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OUTER LIMITS

Symphonic Prog • Japan


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This is one of the most original Japanese progrock bands, they were active in the Eighties and made a serie of interesting albums. Most of them contain classical sounding keyboards, cheerful violinplay, Japanese (and some English) vocals and many waves of Mellotron. The most obvious hints are KING CRIMSON (Mellotron and guitar), UK (keyboards and violin) and PFM (classical sound and violin).

"Misty Moon" ('85) has a strong classical undertone but somewhat mediocre vocals, "A Boy Playing the Magical Bugle Horn" ('86) sound more varied and original but my favorite album is "The Scene of Pale Blue" ('87). The mindblowing titletrack contains all the elements that makes progrock worth listening: captivating skills on guitar and violin, many changing climates, great build ups and moving finales and compelling keyboardplay (majestic Mellotron eruptions). The other tracks showcase OUTER LIMITS' maturity in composing and include lots of great instrumental passages. Another fine album is "The Silver Apples on the Moon" ('89): recorded live in the studio and featuring their best work (although "The Scene of Pale Blue" is an abridged version).

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Outer LimitsOuter Limits
Soundtrack
Gnp Crescendo 1993
Audio Cassette$3.99
Outer Limits/Floored MasterOuter Limits/Floored Master
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$9.99
$9.98 (used)
Boy Playing the Magical Bugle HornBoy Playing the Magical Bugle Horn
Import
Imports 2006
Audio CD$20.54
$22.91 (used)
Misty MoonMisty Moon
Import
Musea 1985
Audio CD$11.75
$10.37 (used)
StromatoliteStromatolite
Musea 2007
Audio CD$98.90 (used)
Boy Playing the Magical Bugle Horn (Mini LP Sleeve) by ImportsBoy Playing the Magical Bugle Horn (Mini LP Sleeve) by Imports
Imports
Audio CD$79.28
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OUTER LIMITS discography


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

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

4.02 | 30 ratings
Misty Moon
1985
3.57 | 20 ratings
A Boy Playing The Magical Bugle Horn
1986
3.62 | 31 ratings
The Scene Of Pale Blue
1987
3.33 | 3 ratings
Outer Mania
1989
4.02 | 46 ratings
Stromatolite
2007

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Silver Apples on the Moon
1989

OUTER LIMITS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Indies Collection (The Best of Outer Limits)
1987

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

OUTER LIMITS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Boy Playing The Magical Bugle Horn by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.57 | 20 ratings

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A Boy Playing The Magical Bugle Horn
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In 1986 Made in Japan Records released Outer Limit's sophomore effort titled ''A boy playing the magical bugle horn''.From the liner notes it appears that this was a fantasy concept, written by drummer Nobuyuki Sakurai.Sakurai along with Tomoki Ueno, Shusei Tsukamoto, Takashi Kawaguchi and Takashi Aramaki were the band's regular members, although the album features appearances by Tadashi Sugimoto on contrabass plus a pronounced string section with Masako Hara, Yuko Sato and Yumiko Koakutu guesting on violins and cello.Kaoru Shimohara, Seiichi Furukawa and Fumiaki Ikoma are three more guests, who contributed backing vocals.

A more dominant string section, the heavy presence of soaring synthesizers and the display of a concept via regular or distorted vocals and narrations show a turn by the band from the very ethereal style of their debut to a more dark and mysterious sound with plenty of KING CRIMSON and U.K. similarities, although touches of THE ENID and GENESIS are still apparent.The romantic soundscapes and symphonic textures are now partially replaced by haunting violin-driven arrangements with a Chamber Music feel and a more complex guitar presence with ROBERT FRIPP overtones.The talent is there, name to me a set of bands, which could actually combine symphonic tunes with technical power and sinister atmospheric values, still I miss the band's impressive melodies and constant cinematic edges from ''Misty moon''.In fact it's hard to believe that in 1986 a group could launch such a complex symphonic effort, Outer Limits did so however, sacrificing a grandiose sound for darker and more bombastic ideas.The concept though seems like a good reason for combining Film Score-like Music, orchestral arrangements, KING CRIMSON-esque Prog and storytelling vocals, some moments are quite excellent, but as a whole this effort sounds a little inconsistent plus the vocals are too melodramatic and theatrical without any particular color.

A bit of a letdown compared to the band's magnificent debut.Still a valuable work of 80's Prog, extremely intricate and instrumentally challenging with a strong theatrical taste.For fans of U.K., GENESIS and KING CRIMSON.Warmly recommended.

