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Mr. Sirius

Canterbury Scene

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Mr. Sirius Dirge album cover
4.02 | 62 ratings | 9 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fanfare - Legal Dance (3:28)
2. Love Incomplete (7:52)
3. A Land Dirge (3:14)
4. Super Joker (5:44)
5. A Sea Dirge (4.38)
6. The Nile For A While (21:29)
.. a) Chase of infinity
.. b) Home forgotten
.. c) Dual sight
.. d) Colony
.. e) Bliss for a day
.. f) Beyond the glory
7. Requiem (3:50)

Total Time: 50:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Lisa Ohki (Hiroko Nagai) / vocals
- Shigekazu Kamaki / guitars
- Kazuhiro Miyatake (Mr. Sirius) / flute, acoustic guitar, keyboards, composer & co-producer
- Hidehiko Muraoka / bass
- Chihiro Fujioka / drums, percussion

- Hiroshi Takayama / synth & orchestral arrangement (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Makito Fumita

CD CRiME - KICP-69 (1990, Japan)
CD King Records ‎- KICS 2525 (1994, Japan)
CD Spalax Music ‎- SPALAXCD14575 (2001, France)
CD King Records ‎- KICS 91708 (2011, Japan) Remastered

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MR. SIRIUS Dirge ratings distribution

(62 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MR. SIRIUS Dirge reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Progbear
4 stars More lovely, densely orchestrated prog from Mr. Sirius, featuring the incomparable voice of Hiroko Nagai. Weirdly, she sounds eerily like Barbara Streisand here at times (as on "Love Incomplete"), yet it does work for the music.

As with the previous album, there are moments of blistering fusion mixed in with the symphonic beauty. Opener "Fanfare/Legal Dance" is rather in the Ain Soph/Kenso mould, and should appeal to fans of those bands. On the other hand, the achingly beautiful instrumentals "A Land Dirge" and "A Sea Dirge" display Miyatake's synth, piano and classical guitar techniques to a most stunning effect.

The 21-minute "Nile For A While" suite is probably the band's finest hour. Starting with mesmerizing tribal percussion, it continues on a journey of lush orchestrations and Ain Soph-ish fusion-prog passages, with Nagai's powerful singing voice tying it all together expertly. Definitely one of the stronger Japanese releases!

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars So many people love the vocals of Hiroko Nagai but I can hardly listen to them. She really reminds me of a Broadway singer or someone singing in a cheesy musical. There is no question she can sing, but it also reminds me of some of the Christian artists that used to leave me shaking my head.The orchestration is also a distraction for me. Now if we talk about the lead guitarist and drummer, we're talking about outstanding musicians. They do often come and go like a tornado. They are both furious players,and although the quick start and stop style is impressive, that again is not something I enjoy a lot. I failed to hear the Canterbury flavour, but i'm sure that's just me.

