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ASTURIAS

Neo-Prog • Japan


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Asturias biography
Japanese outfit ASTURIAS started out as the solo project of multi-instrumentalist and composer Yoh Ohyama. He started writing material for an album in 1987, and in 1988 the debut album Circle in the Forest was issued on King Records, one of the major record labels in Japan. The sophomore effort Brilliant Streams followed in 1990, and the third and eventually last installment in this series of solo albums were Cryptogam Illusion issued in 1993.

By this time Ohyama had received much praise for his albums as well as his live performances; and had established himself as a Japanese answer to - or version of - Mike Oldfield. However, despite the artistic merits of his work and the praise his creations received sales weren't satisfactory for his record label; and the Asturias project was put on hiatus.

In the following years Ohyama establishes himself as a well known independent composer, arranger, producer and recording engineer. However, the Asturias project isn't forgotten, and in 2003 Ohyama decides to ressurect it, this time as an acoustic quartet. Together with Yoshihiro Kawagoe (piano), Misa Kitatsuji (violin) and Kaori Tsutsui (clarinet, recorder) a new album is made, released in 2004 as Bird's Eye View.

The album explores a style of music more symphonic than the past efforts released under the Asturias moniker, and also gets a higher degree of attention. A direct result of the success is a new album, Marching Grass on the Hill, issued in 2006. On this creation Ohyama brings in one new musician; Ito Kyoko (violin); in place of Kitatsuji.

Following these two succesfull acoustic creations, Ohyama decides to create a solo album again, revisiting the Oldfield influences from the first three albums. With a plethora of guest musicians involved, this 4th solo album and 6th album issued using the Asturias moniker sees the light of day in 2008; named In Search of the Soul Trees. It is issued by Poseidon Records in Japan while legendary French label Musea Records has seen to it that the production is available in most other parts of the world.

When looking for more information on this artist; or trying to locate the various albums, one should note that the solo albums may be listed as Electric Asturias, while the band albums may be found sorted under Acoustic Asturias.

Asturias official website

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Cryptogam IllusionCryptogam Illusion
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$22.25
$37.36 (used)
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ASTURIAS discography


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

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

3.62 | 22 ratings
Circle in the Forest
1988
3.56 | 22 ratings
Brilliant Streams
1990
4.00 | 11 ratings
Cryptogam Illusion
1993
4.30 | 28 ratings
Bird Eyes View
2004
3.95 | 10 ratings
Marching Grass On The Hill
2006
4.01 | 27 ratings
In Search of the Soul Trees
2008
3.69 | 13 ratings
Legend of Gold Wind
2011
4.21 | 32 ratings
Fractals
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Elementals
2014

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

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

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

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

ASTURIAS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fractals by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.21 | 32 ratings

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Fractals
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Japanese project ASTURIAS have been around for a quarter of a century or thereabouts at this point, and appears to be the creative vehicle of composer and musician Yoh Ohyama more than anything else. The Asturias albums range from productions that basically comes across as solo albums to productions were it's fairly obvious that we're dealing with a full fledged band effort. "Fractals" is the most recent album to be released under the Asturias moniker at the time of writing, and was issued in 2011.

When you read up a bit about Asturias, a phrase that has been connected to this project is that this is the Japanese answer to Mike Oldfield. Presumably a description given a few years ago rather than to this specific album, as "Fractals" is a creation that doesn't have too many similarities with Oldfield, at leas as I know him. There is one common denominator however, the style explored resides fairly safely within the boundaries of the instrumental part of the progressive rock universe.

Positive, uplifting and fairly elegant compositions blending elements from symphonic art rock and jazzrock is the type of music explored in the majority of the material at hand, with Ohyama's bass guitar a a rock solid presence beneath delicate but spirited violin motifs, soaring and elegant keyboard textures and longing guitar solo escapades. The violin in something of a star role, especially in the first half or so of this production, with ample room for two or more solo instruments hitting off on a more intricate, harmonized run and even a few call and answer routines. Organ and violin combinations and violin and guitar combinations two of the more striking combinations given ample room and opportunity to hit it off. When the guitar isn't on a soloing run dampened riffs and occasionally funk-oriented light toned guitar licks are utilized as a supplemental detail, and there's also room here for calmer, intermediate phases and some instances of individual instrument solo inserts. All of it combined into a tight, compact package, and executed in a manner that indicates that the level of musicianship here is on a very high level indeed.

Apart from many songs that mix details from the stylistic expressions mentioned in a manner that makes it hard to point to similarities towards other bands, Moondawn is the odd one out that does include some fairly obvious details that at least for me carry similarities with bands such as Camel and Eloy. With a more purebred jazz-oriented sequence included though. Otherwise the main exceptions in terms of style and expression appears towards the end of the album, as the three part feature Suite of fate opens with a distinctly classical music inspires fugue, followed by a more purebred jazzrock composition and then concluding with a piece that again blends elements of jazzrock and symphonic art rock.

