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Kenso Yume No Oka  album cover
4.13 | 75 ratings | 8 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tsuki ni Isoh I (5:33)
2. Toki no Imi (5:06)
3. Nazomeita Mori Yori (4:38)
4. Oia (1:36)
5. Kokoro no Naka no Kodai (5:13)
6. Fuan na Kioku (2:24)
7. Chichukai to Aryajin (5:16)
8. Oia o Satta hi (0:46)
9. The Fourth Reich (5:00)
10. Alfama (6:41)
11. Tsuki no Isoh II (3:13)

Total time: 45:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Yoshihisa Shimizu / guitar, bouzouki
- Kenichi Mitsuda / keyboards
- Kenichi Oguchi / keyboards
- Shunji Saegusa / electric & acoustic basses

Releases information

Title translates as "Dream Hill"

CD King Records ‎- KICP-142 (1991, Japan)
CD Spalax Music ‎- 14534 (1997, France)
CD King Records ‎- KICS 91704 (2011, Japan)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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KENSO Yume No Oka ratings distribution

(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KENSO Yume No Oka reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Kenso is a fusion band in the tradition of Bruford and Brand X. If you like these bands, you will be very pleased by their music. Great drumming, very close to Bruford's one. The keyboard work is also delightful. A must for all fusion fans.
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Good fusion record from 1991. I was reminded of VISUAL CLIFF when listening to this although the emphesis here are on the dual keyboards. The drumming is very well done as well especially on "Mediterranean And Aryan" where we also get some percussion. The drumming creates a nice rhythm on "The Fourth Reich". There is some Portuguese guitar used to great effect on "Today I Left Oia". I can't say i'm a huge fan of the keyboard flurries on the opener "Les Phases De La Lune I". The song becomes uptempo after 30 seconds.

"From The Mystic Woods" features some experimental noises while "Oia" opens with voices and is very atmospheric. We finally get some good guitar on "Alfama" 4 minutes in, followed by some spacey synths. More guitar in the final song as well as some good piano melodies. My favourite tune is "Fuan Na Kioka" but overall as much as I can appreciate the music, it's not my favourite brand of Fusion. A lot of keyboard led songs. Well done though.

Review by fuxi
5 stars What a band! Instrumental, symphonic prog (a la Hackett) influenced by "fusion" (in the style of Bruford and Brand X) just doesn't get better than this.

Don't be put off by the fact that Kenso are from Japan. If you played me this album without showing the cover, I'd never have guessed it. And don't worry about the fact band that leader Yoshihisa Shimizu has modelled his lead guitar sound on Steve Hackett and Allan Holdsworth. The band's compositions are so original and cheering they'll leave you stunned!

YUME NO OKA means "Dream Hill", and the album's splendid cover picture (a flock of sheep and a single shepherd on a steep, misty mountainside) captures the music's atmosphere excellently. (I keep wondering if that picture was taken in Japan, since you hardly find any livestock there.)

I tried taking notes on each piece in order to describe the music to you, but it changes so rapidly, and goes through so many moods, this proved impossible. YUME NO OKA may only last 45 minutes, but these guys pack more ideas in a limited time-span than the Flower Kings do in their notorious double CDs. By the way, it seems you can buy YUME NO OKA inexpensively online, and believe me: every minute is more than worth it!

The album was carefully planned. Fast, exciting solos on guitar and synths are followed by delicate pictures-in-sound, e.g. the marvellous 'Fuan na Kioku' ("Uneasy Memory"). Weird, unconventional rhythms (as on 'Mediterranean and Aryan') evoke memories of 'Larks Tongues in Aspic Part III'. Tunes that start out menacingly, may end on a festive keyboard climax (e.g. 'The Fourth Reich'), and vice versa. Gorgeous, truly symphonic moments with "orchestral" keyboards and triumphant lead guitar are interspersed with shorter acoustic pieces. 'Today I left OIA', for example, is a lovely interlude on "Portugal-guitar", whatever that means - sounds a bit like twelve-string... Throughout the album, many of the solo passages are so full of yearning you just can't call this a cold album. Kenso's members may be first-rate virtuosi, but they have the sense to keep their solos short (the music is constantly changing) which means YUME NO OKA never comes across as senseless jamming.

