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Bi Kyo Ran

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Bi Kyo Ran Bi Kyo Ran album cover
3.56 | 52 ratings | 8 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Double (14:24)
2. Cynthia (4:19)
3. Psycho (part II) (1:39)
4. Monologue (7:02)
5. Warning (14:19)

Total Time: 41:43

Line-up / Musicians

- Masaaki Nagasawa / drums
- Masahide Shiratori / bass
- Kunio Suma / guitar, vocals

+ Michiya Koide / recorder
- Yuki Nakajima / keyboards, Mellotron (from Eastern Orbit)
- Toshihiro Nakanishi / electric Black Widow, acoustic violin

Releases information

LP Nexus/King K28P-287 / CD Crime/King KICS-2515

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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BI KYO RAN Bi Kyo Ran ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BI KYO RAN Bi Kyo Ran reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by hdfisch
3 stars This debut album by Japanese band Bi Kyo Ran came out in a time when Prog was already on its downhill since a few years. And actually it sounds like been released mid 70's at the latest, so anything but progressive for the year 1982. Moreover they sound like a Japanese KING CRIMSON clone apart of the vocals. Most of the music could come right away from an album with Cross- Bruford-Fripp-Wetton line-up. Though they don't win any points by originality they still do by their excellent musicianship.

Double, Psycho (Part II) and Monologue have intricate guitar/bass play with odd riffing and breaks at times a bit towards the jazzy side just as we are used to by the original. The classically inspired Cynthia is offering a nice contrast to the other songs with very beautiful violin! The lengthy track Warning is initially very reminiscent of more quiet songs by early KC featuring nice Mellotron, although becoming more quirky and odd in its second part and having an interesting percussion section. I would say this one is the highlight of the album together with Cynthia.

CONCLUSION: Overall this album is a very interesting and nice listen for anyone who can't get enough of Fripp-ish guitar, but certainly not an essential one. The vocals might need getting used to by some European ears, but in fact they are still tolerable IMO. Anyway good for 3 stars!

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When I first heard this album I found it hard to take Bi Kyo Ran seriously. I mean sure the music was very good, but its resemblance to the music of Starless/Red era King Crimson was so pronounced that it really seemed like a joke ... indeed I actually burst out laughing at one point! Over time though I've gotten to develop a respect for the original moments given to us by this Kunio Suma-led ensemble.

For the most part Bi Kyo Ran is a guitar/bass/drums trio (Suma plus bassist Masahdie Shiratori and drummer Masaaki Nagasawa) although the players are augmented by guests on (surprise, surprise) violin and recorder. I've been reliably informed that Bi Kyo Ran started out as a King Crimson tribute band, but once you get pass the shocking similarities, you will eventually see signs of the band's own character developing ... Suma's unusual vocals in Japanese is obviously the most glaring departure from King Crimson's "formula".

The highlights of this self-titled debut from 1982 are the two 14-minute pieces, Double and Warning, that bookend it. I'm really hooked by the vocal melody of Double, and its delicate violin/guitar/vibes interlude starring Suma and guest violinist Toshihiro Nakanishi is excellent, as is a jam based on an angular ascending metallic riff that occurs halfway through the piece. Warning is a strange mix of David Cross like-violin leads, the eerie moments of In The Court Of The King Crimson, more Red-era guitar solos and some percussive (read Larks Tongues In Aspic) experiments! although the vocal harmony section does go a little way towards giving it a welcome flavour of its own.

Elsewhere, Cynthia is an engaging instrumental with Renassiance-era influences, showcasing the lighter side of Bi Kyo Ran (while thankfully not steering to close to any particular King Crimson track!) and Psycho (Part II) and Monologue are both furious bursts of energy, the latter also graced with some more off-beat vocals.

Despite it being a thoroughly enjoyable recording, Bi Kyo Ran's debut is still too much of a clone recording for me to deem it a compulsory addition to your progressive rock collection. ... 56% on the MPV scale

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars BI KYO RAN (like ANEKDOTEN) started out as a KING CRIMSON cover band. And when you listen to this album the KING CRIMSON influence is very obvious, and I love it !

Things get started with "Double" and I really like the vocals on this one. They are in Japanese and he almost shouts out each vocal line. There is a quiet section as vocals soften, xylophone comes in followed by violin. 5 minutes in the guitar tone sounds great ! We then get back to the uptempo melody from the start of this song. The angular guitar sounds are fantastic ! There is such a long instrumental passage with terrific bass lines, guitar melodies and drums.This song is almost 15 minutes of bliss. "Cynthia" is an instrumental with organ to open that is replaced by acoustic guitar.There is flute later but it's the violin that leads the way on this song.