All in all "Fractals" comes across as a rock solid production through and through. Strong and distinct moods and atmospheres, excellently performed and produced. Those with a strong affection for instrumental progressive rock in general and who enjoy artists that blend symphonic art rock and jazzrock in particular should take the time to check out this production. I'm fairly certain that the greater majority of that specific audience will treasure this album greatly.

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 Brilliant Streams by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.56 | 22 ratings

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Brilliant Streams
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars In 1990 Asturias' Yoh Ohyama released the second album of his project, entitled ''Brilliant streams''.Next to the familiar line-up of Haruhiko Tsuda, Akira Hanamoto, Yoko Ueno and Kazumi Sakurai we find two pianists, Tamami Furuta and Hiromi Sakuma, along with To[&*!#]sugu Inoue on bassoon.The recordings followed the same process as the previous release, the album was recorded between August and November 89' at the Phonogenic Studio in Tokyo and released again on the Crime label.

Structurally this one follows the same path as ''Circle in the forest'', three mid-length instrumental tracks are the the first menu, giving space to the 22-min. title-track.An even more mature album compared to the previous one, ''Brilliant streams'' actually recalls the music of MINIMUM VITAL around the same period, an electrified Progressive Rock with balanced use of guitars and keyboards/piano, characterized by the superb breaks into more dreamy soundscapes, filled with melodious textures and deep atmospheres.Basic inspirations come from Progressive Rock, Electronic/Orchestral Music and a touch of New Age and Ethnic Music, thus Mr. Ohyama has been fairly compared to MIKE OLDFIELD.The compositions are never boring, containing plenty of changing climates with some lovely keyboard interludes and piano lines, while Ohyama's and Tsuda's work on electric guitars is excellent, offering a pallette of diverse colors.Lots of dramatic segments with grandiose musicianship as well as a fair dose of elegant, symphonic themes with piano, flutes, choirs and bassoon are the absolute highlights of the long epic of the album, which stands as one of the best Prog arrangements of a hard time.

Very good, dreamy instrumental Progressive Rock.Melodic, intricate and full of different shapes.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Fractals by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.21 | 32 ratings

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Fractals
Asturias Neo-Prog

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

4 stars We can call this album as an excitement springing out, can't we? According to what Yoh's said to me, looks like ELECTRIC ASTURIAS, a Japanese Neo-Prog pride, could touch and attract the audience in RoSfest 2013 ... and we've easily understood this pleasant matter via their album "Fractals", that has more brilliant complexity, more comfortable aggression, and more definite "antipop" sense than previous works as ASTURIAS.

Yes, in this album, we cannot avoid the main instrumental dish Tei's violin, that might have got cheered up and brought out by Yoh's composition and arrangement I guess. As if the violin sounds would tear our brain out with the musical gene coreS entangled together, they launch gemmy enthusiasm, the ingredient of the first shot "Double Helix", followed by "Voice From Darkness", characterized by more powerful and darker bass, guitar, drum footsteps. Of course all instrumental parts, especially the rhythm section, play so solidly and dramatically that such a perfect opening can be born. Can be said as the most suitable for the first explosions in this album.

The middle three stuffs are pretty good too. "Castle In The Mist" has three sections- the first and the last are impressive in eccentric melodies created by Tei's heavy, rigid weapon, and as for the middle one, we can get immersed in Yoshihiro's beautiful piano play and psychedelic endeavour, just like the title says. "Moondawn" sounds like a dim light over the sound horizon solidified with hard massive rock symphony.In "Silent Tears - Cyber Transmission" mellow guitar-, dreamy violin-based rock fantasy seasoned with a bit acoustic flavour ... easily digested by the audience methinks.

On the other hand, the last meaningful "fateful" suite "Fate" has another melodic and solemn theatricalism, veiled firstly into synthesizer-based pipe organ silk and electric guitar divine beauty in the first part "Fugue", leaning toward their origin ACOUSTIC ASTURIAS. The second "Argus Last Stand" is a heavy killer along with heavy rhythms, heavy guitar machineguns, heavy keyboard beams, and heavy violin complex-fracture-organization. Reminds us something dramatic like Neo pioneers. The latest "The Lancer" is the true worth of ELECTRIC ASTURIAS featuring their original "rock" motivation and procedure ... keeping melodious-ism, dramatism, theatricalism, and enthusiasm in their inner minds.

Superb album really, let me recommend as one of the musts in Japanese Neo-Prog scene.

