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ARS NOVA (JAP)

Symphonic Prog • Japan


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Ars Nova (JAP) picture
Ars Nova (JAP) biography
Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1983 - Still active as of 2017

This female keyboard trio started in the next line-up: Keiko Kumagai (keyboards), Kyoko Kanazawa (bass) and Akiko Takahashi (drums). In '92 ARS NOVA released their promising debut-album "Fear & Anxiety", a tribute to ELP with floods of powerful Hammond organ and flashing synthesizer solos, supported by a strong and adventurous rhythm-section. After several album and changes in the line-up, ARS NOVA is still going strong and end 2003 the trio released their new CD entitled "Biogenesis Project": it's loaded with spectacular instrumental prog rock in the vein of ELP, UK and TRACE. The current ARS NOVA includes Keiko Kumagai (keyboards), Akiko Takahashi (drums, voice) and Mika (vocal and chorus).

My favorite ARS NOVA CD is "The Goddess of Darkness": captivating compositions with lots of spectacular keyboardplay (Hammond organ, Mellotron and synthesizers) and a splendid, very propulsive rhythm-section. In my opinion ARS NOVA has reached their pinnacle with this album, other albums also contain great material but sound less mature, they fail to generate the same excitement. At some moments I think "I've heard this before" and then my attention fades away. Nonetheless, all ARS NOVA albums reach a decent level and always contain good keyboardplay to enjoy. The last album "Biogenesis Project" (a SF-concept) is literally another story: it's a project with a lot of known progrock guest musicians like members from GOBLIN, PFM and IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO, the rhythm-section from GERARD, singer Alex Brunori (ex-LEVIATHAN) and Arjen LUCASSEN (mastermind of Dutch AYREON project and a possible inspirator to this story). They all give this album an extra dimension (great violinplay, good vocals and biting and howling guitarplay) and lift it above the level of the last ARS NOVA albums. I'm stunned by the magnificent keyboardplay and the exciting instrumental interludes. Fresh Blood was needed the result is there!

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


See also: WiKi

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ARS NOVA (JAP) discography


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

ARS NOVA (JAP) top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.99 | 42 ratings
Fear & Anxiety
1992
3.16 | 31 ratings
Tränsi
1994
3.72 | 85 ratings
The Goddess Of Darkness
1996
3.47 | 58 ratings
The Book Of The Dead [Aka: Reu Nu Pert Em Hru]
1998
3.39 | 51 ratings
Android Domina
2001
3.54 | 44 ratings
Biogenesis Project
2003
3.62 | 44 ratings
Seventh Hell
2009

ARS NOVA (JAP) Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 9 ratings
Across The World
2003

ARS NOVA (JAP) Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.25 | 4 ratings
Christmastide
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Chronicle <2001 - 2002>
2006
4.00 | 1 ratings
Official Bootleg Live Female Trio 1996-2010
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Divine Night
2011

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

3.69 | 7 ratings
The Six Singular Impressions
1997
2.56 | 13 ratings
Lacrimaria
2001
3.15 | 15 ratings
Chrysalis - Force For The Fourth
2005

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

ARS NOVA (JAP) Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Seventh Hell by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.62 | 44 ratings

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Seventh Hell
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by Floof-AN

5 stars Have you ever had a panic attack before? Personally, I have; I believe we've all had one at some point in our lives. It's an unfortunate event, the manic state opening our minds to the worst sort of thoughts. Now, imagine you had a panic attack, but it only filled you with a euphoric and cathartic positive energy. Ladies, Gentlemen, and all Others, it's the most outrageous, outspoken, and controversial of living artists; the only difference between them and madmen is that they're not mad; the Japanese power trio, now turned quintet, goddesses of darkness: Ars Nova! Who, as Dali did so many years ago, thread the line between utter and complete chaotic madness, and the most over the top and bombastic music Progressive Rock has to offer.

What is there to say about Ars Nova? Their reputation speaks for itself: never failing to deliver the most hyperactive and frantic Symphonic Prog on every single studio album since the dawn of the 90's. Some dismiss the band as a pale copy of Emerson Lake & Palmer, do not listen to such naysayers, rather, listen to their entire discography from Tränsi (1994) onward; and if you deign listen to at least a quarter of the album before judging it, you will hear for yourself that Ars Nova's unique blend of influences, and creativity, are nothing alike that of ELP. I dare say, Ars Nova surpasses ELP in bombast and arrogance, when it comes to studio albums, at least; ELP wins by a large margin as far as live shows are concerned; and this statement has never, to me, been truer that on Seventh Hell (2009). In my eyes, this album is Ars Nova's magnum opus: a refusal to repeat themselves, with a lot of daring experimentation, and a bombastic nature pushed even farther than ever before, to levels that even ELP could only dream of achieving. Seventh Hell (2009) is a slap in the face to every listener, and a ball-gag forced into their detractors' mouths in the most provocative, edgy, and extravagant manner possible.

