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KENSO

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Japan


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KENSO is from Japan. The music combines a Progressive jazz-rock or a Progressive rock mixed with jazz. The emphasis is on performance and improvisation with complex themes, breaks, elaborated developments and arrangements remind HATFIELD AND THE NORTH and BRAND X. The musicianship is excellent. My selection of KENSO is limited to two CDs: "Kenso III" & "Yume No Oka". Especially for fusion fans!!!

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Uchi Naru Koe Ni Kaiki SeyoUchi Naru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$25.79
$27.13 (used)
Complete BoxComplete Box
Box set · Import · Limited Edition
King Japan 2013
Audio CD$374.54
$336.02 (used)
Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi ScriptisFabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis
Import
King Records 2002
Audio CD$32.04
$19.39 (used)
SpartaSparta
Import
King
Audio CD$118.39
$57.03 (used)
Yume No OkaYume No Oka
Import
Spalax 1997
Audio CD$27.00 (used)
In ConcertIn Concert
Import
KI 2018
Audio CD$26.97
In the West by KensoIn the West by Kenso
Musea Records France
Audio CD$72.53
Fabulis Mirabilibus De.. by Kenso (2008-05-09)Fabulis Mirabilibus De.. by Kenso (2008-05-09)
Vinyl Magic
Audio CD$58.35
Kenso by Kenso (2002-01-29)Kenso by Kenso (2002-01-29)
Japanese Import
Audio CD$58.74
Yume No Oka by Kenso (2001-03-07)Yume No Oka by Kenso (2001-03-07)
Imports
Audio CD$48.82
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KENSO-S/T-JAPAN MINI LP CD LTD F25 USD $23.99 Buy It Now 3h 35m
KENSO Music For Unknown Five Musicians JAPAN ORIG LP W/OBI USD $9.99 [0 bids]
6h
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KENSO Yume No Oka KICS-91704 CD JAPAN 2011 NEW USD $188.68 Buy It Now 4 days
KENSO Yume No Oka KICP-142 CD JAPAN 1991 OBI USD $52.98 Buy It Now 4 days
KENSO Esoptron KICS-741 CD JAPAN 1999 OBI USD $114.10 Buy It Now 4 days
KENSO Zaiya Live KICP-518 CD JAPAN 1996 USD $109.59 Buy It Now 5 days
Kenso Kenso vinyl LP album record Japanese ICR-1144 PAM 1981 USD $174.45 Buy It Now 5 days
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Kenso - Yume No Oka 1991 Prog Jazz Rock Japan CD Electric Bird KICP-142 USD $24.99 Buy It Now 13 days
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KENSO Sparta Naked PA3506 CD JAPAN 2009 OBI USD $201.41 Buy It Now 15 days
KENSO Inei No Fue - Early Live Volume 2 95117 CD JAPAN 1995 USD $111.66 Buy It Now 16 days
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KENSO Live 92 KICS-284 CD JAPAN 1993 OBI USD $113.12 Buy It Now 22 days
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KENSO Yume No Oka KICP-2887 CD JAPAN 2001 OBI USD $70.00 Buy It Now 24 days
KENSO Music For Unknown Five Musicians KICS-91702/3 CD JAPAN 2011 NEW USD $251.64 Buy It Now 24 days
KENSO In The West PA-2801 CD JAPAN 1998 USD $121.59 Buy It Now 25 days
KENSO JAPAN Progressive Rock CD MINI LP NEW USD $29.99 Buy It Now 26 days
KENSO ARC-1003 CD JAPAN 1995 OBI USD $145.08 Buy It Now 27 days
KENSO / Second (KENSO II) JAPAN CD Mini LP w/OBI PA-2504 USD $44.50 Buy It Now 27 days
KENSO Sparta KICS-2517 CD JAPAN 1993 OBI USD $79.35 Buy It Now 28 days
Kenso-Music For Unknown Five Musicians 1990 Japan King Records KICS 2055/6 OBI! USD $31.99 Buy It Now 28 days
KENSO Sparta KICS-2823 CD JAPAN 1998 OBI USD $174.82 Buy It Now 29 days