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 Fractals by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.21 | 32 ratings

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Fractals
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Also billed as being by "Electric Asturias" - the name Asturias take on for their electric releases - Fractals is a fascinating collection of instrumental prog numbers which remind me of what might have happened if A Word In Your Eye-era The Lens had taken on a really dynamite violinist and the rest of the band amped up the complexity of their compositions to suit. Project founder Yoh Ohyama sticks to bass guitar rather than playing a wider variety of instruments this time around, which shows that he knows when to step back and let the other instrumentalists take the spotlight a bit; in particular, Tei Sena's violin work on here is absolutely incredible, and Yoshihiro Kawagoe does sterling work on keyboards too.

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 Fractals by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.21 | 32 ratings

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Fractals
Asturias Neo-Prog

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

5 stars I'm not going to lie, it upsets me greatly when an outstanding progressive album such as this seems to fly completely under the radar and goes almost totally unnoticed - you've all been warned! Although listed as Neo-prog, Asturias has a number of jazz-fusion and classical elements worked into their take on instrumental progressive rock, with great focus on furious and passionate violin by the stunning Tei Sena that gives this band a definite unique sound of their own. `Fractals' is overloaded with memorable instrumental melodies and stunning musicianship, with not a single moment of filler amongst the wonderful compositions offered here.

Opener `Double Helix' is a frantic crash of uptempo neo-prog styled keyboards, commanding violin and winding guitar. Amongst the classical sound there's a snappy aggression to the performance, especially the driving drum-work. The band sounds so confident charging in with this one! The suitably titled `Voice From Darkness' has a more somber dramatic mood, heavier and displaying even occasionally brief sinister moments. Very stirring and darkly sophisticated, nice hypnotic synths and bass throughout too. `Castle In The Mist' is the first epic, with a lovely reflective violin theme at the start and end of the piece, a heartfelt piano/bass middle section, and a powerful main guitar theme reprised throughout with a fiery solo to end on too. The punchy `Moondawn has very neo-prog electric guitar melodies and matching synth runs, with a nice playful jazzy improv section in the middle. A shorter track, it serves as a nice break between the longer pieces. The second epic `Silent Tears' opens with an endless emotional guitar melody and solo, playing in a lonely Santana style with lots of sustained notes that makes it quite heart-wrenching. A weeping violin soon comes in with the rest of the band playing the same melody, but even just the single instrument change dramatically alters the mood. The band then heads in a jazzy fusion direction with piano and full band, the violin and guitar play the exact same melody but take turns to briefly solo - a wonderful and tasteful duel!

Now we come to the three part epic `Suite Of Fate" - We prog fans do love a good multi-part suite! `i. Fugue' is a darkly classical short instrumental performed on church organ and electric guitar. Little bits of Genesis and ELP in this, as well as fellow Japanese band Ars Nova but with less bombastic aggression! The highlights of the upbeat `ii. Argus Last Stand' are jazzy piano, a couple of cool synth solos and a busy drum showdown flying around the dancing violin. After a misleading delicate piano intro, `iii. The Lancer' is a great snappy and energetic number where all members get rapid-fire solos and standout moments.

The album seems to be only available as an expensive imported Japanese CD, but is worth every cent. Not sure if it's hard to come by already, but I urge listeners who are impressed with online sample tracks to get themselves a copy. This album is credited to Electric Asturias to differentiate from the project's acoustic albums. While I love the visually simple but striking front cover artwork, I'm a little conflicted about the the CD's bright pink spine, but at least it's easy to find on the CD shelf!

Easy to listen to, but full of subtlety, hidden complexity and surprising depth, `Fractals' offers the perfect balance of restrained talented musicians knowing when to hold back and let the music breathe, while still impressing with their technical prowess and ear for good memorable hooks. This incredibly energetic, intense and inventive album is a complete joy to listen to, and exactly the reason why we listen to progressive rock in the first place. I'm glad to see several raters have also awarded the album the highest rating.

Along with the most recent `Kotobel - Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble', this one offers some of the finest instrumental progressive rock music of recent years, really raising the bar for other bands. Couldn't be more highly recommended, and I couldn't imagine my collection without it.

Five stars.

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 In Search of the Soul Trees by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.01 | 27 ratings

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In Search of the Soul Trees
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by franp

4 stars After two jazzy and purely accoustic opus, Asturias is back on the prog and rock track with SEARCH OF THE SOUL TREES and the re-apparition of the electric guitar, mellotron and drums on a significant level.

Mike Oldfield influence as well is back full strenght on learly all tracks.

Fountain would have passed unaltered into the 70's Mike Oldfield discography, except it's one of the shortest track. Woods would have made it into Incantations.

Pilgrimage is near perfect. Paradise gives us some rest before the contrasted Storm and (most of all) Soul Trees, the most appealing track for prog fans. Now that's waht we call dynamics !