In Japan, YUME NO OKA is considered to be a prog classic. Fortunately for all of us, Kenso are still active today, still releasing splendid albums.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Kenso is a masterful Jazz-Fusion quintet heading from Japan and are known for releasing splendid albums during their long career, with "Yume No Oka" being one of their key albums, and with good reason. Stylistically inluenced by a good dose of progressive rock bands such as Gentle Giant together with the smooth and melodic styles of other Jazz-Rock outfits such as Ain Soph, Bruford and Return to Forever and it really shows when listening to these smooth and well arranged songs. The songs have a clear Symphonic Prog vibe to them but still with a strong dominating fusion twist and they all feature an incredible amount of ideas and diversety, as well as being very balanced at the same time. They all go through several different moods and complex melodies without being repetitious or dull at all, something that many artist haven't quite managed to do equally well. Kenso, however, have no problems with this and the overall result is just perfect. The musicianship is amazing and every player is technically profilic and knows exactly how to handle the music and play it the right way. The drummer, Masayuki Muraishi, especially is excellent drawing comparisions to other great drummers such as Phil Collins, Bill Bruford and Lenny White with complete ease.

Sound quality is crystal clear and great, with all details fully audible and supports the otherwise excellent music even further. The creativity of this band is unbelieveable. During these 45 minutes, this band came up with so much interesting material that is all pure gold to my ears at least, and after listening to this, you'll immediately get a feeling that you're either perfectly feeded instead of feeling bored. The case with me was that I was demanding for more to be honest, and if you're a Jazz-Fusion lover you'll surely feel the same after hearing this. I can't think of any particular weak parts on this album actually and it's carefully written and put together to produce the best possible result it seems. I can guarantee that they suceeded. Essential to any Jazz-Rock/Fusion lover or prog lover in general!

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Please let me say as follows: Which is 'YUME NO OKA', a hill in one's dream or a dreamy hill?

I consider this KENSO's work should be one of the most important gems in Japanese progressive rock scene. Furthermore, whenever I listen to this terrific album, I can't help wondering what KENSO should want to tell. In English, this album's title is 'Dream Hill', that we can take both ways as above mentioned. Anyway, Yoshihisa Shimizu, the leader and a guitarist, is a dentist at the same time. I wonder which this title be related to, his scientifically theoretical thought or his anaesthetic experience... Yep, of course, just kidding. :-)

Back to the discussion about this fantastic album. At first, Yoshihisa's acoustic guitar can open the door of the dreamy world. Soon clear sounds with double keyboards and guitars should wake us (oh!). So strict are Masayuki's drums & percussions, and Shunji's bass...they are the basis of KENSO's complex sounds, although lots of fans tend to mention keyboards and guitars, not the rhythm section. The first track Les Phases De La Lune I is very wonderful with the streaming style, as if the moon rise over the hill quickly and quietly. Also in the next one The Signification Of Time they could play such a complex and speedy song or part so naturally and pleasantly. There we can get their play as it is, without feeling the complexity. From The Mystic Woods is, I feel, so suitable for the DREAMY and MYSTIC album. Though the previous two tracks are clear and bright rather than dreamy and fuzzy, this can remind us a dreamy state of mind or a trance. Drowsy percussions and keyboards can hit our mind and brain. Next OIA may be another mysterious hill...? And be awaken. Full of Oriental flavour in The Ancient In My Brain should be around us and into our brain. Sure, this hill be made by an ancient civilization...and made in our dream...but dreamy too... :-)

Again Yoshihisa's acoustic guitar can knock our mind in FUAN NA KIOKU (unstable memory), a short track. Aryans may dance and sing to the song Mediterranean and Aryan, with exotic guitars solo, keyboards and percussions. These impressive percussions must make the atmosphere of this song I believe. After the previous song's calm end, Today I Left OIA with his acoustics, with loneliness... In hard, sharp-edged, and electric The Fourth Reich they play as if they scatter a toy box named KENSO. There are lots of their musical essence. I'm sure this song and next Alfama are the highlights of this product. Fantasy can fly over and over...all instruments sometimes hop and jump, and sometimes swim and swing. Sorry I can't express well but KENSO's dreamy world should be in these songs I feel. The last Les Phases De La Lune II is steady and comfortable song for us. Ah, we can be relaxed, and well enjoy on the dreamy our dream. At last I can't realize which be correct. :-)

No problem. This album let us dream a dreamy dream. It's absolutely okay for us, isn't it?

