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TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER')

Neo-Prog • Japan


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TEE (The Earth Explorer') biography
TEE was formed in Japan in 2005 as a cover band named EURO EXPRESS, which played covers of such progressive rock bands as PFM and AREA. After a year of playing covers, the band changed its name to THE EARTH EXPLORER and began playing original material. The original material was all instrumental with the flute taking the lead role in the band's sound. In July of 2007, the band recorded a live version of some of its demos and released the resulting album "First Voyage - Live in Crazy Jam" in December of that year.

The band toured Japan throughout much of 2007 and 2008, and with the release of their live album, began to build up a reputation as a European sounding prog act among Japanese prog fans. In fall of 2008, the band began recording its first studio album "The Earth Explorer". The band changed its official name to TEE upon release of the album. Late in 2008, the band was invited to play at the Poseidon festival in Japan.

The band cites among its influences PFM, AREA, SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA, PENDRAGON, KING CRIMSON and GENESIS, among others.

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

TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.39 | 17 ratings
The Earth Explorer
2009
3.85 | 28 ratings
Trans Europe Expression
2012

TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
First Voyage - Live in Crazy Jam
2007

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TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Trans Europe Expression by TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 28 ratings

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Trans Europe Expression
TEE (The Earth Explorer') Neo-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

5 stars Japan is a country known by their passion for music, and in the Progressive Rock field we have the best re-editions made by the Japanese. The best mini-lp editions with all the care to make them just like the original LPs. But even with that history with Prog Rock we don't have many Prog Rock Japanese bands, in fact there are just a few I can remember. Samurai, Far East Family Band, Shingetsu, Ars Nova, Vermillion Sands, Ain Soph, Kenso, Asturias, Teru's Symphonia and why not, Kitaro and Tomita, are names that come to my mind, but not all of them are well known to everybody. Unfortunately, the graphics in TEE's Trans-Europe Expression (2012) doesn't reach the same level as this re-editions, but the music?

TEE is a band that follows the original melodic 70's tradition, especially from Italian bands like PFM and Area. The band was founded in in 2005 and Trans-Europe Expression (2012) is their second full-length album. The album was released in January 2012 by Musea Records and produced by the band. TEE has the musicians Kenji Imai (flutes), Ryuji Yonekura (keyboards), Takayuki Asada (drums), Yukio Iigahama (bass) and Katsumi Yoneda (guitars) in their line-up.

Before the album starts I noticed one interesting thing. Both of TEE albums are named after the band's name. Their first album was The Earth Explorer (2009) and this is Trans-Europe Expression (2012), which means TEE in both cases. In the latter it can be also a reference to the German band Kraftwerk and their album Trans Europa Express (1977).

Trans-Europe Expression (2012) kicks in with the track 'Stromboli' and it just shows how great TEE is, from the very beginning to the very end of the album. It's quite easy to spot one thing that is very important to the band's sound: Kenji Imai's flutes. This just makes their strong Italian Prog influence stronger. 'Second track 'Rhodanus (River To The Ocean)' has a special attention in the arrangements details and instrument sounds. In fact, the whole album has. This track is a little bit like a traditional Japanese tune and the guitars of Katsumi Yoneda are always beautifully melodic. But once again, the star is Kenji Imai. Just beautiful.

TEE is an instrumental band, but in the third track they have the vocals by Lucy Koyama to help them out. 'Intersection' is complex and almost weird in a way, but it is a superb piece of music. Ryuji Yonekura's keyboards also have an important role in their music, especially here. But so do Yukio Iigahama's great bass lines and Takayuki Asada's solid drums. It is important to notice that every instrument in Trans-Europe Expression (2012) has an important role. There are no weak links in their music.

'Flying Roses' is enigmatic and atmospheric, mainly because of Katsumi guitars, but also because the way the chords progress. In this track the keyboards are the main characters and by the time the flute comes in we're lost inside a great track. In the second half of the song they knew exactly how to use their synthesizers and they should definitely explore it more on the next record. Great track. 'Gordes' is the longest track on the album with 11'37. Here bass and drums are synchronized, piano lays the main melody while flutes and guitars 'sing'. After 2 minutes of song we have some martial music and I can see lots of influence from the great Japanese video games music composers. In fact, the whole track is a kind of homage to the amazing music games have had over the years and very often they are forgotten. Pay close attention to the weird time signature that drums and bass are playing towards the end.

'Endeavour' closes the album and once again we have a video game kind of song. But very soon the piano that comes in changes everything. Second half of the song is charged with great emotion and a pulsating rhythm. Great way of finishing a great record.

TEE's Trans-Europe Expression (2012) is a perfect example of flawless album.

They're Exceptionaly Exquisite!