It has to be listened to be believed, and it will make you believe, by force. The title track is thoroughly self-explanatory: not a millisecond is wasted, as you are thrust into Ars Nova's world immediately. The guitar is put at the forefront this time, delving further into the concepts they had first elaborated on Biogenesis Project (2003), with, this time around, an even harder edge. It may only have been a few seconds, and yet, the music has already sank its claws into your brain, demanding your fullest attention with an abrasive roaring and crying from the guitars. French and Latin demon laugh, as you are banished to Satan's realm. In only a few seconds, everything you must know about Ars Nova is put forward as an injunction: You will pay attention, you will know that they are mighty, you will know that they are the twisted child of ELP, of Classical Music, of Metal, and of French Literature... Like it or not, Ars Nova means business, and they will let you know by drilling their one-of-a-kind sound directly through each end of your skull, mensing it with a menseful seal.

What follows is a truck. Yes, a truck going at full throttle, which collides with you at Mach 5 speed; and don't think the driver will even consider hitting the brakes. That introduction was but the sound of its horn, one that you heard far too late to get out of the way. Once the entire band joins in, you awaken in hell, crushing in its raw power and immeasurable scale. You need not worry, Keiko Kumagai's trademark flaming keyboard solos soon follow, now with the help of a howling over-driven guitar. Both playfully dialogue, bouncing back and forth at a breakneck pace, with the energy to power the city of Tokyo. With its rapid-fire melody changes, its nasty, yet perfectly executed transitions, its ominous and simply awesome nature... Seventh Hell is the proper meaning of a beat-down: there is hardly anything you can firmly grasp; and any time you are able to hold onto the ledge that separates you from falling further into the bottomless pits of hell, the band members gang up on you... not to step on your fingers... but instead, to detonate dynamite, whose shock-waves resonate throughout your whole body, and to send the steep and desolate hills of hell, you so desperately hold onto, crashing down in a landslide, sinking into an ocean of lava and flames, in a deluge of exotic and dissonant riffing. Seventh Hell is not a safe song, nor it does pretend to be; they're playing on their turf, and you... you have to run for your life, through the rough and unfamiliar terrain of brash supersonic synth solos, the infinitely deep or absurdly high screaming from the guitars and bass, and the relentless punches which the drums just cannot stop throwing in your direction, determined to strike you down. The song, reaching its end, does not step even one feet down from its culminating heights, does not budge from its throne which overlooks its hellish domain; Ars Nova is still at the top of the world, and you... you're here to watch.

La Vénus Endormie follows, with a mystically enticing introduction: sounds conjured from the birth of most beautiful goddess to grace the world, surging from the waves of an infinite ocean, castaway on the banks of a virgin forest. This breath of fresh air is a demonstration of another facet of the band's music: invoking storms one second, and comforting our souls with soothing sorcery the next. But, Ars Nova cannot simply be content with a classical guitar accompanied by soft vocals... an electric guitar soars, possessed by the unbound agony of the greatest tragedies, and the gentle beauty which only the most gifted poets could hope to achieve with words. The song alternates between a distorted electric guitar, and the acoustic one, somehow both expressing the same feeling of unbridled gorgeousness; supported by a myriad of keyboards, whose melodies forthput a truly magical soundscape, which will strike the hearts of every sensible human; and whose solos both impresses deeply, and awakens a new love for mythology's greatest fantasies and deities.

Cazadora de Astros follows in the steps of the preceding song, be it with, as the title implies, a cosmic, almost heavenly feel, inspiring a profoundly melancholic sentiment, not unlike that of a lone being, wandering the vastness of space, chasing the distant stars, light-years away. Intensity builds up, so does the emotion evoked by the impossibly impressive atmosphere, until the middle part of the song... In a theatrical tirade, every instrument is brought to tears, yelling at the top of their lungs, creating one of the most emotionally powerful moments of the entire album. The feeling is hardly describable with simple words due to its biblical proportions. It is the heartbreaking last moments and death of a star, whose last cries pierced the nothingness of the void, to reach our ears, trillions of kilometers away; whose stardust took a life on their own, and ran in every direction for a new home, at the speed of light, with the weight of a pulsar over their soul, and with the glow of a thousand comets; perhaps, a few of the million shooting stars will get caught in the star-chaser's net, so that they may behold the treasures of the distant universe. Slowly, the song fades away, our hunter keeps on wandering through the unfathomable deep black, while, far away, thanks to accretion, a lucky few may witness the birth of a new star.

