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Mandrake biography
MANDRAKE was a short-lived progressive music project from the composer Susumu Hirasawa, well-known as an innovator in Japan but largely unheralded in the western world. The band was formed in the mid-seventies, and was one of the early pioneers of native original symphonic rock music in Japan. The band's sound was heavily influenced by ELP, particularly in the elaborate, drawn-out keyboard constructions. The band's sound has also been compared to early KING CRIMSON and OUTER LIMITS. The band has little recorded history outside of Japan, and their two lone recordings were not released until the early nineties, well after the band's demise. These releases seem to be largely in response to the popularity of Hirasawa's work since MANDRAKE and in a renewed interest in early Japanese progressive recordings.

After MANDRAKE's demise in 1978 Susumu Hirasawa formed a new band under the name P-MODEL which plays primarily electronic techno music. Hirasawa has also recorded with WIZARD HOWL, SYUN, GLOBAL TROTTERS, as well as recording a number of solo albums and soundtracks. He is also known for his innovative and interactive live performances, which have included using cell phone ringtones, Amiga computer devices, and alternate themes based on audience participation.

MANDRAKE deserve consideration for inclusion in the archives for their short-lived but historically important contribution to the early symphonic and progressive movement in Japan.

Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth)

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MANDRAKE discography

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

3.16 | 6 ratings
Unreleased Materials Vol. 1

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

3.67 | 3 ratings
Unreleased Materials Vol. 2

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

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

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Unreleased Materials Vol. 1 by MANDRAKE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.16 | 6 ratings

Unreleased Materials Vol. 1
Mandrake Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Mandrake was the brainchild of Japanese composer Susumu Hirasawa, most notably known for his work with New Wave/Synth Pop act P-Model.The band existed between early to late-70's with no official recordings, at least not outside the Japanese borders.In 1997 Belle Antique released an album entitled ''Unreleased Materials Vol 1'' with four recordings from the band's early days, featuring, besides Hirasawa on guitars/vocals, bassist Tohru Akutu, drummer Sadatoshi Tainaka, keyboardist Yasumi Tanaka with Fumiyasu Abe guesting at the fourth track on vocals and violin.

As all liner notes are written in Japanese, it is hard to tell more about the band's history, the music though has some very impressive things to offer.The opening ''Kazari mado no dekigoto'' follows the likes of KING CRIMSON and ELOY, sort of Psych/Symphonic Rock with dominant Mellotron parts, flashy synthesizers, Classical organ and heavy psychedelic guitar playing, a hainting monster piece of progressive music.The 14-min. ''Shumatsu no Kajitsu'' is more of the same, featuring impressive Mellotron work and haunting organ sounds with a later psychedelic-sounding section and a good synth-based ending part, again the Japanese vocals prevent this from being an outstanding piece.''Okasareta Kyuden'' has a very brutal and poor recording sound with Hard/Psych guitars dominating and vocals being quite amateur, Mandrake really sound like a Kraut-Rock act on this one and only some synth, organ and Mellotron parts recall the early sound of GENESIS or BEGGAR'S OPERA.This compilation will close with the complex 20-min. epic ''Sakuran no tobira''.It kicks off heavily influenced by mid-70's KING CRIMSON with some trully captivating guitar performance by Hirasawa, before turning into a Heavy Rock jam section, Mandrake really sound like a Kraut-Rock band to this point.The middle section offers vocals in English (!), another shine the band was influenced by Western Prog acts, the KING CRIMSON influence becomes more apparent with the slow violin passages, before turning again into a Heavy Rock beast with some adventurous guitar and bass performance, although the sound quality is at moments unbearable.

It is not easy to just skip the average sound of these recordings, which stands really unfair to Mandrake's true potential.But the overall dramatic, dark and innovative musicianship in the vein of Classic Prog bands, especially on the first couple of tracks, have something to offer.Cool band, cool archival release and a recommended album, despite the recordings' flaws.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to H.T. Riekels for the last updates

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