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KENSO discography


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

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

3.89 | 36 ratings
Kenso
1980
4.13 | 54 ratings
Kenso II
1982
3.81 | 50 ratings
Kenso III
1985
3.73 | 40 ratings
Sparta
1989
4.14 | 60 ratings
Yume No Oka (Dream Hill)
1991
3.11 | 28 ratings
Esoptron
1999
3.71 | 7 ratings
Kenso 76 / 77
2000
4.32 | 48 ratings
Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis
2002
4.23 | 28 ratings
Utsuroi Yuku Mono
2006
3.94 | 18 ratings
Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo
2014

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

4.17 | 6 ratings
Kenso In concert (Music for unknown five musicians)
1986
4.14 | 7 ratings
Kenso - Live '92
1992
4.73 | 6 ratings
Sora ni hikaru - Early live Volume 1
1994
3.25 | 4 ratings
Inei No Fue - Early live Volume 2
1995
3.92 | 4 ratings
Zaiya Live
1996
4.71 | 20 ratings
In The West
1998
4.38 | 8 ratings
Ken Son Gu Su (25th Anniversary Concert Live )
2001

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

4.80 | 5 ratings
Ha-re-ki
2003

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Self Portrait
1987

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

KENSO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.32 | 48 ratings

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Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars It took me a long-time to hunt down this highly-rated album and I was finally rewarded by finding it sitting in a discount bin in my favorite Montreal progressive rock store. It slipped into my hands faster than a chameleon's sticky tongue and I can now crow about my patience. Kenso is quite a band, often given comparisons with stalwarts like Brand X but I see them as a much heavier jazz-rock outfit that has few similarities with anyone out there. Led by the mercurial guitarist Yoshihisa Shimizu (who allegedly is a dentist during the day), the overall impression is one of complex insanity, delirious instrumental exuberance and unparalleled technical flash. Two keyboardists, both synthesizer specialists, one on organ and the other on piano, make for quite a keyboard intense frenzy. Bassist Shunji Saegusa is a monster, who bleeds laser quick blasts for a living, providing the acceleration for drummer Masayuki Muriashi to beat his kit into a pulp.

Perhaps fission is a better description than fusion, like the opener "Fist of Fury" as the material is scintillating, rapid- fire and explosive, to say the very least, with occasional ethnic/ambient pauses like on "The Split Gate", a 7 minute jewel of a track that has all the goods including a blistering guitar rampage. The infusion of Japanese sounds makes this a unique discovery adding originality to a style that shreds like an Osaka chef gone berserk. On a piece like "Rebellion", Shimizu alters his guitar tone once again, a true master of various effects, doing some lovely Andy Summers-like slashes on rhythm while searing like Adrian Belew on the lead. Very breezy, yet smoldering from all the previous molten lava spewing, the master cannot help drilling and grating like a mad dentist (which he may be). Combining experimental sounds with acoustic guitar and odd female voice effects on "The Stairs of Dreaming" serve only as a prelude setting for the impressive and oddly symphonic "Echoes from Romano" which, when it gets uncorked, packs quite the wallop with a bass guitar leading the charge and evolving into a funky chariot ride. The various organ solos are a turbo-charged fury that would make Jon Lord proud. Dense, cinematographic and contemporary, this is Kenso at its most prog.

Follows a suite of shorter pieces, mostly within the 2-3 minute range that run the gamut of synthesized indigenous turbulence, an accordion-fueled field trip that adds vibes (probably the V-drums) and burping bass. Then, to show off more guitar-god influences, toss in some reverb-laden Jimi Hendrix caresses that sputter like phosphorus, gradually foaming like some experiment gone haywire. If that is not enough to convince, Shimizu then nods at late- period Jimmy Page on the heroic 4 minute "Isolated Jiro", incorporating some amazing dissonance and oblique phrasings that have a hint of Kashmirian mountains. Exhilarating!

