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BANZAI

Symphonic Prog • Belgium


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Banzai biography
Along with fellow countrymen MACHIAVEL, BANZAI were a Belgian quintet from the mid-70's of the typical GENESIS/YES school of prog. They made one album and then disbanded after their record company went bankrupt. Their music features elaborate compositions with layered keyboards, melodic guitar solos reminiscent of Jan Akkerman's, and high-pitched vocals that will immediately remind listeners of Jon Anderson. The band consisted of Peter Torfs on keyboards and vocals, John M.C. O. on guitars, Ludwig Kemat on percussion and alto sax, Evert Verhees on bass and vocals, and Erry Foix on drums and percussion.

The cd version of their album "Hora Nata" contains everything the band has ever recorded: 5 lengthy pieces subdivided into smaller parts plus 6 bonus tracks that are slightly more accessible than the rest. This material is not very original by today's standards but the musicianship is solid, featuring lots of Hammond organ and even a brass section.

Recommended if you like classic 70's symphonic prog with lots of organ, old keyboard sounds, jamming guitars, some quirky rhythms and lots of breaks.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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BANZAI discography


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

3.18 | 29 ratings
Hora Nata
1974

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BANZAI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hora Nata by BANZAI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.18 | 29 ratings

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Hora Nata
Banzai Symphonic Prog

Review by maryes

3 stars In spite of the influence of YES, GENESIS, FOCUS and CAMEL. BANZAI "Hora Nata" is a disk full of good ideas and empty of ecstasy moments. The good ideas comes in the main themes (almost ever in the begin of the track) wich in the most of times "disembogue" in a long middle section full of a endless individual solos which takes a form of jazzy "jam session", to in sometimes return to the main themes for the conclusion of the tracks. The problem is in the duration of this "jam sessions", which are very long,and in my point of view, not shows a natural development of the main theme, which results in a displeased hearing . Due to the good ideas in the main themes of most tracks and the skill of the musicians (and only for this) my rate is 3 stars.

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 Hora Nata by BANZAI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.18 | 29 ratings

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Hora Nata
Banzai Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars An undistinguished mid 70s symphonic progressive album with some fusion slants. The only unusual aspect is that the band is from Belgium. I hear influences from Nektar, Yes, Genesis, and even snippets of Camel/Focus and Moody Blues especially in the shorter bonus tracks, but this is a pretty longwinded work of generally poorly composed and arranged tracks that happen to be well played, if that makes any sense. Influence and skill do not equal inspiration, and in fact they can cause bands like Banzai to overreach. Because the bonus material consists of shorter less indulgent songs, they are almost better than the original album. From the initial release, the best is "Try", which sounds the most Nektar like. But unless you are a collector of continental symphonic prog, and you don't think Machiavel is worthy enough to represent Belgium, you can steer clear in good conscience.

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 Hora Nata by BANZAI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.18 | 29 ratings

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Hora Nata
Banzai Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Banzai released one of the very few symphonic prog Belgian record. Back in 1974.

Althought the opening number (instrumental) is fully jazz-oriented, the remaining songs will be in the synth style for which they were famous (in Belgium).

The musical introduction of "Try" is rather complex, the complete opposite of the vocal part which is rather simple and a carbon-copy of a tranquil YesSong. Jon's voice being nicely rendered.

If Yes is one source of inspiration while vocals are concerned, Camel is the other one for most of the instrumental parts. "Obelisk" is probably the closest Camel-like song here. Beautiful symphonic music almost all the way through (there will be a minute of improv though). A sweet moment, except during the finale which is quite hard actually. Solid guitar solo and great rhytmic section to back it up. My favourite song of this album.

"Hat Trick" is jazzier. Sax and drumming reminds more KC than anything else but great guitar breaks and soft keyboards will revert the mood to a less aggressive style. Very nice and fully Camel although the keys during the finale seriously remind me of the ones from Jon Lord...

The longest song features great melodies (guitar and keys) and is truely grandiose. Very intense piece of music. Symph prog fans will be transported to heaven while listening to it. The second half offers more diversity (violins, percussions) and more personal vocals. I just wonder why it is called "Three Magicians, Part I"...

If the mix of Camel music and some jazzy flavour is of interest to you, this album might be a good surprise. Not essential but nice to discover.

