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Ars Nova (JAP)

Symphonic Prog

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Ars Nova (JAP) Android Domina album cover
3.39 | 50 ratings | 10 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Android Domina (10:57)
2. All Hallow's Eve (7:56)
3. Horla Rising (9:29)
4. Mother (7:56)
5. Succubus (5:36)
6. Bizarro Ballo In Maschera (9:24)

Total Time: 51:18

Bonus track on 2006 reissue:
7. Kali 2005 (unreleased version)

Line-up / Musicians

- Keiko Kumagai / Hammond, synths, programming,, composer, co-producer
- Mika Nakajima / synths, piano, electric & pipe (6) organs, vocals
- Akiko Takahashi / drums, percussion

- Numero Ueno / vocals (4), co-producer
- Lori Reina / vocals (4)
- Ken Ishita / bass (3)
- Noboru Nakajima / bass (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Norio Kajiki (photo)

CD Made In Japan Records ‎- MJC-1022 (2001, Japan)
CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4347.AR (2001, France) New cover
CD Altavoz ‎- ALT-5 (2006, Japan) Remastered with a bonus track

LP Black Widow Records ‎- BWR 056 (2001, Italy) New cover

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ARS NOVA (JAP) Android Domina ratings distribution

(50 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ARS NOVA (JAP) Android Domina reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marcelo
5 stars One of the best symphonic albums from Japan. Beside GERARD, this female band is the maximum expression of the powerful symphonic rock in that Asian island. Keiko, the keyboardist, has great ability composing and playing, making with each piece a bombastic and -at the same time- melodic opus. Again, the mandatory reference is ELP (and even Rick Wakeman sometimes). All the album is really enjoyable, and "Bizarro Ballo In Maschera" the highlight.
Review by Greger
4 stars Dressed in a minimum of clothing with lace and leather, two of the girls in the Japanese band ARS NOVA are posing on the cover to their 2001 album "Android Domina". Is this really the cover of a progressive rock album? If I hadn't knew the answer I would've guessed that this album originated from a 80's heavy metal band la Madam X. The album then opens with a moaning woman and you wonder whether ARS NOVA have turned into a sexual out-studied band or not. But then the music starts and takes you on an almost hour-long journey together with ARS NOVA's energetic, complex and musically challenging instrumental keyboard dominated music. They often have been compared to early EMERSON LAKE & PALMER. The comparison is understandable, but there's also reminiscences with band such as BANCO MUTUO SOCCORSO, GOBLIN, UNIVERS ZERO and Rick WAKEMAN. I would say though that ARS NOVA have find their own expression, and even if their sound is reminiscent to these old prog rock heroes, they have a innovative, exploring and adventurous mind. In other words, at least on this album, it doesn't sound as if they are trying to copy anyone. ARS NOVA's music isn't that easy to get into, but if you take the time and really listen I promise you that it's worth it.
Review by lor68
3 stars A bit better than their previous works, as this new album is more personal... despite of this consideration, the music atmospheres are quite repetitive (their usual defect along with their poor drumming section), nevertheless you don't find here particular excesses in the execution of the keyboards' solos and besides the track "Bizzarro Ballo" is alone worth checking out... It's an interesting album, although I can not regard it as an essential number!!
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I must admit that I bought this album on basis of very low motives: I wanted to check out what kind of progressive rock music would be done by a female band, which members voluntarily lower themselves as objects of male fetish fantasy for the vinyl album sleeves. I was slightly disappointed, as all of the songs here consist from fast synthesizer runs done upon hasty drum rhythms, which keeps constantly changing in very difficult sounding manners. So these ladies are surely technically very talented musicians, but the compositions didn't give very strong sensation of pleasure for me. However, I'm certain if observed from some other perspective of taste preferences, the observations might be very different. For example I adore Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas and choral works for their celestial harmony romanticisms, but find difficult to enjoy his faster solo harpsichord compositions - works which certainly could be compared to the hectic technical style of this record. If you like this kind of technical brilliance practiced on keyboards, give this album a spin.

As an anecdote, I managed to see this band later live in Finland, as they performed at Tavastia club. Sadly committing the most unrecommendable choice of getting drunk that evening lowered my abilities to observe the performance with clarity, but I recall they had powerful visual style with fantasy cosplay styled outfits, and double keyboard drive with drums created a working flow of melodic complexity. From the female fronted Japanese groups I personally prefer more vintage psych-Oriented Angel'In Heavy Syrup, and leave the other albums of this potentially fine group for other listeners with more better oriented ears of technical symphonic prog rock.