An album that will probably please this website readers more than any previous Asturias effort. A fully instrumental and mesmerizing product.

Would give a clear 4,5 if possible.

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 Marching Grass On The Hill by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.95 | 10 ratings

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Marching Grass On The Hill
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by franp

4 stars MARCHING GRASS ON THE HILL is a very pleasant album to listen, joyfull to the heart.

It is also further form the prog core than BIRD EYES VIEW, definitively bending to the classical-jazz zone.

Classic Medley is, well ..., what it's name implies and of relative interest.

While BEV was a pure instrumental opus, MGOTH incorporates voices (in japanese), wich also gives folk impulses and even new-age tones here and there (Benikoh).

Coral Reef is a delightfull ballad échoing guitar and clarinet.

The new mix Adolescencia is not a success ; Woman of Ireland, on th other hand, is an interesting jap-irish folky fusion with some charm.

Interpretation is top; sound is clear; recording is perfect; pleasure is there. It is just that little something missing that would turn that very good into something absolutely unforgetable. Maybe just a bit too light ? Maybe a lack of contrast ?

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 Bird Eyes View by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.30 | 28 ratings

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Bird Eyes View
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by franp

5 stars BIRD EYES VIEW is a compilation of new songs and previous ones originaly played in a solo effort by Yoh Ohyama, re-interpreted by the new acoustic 2003 Asturias configuration.

Notably, synth is replaced by acoustic strings or clarinet and the whole thing gain a perceptible sound depth (call it symphonic) and dynamics laking in the previous opus. Composition themselves are not fundamentaly changed ; the effort is done on the arrangments level.

Global Network is a light new piano-driven composition. Distance and Bird Eyes View are also new, albeit weaker compositions.

The two older songs are in fact the best tracks of the album. Adolescencia (from 1993 Cryptogam Illusion) gains are significant.

Ryu-Hyo, taken from 1988 Circle in the Forest, is the best track, based on piano, guitar and clarinet arpeggio sustaining a sensitive violin part.

It's an album that may not be of immediat access but grows in you the more you listen to it.

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 In Search of the Soul Trees by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.01 | 27 ratings

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In Search of the Soul Trees
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by BGrosjean

4 stars Yoh Ohyama leads this Japanese chamber rock ensemble through a collection of elegant and scored pieces which come together well as two separate pieces on In Search of the Soul Trees. Earlier albums from Ohyama include 1988's Circle In the Forest, Brilliant Streams two years later and Cryptogram Illusion in 1993.

"Pilgrimage" has moments mimicking After Crying's grand pacing and harmonious blending of instruments. Another touchstone might be early Gandalf, but I never heard Gandalf as inventive or able to bring out the best in the whole band as Asturias. Most songs are a mix of acoustic and electric instruments, with Yoh Ohyama pulling out the Mike Oldfield setting on his electric and acoustic guitars quite often. Ohyama's acoustic guitar playing can also make his songs sound like a Michael Hedges piece.

Each piece is a study of a very disciplined and integrated band, with a very rounded sound like Camel. "Storm" brings out the full force of the ensemble, electrified like a rock band, and with a big percussion group. The tracks for the two Parts are not separated by quiet space, but merge into each other, which creates a very nice listening experience.

Very recommended for Mike Oldfield and Japanese offshoots like Shengetsu, Flat122 and LU7.

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 Circle in the Forest by ASTURIAS album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.62 | 22 ratings

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Circle in the Forest
Asturias Neo-Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars The Japanese band - ASTÚRIAS - (commanded by the multi-instrumentalist Yoh Ohyama) in his first studio work Circle in the Forest", presents a sonority that varies of NewAge (influenced mainly by KITARO & MIKE OLDFIELD) and for the Jazz-Prog in the style of bands as, for instance KENSO. Actually, most of the time this mixture doesn't happen inside of the same track, this mix comes separately: TRACK 1 "Ryo Hyo", presents a New Age in the best style KITARO, already TRACK 2 "Clairvoyance" possesses a very close melodic line of the sonority of the band KENSO associate to MIKE OLDFIELD'S sound, TRACK 3 "Angel Tree" seems it was inspired for the Swiss guitarist's chords ALEX DE GRASSI (WILDHAMM HILL RECORDS), TRACK 4 repeats TRACK 2 and it presents as prominence a fantastic guitar solo. TRACK 5 reminds one of the 4 parts (I admit that in the moment I don't remember which of the 4 parts) of the disk "Incantations" of MIKE OLDFIELD ( for me reminded too even and I found an exaggerating copy, to the point of in the final climax to also present a female vocal choir, almost identical to the of the mentioned disk). Thisis is the only flaw of the disk ´although of considering it very good (including the last track0.. My rate i 4 stars!!!

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