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Ars Nova (JAP)

Symphonic Prog

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Ars Nova (JAP) The Book Of The Dead [Aka: Reu Nu Pert Em Hru] album cover
3.45 | 52 ratings | 9 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prologue: Re (1:35)
2. Ankh (5:11)
3. Interlude: Horus (1:31)
4. The 42 Gods (5:15)
5. Interlude: Anubis (0:40)
6. Held of Iaru (10:43)
7. Interlude: Thoth (1:27)
8. The Judgement of Osiris (7:42)
9. Interlude: Shu (0:44)
10. Ani's Heart and Maat's Feather (9:20)
11. Epilogue: Hapi (1:01)

Total Time 45:09

Different tracks on 1998 Musea edition:
3. Interlude 1 : Nut (1:11)
7. Interlude 3 : Sekhem (1:03)
9. Interlude 4 : Nephthys (0:33)

Bonus tracks on 1999 double-LP:
12. Transi (8:21)
13. Nova (10:44)

Bonus track on 2006 & 2018 reissues:
12. Succubus 2008 (Unreleased Version) (6:46)

Line-up / Musicians

- Keiko Kumagai / keyboards, composer, co-producer
- Akiko Takahashi / drums

- Ken Ishita / bass

Releases information

Artwork: Numero Ueno with Norio Kajiki (photo)

CD Made In Japan Records ‎- MJC-1018 (1998, Japan)
CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4255.AR (1996, France) Replaces 3 track (#3,7,9), new cover
CD Altavoz ‎- ALT-4 (2006, Japan) With a bonus track
CD Made In Japan Records ‎- KICS 3635 (2018, Japan) As above

LPx2 Black Widow Records ‎- BWR 032 (1999, Italy) Bonus disc with 2 Live tracks (ProgDay 1996)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ARS NOVA (JAP) The Book Of The Dead [Aka: Reu Nu Pert Em Hru] ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ARS NOVA (JAP) The Book Of The Dead [Aka: Reu Nu Pert Em Hru] reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
3 stars The same consideration as for the work "Transi", characterized by a strong emulation of "Tarkus" by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER and also the other European "Hammond-oriented" progressive works of the seventies... except on the poor and immature drumming section, the rest is not bad!!
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having lost the bass player, Ars Nova continued to explore their pompous, explosive keyboard-oriented prog with the seme level of energy and intrincacy exhibited on their previous effort. Kimagai's keyboards even feel more powerful all through its multiple layers, orchestral textures, and wizard-like solos. Tracks 2 and 4 (introduced by its respective introductory segues) start the album in a state of full frontal white heat, handled with immaculate skill and sheer enthusiasm: the supporting role of Takahasho's precise drumming proves effective. Maybe this impression is caused by the more tertical and somber nature of most compositions in this album - actually it shouldn't come as a surprise, since the album's conceptual subject is esoteric, dealing with the dreadful divine forces that intertwine and fight each other in the afterworld. 'Held of Iaru' is the longest track of the album, giving more room to subtle passages that appeal to the mystic side of the subject, though it still comprises a good amount of heavy sounding moments: Kimagai gets at her most Wakeman-esque on this one (I've always thought that her major influences as a writer and performer are Leone from Balletto del Bronzo, and Wakeman, despite the obvious Emersonian shell she uses to encapsulate her keyboard sounds). As you may notice just by reading the tracklist, there's lots of segues, which are the uneven numbers: those segues (one prologhe, one epilogue, and four interludes) display some Far Eastern lines, which serve as exotic brief reliefs in the middle of such amount of pomp and circumstance. 'Ani's Heart and Maat's Feather' works perfectly as the last long track, since its climatic ending is captivating. Nothing else to add, but this would make "an excellent addition to any prog collection".
Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars In 1997 I was lucky to witness a concert from Ars Nova during the annual Pul Festival in the Dutch city Uden. I was blown away by these three Japanese women: small size, GREAT SOUND! Especially bass player Kyoko Kanazawa took my attention because of that giant Rickenbacker bass guitar in those tiny hands. Her hotpants evoked yells like "backstage", progrock remains a man's world! Soon after the European tour from Ars Nova bass player Kyoko was replaced by Ken I[&*!#]a because Kyoko was no longer interested in making music with Ars Nova.