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 Stromatolite by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I've been living in Japan for most of the last 16 years and even though I checked out many indie groups when I first arrived here, I never got to know any real prog bands. Japanese pop being what it is, I wasn't sure if there were any prog bands that would truly appeal to me. As it happened, a few months ago I stumbled across a post in the PA forum about Japanese prog bands and Outer Limits were one of the dozens of bands mentioned. I picked them to find on YouTube and gave a listen to some of their music from this album, "Stromatolite". I liked what I heard, but CDs in Japan are typically around $30 and I hesitated to pay that much when there were so many other albums I wanted that were cheaper through the Marketplace. At last I brought this baby home a couple of weeks ago.

This 2007 release was Outer Limits' first album in twenty years. Prior to this, they released a few albums in the 1980's. I don't know anything about their earlier efforts, but this album is quite a piece of work.

First, there are ten tracks of which six are instrumentals. If you are worried about the lyrics you should know that they are all in English. The singing good enough and the accent not nearly as strong as some indie bands I have heard, though the incorrect pronunciation of some words is still typical of many Japanese speakers and the lyrics sometimes sound peculiar. Overall, though, over the passing grade.

The music is a cross between a seventies symphonic prog band with lots of rock guitar and organ or synthesizer and more symphonic groups as the violinist, Takashi Kawaguchi plays some mean strings and there are also horns that emphasis the symphonic approach.

"Cosmic Velocity" is a great opening track immediately showing us the charging energetic rock band side of Outer Limits but with some fiery violin work. There's a mellower section with more violin just past the middle. I can picture this as a movie soundtrack.

"Consensus" is musically a very interesting track with a bold horn section and some orchestral instruments making it sound like a movie soundtrack again. The vocals come in, two vocalists, singing low and almost hypnotically. The effect is good but the lyrics have me with a question mark over my head. For example: "Excuse me, you're too noisy. Excuse me, I hear you everything in mixture. Excuse me, don't understand you. It's all I have to do to comply." Getting past that, however, the music is quite an achievement of music for rock band and orchestra. It had me thinking of The Enid in a way because the rock band seems to be part of the orchestra rather than accompanied by an orchestra.

"Lullaby" is the first disappointment for me. A sappy ballad with lots of violin, I can't get interested in this song until near the end. The lyrics about "my princess" turned me off from the start. The mispronounced "blocken smile" stands out, too. But what is this song about? One line says that she "can't hold things down". Does this princess have the stomach flu?

"Algo_Rhythm. C" rocks out like a piece of Kansas. There's heavy guitar and organ and more blazing violin. There's also a pleasant acoustic passage for guitar and violin that adds a nice surprise. This is followed by "Caprice" which is a classical violin solo. It's good I guess but it's not my taste so I can't say whether this performance is brilliant or not.

"Spiral Motion" is another favourite instrumental track of mine. It's a decent length and sticks to its musical motifs without wandering around. There's more rock guitar and a pipe organ, too. At one point I found myself thinking of Alan Parsons Project. In fact, there seems to be a strong late seventies prog influence on much of the album.

"Dahlia" begins with what sounds like a prog guitar instrumental and then turns into a late seventies prog rock song. There's some nice piano and later synthesizer. The vocals are pretty good and suit the lead vocalist's range. At times I feel it sounds foreign like RPI, though I have only heard three RPI albums so far. There are some surprising intense moments in the music that swiftly turn back to smooth and more emotive music, and then once more jump back to heavy.

"Pangea" has a mysterious beginning but soon the horns are back and once more I'm thinking Alan Parsons Project. Then there's a strange synthesizer solo and the violin is back. Now it sounds like Yezda Urfa meets Premiata Forneria Marconi. Clearly, though, music composition is Outer Limits' forte.

We get a short pipe organ solo which for me is once again nothing outstanding. Then we reach the final track, "Constellation" which gives us everything we've heard so far and more. Heavy guitars, horns, synthesizer, acoustic guitar. This is a 9-minute plus epic song that delivers various musical motifs before the lyrics even come in. It sounds a bit typical of late seventies pop prog but cliches aside, this song is executed remarkably well. The harmony vocals are good and at one point a female guest sings with a soft operatic voice. This has to be the best "song" on the album.

Though you are not likely to find this album at a low price anywhere, I do recommend fans of late seventies symphonic prog to check it out. This is a very solid effort here!

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 Misty Moon by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.02 | 30 ratings

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Misty Moon
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Among the best, if not the best, Japanese Prog bands of the 80's, Outer Limits possibly existed since the start of the decade and their early line-up even featured bassist Tadashi Sugimoto (from Pazzo Fanfano Di Musica project), who left the group prior to the debut album.The rest of the early crew were keyboardist Shusei Tsukamoto, drummer Nobuykuki Sakurai, guitarist Takashi Aramaki, violinist Takashi Kawaguchi, bassist Tadashi Ishikawa and singer Tomoki Ueno.The band released the first album ''Misty moon'' in 1985, distributed by Made In Japan Records.