"Psycho (part II)" is another instrumental. It opens with heavy guitar and drums as some blistering guitar solos follow. There is some intricate and complex guitar as well in this way too short song. "Monologue" opens with some amazing guitar and short outbursts of drums.The vocals take a bit to get used to on this one. As the title of the song suggests, he speaks the lyrics instead of singing them. All the while we can hear the Fripp-like melodies. Nice. "Warning" is a beautiful song with mellotron. There is violin, gentle guitar and vocals.The background vocals are a nice touch. 7 minutes in the song changes big time. The drums get heavier and the guitarist fires off some angular solos. There is a bit of a break as we get some percussion work.Then 11 minutes in we are treated to some incredible guitar solos as the drums pound away.

I really like this band, and it's cool to think in 1982 they were still carrying the prog torch while many were falling left and right.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Bi Kyo Ran is undoubtedly the most enthusiastically Crimsonian band from Japan. The band's origins date back in the mid-70s as a psychedelic rock band, but eventually it shifted toward a heavily Crimson- influenced sort of heavy prog, with special emphasis on the 73-75 era, but also hints to "Lizard"-era. This approach is abundantly clear but not totally exclusive, since guitarist/leader Suma's compositions also give room to traces of jazz-rock, space-rock and electric blues. Suma's tenor timber can lead him to become a "Japanese Geddy Lee" at times, and that may be shocking to a number of listeners, but at the end of the day, the performative qualities of Bi Kyo Ran as a whole ensemble should prevail in the listener's perception. In fact, when this debut album was released in 1982, the band had already developed a controlled style and a focused strategy in its instrumental travels, and that's the main point of its contribution ot the prog genre. The album kicks off with 'Double', whose 14 minutes are full of polished roughness, with convenient, not-too-drastic mood shifts revolving around a well defined recurrent motif. The violin and guitar leads that go emerging along the way bring a certain air of mystery to the track's development. 'Cynthia' makes a radical transition to the bucolic realms of pastoral serenity, pretty much inspired by Renaissance music: the sweetly driven classical guitar arpeggios are beautifully ornamented by the violin and the recorder. 'Pycho (Part II)' is a lovely yet too short instrumental whose framework mixes "Red"-era KC and jazz-fusion in a very dynamic way. 'Monologue' emphasizes the most aggressive side of Bi Kyo Ran, although it also preserves the jazz element in the rhythm duo's delivery. The Frippian tricks on guitar emerge with power but not overwhelmingly - the spoken lyrics seem to be mostly humorous. The last track lasts 14 172 minutes, just like the opener - it is called 'Warning'. Its first half is languid and melancholic, becoming the only lyrical sung passage in the album. The guitar and violin flourishes state an amazing eerie ambience. The second half turns into yet another display of Crimsonian heavy prog, reiterating the prominence of the "Red" influence. This section includes a captivating percussive section in full ethnic splendor, as well as a soaring coda on synth. I happen to enjoy this album more than "Parallax" (my first Bi Kyo Ran buy), since it comprises a more diverse trend. In perspective, both albums bring the prog researcher an important view of the heavy prog sound delivered in Japan's avant-garde rock scene in the 80s, years ahead of currently celebrated bands from the same country. In short, both Bi Kyo Ran and the "Bi Kyo Ran" albums are excellent beyond doubt.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's quite a surprise to realize that a band from Japan has adubted this kind of sound.So far I was only aware of japanese bands that have a more synphonic or sympho/fusion sound.But BI KYO RYAN are another story.This is a progressive rock trio with A sound totaly close to KING CRIMSON.The first album of the band was published in 1982,but the Crimson-esque sound of the band resembles more to mid 70's...

The beginning is very dynamic with the 14 min epic ''Double''.First part of the track is very intersting with expressive japanese vocals,groovy rhythm in the vein of KING CRIMSON with maybe a touch of RUSH and a mellow break before the middle with nice guitar work,while the second part is a total disaster with the guitarist ripping off ROBERT FRIPP's solos and the rhythm section playing the same rhythm for 7 minutes! Very monotonous...''Cynthia'' isn't not a trace related to the rest of the album.Medieval atmospheric music blending Hammond organ,acoustic guitar and later flute and violin with a satisfying result...''Psycho'' is another Crimson-esque intro before another Crimson-esque track,''Monologue''...This track contains complex guitar work,lot of breaks and psychedelic vocals that at the end it sounds rather boring...The closer is another epic,the 13 min. ''Warning''.Again we have to deal with a track somekind split in two parts.The mellow violin start is followed by psychedelic vocals and decent guitar work and the second part contains Frippian guitars and some really enjoyable drumming accompanied by heavy bass lines...