On this first CD without her the band had chosen for a concept CD about the Egyptian history. Keyboard player Keiko Kumagai is very omnipresent, she delivers a wonderful and varied sound out of her digital equipment featuring flute, fagot, violins, flageolets and snare instruments like the Japanese koto. But in general Ars Nova their sound keep strong echoes from ELP, UK and Trace (Keiko loves this acclaimed Dutch band from keyboard wizard Rick van der Linden): many bombastic organ waves and sensational synthesizer runs on "Ankh" and "The judgement of Osiris" and beautiful, very sparkling piano work on "Field of Irau" (one of the highlights on this CD).


Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Nothing really new under the sun of this Japanese band.

Their bombastic and pompous ELP-ish style is 100% present, as usual. There are lots of very short tracks on this effort (six out of eleven tracks! Clocking at six minutes in total). Even if this is a "concept" album about the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, such needs for transitional tracks was not really needed IMO.

This is crafted music played by skilled musicians but inspiration is just not on the rendez-vous. This is highly technical for the sake of it ("The 42 Gods").

In this context, a song as "Held Of Jaru" must be considered as the highlight of this album. The first melodic and emotional piece so far during which Keiko Kumagai (Ars Nova's goddess) can fully express her talent. Maybe their best song ever. It is a nice invitation to a travel in time and combines bombastic and almost classical passages. The "Tarkus" spirit is revived at times during this album (but it is not the first time that "Ars Nova" is borrowing ideas from this great track.

The problem with this album (and other ones from the band) is that it repeatedly reworks the same sounds. I admit that ELP fans (to which I do belong) might enjoy this but even if I was charmed during the first listening of Ars Nova work , I do not spin their album frequently. As background music it works fine because I like to be remembered those notes but not when I need to concentrate on it.

I have this feeling during "The Judgement Of Osiris" (especially during the finale which is pretty boring).

"Ani's Heart And Maat's" starts with a Far-East flavour. Almost as if you were attending a temple ceremony, but not in Egypt this time. Lots of different themes, which is good to avoid uniformity. The mix of some native Japanese music with these bombastic keyboards works fine. Another highlight thanks to a brilliant final part. Extremely passionate.

This album is far from being essential and depending how desperate you are in being brought into the "ELP" world you will adore or abhor this release.

Three stars.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Japanese female (!) trio plays highly energetic keyboard based progressive rock, heavily influenced by Keith Emerson/ELP early works. The music is quite skilled technically (ok, drummer work could be more complex), with drive, and sounds very masculine.

Sound is a bit more modern, than ELP, but generally all played on the same key. There are all pros and cons of this work - from the very first sounds the music will catch you, but after few songs, you just will notice, that under the great sound there is in fact the same long song.

The album is conceptual and contains many short compositions in between some longer. Full instrumental, it still sounds good enough to be capable to attract your attention till the end. But for being really good work, there should be something more (possible vocal, or better composition) added. After listening, I got light feeling that this music is coming from the same place as Vanessa Mai's one. Just, more rock and more progressive.

In all, average progressive album, but with some pleasant moments for ELP fans.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Japanese trio (at least on this album) Ars Nova present a highly bombastic and aggressive keyboard/organ driven instrumental prog assault, very influenced by both Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Rick Wakeman, but with enough original ideas of their own. Fortunately, they don't do schmaltzy whimsical moments like Mr Wakeman sometimes does, and they certainly don't stoop to goofball `comedy; tracks like ELP often did! A total plus on both counts! Occasional spots remind me a little bit of Goblin too.