As many Japanese groups of the time, Outer Limits played Classical-influenced Progressive Rock, but unlike many of their compatriots, who had a very synth-drenched style of music, the symphonic influences of the album were proposed through the extended use of violin and the Classical orchestrations.Thus, the band sounded like the Asian version of U.K. and THE ENID, delivering bombastic groovy parts with deep bass work combined with awesome violin interludes of a Classical nature and lots of symphonic arrangements.The result was an album blending the romantic flavor of Symphonic Rock with more upbeat tunes, while three out of the four tracks of the original issue clock at or exceed the 10 min. mark.No need to say there is some huge room for instrumental workouts, full of captivating melodies, angular violin solos, muscled rhythmic parts and dominant breaks. and The limited vocals come in English with a very JOHN WETTON-like style of singing and far from the annoying, heavily accented color of most Japanese singers.The shortest track ''Saturated Solution'' contains also some excellent synth runs in full interplays with Kawaguchi's violin, creating a bombastic symphonic atmosphere.

One of the best Prog albums of the 80's out of Japan.Non-commercial, grandiose symphonic-oriented Progressive Rock, characterized by series of monster instrumental themes of a superb composing value.Highly recommended.

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 Stromatolite by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars An interesting slab of heavy techical symphonic prog from Japan.

Outer Limits is said to be one of the more original symphonic prog bands from Japan. I don't know about that. But I would agree with a claim that they are a very good band. Unfortunate; great musicians and technical abilities does not always equal great albums.

Outer Limits comes across as a blend of Dream Theater, Ars Nova and ELP. They have a very modern orchestral sound. The music is driven forward by violin, electric guitars, some vocals and various organs. From church organs to plastic sounding synths. The latter ones is something they could has spared us for.

Both the songs and the sound are good throughout. I am not happy about the too synthetic synth sound which dominates too much of this album. I feel this sound kills some of the best songs here. But if this type of sound is your cup of tea, this album should be purchased. Besides of the disagreeable parts of this album, this album is rather great. My other gripe though is the absence of any truly great tracks on this album. Hence my lack of enthusiasm. But still; it is well worth checking out this album.

3 stars

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 Stromatolite by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator

4 stars can I define OUTER LIMITS a technical-symphonic band?!

Okay I think OUTER LIMITS or the album Stromatolite be the golden standards of symphonic progressive rock scene. Indeed I can understand they remind us the sounds by King Crimson or UK because their sounds should be heavier, stricter than of another Japanese band. Their symphony is very steady and well-balanced, without one projecting instrument. Each instrument solo is so terrific, intensive and massive that all may be harmonized with others. And Takeshi Kawaguchi's violin sounds are very graceful and beautiful, without the violence or aggression by David Cross...there's an evident difference from King Crimson, I consider. In Cosmic Velocity he can lead the play by the whole outfit, of course, with all playing steadily. Consensus's greatness, Lullaby's easiness to listen and keep on our mind, or the violin solo in Caprice, the fantastic sounds of organ in Organ Small Works No.4 - they should be like lots of brilliant gems in a treasure box. Till the last surprisingly impressive hugesong Constellation we must hear and dunk their works into our mind with bated breath!

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 Stromatolite by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars OUTER LIMITS are a Japanese band who have been around since the eighties.Their previous record before this one was released in 1989, so yes they have reformed and this is a comeback album of sorts. Organ,violin and guitar lead the way and there are vocals (English) on four tracks. And that is my biggest complaint with the music, I just don't like the vocals at all. So I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with this recording. According to the "Planet Mellotron" site the mellotron used here is sampled, unlike their eighties albums where they used the real thing.

"Cosmic Velocity" is a top three track for me. It opens with the sound of waves before it kicks into gear. Great sound ! Violin 1 1/2 minutes in and organ follows. Angular guitar 3 minutes in. "Consensus" has vocals and I just can't get past them to enjoy this one. "Lullaby" has some orchestral sounds with vocals.Yikes ! "Algo-Rythm.C" is another top three tune for me. A good heavy sound with violin and organ. It settles 3 1/2 minutes in. Intense a minute later. "Caprice" features a 1 1/2 minute violin solo. "Spiral Motion" is the other top three song for me. It opens with violin and a beat. Organ replaces violin before a minute as they continue to trade off. Love the angular guitar after 3 minutes with mellotron and drums. Violin is back before 4 minutes, organ follows.

"Pangea" is haunting to start out before it kicks in. An orchestral flavour here. It then settles with violin as contrasts continue. "Organ Small Works No.4" is a pipe organ solo that is fairly gothic. "Constellation" features pulsating organ and some good guitar that comes and goes early. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in, synths a minute later. "Lunatic Game" opens with synths while the organ to follow sounds incredible. We get both English and Japanese vocals on this one.

