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Progressive Electronic • Japan

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Kitaro biography
Kitaro, born Masanori Takahashi (February 4, 1953), is a Japanese recording artist, composer, record producer and arranger noted for his electronic-instrumental music, and is often regarded as one of the most prominent musical acts of New-Age music. He is the winner of a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for `Thinking of You' in 1999 (with a record 16 nominations in the same category throughout his forty plus-year career) and a Golden Globe Award for the `Heaven & Earth' original score in 1993. However, despite his music turning more gentle and exotic from the mid-Eighties onwards, his origins lie in progressive rock and his early music shares similar traits to other Progressive Electronic artists of the Seventies.

Born in Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan to a family of Shinto-Buddhist farmers, in his early high school days he was an electric guitarist in a band that played American rhythm and blues music and popular covers, but upon moving to Tokyo, he discovered and completely changed over to the synthesizer, and in the early Seventies joined Japanese progressive rock group FAR EAST FAMILY BAND. They would go on to release three albums together, but it was whilst touring in Japan and Europe in 1975 that he encountered former TANGERINE DREAM and ASH RA TEMPEL musician KLAUS SCHULZE, who would produce their second and third albums `Nipponjin' and `Parallel Worlds'. No doubt inspired by Schulze's own solo works, Masanori would eventually depart the band before their fourth and final album `Tenkujin', and after travelling on his own throughout Asia, he would soon commence his own solo career.

1978 saw the artist releasing his debut solo work `Ten Kai' (also known as `Astral Voyage') under his boyhood name Kitaro meaning `man of love and joy'. A beautiful instrumental work of ambient space-music flecked with Eastern flavours that always remained melodic and approachable whilst retaining experimental atmospheres and a rich variety of electronic sounds, he would go on to deliver several further works - `Daichi' (later reissued as `Full Moon Story'), `Oasis', `Ki' and `Silver Cloud' - over the next five years, and it is this period that will be of most interest to prog-electronic and ambient listeners.

As well as contributing a soundtrack to `The Silk Road' documentary series and having four volumes of music released from it between 1980-83, Kitaro would sign a worldwide distribution arrangement with Geffen Records in 1985, the wider audience it br...
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Buy KITARO Music

Final CallFinal Call
Domo Records 2013
Audio CD$8.25
$7.33 (used)
Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai, Volume 5Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai, Volume 5
Domo Records 2017
Audio CD$9.69
$9.68 (used)
The Essential KitaroThe Essential Kitaro
Domo Records 2012
Audio CD$7.95
$4.99 (used)
Astral VoyageAstral Voyage
Geffen Records 1990
Audio CD$29.47
$3.00 (used)
Kitaro QuintessentialKitaro Quintessential
Domo Records 2013
Audio CD$8.52
$12.90 (used)
Silk Road 1Silk Road 1
New World Music 2002
Audio CD$13.28
$15.00 (used)
Geffen 1989
Audio CD$7.24
$1.25 (used)
Domo Records 2013
Audio CD$8.90
$7.94 (used)
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KITARO discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

KITARO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 6 ratings
Ten Kai (Astral Voyage/Astral Trip)
4.00 | 2 ratings
Daichi (Full Moon Story)
4.67 | 3 ratings
4.67 | 6 ratings
Silk Road
4.00 | 4 ratings
Silk Road II
3.00 | 2 ratings
Tunhuang (Silk Road III)
4.25 | 4 ratings
3.75 | 4 ratings
Millennia (Queen of Millennia)
3.00 | 1 ratings
Silver Cloud
3.67 | 3 ratings
Tenjiku (Silk Road IV)
3.67 | 3 ratings
Towards the West (Endless Journey)
4.25 | 4 ratings
4.00 | 7 ratings
The Light of the Spirit
3.64 | 9 ratings
3.67 | 3 ratings
Peace on Earth
3.50 | 2 ratings
Cirque Ingenieux
3.75 | 4 ratings
Thinking of You

KITARO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 2 ratings
In Person (Live)
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at Budokan
4.00 | 3 ratings
Asia (Live in Asia)