Just when your soul feels at rest, and your body becomes alight, the band is back to kneecapping you, in the most ferocious and unexpected way they can pull off. Forthwith, the foreboding sound of static synth chords fills your ears, the incomprehensible whispers of a few almost schizophrenic voices drift from left to right, top to bottom, and the warped instrumentation leaves you floating in place... all rendering you unable to move, in the grasp of the almighty Zephyrus. "Follow us", you hear, as they laugh, and laugh, ever so maniacally... and suddenly go medieval on your poor, disoriented spirit. Voice of Wind is only four minutes long, and it will use them to their fullest extent: transitions are barely a second long, each part appears as soon as it disappears, each instrument sprints through the track; and with its almost tribal vocal inflections, accentuated by punchy drums, it occurs to you that this is a fistfight you are clearly losing. A dense asphyxiating atmosphere, a melting mist of guitars, is anything close to mild you will ever get from this song; Ars Nova's over-the-top, insane, and utterly frantic music is back, the two previous songs were but a cooldown... a short moment they took to roll their arm back and telegraph a punch that would hit you square in the face, shattering your teeth.

You're defenestrated into the next song, but before even being given the time to think, you're grabbed by the collar and forced into a rocking chair, overlooking a Spanish beach, on which clocks melt, and incomprehensible creatures mesh with the environment. Salvador Syndrome, the most incomprehensibly chaotic, and genius song in the band's catalog, as well as the longest, befalls you. Not even Voice of Wind could have prepared you for this... not even the knowledge of every minute detail of Dali's paintings could have prepared you for this. Seventeen entire minutes of constant change, going in unexpected directions at every opportunity, alike to a car, speeding in the streets of a labyrinthine city, taking U-turns whenever accustomed to going in a straight line for mere seconds. An inventive suite, dancing mad between sudden bursts of Hispanic music, impromptu and surprising operatic singing, mind-bending instrumental passages in which each virtuoso musician has a chance to showcase their talent of the highest caliber; nailing, in quick succession, blowtorch-hot solos over intricate and ever-changing rhythms. The music rises as high as heaven, and descends as low as the abyss, leaving a trail of destruction on its path without even bothering to look back. You're pulled, you're pushed, and most importantly, you're never given a chance to understand the situation. Had Dali lived to hear this song, he would have been proud, I am certain.

And so, your beautiful torment ends, the band have had their fun throwing you around like a baseball, and now they left, leaving you alone in an empty field. After piecing yourself together with whatever glue of duct tape you have at your disposal, you'll be able to reflect on what just happened to you. Your first conclusion will most likely be along the lines of "I don't know what the hell I just listened to?"; it takes time, and a few more listens, to completely grasp the utter genius of the album. Seventh Hell (2009), is, by a long-shot, Ars Nova's most inventive, cutting edge, diverse, enjoyable, awesome, and best project; and this is telling! for their previous works were already some of the finest Symphonic Rock to grace the ears of any tasteful listener. Seventh Hell (2009) is, quite simply, one of the most advanced, mature, and polished work of the Rock genre as a whole; crafted with the most fervid love and passion for music, by the second coming of Keith Emerson: Keiko Kumagai; helped the some of the best musicians in the Japanese Progressive scene, and geniuses from beyond the seas. Every melody, every note, every second, every little detail about the album seeps with upmost passion, to the point of overflowing, which is the greatest gift us listeners and avid music lovers could ever wish for. Every single musician plays their heart out, as if tomorrow, music would disappear forever; it is beyond cathartic. To some, this album may only be a pompous and narcissistic mess of overzealous musicians, unable to hold a thought for more than a minute; but some people are wrong: it is anything but! Love for the discipline is the flour that helped bake these five songs, a love so powerful that every person participating in the creation of Seventh Hell (2009), expressed this appreciation by letting go of any limits, letting loose, losing themselves in the music, and letting their creativity run wild like enraged tigers, or gracious swans.