So 3 stars for me. I can see why so many give this album 4 or 5 stars, MR.SIRIUS are impressive at what they do. This just doesn't suit my tastes that's all. Funny but after I gave it one final listen I put MOVING GELATINE PLATES on and thought this is more like it, no comparison.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The two albums released by Mr. Sirius are superb: the most accomplished on of both is, IMHO; their sophomore release "Dirge", which I am going to review right now. This effort solidifies the musical proposal that had been developed in the previous album ? a collage where pastoral prog folk, symphonic prog and jazz-rock alternate and complement each other in a common kaleidoscopic spectrum. Miyatake's taste for bucolic acoustic explorations had already been present in his ventures as a member of previous bands Pageant and Pazzo Fanfano Di Musica, and so, now that this is his project, Mr. Sirius explores this line of work further within the context of an eclectic approach to progressive rock. The final result is excellent due mostly to the powerful doses of compositional imagination displayed in the repertoire, but there is also an undeniable charisma in the group of performers involved (especially the lead guitarist, the drummer, and of course, the female vocalist). The double prologue 'Fanfare ? Legal Dance' starts with 50 seconds of pastoral delight, not unlike Ant Phillips' "The Geese & The Ghost", but then comes a sudden eruption of ballsy prog-jazz a-la Kenso meets Ain Soph (that should be the 'Legal Dance' portion), a dynamic exhibition of awesome musicality fluidly sustained by the rhythm duo while the lead guitar draws white hot colors in the air. After this spectacular entry, expectations are naturally high for the remaining tracks, and let me warm you that they will not disappoint. 'Love Incomplete' is a warm piece where the melodic richness rules supreme: eerie reflective moments, lush symphonic atmospheres and solid shades of jazzy sophistication meld in a varied musical unity that reflects a certain uniqueness: for those who ever dreamed there would be a hybrid of classic Renaissance and "Apocalypse"- era Mahavishnu, pay attention to the last 2 minutes and enjoy the reality of what you had been dreaming for so long. 'A Land Dirge' takes our minds straightforwardly to pastures green in valleys where shepherds used to fill their days with recorders, lutes and romantic chants: more concisely, this piece shows Miyatake's acoustic side quite directly, with an instrumentation that sounds like a duet of nylon guitars by Ant Phillips and Steve Hacket plus guest flutist John Hackett. Its 3+ minute span feels a bit too short for me, but it's a great instrumental piece unconditionally. Later on, 'A Sea Dirge' will continue on this contemplative vain, but in this case the classical guitars are replaced by synth orchestrations that provide a cinematographic mood in their solemn layers. Between these two snippets of soft reflectiveness is the robust 'Super Joker', which brings back the jazz- prog thing and takes it up to a new peak of bombast and electricity. This piece is so well crafted hat even in those moments in which the guitar solos run wild, the sense of melody does not loose an inch of its form and structure. No doubt that this band is impeccably tasteful in whichever sort of musical mood I intends to focus on at the moment. The suite entitled 'The Nile For A While' is a magnificent tour- de-force, a track hat pretty much incarnates the definition of progressive rock (better than 1,000 words). The introductory section consists of a percussive tribal celebration, full of telluric joy and exotic ambiences, being ultimately succeeded by a storm wind effect after its fade-out, and then comes a Kenso moment (yet another one), accomplished with polished skill and energetic sensibility. When the first sung section arrives, the jazz factor is bit diminished in favor of the pastoral thing, but now the band is more related to Focus territory than to Phillips'. The second suction portion is much rockier, while remaining true to the patterns of progressive sophistication. A few second after the 15 minute mark, a dramatic shift reveals an ethereal demonstration of melancholic serenity: almost new-agey at first, this new mood gradually increases through a perfectly calculated crescendo where things begin to sound more pompous (without getting overdone). When we get o the 18 minute mark, it becomes evident that the section we have just described was really a threshold to the motif that will occupy the suite's last 3+ minutes: this one takes the preceding mood as an impulse toward an impressive set of musical colors that leads to a splendid climax. Bravo!, bravo! The album's end is provided by the closer 'Requiem', which in some ways states a refurbishment of the cinematographic ambience of 'A Sea Dirge', only with an increased epic undertone. So, all in all, the legacy of Mr. Sirius reveals itself as a pinnacle of the progressive scene that was developed in Japan between the early 80s and early 90s.
Review by Warthur
4 stars Though its opening passages may lure you into thinking you're in for another mostly tranquil listen along the lines of the preceding Barren Dream, it becomes apparent very soon that Dirge shows a different side of Mr. Sirius, with regular outbreaks of louder, somewhat RIOish playing and almost operatic vocals from Lisa Ohki. Whilst the last album presented a mixture of symphonic and Canterbury-flavoured styles, this album is more firmly in the Canterbury/RIO camp, with the influence of the likes of Henry Cow much more prominent. A very successful noisy counterpart to its quiet older brother, Dirge is another fine accomplishment from a Japanese band which unfortunately doesn't seem to have released very much since.
Review by b_olariu
4 stars Mr.Sirius is one of the obscure japanese bands who was formed in mid '80s with only 2 albums released in their short career. The most succesful and regarded as their best is the second offer named Dirge from 1990. The music is a combination of symphonic passages with a clear classical direction and a canterbury feel added in the mix. Well the result is pretty great I might say. Also in some parts are some pastoral elements present with a soft and mellow atmosphere. Hiroko Nagai the female vocalist has a pleasent voice that goes very well in this context, sometimes the vocal arrangements are very similar with Broadway singers or musical ones as the instrumental section aswell, like on Love Incomplete. Anyway the longest tune of the album The Nile For A While clocking around 21 minutes, is awesome, here the band gather all the great ideas they had so far and the result is pretty great and well performed. The passages are very well presented something between Camel , The Enid with canterbury feel. Lots of synth , combined with pastoral flute parts gives a very special atmophere with vocal parts both in english and japanese by Hiroko Nagai. So, all in all more then pleasent album to my ears, the cover art is quite awesome and goes hand in hand with the music. 4 stars for this little japanese treasure.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mr. Sirius left behind a masterful prog treasure, but fortunately ''Barren dream'' was not his last official release.A second album followed three years later and this time he (along with Hiroko Nagai and Chihiro Fujioka) decided to hook up with two more members: Bassist Hidehiko Muraoka and guitar veteran Shigekazu Kamaki, former member of Orpheus and future leader of Kehell.The new work of the group was entitled ''Dirge'' and it was released in October 90's on King Records' Crime sublabel.

