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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
Boy Playing the Magical Bugle HornBoy Playing the Magical Bugle Horn
Import
Imports 2006
Audio CD$31.58
$28.69 (used)
Misty MoonMisty Moon
Musea 2003
Audio CD$29.99
StromatoliteStromatolite
Musea 2007
Audio CD$98.91 (used)
Misty Moon (Japanese Papersleeve)Misty Moon (Japanese Papersleeve)
Altavoz Records
Audio CD$28.05
$37.63 (used)
Outer Limits - Magical Bugle Horn [Japan LTD CD] KICS-91936Outer Limits - Magical Bugle Horn [Japan LTD CD] KICS-91936
King Japan
Audio CD$27.44
$49.57 (used)
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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)

4.00 | 28 ratings
Misty Moon
1985
3.92 | 17 ratings
A Boy Playing The Magical Bugle Horn
1986
3.61 | 26 ratings
The Scene Of Pale Blue
1987
3.33 | 3 ratings
Outer Mania
1989
4.00 | 48 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
 Misty Moon by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.00 | 28 ratings

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Misty Moon
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

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
4.00 | 48 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
4.00 | 48 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych Team

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
4.00 | 48 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
4.00 | 48 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
3.61 | 26 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
3.92 | 17 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
4.00 | 28 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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 Stromatolite by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 48 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The best 2007 album in my book!!!

It is not easy to find an album that causes an overexciting experience, when you know enough bands and music, it is not easy to be surprised by some old band, there are thousands of awesome albums that you love and listen frequently to, but actually it's hard to find one of those that you really can get obsesed due to it's beauty.

That happened to me in the mid-2007, when i listened to a Japanese band called Outer Limits whose only previous album i knew at the moment was The Scene of Pale Blue, which is a very good album, but that enters just in the album average, it didn't cause me anything extraordinary, then i saw that Outer Limits cameback after almost 20 years!, so that caugh my attention and i decided to get the album just in order to hear what sound would the band offer after so many years.

And god....i was blown away since the first time i listened to it, so i reapeated it again and again and so far i cannot get enough of it, it was a superb comeback from one of the most representative symphonic Japanese Bands, you know that Japanese music is exciting in each form and sound, here they won't let you down. I fell in love with it fastly, that after a few listens i said this would be my no.1 album of 2007, and yes despite there were several great choices, even from bands or artists that i like more and use to listen much more, i kept my love for Stromatolite and gave it my top 2007 album vote.

So enough about personal experience, now the review. Outer Limits released their comeback album in 2007 and named it Stromatolite, it contains 10 songs and more than 50 minutes of fantastic, outstanding symphonic prog.

The album opens with Cosmic Velocity and i think they couldn't have composed a better song for opening their comeback album, since the very first moment where the violin appears, i said...man this is something great let's see the rest, the song actually starts with some nature sounds, like the sea waving and then it turns into a fantastic piece of music, true symphonic prog at it's best, the keyboards are indispensable for the track, but the addition of the violin makes it even better, then there are moments where it just flows perfectly, some kind of give and take between guitars and violin, and the last part is pure bliss, there are some time changes and disctinct structures but at the end all finishes perfect, you will have no option after this, stay here and listen to the whole album

Next track is Consensus and it's the first one with vocals, it brings you a different feeling, after that powerful and beautiful opening, here the direction is different, it has some sense of intrigue and mystery in the song, the first part is in some way repetitive but the second part is again awesome, i am sure that the role of the violin here is the main, because nowadays not all the symph bands use the violin as a primordial ipart of their music, the games and interaction between the violin itself and the other instruments is excellent. by the way the lyrics are in english.

Lullaby follows and well you can imagine by the title what is this song about, the power and exciting moments of the first songs are left back, and here we will listen to a pure and beautiful song, the vocals are not something particularly awesome, but anyway it gives a nice colour to the song, keyboards and guitars in a very soft way are played here, a moment of peace here just before....