Seventh Hell (2009) commands respect. It is a labor of love, expertly created by some of the finest minds in Progressive Rock. Its power transcends the typical way we think of music; to be understood, it requires to throw away casual listening into a bin, to open our minds, and embrace it in a profound manner. And, even as a casual listen, the wonderful and inspiring songs will not leave you indifferent. It will stick to the listener, like a kiss upon the cheek from a soulmate, and like a trident piercing your chest; personally, I cannot go back to living without Seventh Hell (2009). I am certain that any person dedicated to art will appreciate this album, just as I did, and will find it as deeply inspiring, from the first millisecond and its bellowing guitar, to the last second and its solemn echoes. With this album, Ars Nova has, in my mind, cemented themselves as an icon of Progressive Rock, dare I say, as an icon in the field of Art, on the same level as Dali, and every artist that Ars Nova has been inspired by. It is an honor for us, and an honor for the artists referenced in the making of each song; but before anything, every member, every guest, and everyone that helped make this album possible, should be honored for having created an unparalleled, and unrivaled masterpiece, a project so incomprehensibly magnificent and mighty, that the Tower of Babel, in comparison, is nothing more than Keiko Kumagai's crown!

Grade: 10/10

Favorite tracks: Every track.

 Tränsi by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.16 | 31 ratings

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Tränsi
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars It's not fair to instantly dismiss instrumental Japanese prog group Ars Nova as being lazy or unimaginative Emerson, Lake and Palmer clones, even if the all-female trio are heavily influenced by the legendary band as a starting point. Instead, they marry the grand bluster of that classic Seventies act to a heavier and darker gothic sound, and their second album, 1994's `Transi', in addition to being perhaps their most grandiose and complex work overall, weaves in plenty of demented and noisily schizophrenic touches as well!

Opening introduction `Phantom' sounds like the love-child of horror director/composer John Carpenter and legendary Italian soundtrack doomsters Goblin with its ghostly electric piano tip-toes and approaching infernal majesty. It leads directly into the punchy little `Chase', unsurprisingly attacking and up-tempo, and full of Keiko Kumagai's frantic races of buzzsaw-like electronics, dizzying Moog spins and staccato piano stabs, Akiko Takahashi's bashing relentless drums and Kyoko Kanazawa's stalking grumbling bass.

From there on, `Transi' and all the lengthier epic pieces bring plenty of classical pomp and gothic flair, coming together to resemble a gloriously over-the-top spectral pantomime. With everything from fanfare church organs rising around whipping tension and echoing ambience, snaking icy Mellotron slivers, searing Hammond blasts, upfront coursing bass spasms and pounding drum tantrums, the album takes no prisoners. Breathless and relentless, victorious and grandiose, kitsch and histrionic...and there's a devilish mischievousness creeping out of every pore that will surely have Old Nick licking his lips with malevolent glee!

`Dance Macabre' incorporates some exotic Arabian flavours here and there, and `Sahara 2301' houses reprising Moog themes that are both heroic and romantic in a proud Rick Wakeman-esque manner. The near-thirteen minute closer `Nova' is overloaded with sumptuous sweeping flourishes but also moves through everything from avant-garde jazzy piano noodling ala early Pink Floyd, a little bit of swooning Vangelis-like prettiness and an abundance of deliciously scratchy organ violations and hellish Mellotron fire, and an unexpected subdued ambient outro will make you wish Ars Nova explored that area a little more.

Yes, this one can be a little overwhelming and exhausting in the way it darts about in constant multiple directions most of the time (some listeners will likely find that particular quality aggravating), it sure could do with a few more quieter breaks to allow the listener to catch their breath, and you will likely wish the band would calmly develop a few more stronger reprising themes here and there. But the technical virtuosity, extravagant arrangements and inspired energy on display is infectious and hard not to be impressed by, and `Transi' remains a blurring kaleidoscope of musical colour for symphonic-prog lovers.

Three and a half stars.

 Seventh Hell by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.62 | 44 ratings

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Seventh Hell
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Between 1992 and 2009 female Japanese formation Ars Nova made 7 studio albums, a live CD and a DVD. Most of their earlier albums are keyboard driven symphonic rock with strong hints from UK, ELP and Trace. But later Ars Nova invited guess musicians, like on their album entitled Biogenis Project (2003) featuring Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen on guitar and PFM legend Lucio Fabbri on violin. After these 7 albums Ars Nova disbanded but ... the story is not over (yet). The following years the management released two Official Bootlegs and a CD-DVD box entitled Divine Night (for details see the official website). Meanwhile keyboard player Keiko did a lot of Ars Nova interviews for foreign progrock magazines. This inspired her to re-found Ars Nova in 2015, with former members, but she is the only original member. The new version of Ars Nova started to play gigs, recently late 2017 on a Japanese progrock festival.

