mind. 'Bout each song you can feel the Japanese flavour called 'Wa no Kokoro' somewhere in such a beautiful symphonia. The point I want to emphasise is that particularly Futaba's clear, graceful, and well-carrying voice should make this 'Wa no Kokoro' much greater. Exactly you feel something eccentric in their work, as if you eat purely Japanese dishes prepared by a Japanese chef in a Western restaurant but as a Japanese let me say bravo to MIZUKAGAMI for their courage to go with the style, not a simply typical symphonic progressive rock one.

Report this review (#225683)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars This is an intriguing album from Japan, and one that has already been gaining many favourable reviews on the web. The fact that it has been released in Europe on Musea, as well as on Poseidon in their native Japan, means that it is relatively easy to get hold of. That is an important fact and although this album is sung in Japanese, this is something that all discerning progheads are going to want to have in their collection. Like many Japanese prog albums, there are some very dreamy and reflective passages but what makes this album stand out are not only the clear pure (and very Japanese) vocals of female lead singer Tanaami Futaba but also the way that they are attempting to bring together some traditional music with very Western prog. They also aren't afraid to let rip and give the instruments a good work out, something that makes them stand out from many others.

This is symphonic prog with a heavy use of synths, but while they may be looking to the Seventies and Tull/ELP/King Crimson there are also elements of more modern bands such as IQ. The quiet and pleasant passages are more then offset by the complicated ones that follow, so that even though it isn't possible to understand the words there is more than enough going on to make this an interesting and varied listen. This is something that many progheads will enjoy.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, April 2004

Report this review (#1005426)
Posted Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permalink

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