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Moondancer biography
Along with other fine Japanese prog acts such as COSMOS FACTORY, FAR EAST FAMILY BAND and YONIN-BAYASHI, MOONDANCER had a rough time starting out at the end of the 70's. Fortunately for us, they did manage to release an album in 1979 before disbanding. They were guitarist/flutist Sawamura Taku, bassist Shimoda Nobuhisa, drummer Sato Yoshiki and keyboardist Atsumi Rei; Rei joined Japanese metal band VOW WOW after MOONDANCER broke up.

Their self-titled album is a blend of hard rock and symphonic prog that features organ and piano, flute and electric as well as acoustic (12-string) guitar; but it is Atsumi Rei's colourful keyboards and the memorable tunes that stand out and should attract fans from both symphonic prog and hard-rock.

Recommended to fans of harder-edged symphonic prog. Fans of NOVELA and NEKTAR will probably connect best with this music.

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

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3.13 | 5 ratings

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 Moondancer by MOONDANCER album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.13 | 5 ratings

Moondancer Prog Related

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Moondancer is a very little known Japanese symphonic prog-rock band which recorded only one self-titled album just before the end of golden 70s era of music. This record is a decent but not flawless effort which mixed truly progressive, elaborated sound with some pop, "accessible" influences.

"Moondancer" features tons of classic vintage keyboards (Hammond organ, Moog, pianos, Solina Sting Ensemble etc.) in courtesy of Rei Atsumi, but songs are shorter and more "melody-oriented" than your usual prog rock so 80s era of cheap-pop music was just right behind a corner... But don't worry, this album is still worth to listen for keyboards-driven prog maniacs!

1. "Kagami no Naka no Shojo (Skin Tight Snake Skin Girl)" - okayish pop-oriented track with nice piano leads and supportive guitar licks. Very good and tight, classical music influenced keyboards/guitar solos in the middle. As all songs on this album it's sang in Japanese language mixed with few English words. Vocalist has ear pleasing voice which suits this type of music very well.

2. "Daddy Michael no Hanzai (Crime Of Daddy Michael)" - another song based on great sparkling acoustic piano. Really good up-tempo beat and fantastic Moog synthesizer and electric guitar solos. Incredibly infectious, dramatic/passionate vocal delivery (don't know who's main vocalist, 'cos bassist, guitarist & keyboardist are all credited to sing on this record!). One of my favorite songs here.

3. "Giniro no Nami (Silver Wave)" - mellow folk ballad lead by beautiful violin melodic lines and acoustic guitar chords. No drums at all, but very good electric guitar solo near the end. By the way: there seems to be different vocalist than in first 2 songs of "Moondancer". Sounds like female...but I'm not sure).

4. "Yumemiru Kodomotachi (Dreaming Children)" - guitar-oriented mid-tempo rocker with dramatic vocals. Not very memorable but also not offensive at all. Sounds a bit like later work of another Japanese band called "Novela".

5. "Arabesque" - wonderful symphonic ballad with passionate vocals, classical piano and ultra melodic, tight guitar solos. Orchestration (synths?) sounds perfect here. Probably the catchiest tune on the album.

6. "Fly Up ! Ima (Fly Up ! Now)" - fast rocker led by ear-shattering Moog shrieks and fat organ chops. Yes, finally we can listen to Rei's groovy Hammond technique, so we're surely still in 70s prog heaven! I love his Jon Lord-like organ solo here! Highly recommended.

7. "7. Asu e no Koshin" - another up-tempo rock track with more swirling organ work. Includes very enjoyable high pitched Moog and jazzy piano solos. Sawamura Taku also delivers some energetic guitar outbursts.

8. "Bara Shinju (BA-RA-SIN-JU)" - the most Hammond-driven song completely loaded with this fantastic instrument's chops which are culminated in breath-taking organ/Moog soloing part. Somehow this track reminds me of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "A Time and a Place". "Bara Shinju" is surely my favorite of this unknown band.

9. "Kanashimi no Candle (Candle Love)" - the longest track is a 3 parts mini-suite...which doesn't sound like 3 parts mini-suite for me at all. It's more or less just slightly symphonic ballad-style song with some not bad, more energetic guitar solo spots. In fact it's the least memorable composition of this record with too pop-oriented vocals. Not enough substance for 7:30 minute length.

In general it's fairly enjoyable but not highly recommended staff. The 2nd part of the album is the better one because of some truly thundering Hammond organ delivery which is always a big plus. However the last song (this "epic") sounds a bit tiresome and leaves not so good impression when album is finished. If you don't mind some pop elements (including song structure) in your prog you should like "Moondancer". It can be also a good pick for keyboards-led 70s prog-rock aficionados.

Not worth full 4 stars, so let it be 3,5 from ozzy_tom.

P.S. After this album Rei Atsumi played in heavy metal band "VowWow" and another prog-rock formation "Pangaea" (but I've never listened to any of these bands). He also played with Hiroyuki Namba's symphonic prog/synth-pop formation called "Sense of Wonder".

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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