On their latest official studio album Seventh Hell the guest musicians are Zoltan Fabian (known from Nemesis) and Satoshi Handa. The theme on this CD is surrealism, the five compositions are based upon paintings by famous artists like Hieronymus Bosch, Magritte and Dali. I was very curious how Ars Nova would incorporate their ideas about these very creative and original legendary painters.

Ars Nova sounds very tight and driven, the fans of ultimate bombastic symphonic rock will enjoy the mindblowing interplay, the cascades of shifting moods and the frequent solos on keyboards and guitar. And also the many interesting musical ideas in the five compositions:.

Dreamy waves of violin-Mellotron and wonderful Grand piano along blistering guitar, dazzling keyboard flights and a swirling rhythm-section in the long opener Seventh Hell,

From orchestral keyboards and biting guitar to a virtuosic acoustic guitar solo in La Venus Endormie.

A surprising break with Spanish guitar and castagnettes in Cazadora De Astros.

And muddy fat guitar riffs with propulsive drums, fiery guitar and a very pleasant keyboard sound in Voice Of Wind.

And then the final track entitled Salvador Syndrome (with Robby Valentine as guest on vocals), never a dull moment, what a variety: a warm accordion sound with Nina Hagen-like opera vocals ... a break with latino bass and an acoustic guitar solo ... a Spanish inspired interlude with guitar and handclapping ... and a splendid final part featuring an ultimate bombastic keyboard sound, heavy guitar and a propulsive rhythm-section. Here we can enjoy the exciting contrast between the classically inspired keyboards and the harder-edged guitar sound, how sensational!

To the 'mainstream' proghead this CD will sound a bit 'over the top', and I also analyse that most tracks tend to sound more as jam-sessions than elaborate compositions. But if you like this kind of heavy and bombastic symphonic rock you will be delighted about Ars Nova, in my opinion this is one of their most exciting efforts (also available as a DVD-R)! My rating: 3,5 star.

 Seventh Hell by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.62 | 44 ratings

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Seventh Hell
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars When it comes to the controversy of women performing in progressive rock, there are plenty of examples of female vocalists of course but traditionally women composers and all-girl bands in prog are quite rare. Well, unless you go to Japan of course. It is that country that seems to have some of the most ambitious and talented women in the higher arts of music and the country pumps out its share of extremely talented classical, jazz and progressive rock female specimens and it doesn't get any more so than the hyperactive and estrogen soaked female dominated band ARS NOVA. While the band was founded all the way back in 1983 as an all female cover band of classic prog such as ELP and Trace, in 1986 Keiko Kumagai joined the band and took creative control as the keyboard player and composer in chief. She even played with Ayreon on the album "Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator." If you're looking for some sensual feminine charm with a whole lotta bombastic heft then look no further than ARS NOVA.

ARS NOVA has gone through many line-up changes over there long career and on the band's eighth studio album SEVENTH HELL, the lineup changes once again with only Kumagai remaining. While "Biogenesis Project" was fortified with a healthy supply of guest musicians in addition to the double synth attack and drums, SEVENTH HELL is streamlined into a mere yet no less feisty quartet of Kumagai on sole keyboard duty, Satoshi Handa on guitars and vocals, Shinko Panky Shibata on bass and Hazime on drums. While not exclusively an girl's club any longer, Kumagai takes the reins and keeps the feminine charm on board through this energetic romp through a parade of tight melodic riff sessions that simultaneously create pleasing earworm potential commerciality with heavy and frenetic restlessness that creates a dynamic tension through a variety of changing thematic proses that dish out the best influences of ELP, Goblin, PFM, Rich Wakeman, Balletto di Bronzo and beyond.

Teetering on the borderline between heavy symphonic prog and progressive metal. SEVENTH HELL provides a mostly instrumental path through five well composed tracks that are drenched in synthesizer attacks, heavy guitar laden riffage and choppy time signature rich percussive drives. The tracks vary in theme and length ranging from the opening near twelve minute title track that pours out lush addictive melodic driven synthesizer attacks to the heavy as hell short metal rocker "Voice Of Wind" that displays a rather Dream Theater type of progressive metal drive only with more complexities and avant-garde features interwoven into the spaced out atmospheric accompaniments. The grand finale "Salvador Syndrome" swallows up almost half of the album with a seventeen minute plus track that sounds more like a European Renaissance type of track than anything remotely Japanese. Graced by exquisite piano and keyboard runs and a series of never-ending changes, the behemoth track really lets loose and shows that female composers are alive and well and exceed the talents of many male counterparts in virtually every way.