Alternating soft synthesizer/piano soundscapes and harsh athletic bluster is what finishes off this amazing album, going from one extreme to another. "A Grim Diary" is just that, a persistent bass line and syncopated drum rhythm sets the stage, for a fiery run on the fret board, Shimizu showing off a mastery that is certainly deserving of major acclaim. Technically fast and furious, his notes have purpose as well, swerving, soaring, diving and crashing like a nimble Zero fighter from WW2. When the insane flamenco vocals enter the fray, you get completely lost in the eye of the hurricane that has engulfed you.

I am truly giddy after listening to this flurry of stormy delirium. Fusion/fission of the highest order and a must for any respectable progger. If you need one Kenso album, this may be it. My patience has been rewarded.

4.5 Cunning Nipponese madrigals

 Sparta   by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.73 | 40 ratings

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Sparta
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In 1986 Kenso released their first ever live work ''Music for unknown five musicians'' and in 1987 comes a private-pressed compilation of tracks from their early albums, titled ''Self portrait''.Around the same time recordings for their upcoming album ''I Sparti'' had already started, this prooved to be though a slow work in progress, partly due to member exits and the fading trend of progressive music.Haruhiko Yamamoto appeared in only a couple of tracks, before being replaced by new drummer Masayuki Muraishi.Things were starting to roll over again, before in 1989 Kimiyoshi Matsumoto quit and new bassist Shunji Saegusa was inducted to the line-up to complete the album.''I Sparti'' was eventually released the same year on King's branch-label Crime Records.

For the first time Kenso were performing with the standard assests of keyboards/guitar/bass/drums without the use of an expanded instrumentation, this fact along with the hard period for progressive music led to a more synthetic and modern sound, far from the 70's flavors of their early releases.Even under these difficult circumstances the band managed to keep an honest faith in the intricate roots of their Fusion sound and the album comes like a combination of STEVE HACKETT-like dreamy keyboard/guitar orchestrations, smokin' ALLAN HOLDSWORTH-like Jazz Fusion and the inbetween HAPPY THE MAN-flavored aesthetics.The compositions are all in a very high level, the turn towards more jazzy and Fusion deliveries is more than apparent in the tricky synth lines and the piano as well as in Shimizu's impressive guitar moves, but there are still some symphonic breaks of excellent inspiration with a nice and ethereal atmosphere.You can listen to some strings popping up in several tracks, but these are propably played via the keyboards.What I like about Kenso is that these guys never overdo it, the have clearly understood the meaning of composition even in progressive arrangements and they always add some lovely melodious themes between the more emphatic and technical executions.Great synth and piano interludes are sitting next to bombastic Fusion pyrotechnics and the drumming is phenomenal, extremely pounding and technically efficient.

I certainly miss some of the more human sounds of their self-titled works, but this is 1989 and ''I Sparta'' really shines among the year's releases.This is solid, grandiose and melodic Fusion with a couple of mindblowing pieces.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Kenso III  by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.81 | 50 ratings

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Kenso III
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Between 83' and 85' Kenso appear to have gone through a transitional period.Very good news were that the band was eventually discovered by a major Japanese label, King Records, and signed a good contract.Moreover they seem to have started recording material for a third work with the line-up of ''Kenso II'', but the majority of it was executed by a fresh line-up, without flutist Shiro Yajima and keyboardist Atsushi Makiuchi and with two new member joining on keyboards, Kenichi Oguchi and Toshihiko Sahashi.''Kenso III'' was released in 1985 with guest members on keyboards, oboe, vocals and flute, most important figure among them was Namba Hiroyuki.