KITARO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

KITARO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

KITARO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

KITARO Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Light of the Spirit by KITARO album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.00 | 7 ratings

The Light of the Spirit
Kitaro Progressive Electronic

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Nice to see this artist added here, though it's among those long-time semi-favourites I wasn't exactly expecting to be added (Clannad is another). Much of KITARO's work that I was familiar with in my teens, at the late 80's, frankly didn't feel very progressive, just like perhaps the majority of electronically produced music associated with the problematic term New Age. To some degree I have expanded my Kitaro discography in the latest ten years and have discovered some very good albums. But this one I bought as a vinyl in February 1988, and I still own it (which is a meaningful merit in my books, because so many vinyls - even pretty good ones - I used to get rid of in my early adulthood). So, in my case there's the nostalgia factor involved, but I daresay that The Light of the Spirit can be considered as one of Kitaro's finest albums. It must be also among those with the longest list of individual guest musicians and producers. Happily the (rather underlined) production had strong material to begin with.

Both vinyl sides have four tracks between roughly 4˝ minutes and 7˝ minutes in length. 'Mysterious Encounter' is a gorgeous opener full of moods and cinematic, Vangelis-like sonic elegance. The role of acoustic percussions is even bigger on 'Sundance'; its majestic melodies could rival classic Symphonic Prog of Yes or Renaissance, except that the track sadly doesn't evolve very much. 'The Field' is a delicate electronic mood piece, followed by a romantic and slightly pompous title track that features two ladies on a central vocalise role. A wonderful dynamic arc on this vinyl side, and the second, slightly less tight side sort of imitates it.

'In the Beginning' starts Side Two in a rather similar manner as 'Mysterious Encounter'. One of Kitaro's strengths has always been the ability to fill the melodies with passion. 'Moondance' is naturally more nocturnal and serene than its solar opposite. This track of peaceful tempo and simple, repetitive melodies resembles the Silk Road music. The lack of more progressive structures in compositions may easily bring down your listening experience if you let it do so. 'Howling Thunder' resembles 'Sundance'. The percussion on both tracks sounds very good. But at 7˝ minutes this one really ought to contain some more progress. 'Journey to a Fantasy' (7:08) has the passionate majestic feel of the title track in less sugared form.

This album would be an excellent introduction to Kitaro for (female?) music listeners that appreciate emotional aspects and accept even sentimental pompousness. Who knows, that might also be a step towards Symphonic Prog with similar ingredients, in your girlfriend's music taste! But for a seasoned prog listener this music, as Kitaro in general, may wear out its power pretty soon. 3˝ stars rounded up for excellent production.

 In Person (Live) by KITARO album cover Live, 1980
3.95 | 2 ratings

In Person (Live)
Kitaro Progressive Electronic

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars I am not intimately familiar with the breadth of KITARO's work as part of FAR EAST FAMILY BAND in the 1970s or as a solo/collaborative artist since, but he occupies one of those inextirpable corridors of my memory thanks to this album. On some releases its full title is "In Person Digital", and so it was presented in its entirety on a French language radio station in Quebec City on a lonely summer evening in 1982. I must have known it would be special because I recorded it all on cassette, eventually buying the LP. It might have mesmerized me more then than it would the modern listener today, but it might just be a work of widespread emotional resonance, an impassioned breakthrough for a release so dominated by electronica.

"Prologue" could be lifted from the intro to any number of earlier TANGERINE DREAM albums, an amorphous brew that passes barely filtered into "Eternal Spring". It is only halfway through this track that we realize the artists will actually play distinguishable notes, and very distinguished they are. One hypnotic sequence on a synth that sounds like a keyboard is overlaid by a counter melody on another synth. A far eastern flair is discerned but not forcibly so. As the exercise fades out, in fades "Westbound", certainly the most powerful piece here if not in the entire Kitaro discography. It too has a Tangerine Dream-esque feel with rhythmic keyboards and real percussion volleying back and forth, losing themselves in each others' auras, while exquisite violin contributions by Yasuo Kojima could induce goosebumps on a duck. As an aside, one of the Kitaro "Silk Road" albums contains a piece with the same title that sounds nothing like it. The laconic melody of "Silver Moon" is sometimes called "Silk Road" on other Kitaro releases. I'm really not trying to confuse you! It's also one track that uses mellotron, of the choral variety. "Peace" again accentuates violin with an appealing musical box accompaniment that craftily re-imagines some of the themes of "Westbound".