Good record that would be even better if it were an all instrumental affair.

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 Stromatolite by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When progressive goes really symphonic.

I really dig new bands giving the old school a chance, and Stromatolite is a good example of a modern sound with a 70's symphonical Pink Floyd taste. Outer Limits is aiming at true symphonic grandeur (Conscensus) although mixed with sharper guitars than Wobbler for instance.

The intense (digital) orchestration is versatile, giving some softer moments, although a bit to Disneyesque in the case of Lullaby. But this is merely one song, the rest being pretty upright and hard-edge guitars. One thing I really like is the constant venue of the violin putting a wholethrough classy texture, reminding Kansas or mainly Gentle Giant. But I guess why it's attracting me so much is the fact that it reminds me so much of Curved Air Phantasmagoria. You know, symphonic but a little twisted.

A real winner, mostly instrumental and will satisfy the ELP/ Gentle Giant/ Curved Air fan in you. Somewhat unknow, this album has to be one of your priorities if you're looking for something professional, with variety and orchestration oriented.

Classy, clean and crisp but done with lots of professionalism. A real keeper.

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 The Scene Of Pale Blue  by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.62 | 31 ratings

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The Scene Of Pale Blue
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Third album of Outer Limits from 1987. This is maybe the most acomplished OL album from the'80's. Musically speaking is not far from the previouses two albums, but with a much tighter compositions and strong ideas. The album has that dark atmospeher like on the first 2 releases combined with strong violin parts, the listner is taken to another realm of fantasy - Marionette's Lament, second piece is much uptempo wth nice rythm, violin did a great job here. Now, Platonic Syndrome is my fav piese along with the the title track - 20 minutes of excellent symphonic prog arrangements with strong violin interlude not far from King Crimson (early years), but with a personal aproach, great. Finaly i think this album is very good, but not a masterpiece, equal with predecesors. Well The scene of pale blue desearve without question 4 stars, among the best prog albums from Japan. This album stands as one of the most intristing example of the '80's underrated prog music, and for sure needs much more atention.Recommended

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 A Boy Playing The Magical Bugle Horn by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.57 | 20 ratings

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A Boy Playing The Magical Bugle Horn
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A boy playing the magical bugle horn is the second offering by japanese band Outer Limits. The album was released in 1986 and is a good follow up to the predecesor Misty moon from 1985. Not very much to add here, just this album is almost in the same vein with the album from '85 but with even more aproach to symphonic prog. In places this symphonic prog elements are combined very well with opera singing, creating a real treat for prog listners, an atmosphere that is in same time very dark but also very intristing and catchy- the perfect example is Liris. Well, my fav piece from here is the opening track Magical blue horn , the best from here, delivering some very intristing bass lines combined very well with excellent key passages made by Shusei Tsukamoto, the violin of Takashi Kawaguchi is brillint not far from (UK, Danger money era) but with a crimsonesque touch here and there, a good and strong example of Japan '80's prog music. The rest of the pieces are above average, even in that times , '80's, prog was something only for conoseurs, and surviving only in underground. With this release, and the first one, Outer Limits knock back at everything they stoped from being one of the best prog bands from Japan and why not from world. Not a weak piece here, and not a step down from the first album, this is another 4 star for this important band from Japan, I enjoy very much listning to thier first 3 albums, excellent and inventive albums in a tough period for progressive music.

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 Misty Moon by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.02 | 30 ratings

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Misty Moon
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Excellent debut album by Outer Limits from Japan . From the first notes you can recognize that they are influenced by King Crimson on violin parts and guitars and some UK hints here and there specially on keyes. The vocal parts are sung in english and japaneze and i think are the weakest element here. Very fine, smooth and inventiv are the violin parts made by Takashi Kawaguchi, he remaind me at some point of Edie Jobson, but less symhonic in aproach, close to what King Crimson done a decade earlier. Now the best musician on this album is to me Tadashi Ishikawa - the bass player, he is absolute excellent what he does with the instrument. He has some solo parts on piece Misty Moon, and is damn good, and on the rest of the pieces he does a very good job. The best pieces are all, but with a plus on instrumental ones, Saturated Solution - the most symphonic piece from here with very strong key passages, simply great and the last track of the album Spanish Labyrinth - again marvelous spanish guitar intro and after that a bursting of energy and freash ideas. Finally, this is a great album, specialy because it was released in dark days of prog , mid '80's. He has everything to became a more respected album that is seen today. Recommended and quite underrated by many prog listners. 4 stars for sure, among the best japanese bands ever.

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