Review by Kazuhiro
4 stars The activity and the history of music lasting for about ten years might have been exactly continuous Kenso debuts of the revolution. The element to which the wind instrument that was able to be listened in their initial music was taken was revolutionized while pursuing a perfect element of the music character every time the work was announced.

The flow with the part where an exact calculation was given as a part of the style grand though Rock is made a root and a composition of the tune will strongly have the element of Jazz Rock/Fusion. What should be of the band that band leader's Yoshihisa Shimizu thought about strongly had the inquiring mind to music that always caught the age and was not related to the market. It might also have had not only the development of Jazz/Fusion but also making the sound such as symphonic.

"Sparta" that had been announced in 1989 was an album with high quality in which energy was very poured for them. However, it is said that it was proposed to the industry of the music of Japan that he perform the music of New Wave alone according to the band leader's remark. However, it is said that he always thought bringing as the band leader to the [bandono] top close. The band has already tried to head for one top that the band thinks about by absorbing the element of various music.

The band leader was having them revolutionize it always pursuing the music character of Kenso researching various Prog Rock. And, he has enumerated the name of "Pat Metheny" as another remark. There might be a part reflected as a concept and thought when this remark's thinking about the content of the part and this album of his music character. The tune of the title that is called "P.M." is actually collected to "In concert" announced in 1986. I will be able to ask hope to music because of no end of him by simple music in @ what and taking the methodology of various Prog Rock and Jazz/Fusion. The band was exactly rushing into at time when one wave was gripped.

It changes into Toshihiko Sahashi of the keyboard player who was regularly participating in the band and Kenichi Mithuda participates in this album. And, it is said that "Dream hill" that novelist's Arthur Machen wrote as the overall concept of this album will be quoted.

"Les Phases de la lune 1" dashes from the flow of an acoustic guitar attended with suddenly complex melody and development. A technical element might have reached the peak as a band. The melody of the keyboard advances with complete harmony. Ensemble of the band might be also splendid. Grand part in the middle where width of tune is expanded from development of calculated guitar. A dash feeling advanced as the methodology of Jazz/Fusion is taken has succeeded. The sound might be variegated.

"The Signification of time" might be a flow of which the part of "Pat Metheny" exactly said as a remark of the leader has gone out. However, it will not be a part where they have already mimicked music interpreting it. The band completely catches the sound. A refreshing melody crosses with a complex rhythm. The band challenged music as one shape. The tune progresses while running side by side with the part with the tension on the way.

"From the mystic woods" made from Kenichi Mithuda will have the part with a few, ambient elements from the flow of a beautiful keyboard. The title is exactly reflected in the tune. The line of Bass twines well with the part of a beautiful keyboard. The rhythm and the melody cross each other. And, Ad-Rib of Bass contributes. It has an exactly mysterious flow.

"OIA" has the flow that puts the arpeggio and the uneasiness of an opening guitar in the impression. When the overall concept of the album is considered, the tune will have the part of the connection. The flow has the role that shifts to the following development.

As for "The ancient in my brain", the melody of the keyboard with the extension is impressive. PFM might be a little reminiscent as the expression method. And, it advances with the part of high-quality Jazz/Fusion with an acoustic guitar. Complex development really raises the quality of the band. The sound of the band in close relation to the sound of the keyboard that is reminiscent of the sound of the wind instrument has the function as two keyboard players.

"Huan Na Kioku" starts by the arpeggio with a beautiful guitar. The contribution of the keyboard that operates a variegated sound might be also large. And, the guitar that is reminiscent of Robert Fripp appears. The flow of the album might have fast and slow very much. And, the tension is always kept. It might be exactly a sound of Kenso.