....comeback to the furious and exciting sound, with Algo Rhytm C the album returns to it's best style in my opinion, you will listen to great musical structures, and little different passages within the same song, while the powerful led by violin sound is running, suddenly it fades into some melodic passages, but just in order to return to that exciting violin-keyboard oriented song, this track has no vocals, so its a great mix of songs with and without lyrics.

Caprice (violin solo), well if i am talking about the violin a lot, it's because it's role is really important in this album, at the point that the band decided to make a short track which is like the intermission, just for the violin alone, notice the clean way of playing violin and you will understand why is it that important.

Spiral Motion continues immediately after the violin fade out of caprice, this is another instrumental song that will put an smile in your face, despite this is not that powerful as some others, it's mysterious mood creates some questions on yourself, i dont really know if you undestand what i mean, but i create a lot of images and even stories while listening to music, this is perfect for doing that, there are some moments where the guitar let us know that a band like King Crimson was an inspiration, some other moments where the keyboards appear just in the right place and of course the magnificent violin that also may give to the song an avant-gardish style.

Dahlia is another excellent track, the potential beginning compiled with some sudden stops after a minute changes with some softer variations, giving in a certaing way a ballad mood, but then at the half of the song we will hear an splendid guitar solo followed by some lush keyboard sound, all accompanied by an excellent drumming and bass background, then the song returns to the same phase as in the first minute, with the same components. Pretty good for the listener, and to finish the song we will hear some dissonant passage created by all the instruments.

Pangea this song shows a particular style, the symphonic music predominates of course and you will always listen a constan keyboard sound, but this time the mood is a bit happier and with a sensation of being in a challenge, where you are aiming for something and the music develops your faith into it. Is a great instrumental song that in a brief moment has some kind of violin improved sound but it is just minimum.

Organ Small Works No. 4(Pipe organ solo), is the other track dedicated to an instrument, first we had Caprice which was the violin solo moment, now as the title say we have the organ and the keyboard player in particular, it begins with a kind of horror movie theme, then it becomes softer but the obscure mood prevails, at the end we know that for the release of this album, the band itself considers both the violin and the keyboards as the primary components of it.

Sadly, everything has a final, now with Constellation we have reach the end of this great album, being this the longer song and after the previous works, what we can only expect is a very good song, and said and done. The song does have a feeling like the end, i dont know how to describe it, i just feel it, the musical composition is absolutely brilliant, and the vocals have an extra enthusiasm, though they are not outstanding, they give a particular touch to the album, despite the first half which is in some way slow, in the second one we will listen to some solos, violin / guitar / keyboards, which are the instruments that predominates throughout the album, though i should say that there is always a constant and solid playing by the bass man and drummer. The last half of a minute is a bombastic ending.

Now i have finished, i am sure this is one (if not the longest) of the longest reviews i have written for PA, things like this are possible just when you are inspired by the music itself or any other thing. A brilliant album, absolutely recommendable for any prog fan, specially for those symphomaniacs!

My grade, 5 stars! Enjoy it!

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 Stromatolite by OUTER LIMITS album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 48 ratings

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Stromatolite
Outer Limits Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

5 stars This album came as a shock to me!Simply beautiful!...Being not too familiar with japanese bands,as the only bands I've heard so far from the japanese progressive rock scene were ARS NOVA and KENSO, I was really curious to listen to a band from this scene...And I was very lucky to have such an experience...

First of all, OUTER LIMITS is one of the most classical influenced bands I've heard...That comes not only because of the arrangements and the symphonic keyboards but mainly due to the heavy and unstoppable use of the violin and viola of Takashi Kawakuchi,he is already one of my progressive rock heroes...All the tracks are just great,balanced between melody and complexity without losing insipiration and prog rock purposes...Stunning!As for the sound the only way I can describe it is the best combination between ARS NOVA,ANGLAGARD and SAGRADO CORACAO DA TERRA with heavy doses of the italian progressive rock romanticism...Hope you can imagine it...or even better hope and wish you can taste someday this beautiful album...4.5 stars heading to 5 and simply highly recommended!...

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