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MUGEN

Symphonic Prog • Japan


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Mugen biography
This Japanese prog rock band was founded in '78 by Katsuhiko Hayashi (keyboards) and Takashi Nakamura (vocals and keyboards). Not until '84 MUGEN released their first album "Sinfonia Della Luna", a very mellow CD with classical guitar, beautiful waves of Mellotron and sensitive electric guitar solos. A few accelerations and bombastic movements keep a certain tension in the music. The keyboardplay is very TONY BANKS inspired. The second album "Leda et la Cygne" ('86) sound most alternating but the third "The Princess of Kingdome Gone" ('88) is a bit disappointing, it lacks any tension. Obviously the band ran out of ideas and soon MUGEN disbanded. On all albums the high-pitched vocals are remarkable, a kind of classical trained JON ANDERSON.

The second album is considered as their best, thanks to contributions by Takashi Kawaguchi on violin (from OUTER LIMITS), Kazuhiro Miyatake on flute and Ikkou Nakujima on acoustic guitar (both from PAGEANT). The elaborate compositions contain lots of instuments and orchestral keyboards in the vein of THE ENID and some LE ORME ("Felona e Sorona" climate). I'm very pleased with the harmony of majestic Mellotron eruptions, moving violin and distorted electric guitar evoking a very dramatic atmosphere. A good example of the typical Japanese prog rock (sumptuous keyboards, lots of Mellotron and violin and classical influences).

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
Fan & official Prog Archives collaborator

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Leda & Le Cygne by MugenLeda & Le Cygne by Mugen
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Audio CD$97.82
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MUGEN discography


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

3.40 | 21 ratings
Sinfonia Della Luna
1984
2.85 | 14 ratings
Leda et le Cygne
1986
2.70 | 11 ratings
The Princess of Kingdome Gone
1988

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

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MUGEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Leda et le Cygne  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.85 | 14 ratings

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Leda et le Cygne
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This album sounds too melancholic and mellow to really be captivating.

It is too much of the same as well, even if some fine keyboards are the highlights throughout this work. At times, some interesting violin enters the scene ("Edmond's Old Mirror") but such a moment is unfortunately too scarce. As such, it is my favourite song from this offering.

As far as I am concerned, their debut was slightly better. Vocal parts are often inadequate and could have been avoided ("Bluge").

Anyway, the combination of almost classical passages with symphonic rock remains the trade mark from this Japanese band. Their certainly deserve a listen; but I should privileged their debut "Sinfonia della Luna" to do so.

Some neo sounds are also available ("Kamira") but if the intro isn't bad at all, what comes next is a combination of symphonic pop which is not always the best mix available. In all, this album is average and I am quite perplexed in terms of rating: two or three stars?

Let's call it two this time.

 Sinfonia Della Luna  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.40 | 21 ratings

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Sinfonia Della Luna
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Fully symphonic with even a classical approach, the music that is featured on this album should please all the ELP fans for the synths use. Classic ISP lovers will also be delighted, I assume.

The accent is set on the extensive use of keyboards and ranges from bombastic to pompous. Romantic, melodic and sweet: this is a short description of what you can discover here. The long opening song holds each of these ingredients and is by far the most interesting part of this album.

The shorter songs are well played, but are a bit simple in structure and too much straight forward. Of course, the mellotron adds a superb value to the overall music played ("Venezia"). Some "Genesis" reminiscences are noticeable during "Dance Romantic". Not bad at all.

The other long track of this album "Ballo Della Luna" is also an excellent piece of music with a majestic finale where magnificent guitar meets aerial mellotron. It is my fave of all and contrasts with the mellow and childish "Leonardo".

A good album: three stars.

 Sinfonia Della Luna  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.40 | 21 ratings

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Sinfonia Della Luna
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars First studio album by Mugen, Japanese band championed by keyboardist Katsuhiko Hayashi and aiming at the preservation of progressive rock after the end of the 70s. Tha band's overall style is rooted on influences received from PFM, Renaissance and The Enid, with touches of Genesis, late 70s Wakeman and Camel scattered in places whenever things are taken to more a more intense level. The final result of the sort of sound elaborated in this album certainly makes the band a hybrid of Pageant, Mr. Sirius and Midas: this band is evidently apart from the peculiarly sinister symphonic trend of Outer Limits, the Canterburian ideology of Ain Soph and the Crimsonian dogmatism of Bi Kyo Ran. The namesake piece opens up teh album with agile, epic moods, with atmospheres tightly placed on recurrently slow tempos: the spacey intro is just lovely in its eerie portrait of cosmic atmospheres. The emergence of some explicitly extroverted arrangements manage to generate an exciting dynamics in the main melodic developments. 'Magical Wand' has a more defined agility, and indeed it sounds related to the neo-prog standard in some ways, but arguably the highest dose of agility is concentrated in track no. 4, entitled 'Dance? Romantic' - this track comprises influences from ATOTT-era Genesis and "Criminal Record"-era Wakeman. The brotherhood of digital and vintage keyboards on an exciting rhythmic structure that alternates 5/4 and 7/8 tempos makes this track a particular highlight. Between these two tracks is 'Venezia', a moderately pompous exhibition of typical symphonic prog staged as a ballad. 'A Parade of the Wonderland' is a brief pastoral excursion that announces teh core theme of teh album's closer, 'Ballo della Luna'. This one gets started with lovely acoustic guitar harmonizations, and it eventually turns to a magnified exercise on symphonic splendor, combining the elegant energy of Bozzio-era UK and the constructed vibe of late 70s Camel. This is how the original vinyl ends, but the CD edition brings a bonus track called 'Leonardo', a pastoral song with subtle cosmic undertones. Even though it is a bonus track, it sure provides an adequate ending for this listening experience. Even though this album does not match the energy that will be exprssed in the band's final release "The Princess of Kingdom Gone", this happens to be, IMHO, a very good addtion to any good prog collection. I grant 3.75 starts to this one.