Music of Kenso starts seriously to be regarded as one of the most dominant and convincing Prog stylings during the 80's.They still deliver a hot, smoking Symphonic/Fusion with frenetic paces and incredible interplays, showered with nervous synthesizers and virtuosic guitar moves.What seems to be just amazing is that the group maintains a high level of quality music, no matter if it keeps constantly the foot on the gear.The music is basically all instrumental with links to compatriots MR. SIRIUS, AIN SOPH and KBB, featuring absolutely satisfying instrumentals with Jazz-Rock styled guitars, sudden tempo changes, shifting climates and complex arrangements.Their early Canterbury-inclined touches start to fade in the sake of a more powerful performance with a serious sense of melody among the complicated themes.Lots of symphonic keyboards and Classical-drenched textures along with a fair dose of melodic flute drives guarantee the deep symphonic content of the album.The jazzy and Fusion influences are more apparent during Shimizu's guitar pyrotechnics and the general structure of tracks, which are performed with technique.Good, classic reference points from the worldwide Prog scene are definitely FOCUS, CAMEL, THE ENID and ALLAN HOLDSWORTH.Stunning material.

Kenso are too talented of a band to simply fail.Another qualitive, adventuruous and totally intricate work, which lists them as a top-5 combo among 80's Japanese Prog acts.Highly recommended.

 Utsuroi Yuku Mono by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.23 | 28 ratings

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Utsuroi Yuku Mono
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrainStillLife

5 stars Yayy. I had my precautions on this album but after a few spins I just fell into the music. The new uphill which started in 1999 Esoptron and continued through Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis continued in Utsuroi Yuku Mono. While Esoptron offered only 3 songs of equal level to the 80/90 Kensos level, Fabulis Mirabilibus was already much better and innovative, not trying to recapture the 20 year-old spark but use the Kenso trademark-style and form it forwards. In Utsuroi Yuku Mono the hard-rock sound that was quite prominent in Esoptron and Fabulis Mirabilibus has fallen off. This album brings mostly Yume No Oka to mind, it also has more acoustic guitar and Keiko Kawashima clapping and singing (best example, the three part Codon). The new drummer Keisuke Komori proves to be an excellent choice, his drumming brings the Kenso I/II/III/Sparta drummer Yamamoto to mind. Kind of quirky fusion-like but cautios not the Bruford-like drumming. Utsuroi Yuku Mono has seventeen tracks from which seven tracks are under 3 minutes long. All of them have the energy and innovativity of a prog-epic squished into three minutes. The rest are 3-5 minute long pieces and then the best piece on the album "GOS" an eight-minute long piece showing the best that the modern Kenso can achieve. Anyways this is for me the best Kenso album since Yume No Oka and that's pretty good for a prog-band so old as Kenso. 4.5 stars

I just hope that Kenso can make a new album now that they still are in so good shape.

 Sparta   by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.73 | 40 ratings

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Sparta
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrainStillLife

5 stars This album like it's predecessor and Kenso II are for me the three best albums of the eighties! Sparta takes the symphonic structures further than ever before. Still the fusion-rhythms are there and powerful fusion-prog songs do exist on this album. The Stone Of Golden Hair Villa and Miskatonic for example. This album proved once and for all that Kenso could play mellow and purely symphonic prog without relying on fusion-rhythms. Something that Brand X failed on 1979 Product. What makes this album so special? It's a pure piece of Montesquieaian sharing with fusion, symphonic prog and japanese music. You can float in mellow and beatiful landscapes and just seconds later swing around your room due to the grooviness of Kensos rhythm. What makes this album different from Kenso III is the fact that the drummer Yamamoto and bass-player Matsumoto only played on the two first tracks. The rest of the tracks where played by Masayuki Muraishi (who would stay on the band until 2002 only to be replaced by Keisuke Komori) and Shunji Saegusa who has stayed with Kenso since.
 Kenso III  by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.81 | 50 ratings

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Kenso III
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrainStillLife

5 stars This 1985 release, follow up to the magnificient Kenso II is the most fusion-based album Kenso ever recorded. Still I wouldn't call this a pure fusion outcome, prog is very much in there, so is japanese music (traditional folk and popular music). No 1-3 star tracks, only 4-5 star tracks, a standard Kenso began in Kenso II and which lasted until Yume No Oka. The first part of the two-part piece Sacred Dream starts the album with great promise. The follower Power of the Glory is a powerful fusion-package containing great keyboard and guitar interplay. The Liberty Of Spirit is another great piece, so is Patter Of The Groovy. Turn To Solution is a composition of the bass player Matsumoto, and a truly great one, proving that Shimizu wasn't the only one capable of writing good tracks. The short Nostalghia features vocals or better said voices by Janna Kaku. Sacred Dream II is possibly one of the best tracks, Kenso ever produced, but the album does not end there. No, the album ends with Beginnings, an evolving piece that even has a little finale-like build up in the end.

This album featured keyboard playing not only by Oguchi, Sahashi but also by two guest musicians, the other being Hiroyuki Namba who played on the first album. Shimizu also provided mellotron and autoharp aside his guitar and koto playing. The almost orchestral layers in Turn To Solution and Beginnings were played with the power of 4 keyboard players! Two vocalists were also featured. For example the vocal passage on Far East Celebration was created with Tsunekatsu Takagi singing all the parts and overdubbing them. The drummer Haruhiko Yamamoto played also alto sax on a couple of tracks and also piano which makes him the sixth person who provided keyboards for this album. What a multi-instrumentalist! A former member of Kenso, flautist Shiro Yajima played on seven tracks on this album. But why was he a guest- musician? Altho this was his last album with Kenso, there was no reason to drop his credits to the guest-list... It's a shame no-one knows about Kenso, because it belongs to best bands of the eighties and nineties.

Anyway this album deserves only 5 stars *****.

 Kenso by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.89 | 36 ratings

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Kenso
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Consistency is the right word to describe KENSO's journey through the years.Over 35 years of a great musical career is the best proof for that.They were formed in 1974 by guitarist/keyboardist Yoshihisa Shimizu but this first period of the band didn't last long,as Shimizu concentrated on his medical studies,not to mention KENSO were just an amateur band playing for fun.In late 70's they reformed under Shimizu's guidance to record their self- titled debut,which has been re-issued with 6 bonus tracks.

STYLE: Maybe my favorite style of Japanese Prog and definitely one of the best to come out of progressive rock music.A mind-blowing mix of Symphonic Rock and Canterbury Jazz-Prog,where the archaic sound of flutes blends attractively with the synthesizers.Very complicated music at moments with series of professional interplays dominated by the keys and the magnificent performance of Shiro Yajima on flutes.Nice work on guitars by leader Yoshihisa Shimizu,who's style ranges from HACKETT-ish melodic parts to FRIPP- ian complex outbursts.Endless soft symphonic passages created by awesome keyboards are an ear;s heaven.I also recognize the addition of traditional Japanese tunes at some points.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: Hold on and try to imagine GENESIS and CAMEL jamming together with NATIONAL HEALTH and SUPERSISTER!For those who have listened to the masterful works of MR.SIRIUS,you know exactly what to expect.

PLUS: The inspired and fantastically executed interplays and breaks.The memorable work of Shiro Yajima on flutes,certainly one of the best flutist to be heard.The way that calm symphonic passages alternate with the more complex parts of the Canterbury school of prog.The balanced mix and acceptable production of an 80's prog album.Surprisingly the synths not only do not sound cheesy,but we would probably talking about a different album,were they absent!Compositionally speaking KENSO belong to the top league of progressive rock.

MINUS: The big problem of all Japanese bands:the vocals do not fit well with the music plus they are rather amateur.Fortunately the album is mostly instrumental.The bonus tracks are in a Hard-Symph Prog mood,nice tracks in general but somewhat out of the main' album's atmosphere.

WILL APPEAL TO: The whole prog community without exception and to every music fan who wants to broaden his horizons with a qualitive album.