There is a strong classical approach to the arrangements, with constant gothic and Egyptian elements thrown in to compliment the concept of the album. Much of the sound is dominated by thick Hammond organ, with occasional Mellotron to add to the atmosphere - it's used to tremendous effect in the finale of my favourite track `Ani's Heart' (which is almost up there with the most evocative Goblin tracks), while I very much dig Ken I[&*!#]a's grumbling bass about 2 minutes in! Lots of moments like this throughout the album, all enhanced greatly by Akiko Takahasho's stomping drums - really gets your foot tapping and head nodding in approval!

Leading lady Keiko Kumagai is a total virtuoso. Well worth checking out one of the band's live DVD's or online footage of them to see her in action. A real talent, backed up superbly by additional top-notch players on this album.

However, on `Book Of The Dead' the band rarely seem to calm down, most of the music being quite heavy and oppressive, fast and crashing. The brief interlude tracks throughout the album are some of my favourite, offering more sedate and reflective passages that I would have loved to see more of throughout. Some of the better musical themes don't hang around long enough, while other parts are very undeveloped and a little forgettable. Again, a few more quieter sections would have stopped much of the album from constantly sounding the same. It can also have quite a cold sound to it, making it difficult to get through the entire album in one sitting. However, I much prefer this line-up of the band, before they added additional players and vocals.

Still, the band are all very talented, and this album really would make a perfectly decent addition to any progressive music collection. Really deserves a 3 and a half star rating! Not a classic, but plenty to enjoy from a highly regarded prog band.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For the first time Ars Nova visited Europe to promote the release of ''The goddess of darkness''.I guess Musea Records had something to do with this, as it was the label that decided to take the risk and promote the next album of the band in Europe.However in October 1997 Kyoko Kanazawa left Ars Nova and his replacement was ex-Deja-Vu Ken I[&*!#]a, who played alongside Motoi Sakuraba at the time.The fourth album ''The book of the dead'' was released in 1998 on Musea and Made in Japan with a surprising vinyl issue the following year by Black Widow Records.

Structurally ''The book of the dead'' is a mix of extended Symphonic Rock pieces with some odd, Ethnic-styled interruptions inbetween (propably to come close to the Egyptian roots of the concept as displayed in the cover) and the style was nothing else than monster, keyboard-based music with E.L.P. and RICK WAKEMAN overtones, owning the already familiar pompous keyboard stylings of Japanese bands.To my ears it lacks the composing quality of the previous album, although much of its bombastic sonority and dark atmosphere is present on the album.It appears that Keiko Kumagai has thrown a ton of orchestral moments in the album to produce an unmet grandieur, somewhat trying to avoid too many keyboard cliches and KEITH EMERSON-like organ and synth orgasms.On the other hand her ability on keyboards is what makes the Ars Nova sound so familiar to the prog listener and she won't dissapoint any fan of the band despite the heavy display of powerful orchestrations: Impressive piano isolations, virtuosic organ solos and full-blown symphonic synthesizers all the way with series of dramatic executions and evident Classical orientations.Great instrumental work, which still holds some more romantic moments and melodic hooks among the sea of organ/synth flashes and solos.The album is fairly consistent with impressive twists between moods and climates and a typical Japanese pomposity.

You know what you get with each and every Ars Nova release: Keyboard-dominated Symphonic Rock with references to the vintage trio's of classic Prog Rock.Another nice and strongly recommended work by the Japanese team...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Over the top in Japan I have never hidden the fact that I am a great ELP fan. Mostly because they combine melody with experimentation and classic music....... but still quite organic music. So I am therefore the target group for ARS NOVA. Wrong. ARS NOVA fires off their guns with three ... (read more)

Report this review (#201127) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, January 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you are into ELP...into keys de luxe..into prog. (otherwise you wouldnt read this.?) Then you need to hear this...NO..make NEED this !! These chicks from Japan really knows how to play prog music a la ELP...only there are more fire to .... their input....extremely wellplayed keyboard ... (read more)

Report this review (#1079) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, November 14, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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