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars In the late Nineties I did an interview with this female keyboard driven progrock trio. It was a funny one but only the bass player spoke a bit English. And all ladies were super friendly but very shy. What a contrast with the sensual cover from this fifth studio album (2001): two band members with sexy underwear and very tempting looks! And on the first minutes of the opener Android Domina we can hear all kinds of female orgastic sounds, I could hardly believe that these women were the same as I had interviewed .... By the way, later they told me in an e-mail that this kind of behaviour is a taboo in Japan so this was their provocative protest annex statement for acceptance.

Back to the music, on this CD Ars Nova prooved again that they belong to the best bands within the Japanese progrock scene and in my opinion they even can compete with many great progrock acts in Europe: tasteful compositions, loaded with bombastic, often virtuosic keyboard work (flashy synth runs, impressive Hammond waves, sparkling piano and harpsichord and majestic violin Mellotron - and church organ samples). The rhythm-section is dynamic and powerful although the drums sometimes sound a bit too tight for me. If you like Triumvirat, Le Orme, Trace or ELP, this Japanese trio is worth to check out.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars So far, "Ars Nova" was an all instrumental band, but some (rare) "vocals" will be featured on this album.

This album is longer than usual (but just over fifty minutes) and since most of their previous work was rather repetitive, I was afraid to suffer after half of this album.

The title track is the longest piece of this "Android Domina" and features, as usual some brilliant technical aptitude from Android Keiko. We all know she displays gorgeous synth sounds but I can't say that "Ars Nova" music is very creative. The "vocals" here are a simulation of an orgasm. Might give you some ideas when looking at the cover. Gently provocative but not very much in the Japanese spirit which is rather wise and not really provocative.

I have used to listen to their works as a substitute to "ELP" while I fancy to listen to some derivative music instead of the genuine model. I guess that a "Best Of" should have worked better on me than all these separate records which sound almost the same.

It would be difficult to tell from which album a number comes from. So similar they are. Still, this Japanese band never released a poor album so far.

This album is on the up side as far as the first two numbers are concerned; with some very good and varied rhythms during "All Hallow's Eve" which is one of the best tracks. There are so many different themes, sounds that it is one of their most complex number. A highlight. It is at times pleasant to discover that the band can play something else than "ELP" songs. They should concentrate more into this direction IMO.

But, apparently, this was only a short digression since they will revert to their traditional style with "Succubus". But after a bombastic explosion, some very melodic notes escape from those keys. The trio is really great in this shorter song. I have to say that so far this album is very pleasant. A special mention to the very good bass play (performed by a guest since this album is featuring two keys players and a drummer).

When I spoke of some vocals during this release, do not expect expert work. During "Mother", they sound more as lullaby for young children than true rock vocals (as one could find on most of "Teru's Symphonia" work). This song features an interesting Eastern Oriental mood which is also welcome and breaks the uniformity one could feel while listening to most of their previous records.

"Horla Rising" also holds one of their most symphonic breaks. A bit too short (the break I mean since this song almost clock at ten minutes) but so magical.

The closing number Bizzaro Ballo in Maschera is a bit long to really kick : almost four minutes of chaotic music before an almost classical second part. The keys duo is fully complementary and adds another dimension to this song (but not only).

IMO, it is the best work of the band. The most varied one for sure. Four stars.

Review by CCVP
3 stars This was the first album where the members of the japanese Emerson, Lake and Palmer appear in the cover, and they do so in a porn picture! This album must be good!

Though Japan have a wide and rich prog rock scene, Ars Nova was the first japanese prog band i ever heard anything about and the more i learned about this band more i liked it. Eventually, i found this album, Android Domina. It drew my attention not only because it is an Ars Nova album, but also because of its porn cover, where both keyboardists, Keiko Kumagai and Mika Nakajima, are wearing bondage clothing and doing a sexy pose (note: the cover of the album i have is not the one that is in PA).

When i checked the music inside the album i was both very content and discontent. I was very content because the music is very good, l Ars Nova: powerful dual keyboards (something that only Ars Nova, as far as i know, does) with big ELP influences (though the bass part here was made by a keyboard), but without sounding derivative nor emulative, something they have being doing since The Goddess of Darkness. Another good point here is that, for the first time, there were vocals with words in their music, something they never made before (maybe Keiko is learning more than basic english now, but who knows. . .).