On the original LP, side 2 began in much the way of side 1, with an extended atmospheric piece. However, it more closely resembles some of MIKE OLDFIELD's work on "Incantations" than what came before. By this point it's quite clear that KITARO is a master of many trades, among them compilation and editing. When the mist clears and "Morning Prayer" emerges, its impact is not quite as arresting as on side 1, but just as well executed. "Tienshan" is similar but superior, with the lead synths sounding more like moogs, raspy and bubbly. At the end of the interlude-like "Four Changes", we hear birdsong, which fades into the opening acoustic guitar chords of the epic "Magical Sand Dancing". Taking his cue from the earlier electronic wizards, the integration of acoustic guitar augments the already ponderous mood with another dimension in reflection. while the weeping synths are reminiscent of TOMITA himself.

Without a whisper of audience sound, "In Person Digital" is KITARO's private concert to fans, to each and every one in their living room, dorm room, dedicated home theatres, yoga studio, or monasteries. I utilize the religious reference to imply levels of spirituality I can't fathom but know are there. Indeed, if Kitaro is the master of anything, and I think he is, it is of parlaying electronica into spiritual vision with authenticity. Your attendance is recommended.

 Dream by KITARO album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.64 | 9 ratings

Kitaro Progressive Electronic

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Symphony of dreams

Noticing that Kitaro was added to Prog archives recently, I recalled this album that I first heard years ago which features Jon Anderson on vocals. Being an absolute Yes maniac, I am always interested in hearing anything that a Yes member is involved in. Giving it a more serious listen now, I am enjoying it more than I remembered.

Since Dream is so far my only experience of Kitaro's music I cannot relate it to his other works, but it can be compared to some of Jon Anderson's solo stuff as well as with Anderson's contributions to the works of Mike Oldfield and Vangelis. One year before the release of Dream in 1992, Yes had released Union - an album that included some "New-Age"-like pieces such as Angkor Wat and Take The Water To The Mountain. These numbers might also give you an idea of what the vocal tracks on Dream sound like.

Anderson wrote the lyrics and contributed lead vocals to three tracks on this otherwise instrumental album. The vocal tracks are Lady of Dreams, Agreement, and Island of Life. His voice can also be heard on Dream Of Chant, which is as the title implies a chant. My favourite track is Agreement.

Dream is a nice addition to a comprehensive Jon Anderson and extended Yes-related collection.

 Asia (Live in Asia) by KITARO album cover Live, 1984
4.00 | 3 ratings

Asia (Live in Asia)
Kitaro Progressive Electronic

Review by tdfloyd

4 stars Asia is my introduction album to Kitaro. I had originally seen the video for Cloud on VH1's show named New Visions. The show had world, solo piano, and New Age music. In the wide band of New Age music was a musician named Kitaro. Never heard of him before but that is why I liked the show. Anyway, Cloud was not like 95% of the music being played. It was soothing to start but gradually built into a powerful instrumental song. Thundering drums and a guitarist who had spent some time listening to David Gilmour plus Kitaros soaring keyboards. Not very New Age like to me, but it's just a label.

I have many of his albums and the live ones usually have more muscle than the original versions of the songs. Asia is no exception. I still return to this album often as Kitaro strikes a balance between instrumental rock, symphonic prog and contemplative New Age.

A strong 4 stars.