Nobody would expect that Mr. Sirius would return with a flawless and shining release like ''Barren dream'', as these types of albums see the light one in a thousand times, but ''Dirge'' is also a great work, full of excellent interplays and majestic soundscapes, despite sounding a bit unfocused compared to the debut.The music follows more or less the same vein, containing excellent Symphonic Rock with vintage inspirations, supported too often by Fusion touches.In fact the new guitarist has a tremendous soloing ability, very close to ALLAN HOLDSWORTH's style, offering bombastic and highly virtuosic moments.He pairs nicely with the acoustic textures of Miyatake, who's delicate flute work remains one of the band's trademarks.Again Hiroko Nagai prooves to be one of Mr. Sirius' biggest weapons: Pleasant, non-accented and clear English vocals are delivered between the furious interplays and the powerful breaks.The cinematic Classical influences of ''Barren dream'' are also present with an THE ENID-like grandiose approach through the use of synths, Mellotrons and acoustic guitars.The most important difference with ''Barren dream'' is the inclusion of a very long epic.The 21-min. ''The nile for a while'' is a great example of technical Symphonic/Fusion, most of it contains adventurous interplays, Classical references and emphatic, rich textures with violins, organ, flutes and electric guitars in evidence, sounding a bit like OUTER LIMITS.The different themes are sufficiently connected to each other, offering varied moods, while the dicreet Canterbury flavor is apparent through the more Fusion parts.And last but not least, the performance of the rhythm section is impressive and solid with plenty of complex plays.

Another winner by, propably, the best Japanese band of the 80's.Super-tight musicianship, that changes from complicated and technical playing to atmospheric, cinematic textures in a blink of an eye.Highly recommended.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After 1987's amazing and surprising debut, "Barren Dream," Kazuhiro Miyatake comes back for a 1990 follow up--and he brings back extraordinary mezzo soprano vocalist Hiroko Nagai and drummer Chihiro Fujioka with him. It is a solid and worthy followup if not quite as surprisingly fresh as the debut--which seemed to come out of nowhere with it's pristine sound, sophisticated compositions, and virtuosic performances.

As previous reviewers have remarked, the heavier, more intricate sections of the compositions sound much like country mates KENSO and AIN SOPH, while the more pastoral passages feel close to the stylings of ex-GENESIS soloists, ANT PHILLIPS and STEVE HACKETT, while the vocal passages feel forceful and dramatic enough to fit on the stages of Broadway or London's West End. The complexity of vocal symphonic passages are quite reminiscent of Keith EMERSON as well as jazz musicians like MANHATTAN TRANSFER and today's MOETAR.

1. "Fanfare - Legal Dance" (3:28) this instrumental starts out with a beautiful pastoral soundscape before exploding into a breakneck speed jazz-rock piece of multi-virtuosity. Only lacking melodic engagement. (8.75/10)

2. "Love Incomplete" (7:52) full on prog dynamism moving effortlessly between bombast and classical pastoralism with the lovely voice of Hiroko Nagai gracing the top (this time singing in Japanese). Great sound engineering and balancing with great instrumental interplay by all band members. (13.5/15)

3. "A Land Dirge" (3:14) classical guitar with flute. This I like. Very ANT PHILLIPS-like. (10/10)

4. "Super Joker" (5:44) high-powered and fast-paced jazz-rock fusion in the vein of BRUFORD, KENSO, or even JEAN-LUC PONTY. The vocals remind me more of the vocal stylings of INNER EAR BRIGADE or MOETAR leads Melody Ferris or Moorea Dickason, respectively. Great talent but I'm not always enamored of their MANHATTAN TRANSFER-like melodic sensibilities. (8.75/10)

5. "A Sea Dirge" (4.38) synth strings and solo flute give the opening of this one a kind of ERIK SATIE feel. Nice but nothing so special--nothign to write home about. (Those old synth strings sounds no longer stand up to the high quality sounds captured and delivered by 21st Century keyboards.) (8.5/10)

6. "The Nile for A While" (21:29) (36.5/40) .. a) Chase of infinity .. b) Home forgotten .. c) Dual sight .. d) Colony .. e) Bliss for a day .. f) Beyond the glory

7. "Requiem" (3:50) synth strings and orchestra with Lisa Ohki singing in English. Nicely mixed. Beautiful performance by Ms. Ohki. Love the addition of the church organ in the second half. (9.25/10)

Total Time: 50:15

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music. Though not as stunning or perfect as its predecessor, this is still deserving of five stars for its stellar performances and compositional acumen.

Latest members reviews

5 stars There are maybe a handful of albums that allow me to recall exactly where and when I heard them. This baby is one. I wrote a book on prog and even I don't have the means to describe just what a killer this is. I mean it - no lie. One of the three or four best prog albums EVER. Very, very sophi ... (read more)

Report this review (#94645) | Posted by Paul Stump | Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars OH My GOD!!!! I can't believe. Like I wrote in the review to Barren Dream, I repeat that there weren't words to describe the pleasure of listening this record. The only thing I add here: Imagine a very, very good band, that grows each album. And imagine that their first record is too enjoiable ... (read more)

Report this review (#57942) | Posted by | Friday, November 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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