It's obvious that the hero of the band is the guitarist Kunio Suma.Without his overall good performance this band would be just another mediocrity.However the good guitar work saves this work from being just another album in a collection and I'll rate BI KYO RYAN's debut with close to 3 stars...

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars I do consider that most of rock bands might enter show biz as copy bands and some of them, getting their originality and their world, should be more famous all over the world. So I want to say, I'll be fretful if you say BIKYORAN be only a copy band of King Crimson. :-)

BIKYORAN (Beautiful Madness? Beauty-Freak? ...sorry.) is one of the most famous Japanese heavy progressive bands. We can say the sound master of the band is Kunio Suma, with sharp-edged guitar sounds and 'Japanese Geddy Lee (by Cesar Inca)' voices. Nobody has suspicions that Kunio could construct BIKYORAN sound style rigidly with his guitar and voice, and his previous band 'MADOROMI' was absolutely a copy band of King Crimson. However, what I have to emphasize here is, with the Crimsonish core of their sound, they could get, accept and digest more and more materials. For example, the first track Niju Jinkaku (Double) can remind us of a heaviness by Larks' King Crimson and of course Geddy Lee & Rush. Cynthia has exactly classical and lyrical flavour of Gabriel's Genesis...I can't help chuckling. Kyo (Psycho) Part 2 and Hitorigoto (Monologue) should have the Larks' Crimsonism but be more psychedelic (especially Kunio's dreadful and keen voice) I always feel. In the last Keikoku (Warning) lots of sound monsters come and attack to us! Exploded guitar sounds like King Crimson, Japanese atmospheres, and in the beginning French symphonic flavour should be around us. (Kunio had respect for Richard Pinhas, a French electroprogressive it's natural he could get French flavour.) We can enjoy their heaviness with all-over-the-world tastes.

Only one sad thing for me is they could not get enough time to make the great product. Indeed, the rhythm section has a few dizziness and there are a few fumble with the guitar solo. But it's almost Ok. This album is surely brilliant sunbeam of heavy prog from Japan!

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars They are often compared in the item of Prog Rock of Japan with King Crimson. It might hit the methodology at which the performance and the band by guitar player's Kunio Suma aimed by the leader of this band. They are producing this debut album in 1982. However, the history of their bands goes back to 1974.

Leader's Kunio Suma met various music at student's time and experienced them. It is guessed that they had a large influence on him. Within that time frame, they had formed the band that was temporarily called "Madoromi". And, "Madoromi" did advanced concurrently shape and acted with this band. It is said that band leader's Kunio Suma groped for the conflict of music in the formation and the methodology of own performance for the market of the music of Japan of the 70's. His method was originally continuous to have advanced the existence of "Bikyoran" of groping.

It was time when the flow of Blues and Fusion had invaded Japan. The shape that surrounding musicians who surrounded the leader also matched to those flows was taken. Kunio Suma guesses that it experienced various music from "Madoromi" "Bikyoran" until settling down in certain shape. And, the existence of King Crimson became an element that decided the position of the direction of the band including the leader. The leader is offering us own confession. It is talked that King Crimson and Frank Zappa are influenced musicians in his remark. The influence in the performance of Robert Fripp applies to the method of this band. It is said that Kunio Suma will surely digest them by the time this debut album is announced and aim at the performance like Robert Fripp as an expression method. There might be of course a lot of bands that also were influenced the musician in other countries from Robert Fripp and King Crimson. However, it might continuously be connected with the road of final about mimicry but the digestion, groping, and directionality. And, this band also never set in the direction of King Crimson and I think that it is a result of uniting various music. Kunio Suma might certainly take the methodology of King Crimson in this band. It is talked that he also was listening only to King Crimson of course. However, it is guessed that it is not music where this band is caught as a simple band if the passage to the arrival there is considered.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Ricardo Otero: You have to listen to this cd to urdestand why King Krimson is one of the best bands of progressive rock of all times. These means that these group is completely influenced by this Band. Complex music in that vein, especially the guitar, violin, etc. You will certainly like thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1290) | Posted by | Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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