 Dream by KITARO album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.64 | 9 ratings

Kitaro Progressive Electronic

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars My first approach to Kitaro. It happened when, many years ago, as a YES fan I read about Jon ANDERSON singing in this album. The day after I had the CD in my hands and I liked it since the first listen. I was actually a bit into Newage and I knew of Kitaro as a newage artist, but from the albums that I know, if there's one progressive it's this one. Let's not forget that Kitaro has been in Far East Family Band, so he knows how to make prog and psych music.

Dream is a concept album, even if most of it is instrumental. There's of course a lot of keyboards and you have to reach the third track to listen to Jon's voice. "Symphony of the Forest" is a perfect intro. Not properly an ouverture, but sets the mood which is then carried on by "Misterious Island". I don't know what the concept is about, really. The two recurring elements are the "Lady Of Dreams" and the "Island".

What I know is that the album is very good. In particular, the guitar of Hiroshi Araki sounds very Floydian. The riff in the middle part of "Lady of Dreams" which also features an ascending sequence of chords similar to "In The Flesh", could have found a place on "The Wall".

Add to this the vocals of Jon Anderson at his best, even if on three tracks only, backed by his daughter Deborah. In brief, this is for what I know the most symphonic album of this keyboards mastermind. One of my favorites at the time it was released and still the one that I prefer in the huge Kitaro's discography.

 Ten Kai (Astral Voyage/Astral Trip) by KITARO album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.84 | 6 ratings

Ten Kai (Astral Voyage/Astral Trip)
Kitaro Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars So you've got it all figured out that Japanese composer Kitaro is merely a soft New Age artist, eh? Wrong - his roots lie in Seventies prog-rock band Far East Family Band, and his first several years of solo albums starting with 1978's `Ten Kai' are mostly full-blown space-music discs, very much comparable in parts to Klaus Schulze, Vangelis and even moments of Eloy and Pink Floyd. But it all started with this superb and eclectic instrumental debut, loaded with deep-space electronic soundscapes with light Eastern flavours and drifting ambience, but it's also frequently experimental and maybe even a little trippy!

Opener `By the Sea Side' is an unhurried twinkling and bubbling electronic contemplation of drowsy panning synths over gentle rushing waves, and `Soul of the Sea' slowly grows to life with exotic percussion, relaxing acoustic strums and fanfare- like Eastern-flavoured trilling synth and Moog themes. Gurgling Moog, droning electronics and ringing sitar strains groan throughout the psychedelic `Micro Cosmos', a piece that would have been right at home on the Krautrock-lite early Deuter albums, the cool `Beat' lurches with slinking sequenced programming and trailing wisps over Klaus Schulze-like atmospheres, and first-side closer `Fire' eventually reveals Pink Floyd and Eloy-like powerful spacey lead synth themes dominating hazy guitar strums and pounding drums.

`Ten Kai's second side more-or-less forms a continuous extended suite, starting with `Mu's dreamy mandolin trickles over panning pulses, `Dawn of the Astral's contemplative and delicately spacey drifts that grow in stature around rumbling drums, `Endless Dreamy World's floating sustained ambience and `Kaiso's tranquil ringing acoustic guitar and joyful humming organ. The first half of sumptuous album closer `Astral Voyage' (sometimes listed as `Astral Trip', with some versions of this album itself alternatively called either of these two titles) is a low-key placid meander permeated with Eastern mystery, but as it slowly rises in the second half it once again lightly calls to mind German proggers Eloy, as well as a few of Jean-Michel Jarre's more serene `Oxygene' moments.

Although it goes a little further, `Ten Kai' is a sublime example of deeply immersive space-music full of wonder and coming from a place of love, not the isolating and suffocating darker works of the earlier Berlin School of progressive-electronic music, even if they proved to be an initial inspiration to the artist. It's accessible and melodic without being simplistic or remotely commercial, and Kitaro's exquisite musical skills and keen ear for tasteful, atmospheric compositions is completely evident throughout the entire album. Listeners only aware of his "New Age" status who connect with vintage prog-electronic sounds should definitely take a chance on discovering just how much Kitaro has to offer, and there's no better place to start than `Ten Kai'.

Four stars.

Thanks to aussie-byrd-brother for the artist addition.

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