Three stars.

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 Hora Nata by BANZAI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.18 | 29 ratings

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Hora Nata
Banzai Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

4 stars How many more hidden masterpieces 70s Prog has?

Alsmot flawless Symphonic Prog in vein of almost anything you can think of. Wanna YESy harmonies? Take them. GENESIS-like theatrical approach? Here it is. GENTLE GIANTIsh polyrhythmics? Yes, we do have them. Maybe, a bit of FRUUPP attitude? Come on, they even have a bit of DOORS in them (can you imagine a prog jam?)!!! Excellent stuff, recommend to anyone who's in Symphonic Prog and seeks for new obscure oldies. Don't even dare to hesitate - they have sound of their own besides all my comparing efforts, and you won't regret buying this CD. Extremely recommended!

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 Hora Nata by BANZAI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.18 | 29 ratings

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Hora Nata
Banzai Symphonic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After releasing CD's from Finch and Kayak the Dutch label Pseudonym Records (their sub- label Transmission released Ayreon) decided to bring out this fine album from Belgium. Fellow reviewer and neighbour Hugues already wrote an extensive review so I keep it shorter. To me Banzai often sounds like early Camel: fluent and pleasant rhythms, a very melodic and harmonic sound and a focus on flowing electric guitarplay and a wide range of keyboards (organ, strings, piano and the famous Moog synthesizer). Except for the short intro (2 minutes), all other 5 songs from the album "Hora nata" (from 1974) are between 7 and 13 minutes. The integration of instruments like the marimba, metalophone, vibes, violins and horns make Banzai sound more original than just in the vein of Camel. The musicians are skilled, the rhythm-section is great, in fact this is a good progrock album from Belgium, including 6 bonustracks (from 1974-75).


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 Hora Nata by BANZAI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.18 | 29 ratings

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Hora Nata
Banzai Symphonic Prog

Review by spirro.chrisafis

4 stars This album is quite wonderful. I must admit I was a little dubious when I saw the cover, with the band dressed in ridiculous makeup and costume, but the music is superb. The arrangements are rich, colourful, and highly textured, with a nice variation of space and density. The band are very proficient musicians, but credit must go to guitarist John McO, who was once described as the most relaxed player in Belgium. His melodic lines are really languid and engaging, and I love the way he subtly alters his tones and effects during different parts of the longer tunes. Keyboardist Peter Torfs manages to stretch out occasionally with some very tasteful solos, especially on the organ. There are echoes of Focus and Camel here and there, but this album is so well played and composed that references tend to fade as you enjoy the overall music. The recording quality is also very clear and and warm, with fine engineering. The only let down was the newer tracks tacked onto the end of the album, recorded for their unreleased second album. These few tracks are more straightforward and unadventurous, with emphasis on lyrics and vocals, rather than progressive musical exploration. But buy this if you see it on import, because it's superb.

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 Hora Nata by BANZAI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.18 | 29 ratings

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Hora Nata
Banzai Symphonic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars add another half star really but only for the quality as this is non-essential music but well worth discovering if you are at an advanced state of progressions in prog (are you sure you are following me?). In other words , although quite enjoyable, this album should not be a priority unless you are an old dog like me , lifting stones to see if there are no hidden and forgotten gems under it. It is also such a shame that we must rely on Japanese collectors and labels to see this reprinted on CD using expensive paper for the sleeve.

BANZAI is of the symphonic rock type of Belgian bands and probably one of the better ones. too bad they omly manged this one Lp. This is a real rock'n roll outfit (as was also countrymen Irish Coffee) with real inspirations of Genesis and mostly Yes. Their four long tracks after a short intro are full good arrangements that remind you the two masters but very much rockier sometimes reminding you of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. There are some real moments on the second and third tracks (suites divided into section , one of those giving its name as the album title), my fave being the fourth track- Hat Trick. The one originality is the inventive percussions (marimbas etc..) that at the times were not the norm

As for the bonus tracks , they are the singles the band released in those years, the first being the title track of the album redone with a string section. Most of the singles are of good quality but they are somewhat different than the album itself. On those singles Banzai manages to sound more like Caravan (circa New Symphonia era) and is rather pleasant. If you must have only one symphonic rock album from belgium , make it this one.

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