SEVENTH HELL is a beast of melodic prog that has a rather exotic soundtrack feel packed full of different sounds interacting with the keys, guitar, bass and drums. While mostly instrumental, when vocals do occur they are usually displayed in spoken work or operatic scat singing with seemingly meaningly vocalizations with a few exceptions. This is the same style of prog metal that Ayreon lovers would eat up in a heartbeat and makes it evident why she fit in so well on Arjen Lucassen's ever-changing busy sounding brand of prog and symphonic metal. While ARS NOVA hasn't officially called it quits, it is somewhat of a mystery as to why the last album released came out all the way back in 2009. Perhaps other projects have gotten in the way, maybe a decade long album in the making is inching ever closer. While i could speculate to infinity, one thing is for sure and that is that this is some top notch brilliant composing power by Kumagai with top notch tight and daring performances to match. ARS NOVA is yet another brilliant Japanese band who managed to take European influences to the next level.

 The Goddess Of Darkness by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.72 | 85 ratings

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The Goddess Of Darkness
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Ars Nova is the only all girl prog band I know of. While there are other all girl bands performing their own instruments, like the Go-Go's and the Bangles, they were simply mainstream pop/rock bands geared for pop hits. Who'd ever thought the only all girl prog band would be so over the top and bombastic to the core that they even give ELP a run for their money? Even ELP would throw in an occasional acoustic ballad ("Lucky Man", "From the Beginning", "Still... You Turn Me On") to lure people of less discerning taste, and for radio programmers to be able to play something from them without alienating their listeners. Not with Ars Nova. The Goddess of Darkness is their third album and regarded as their best one. Make no mistake who Keiko Kumagai takes for heroes: ELP, Goblin, Museo Rosenbach, Il Balletto di Bronzo, and classical music. I'd probably include Anglagard, but she stated how she wasn't too fond of the 1990s prog scene, and made no mention of Anglagard (making me think she probably would have dismissed them without hearing them), on the other hand I wouldn't be surprised in the least if she actually heard them, because on this particular disc, I get reminded a bit of them as well. It's that similar approach of going through constant changes only to occasionally repeat an earlier theme to let you know what you're listening to. The major difference being Ars Nova doesn't have their quiet, calm, tranquil moments the way of Anglagard. The keyboards are both digital and analog. The music is not only over the top and bombastic, but melodramatic as well, with that dark, Gothic overtone. And speaking of which, I have never been too fond of their Gothic image, probably due to my preference to long haired hippie girls with natural hair color and style. If this sounds great, you know you need this CD. On the other hand, if you dislike prog on the bombastic side,, probably give them a miss. It's really difficult to sift out the songs, as they all pretty much use the same approach. Ars Nova, while obviously paying tribute to the past, doesn't try to sound retro, because the production is pretty modern, and they aren't afraid to use digital synths, but on the other hand, this isn't neo-prog, which is a plus if you run at that thought. I really can't say anything else, but if my description sounds good, get this. BTW, my CD is the Musea pressing with "Isis - She Wakes the Dead" instead of "Ainsel - A Mad Little Girl" in case you own the Made in Japan CD (which features a different cover from the one posted here).
 Android Domina by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.39 | 51 ratings

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Android Domina
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Immediately after the release of ''The book of the dead'' Ars Nova hit the road for an extended world tour, featuring support keyboardist Naomi Miura (ex-Rosalia and After the Rain).They visited Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and England, before flying over to the USA.In 1999 Miura's temporary place was permanently taken by Mika Nakajima, who played all kind of keyboards.The same year the trio teamed up with Gerard to release the album ''Keyboards triangle''.They failed to find a bassist upon the recordings of the new album ''Android domina'', Ken I[&*!#]a and Noboru Nakajima provided these duities in a pair of number, but the album came to completion primarly by the new double keyboard/drums line-up.As with ''The book of the dead'' this one was released on Made in Japan for their homemarket, Musea for the European one, while Black Widow pressed a vinyl issue.