A rhythm that twines intermittently from the part of the start mainly composed of the rhythm and a racial melody appear in "Mediterranean and Aryan". The album advances exactly with one concept. The flow of Gentle Giant might be reminiscent. However, the tune shifts to the flow where the wave quietly drifts and expands the width of the tune. The tune develops intermittently and reaches the peak by the melody of the guitar. In addition, the tune advances with the flow maintained.

As for "Today I left OIA", the voice twines round the melody of the guitar of the sitar. It will have the part of the connection as a flow of the album. And, the concept is continued.

The melody with the tension with the element of Fusion in a steady rhythm twines round "The Fourth Reich". The tune has development to which the forecast doesn't adhere attended with the line of an extension of the keyboard and heavy Bass. The complex composition developed one after another might be splendid. Fast and slow is freely manipulated and an advanced flow raises the entire quality of the album.

"Alfama" has the development of Hard Fusion to which the melody and the guitar of a beautiful keyboard suddenly crosswire. The tune always continues the tension and the extension and has the flow of very early development. The flow that develops intermittently might be splendid. The tune will flow quietly and cultivate listener's imagination. And, the top is received at the end.

"Les phases de la lune 2" advances with a slow flow. It advances with the form of the ballade. The progress of the code of the tune is calculated while the float in the space. The keyboard twines round a beautiful piano melody and the atmosphere of the tune is continued. The guitar reached the peak and directionality and the concept of the band were offered.

The band used a lot of energy for producing this album. After having announced this album, the band leader had the rest a little. This album produced by them pouring energy into this album is too a work always popular among the listener in the world.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Fifth Studio album (sixth overall , excluding, Self Portrait, a compilation) from the Kenso band that is now still a quintet but revolving around guitarist Shimizu and keyboardist Oguchi, the rest of the members having changed since the early 80's' line-up. Dream Hill (that's the album title's translation) comes with a peaceful pastoral landscape of a heard and again features most tracks written by Shimizu, leaving the two keyboard players Oguchi (2) and Mitsuda (1) crumbs, and his music seems inspired, even thematic as the album is book-ended by Phases De La Lune tracks.

I'm not exactly sure when Kenzo turned their sleeves inside out and opened their musical propos towards jazz-rock & fusion, but this album is certainly quite a departure fro m the first three albums, which were symphonic and light years from jazzy thoughts. Yes JR/F is a facet of their music, but if they sound sometimes like Brand X (Ancient In My Brain), it is mostly through their Genesis influences (so obvious on the their early albums), rather than a fascination to RTF or Hancock. While Shimizu has definitely asserted his guitar in the group, much of the sound still relies on the two keyboards, which develops digital sounds so typical of the 80's, which of course does not sit well with this proghead, especially when the sound chosen are sometimes plain incompatible with the music, ie: the "symphonic sound of the keyboards on a jazz-rock piece is unconvincing When they do sound a tad more convincing , they sound like a second grade Brand X or fifth-dilution of Mahavishnu or Gentle Giant. What irritates me a bit is the drummer's sound (not his technique), although I've heard much worse elsewhere but at the start of Alfama, it is infuriatingly bad.. Some tracks are complete bores (OIA), others would've gained a great deal with a better drumming (Fourth Reich)

An amazing improvement over the early 80's album, much more guts and balls, this album is worth a good listen, but pales in comparison to the albums it looks up to. And in some weird way, you could call this neo-jazz-rock, rather than retro-jazz-rock. From what I gather , it would be another 8 years before Kenso would record their next album, Esoptron, a more Crimsonian jam-band affair, but I have no idea why they kept sileny for so long. Way over-rated, certainly; but still worth a spin.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Masterpiece! Beautiful arrangments, beautiful melodies, awesome dual keyboard work, excellent guitar solos! This is outstanding fusion, played at the maximum level! Similar to Ain Soph, Bruford or Brand X, but even better. ... (read more)

Report this review (#4233) | Posted by Melos | Thursday, March 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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