However, besides the good points, there is something i just hated in this album: there were many cracks and some background hiss through the whole album. That just cannot happen these days, when technology in the mastering, mixing and recording process made fixing those inconvenient noises so easy and cheap.

Although those noises were a problem in a time where high definition is the rule, the music mostly overcame it. the highlights of this album are: Android Domina, All Hallow's Eve and Bizarro Ballo In Maschera. Actually, a big part of the cracks and hisses are in the song Android Domina.

Grade and Final Thoughts

A nice album with very good songs and a bondage pin-up cover, enough said. 3 stars, that's it.

EDIT: I have been listening to this album a lot in the past couple of months and i reached the conclusion that i have overrated this album. The production and mixing problems they have here (the hisses and cracks) are just unacceptable with our current technology, so I downgraded Android Domina from 4 stars to 3 stars.

Review by Matti
2 stars Apart from an excellent compilation "Le Meilleur du Rock Progressif Japonais" I haven't much heard prog from Japan. Sadly there's very little of it in Finnish libraries. If the mentioned compilation was a happy surprise by having only a little of that kind of bombastic keyboard- attack heavy prog which is perhaps the stereotype, then this album was exactly my worst expectations come to flesh.

The tracks (instrumental except for a short section in the opener) are all quite similar: over- dramatic and awfully thick of synths & organs. I can bare with a little amount of it but listening to the whole album is nearly a torture that makes me feel angry. The distasteful cover suits well to the music. Titles reveal some more: 'All Hallow's Eve', 'Horla Rising' (I don't know what else Horla is but it's the title of a Guy de Maupassant story dealing with horror & madness) and 'Succubus' (demonic female spirit). Yes, the mood of this album is nightmarish, perverse and doomed.

Of course these women can play like hell, but if just about everything else sucks, just forget it. I'll give two stars however, because I did include two tracks into my CD and so it isn't completely unlistenable.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Immediately after the release of ''The book of the dead'' Ars Nova hit the road for an extended world tour, featuring support keyboardist Naomi Miura (ex-Rosalia and After the Rain).They visited Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and England, before flying over to the USA.In 1999 Miura's temporary place was permanently taken by Mika Nakajima, who played all kind of keyboards.The same year the trio teamed up with Gerard to release the album ''Keyboards triangle''.They failed to find a bassist upon the recordings of the new album ''Android domina'', Ken I[&*!#]a and Noboru Nakajima provided these duities in a pair of number, but the album came to completion primarly by the new double keyboard/drums line-up.As with ''The book of the dead'' this one was released on Made in Japan for their homemarket, Musea for the European one, while Black Widow pressed a vinyl issue.

With the kinky front cover and the sound of a loving woman in the opening minutes, ''Android domina'' marked a brand new era for the band.With the absence of a regular bassist and the presence of two female keyboardists, the sound of Ars Nova took a slightly less pounding and more romantic direction, though the darker moments have not been abandoned by the group.This time they reminded me a lot of IL BALLETO DI BRONZO with all these odd keyboard fanfares finding their way from Classical-drenched church organ and tricky synth exercises to the typical Ars Nova E.L.P.-like masturbations on Hammond organ.GERARD and RICK WAKEMAN were and still are pretty good reference points, the first come to mind during the long and pompous synth drains, while the latter springs to mind mainly during the more apparent Classical influences.The music is largely instrumental and deeply symphonic with lengthy tracks and virtuosic solos, melodies are rather absent and the focus here is on emphatic, detailed and varied compositions with tight links between the movements, always propelled by the sound of keyboards.As aforementioned, the sound is a bit more ethereal (compared to the last couple of albums) but always dense and certain parts recall THE ENID's delicate and grandiose arrangements.

Ars Nova enter the millenium with a pretty nice keyboard Prog effort.The music is always magnificent, cinematic and haunting, but the addition of a keyboardist instread of a bassist has made more bad than good to a nonetheless heavily keyboard-led group.Anyway, this is a pretty great work for fans of E.L.P., TRACE, REFUGEE, TRIUMVIRAT, SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING, RICK WAKEMAN and the likes.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Android Domina is for me one of the greatest progressive rocks albums of last years. If you survive with health to the female moaning when the album begins, you will be into an incredible world of sex, magic, music and emotion. The band sounds sometimes like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but it h ... (read more)

Report this review (#1091) | Posted by incubus | Thursday, September 2, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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