With the kinky front cover and the sound of a loving woman in the opening minutes, ''Android domina'' marked a brand new era for the band.With the absence of a regular bassist and the presence of two female keyboardists, the sound of Ars Nova took a slightly less pounding and more romantic direction, though the darker moments have not been abandoned by the group.This time they reminded me a lot of IL BALLETO DI BRONZO with all these odd keyboard fanfares finding their way from Classical-drenched church organ and tricky synth exercises to the typical Ars Nova E.L.P.-like masturbations on Hammond organ.GERARD and RICK WAKEMAN were and still are pretty good reference points, the first come to mind during the long and pompous synth drains, while the latter springs to mind mainly during the more apparent Classical influences.The music is largely instrumental and deeply symphonic with lengthy tracks and virtuosic solos, melodies are rather absent and the focus here is on emphatic, detailed and varied compositions with tight links between the movements, always propelled by the sound of keyboards.As aforementioned, the sound is a bit more ethereal (compared to the last couple of albums) but always dense and certain parts recall THE ENID's delicate and grandiose arrangements.

Ars Nova enter the millenium with a pretty nice keyboard Prog effort.The music is always magnificent, cinematic and haunting, but the addition of a keyboardist instread of a bassist has made more bad than good to a nonetheless heavily keyboard-led group.Anyway, this is a pretty great work for fans of E.L.P., TRACE, REFUGEE, TRIUMVIRAT, SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING, RICK WAKEMAN and the likes.

 The Six Singular Impressions by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
3.69 | 7 ratings

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The Six Singular Impressions
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by progadicto

3 stars As part of the japanese "prog invasion" of the late 80 and early 90, Ars Nova (a power female trio) gave us some really interesting albums always leaded by their talented composer and keyboardist Keiko Kumagai who impresses ther music with a lot of undeniable ELP-Triumvirat elements. But the music of Ars Nova goes further ina a constant search of variations into the ambitious limits of a band leaded by bombastic and even pretentious keyboards, including a sort of conceptual series of songs dedicated to the female divinity with lots of classic influences, some original oriental elements, the exquisite technique of their musicians and some wonderful epic sections...

You can find all of this into this brief but enjoyable compilation that contains great examples of the first Ars Nova Period, including the amazing "Morgan" and "Fury" from the album "The Godess of Darkness" (1996), their best production until now (IMO) and even an astonishing example of what Ars Nova can do playing live with "Transi", recorded during the '96 Progday.

This "Six Singular Impressions" give us a precise look into the first years of Ars Nova; an interesting compilation with some of their best songs and a enjoyable opportunity to know one of the most interesting japanese band of the early 90's...

 The Book Of The Dead [Aka: Reu Nu Pert Em Hru] by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.47 | 58 ratings

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The Book Of The Dead [Aka: Reu Nu Pert Em Hru]
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars For the first time Ars Nova visited Europe to promote the release of ''The goddess of darkness''.I guess Musea Records had something to do with this, as it was the label that decided to take the risk and promote the next album of the band in Europe.However in October 1997 Kyoko Kanazawa left Ars Nova and his replacement was ex-Deja-Vu Ken I[&*!#]a, who played alongside Motoi Sakuraba at the time.The fourth album ''The book of the dead'' was released in 1998 on Musea and Made in Japan with a surprising vinyl issue the following year by Black Widow Records.

Structurally ''The book of the dead'' is a mix of extended Symphonic Rock pieces with some odd, Ethnic-styled interruptions inbetween (propably to come close to the Egyptian roots of the concept as displayed in the cover) and the style was nothing else than monster, keyboard-based music with E.L.P. and RICK WAKEMAN overtones, owning the already familiar pompous keyboard stylings of Japanese bands.To my ears it lacks the composing quality of the previous album, although much of its bombastic sonority and dark atmosphere is present on the album.It appears that Keiko Kumagai has thrown a ton of orchestral moments in the album to produce an unmet grandieur, somewhat trying to avoid too many keyboard cliches and KEITH EMERSON-like organ and synth orgasms.On the other hand her ability on keyboards is what makes the Ars Nova sound so familiar to the prog listener and she won't dissapoint any fan of the band despite the heavy display of powerful orchestrations: Impressive piano isolations, virtuosic organ solos and full-blown symphonic synthesizers all the way with series of dramatic executions and evident Classical orientations.Great instrumental work, which still holds some more romantic moments and melodic hooks among the sea of organ/synth flashes and solos.The album is fairly consistent with impressive twists between moods and climates and a typical Japanese pomposity.

You know what you get with each and every Ars Nova release: Keyboard-dominated Symphonic Rock with references to the vintage trio's of classic Prog Rock.Another nice and strongly recommended work by the Japanese team...3.5 stars.

