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CIRCLE IN THE FOREST

Asturias

Neo-Prog


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Asturias Circle In The Forest album cover
3.78 | 39 ratings | 3 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ryu-Hyo (4:59)
2. Clairvoyance (5:20)
3. Angel Tree (4:53)
4. Tightrope (6:55)
5. Circle in the Forest (22:21)

Total Time 44:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Yoh Ohyama / computer programming, synthesiszer, acoustic & electric guitars, bass, percussion, composer
- Haruhiko Tsuda / guitar
- Akira Hanamoto / keyboards
- Kazumi Sakurai / drums, percussion

With:
- Yoko Ueno / voice
- Hiroshi Ochiai / guitar
- Hiroko Tsuda / piano

Releases information

Artwork: Hiraku Ohyama (photo)

LP Crime ‎- K28P-727 (1988, Japan)

CD Crime - K32Y 2155 (1988, Japan)
CD Spalax Music ‎- 14577 (2001, France)
CD Crime ‎- KICS 91937 (2013, Japan)

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ASTURIAS Circle In The Forest ratings distribution


3.78
(39 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
28%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
46%
Good, but non-essential (23%)
23%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ASTURIAS Circle In The Forest reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
3 stars New age music's peak of popularity, chiefly among child-rearing former prog fans, coincided with the advent of corporate microcomputing in the late 1980s. Some musicians comfortable in all these realms were also fans of MIKE OLDFIELD's late 70s and early 80s works, and one of the more accomplished such groups was Japan's ASTURIAS. "Circle in the Forest" was their debut, a blend of often beautiful themes occasionally stunted by cold production and an apparent need to incorporate non musical programming in erstwhile musical arrangements.

The high points are generally where the captivating main theme of this album is expounded upon, in "Angel Tree" and the latter 12 minutes of the sprawling title cut, which is like a combination of the stormier parts of "Hergest Ridge" and the minimalism of "Incantations". But "Ryu-Hyo", which opens the proceedings, provides some fine piano rolls and simple melodic guitar figures that raise it above and beyond most of the better new age recordings of the time, and more firmly into the realm of the progressive.

The weaker tracks are the robotic "Clairvoyance", where the machines take a bit too much charge, although again here some fine lead guitars prevail, and the similarly frosty "Tightrope".

The juxtaposition of crystalline somewhat synthetic arrangements and natural themes is not unknown in Japanese music. One need only name KITARO among many others, but ASTURIAS' "Circle in the Forest" is worth a look if you like simple melodies that are allowed fruitful if not full expression. True, sometimes the circle is sonically portrayed as a loop with a deficient exit condition, in programming parlance, but at least it's pretty.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A group of obviously-classically-trained Japanese musicians gather under the leadership of Yoh Ohyama to create some smooth jazz lite using keyboard sounds and computer technologies common to the 1980s New Wave and Neo Prog scene.

1. "Ryu-Hyo" (4:59) classically influenced beautiful music which is a little too busy for New Age relaxation music. Gorgeous melodies from Yoh Ohyama's violin are met with amazing piano play from Hiroko Tsuda. The buildup and crescendo near the end definitely disqualify this for the New Age category. So, then, what do we call it? "Prog Lite"? (9.25/10)

2. "Clairvoyance" (5:20) synth bass line at the opening gives this song a 80s R&B feel, like a Michael Jackson "Smooth Criminal" sound and feel. The drum line that soon enters does nothing to diminish this effect. But then some other instruments enter presenting a kind of Celtic ABC "Poison Arrow" sound and feel. The smooth atmospheric passage in the third minute is pretty awesome, but then we jump back into the 80s barrage of gumball synth lines. In terms of progressive rock, this one is kind of embarrassing--despite the high quality of engineering and musicianship that it takes to render it. (7.75/10)

3. "Angel Tree" (4:53) descending "arpeggio" of synth chords prefaces a sickly sweet classical guitar solo. Synth strings join in support, enriching the syrup a notch or two. Nice display of guitar play. (8.25/10)

4. "Tightrope" (6:55) a whole-band weave that once again postures itself more in the realm of smooth jazz with world music flair. The keyboard-led melody is rather ridiculous in its simplistic familiarity. In the third minute there is a slowdown and two-chord acoustic guitar arpeggio base over which Zamfir-like keyboard "piccolo" solos. Piano and bass rejoin, which is actually pretty cool, and then, in the fifth minute, drums and electric guitar, bringing the sound for the first time into a prog relam. Pretty great electric guitar solo and jazz bass play. (13/15)

5. "Circle in the Forest" (22:21) Several New Age-y synth sounds weave a gentle if simple and over-repeated melodic section for the first four minutes. A shift occurs at the end of the fourth minute in which one of the lead synth sounds ("harp") changes chords and melody of its arpeggi and is joined in a new weave by a lute-like sound. At the 5:00 mark a full band joins in with chunky bass and Lord of the Dance-like Celtic drums beating away to create a heavy section. This is then cycled around for the next four minutes with a softer, stripped down theme until the eighth minute when some NORTHETTES-like vocalese joins in. Around the 8:00 mark a different movement is initiated with a single bass note repeated around 110 beats per minute as classical celestina/12-string sounding chords progress with the drums playing off the established melody. It's a nice sound palette if a little "MacArthur's Park" like, simple, and Mike Oldfield-repetitive. Also, the drums' toms are a little early Simmons-like. Just after the 12:00 mark a fast-strumming acoustic guitar enters to guide a bridge to the next stripped down, piano and synth- based sentimental weave. Once again, some of the synth sounds used in this section are so New Age dated. (think of the brothers Steve & David Gordon's albums of the 1980s.) fifteen and a half minutes in and there is a single arpeggio to signal the shift to the next movement--this one softer but just as engaging. The new weave gets enhanced into a Incantations-era MIKE OLDFIELD-meets-UNITOPIA section for a rousing multi-instrumental weave of sophisticated complexity--perhaps the best passage of the album in both complexity and raw engagement (even if it is so very MIKE OLDFIELD-like). (41/45)

Total Time 44:28

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music. More in the realm of New Age/World Music than Neo Prog but there are connections.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The Japanese band - ASTÚRIAS - (commanded by the multi-instrumentalist Yoh Ohyama) in his first studio work Circle in the Forest", presents a sonority that varies of NewAge (influenced mainly by KITARO & MIKE OLDFIELD) and for the Jazz-Prog in the style of bands as, for instance KENSO. Actual ... (read more)

Report this review (#292870) | Posted by maryes | Saturday, July 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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