 Sinfonia Della Luna  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.40 | 21 ratings

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Sinfonia Della Luna
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Apart from the language, the effect of listening to Sinfonia Della Luna is like that of a kinder gentler 1970s Italian symphonic band, which is not a bad space to be in. Certainly Mugen shows a bit too much Genesis influence especially in the opening suite and "Dance Romantic". But the lovely "Ballo della Luna" seem more inspired by the romantic end of prog in the geographic sense of the word, and showcases Takashi Nakamura's gentle and soothing voice as well as the band's measured approach to its art and its ability to create and build atmospheres. Akira Kato's guitars are used sparingly but add a welcome warmth and oomph early (acoustic) and late(electric) in "Ballo". Even the bonus cut "Leonardo" is pretty. But if you are looking for a rawer attack or even some of the schizophrenia of other Japanese symphonic bands, steer clear. This is one for the quiet moments spent contemplating the moon.
 Leda et le Cygne  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.85 | 14 ratings

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Leda et le Cygne
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by Progbear
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Marginally better than SINFONIA DELLA LUNA, if only because the band integrated their influences a bit better here (i.e.: no obvious plagiarism). The keyboard sound is still unbelievably lush (the obvious attraction here), the drums are still used sparingly and Nakamura's arch, clipped singing style is still rather annoying.

Oddly, the track everyone considers the high point of this album-"Edmond's Old Mirror"-is for me the low point. The electronic drums playing a hip-hop beat almost throughout is beyond tacky, and completely inappropriate for what they were obviously going for with the piece. It improves somewhat when the violin solo begins, but the damage has been done.

Much better is the lovely "Salomé", with its rich, evocative textures. Again the Enid/Sky parallel applies, even more so as the album ends with a gentle reading of Ravel's "Pavane pour une infante défunte".

 Sinfonia Della Luna  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.40 | 21 ratings

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Sinfonia Della Luna
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by Progbear
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Fairly derivative sympho-prog from Japan. The 18-minute title suite ought to be entitled "Variations on a Theme by Tony Banks", considering the amount of times they plunder synth parts from "Dance on a Volcano"!

Actually, they remind me less of Genesis overall than light-classical sympho in the vein of the Enid, Sky, Gordon Giltrap and the like. It's super-ultra-mega-lush stuff with tons of synthesizers and Mellotron, with the occasional acoustic guitar wafting through. Drums are used sparingly.

Vocalist Takashi Nakamura rather gets on my nerves. He's not bad as far as technique or pitch-control goes, but his style of singing is very arch and stilted, often going into a rather annoying clipped, staccato kind of singing as on "Magical Wand". He's the biggest road-block to my enjoyment of this album (apart from the obvious unoriginality).

 Sinfonia Della Luna  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.40 | 21 ratings

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Sinfonia Della Luna
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by progadicto

5 stars This is another masterpiece of the symphonic prog. Even japanese prog sounds very different than the occidental, I think that Mugen brings us a beautiful experience, with some Genesis and classical influences. "Sinfonia della Luna" and "Dance... Romantic" are two great pieces of prog rock. Sounds like a magical tale of an ancient stroyteller. More than essential. If you want to continue this experience please listen "Leda et le Cygne"...
 Leda et le Cygne  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.85 | 14 ratings

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Leda et le Cygne
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Keyboard-player Katsuhiko Hayashi (ex-Pazzo Fanfano Di Musica, later he joined Ieraishan) is the mastermind behind Mugen. He often sounds like a muscial deadringer of Tony Banks (Hackett-era). This album has very strong classical overtones but showcases more explosive moments, due to the contribution of Takashi Kawaguchi (Outer Limits) on violin, Kazuhiro Miyatake on flute and acoustic guitar and Ikkou Nakujima (both from Pageant) on guitar). They lift this CD to a very pleasant level: elaborate compositions featuring classical guitar/violin, flute/Mellotron, electric guitar/church organ and classical orchestrations liek The Enid. The highlight on this CD is the long track "Edmond's Old Mirror" delivering bombastic keyboards in a dramatic atmosphere like Le Orme's finale on "Fellona E Sorona": awesome Mellotron flights, moving violin and some distorted electric guitar. The up-tempo song "Carmilla" (with synthesizer-runs like Rick Wakeman) shows the variety of this band. AN ALBUM TO DISCOVER!


 Sinfonia Della Luna  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.40 | 21 ratings

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Sinfonia Della Luna
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by Ricardo Otero

4 stars Mugen is one of those japanese bands that make you feel you are listening to a pastoral italian band. The music is ethereal, full of magical changes, lots of full range keys, If you like fine keyboards, go for it.The singer has a great voice, though sings in japanese. Enjoyable even in the quietest moments. Ricardo Otero, Mexico.
 The Princess of Kingdome Gone  by MUGEN album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.70 | 11 ratings

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The Princess of Kingdome Gone
Mugen Symphonic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars As with Bellafon and Gerard , this is the typical neo japanese product from the 80's and sharing the same flaws as those two bands. Not my cup of tea espcially dicovring this in the mid 90's and to be fairer one should read my other reviews of Japanese 80's prog to understand my feeling of that music > Gerrard 1985 album.
Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition.

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