 Fear & Anxiety by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.99 | 42 ratings

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Fear & Anxiety
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars `Fear and Anxiety' is the 1992 debut for Japanese all female instrumental band Ars Nova, led by virtuoso keyboard player Keiko Kumagai. Also comprised of Kyoko Kanazawa on bass and Akiko Takahashi on drums, although the band has been through a number of slight line-up changes over the years, including incorporating vocalists (as well as male members!) later on, it's this core trio version that is the most highly regarded by followers of the band. An exhausting, frantic take on symphonic prog, the band also incorporates heavy classical and gothic elements, as well as a surprising amount of the darker Italian Prog/R.P.I traits.

Somber opener `Dark Clouds' recalls RPI legends Antonius Rex and Jacula, a brief introduction built around stark and dank piano notes over rising imperial synths. The oddly titled `[dziha:d]' takes off instantly, a driving up-tempo beat surging the relentless bass ever onwards. The template for the album is set right away, with intimidating church organ, Hammond, Mellotron, whirring Moog and the most sweeping grand piano offering lavish themes. There's symphonic movements, fanfare pomp, and even just a dash of brief regal Genesis flavour as the piece grows more dangerous and deranged as it progresses. The opening of `House of Ben' again calls to mind the Antonio Bartoccetti projects, an ambient passage of eerie voices, scary sound effects and a generally chilly mood. A searing scratchy ancient flavoured Mellotron theme and spectral piano dance in eachothers arms in this ghostly ballroom waltz with a booming stabbing crescendo. Fans of Italian horror soundtrack band Goblin will find an almost cinematic quality here.

Although parts of `Prominence' are modeled very much on Emerson, Lake and Palmer due to it's racing beat and victorious synth themes, there's also plenty of jazzy and playful soloing from all the girls. The frequently piano driven two-part finale `Fata Morgana' sees the band completely unleash. A wicked, gleeful malevolence pirouettes around attacking smashing bass, destructive drumming and ballistic break-neck synth soloing, the band dashing through a range of tempos and direction changes before ending on a beautiful piano solo, filled with an achingly beautiful loneliness.

Despite running a rather brief 31 minutes (although a recent mini LP release adds two extra live tracks as a bonus), the band rarely slows down for any quieter or more sedate moments, so the shorter length is probably welcome. But although Ars Nova would go on to make superior albums with a richer production sound (`Goddess of Darkness' and `Book of the Dead' instantly come to mind), this album gets the band off to a successful and dynamic start, and lovers of dark gothic music, aggressive keyboard-driven symphonic progressive music and the gloomier, more classical inspired RPI should investigate this talented band and addictive album.

Three stars.

 The Goddess Of Darkness by ARS NOVA (JAP) album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.72 | 85 ratings

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The Goddess Of Darkness
Ars Nova (JAP) Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars ''Transi'' gave the opportunity to Ars Nova to become known worldwide, leading to an invitation for a live at the 95' Progfest in the USA, the first ever live performance of the trio outside Japan.The bombastic music of the band led to an interest by the Musea label.As a result the third album ''The goddess of darkness'' was released in 1996 both in Japan on Made in Japan and in Europe on Musea.The two versions feature different tracklists.

Eventually the title of the album reflects perfectly to the music of Ars Nova, who now had fully developed their own haunting Symphonic Rock style.The three goddesses from Japan play again an intricate, bombastic and very complex music, led by Kumagai's unque keyboard executions and the solid rhythm section.While stylistically not much have changed, the composing of Ars Nova has become extremely solid with impressive solos, twists and breaks, resulting though to well-arranged and tightly delivered long symphonic, instrumental suites.The trio seems absolutely passionate and restless with endless changing themes and tempos in a very short time, led by majestic Mellotrons, mascular synthesizers and pounding Hammond organ.Full of Classical inspirations and a special influence from soundtracks, ''The goddess of darkness'' starts from pompous DEVIL DOLL-like orchestrations, passes from frenetic E.L.P.-influenced keyboard experiments and ends up in romantic, Baroque-inspired themes in a LE ORME vein.Absolutely efficient and compact music, reminiscent of the best moments of GERARD.The only negative point I could find are some scarce yet apparent 80's-styled synths lines with a questionable sound.

Ars Nova at their peak.Bombastic, semi-personal, E.L.P.-styled Symphonic Rock with a huge amount of great parts.An album to remember, highly recommended to all Progressive Rock fans.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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