CONCLUSION/RATING: Playing one of the most demanding styles of prog and delivering such a great number of unforgettable pieces of art,KENSO's debut can only flirt with the masterpiece label...4.5 stars and a little suggestion to those not familiar with Japanese vocals.

 Yume No Oka  (Dream Hill) by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.14 | 60 ratings

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Yume No Oka (Dream Hill)
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

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.

 Esoptron  by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.11 | 28 ratings

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Esoptron
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Last album before the millennium for the oldest Japanese band around, Esoptron s easily the ballsiest album they've done so far. The recipe is relatively easy: bring the usually quiet guitarist up front and crack his amp to volume 11 and let him rip to shredds the recording tapes. Coming with a classy silvery b&w picture of the guitarist for an artwork, Shimizu also affects a pose that the Crimson Fripp would in an inside shot, and let's face it, musically, you can feel a bit this influence in many places.

Yes, Shimizu is the guitar hero the group always had and finally recognized, even if he is the main man on the album as he also plays keyboards and is the main songwriter, but he's still seconded by the other leader, keyboardist Ogushi. Otherwise the line-up is exactly the one of Yume No Oka at the start of the decade. Compared to previous albums of theirs (but I haven't heard all of them), this album is also very raw, almost messy (but voluntarily so) and might appear a bit as a jam band, despite its complex music. Yes, you've guessed it, we're far away from their ball-less symphonic rock of the 80's. Outside a pathetic drumming (this may appear as blasphemy to some, but Muraishi really misses it all in this album, especially in the choice of sound, but sometimes affecting 80's type of drumming as well), the keyboards are a mix of Emerson meeting Lord (including a tad of mellotron the Crimsonian Chronos track), but the group never veers towards jazz-rock or fusion. The group never gets better when it Release (it) Yourself, when the machine is firing from all cylinders, despite inadequate skin-banging sounds (not technique in this case) and the group finishes on the quieter Kiraku, the only track on this album that would merit a JR/F tag.

A much more interesting album than their early flimsy symphonic rock, Esoptron is not perfect (those hideous drums), but it is full of energy and sizzles the eardrums, which is what I ask from my music.

 Kenso III  by KENSO album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.81 | 50 ratings

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Kenso III
Kenso Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

One f the longest living group from Japan, Kenso started in the mid-80's along with many of their ultra-symphonic neo like Bellaphon, Gerrard and a few more, with only By Kyo Ran sounding a bit less symphonic and crunchier and later Ars Nova sounding more adventurous. As usual with all of these Japanese second wave groups, Kenso was extremely derivative, forgetting completely their predecessor 70's groundbreaking works (Far Out Family Band, for ex or Yamashta) and concentrated on imitating the 70's Camel or Genesis with the catastrophic instruments of those mid-80's. While I find Kenso's music on this album boring and sometimes limit-laughable, we must think that it hasn't aged well and it is a product of its time.

What to say of the music except that it sounds completely derivative, ultra-symphonic, completely un-original and pretentious. And extremely boring as well. At least for today's ears?. But I guess in the mid-80's, there wasn't much else to lay your ears upon so I can understand some people might regard this highly, because there was nothing else but Japan and the few UK neo-prog groups to give this type of symphonic rock music, Kenso is fronted by a double synth attack and backed by a rarely upfront guitarist, with no vocals (or few, thankfully), an odd flute (Celebration) and an oboe (Nostalghia) and much of their compositions sound all the same bar two slower numbers with a reduced line-up. Don't get me wrong, these five guys are all good musicians and all, but this lacks power and guts?. It's way too slick, over-produced and can lead to understand why some smirk when listening to this, because it's got no life.

Hardly anything even remotely close to essential (or good, but that's IMHO), Kenso's early albums are generally best avoided unless you like a wimp prog of the lean years. And don't just take my word for it?. My trusted colleague reviewer Cesar says that this is their most energetic album so far?. Although I understand this album is generally well regarded by historical fans and that you'll be tempted to acquire it?.. please don't blame me afterwards, I warned you.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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