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

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 The Earth Explorer by TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.39 | 17 ratings

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The Earth Explorer
TEE (The Earth Explorer') Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The Earth Explorer started under the name ''Euro Express'' in 2005 in Tokyo, Japan as a cover band of European Progressive Rock, led by Kenji Imai on flute, Ryuji Yonekura on keyboards (also of Interpose+), Yukio Iigahama on bass and Katsumi Yoneda on guitar with drummer Takayuki Asada joining later.Since 2006 they were renamed to The Earth Explorer, focusing on writing original material.A first taste of their music was launched in 2007 through a CD-R by Vital Records entitled ''The first voyage''.After several live performances The Earth Explorer recorded their official self-titled debut at the fall of 2008, reducing their name simply to TEE.The album was released in 2009 on the Japanese label Poseidon for the Japanese market and on Musea Records for the European one.

The style of TEE is a dynamic, intricate, all instrumental Symphonic Rock with notable CAMEL, JETHRO TULL and FOCUS influences, although occasionally the band explores more Fusion territories, especially through the virtuosic guitar playing of Katsumi Yoneda.With six long tracks, TEE move with comfort between melodic passages and delicate textures to complex time signatures and powerful interplays, while the performance of the group is absolutely solid and tight.This is one of the albums, where the flutist plays a main role...and definitely Kenji Imai has a pair of fresh lungs.His long runs and extended solos are present in every corner and in every track, usually adding a quite symphonic and delicate flavor to the music.The closest comparison from the Japanese scene are KENSO and maybe AIN SOPH (during the more melodic moments), but TEE have certainly a more symphonic-oriented sound.Some fair doses of nice keyboard performances by Ryuji Yonekura and the technical guitar chops of Yoneda are also worth mentioning, while the band seems to have a great love for the 70's with ''The Earth Explorer'' respecting the vintage stylings of their idols.A few laid-back parts are also placed among the energetic and complicated stuff with mellow acoustic guitars and, of course, Imai's flute leading the way.

An excellent entry from Japan.Flute-driven Symphonic Rock with a decent balance between melodic and extremely technical moments.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Trans Europe Expression by TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 28 ratings

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Trans Europe Expression
TEE (The Earth Explorer') Neo-Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

3 stars I'm aware of many Japanese psych and avant bands, neo respectively symphonic prog oriented groups deriving from this country are - for what I know - rarely given though. Their albums are named analogous to the band initials TEE, and this time the context has something to do with a journey across Europe - probably imaginary anyhow - while missing any lyrics in order to prove that. Some song titles and especially the cover picture is indicative due to a very nice view of Gordes situated at the French Riviera.

And so the opener Stromboli is referring to another place more southward, an island including a dormant volcano near Sicilia/Italy. Contradictive, the beautiful nature here, the menacing danger there. Dramatic moments are set to music for sure, represented by the piano and a stoical bass, but the flute comes that lovely on the other hand. Including female backing vocals the sophisticated Intersection marks one highlight. I would also count the extended Gordes featuring marching drums, dramatic organ representing some severe moments, where duelling guitar and flute backed by an uptempo groove are leading into a more happily mooded atmosphere later.

Neo/symphonic prog music featuring a jazzy note - now this means an aesthetic album, consisting of proper musicianship and smooth compositions. Curious - in case of missing any informations about this outfit while listening, I never ever would expect to hear a Japanese band playing. According to my taste 'Trans Europe Expression' comes a bit innocent, I'm missing some roughness, edges, surprises here and there in order to rate this essential in the end. Certainly a nice effort, first and foremost dedicated to adult prog gourmets.

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 The Earth Explorer by TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.39 | 17 ratings

BUY
The Earth Explorer
TEE (The Earth Explorer') Neo-Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars TEE (The Earth Explorer) is a Japanese quintet and one of the more enjoyable instrumental outfits I've heard this year. Although some of the compositions are a bit immature, the performances themselves are very good, and evoke memories of Camel and Genesis.

"L'Oiseau Bleu" Right off the bat, this piece sort of reminded me of some of the jazzier material from Kansas's Audio-Visions. It relies heavily on very good piano interludes and has some lovely flute for good measure. The composition itself is largely kept on the simplistic side, but multiple instruments give it the air of coherent complexity.

"Nomad" Flute and electric guitar doing two separate things make for a more complex and involved piece of music. It soon becomes a flute-led work, with an extended solo that has an almost Celtic feel at times. Changing pace again, the piece adopts light piano, acoustic guitar, and allows the bass guitar to carry the melody before the flute joins in once more, making me think of "Cadence and Cascade," one of my favorite King Crimson songs. The final couple of minutes brings an upbeat passage that I don't think fits in with the rest of the music for two reasons: For one, the chord progression is ridiculously cliché, and second, they almost ruin an otherwise fine piece with irritating and repetitive synthesizer lead that drowns out the guitar solo and doesn't supplement it well anyway.

"Sirocco Chase" Dynamic bass provides a good foundation for some well-crafted electric guitar and flute passages. This piece is a great example of symphonic jazz, blending the two genres rather seamlessly, and incorporating some fine drumming to top it all off.

"Col De L'iseran" This merry piece involves vocals to a degree, juxtaposing jaunty sections with more symphonic passages. It gives way to acoustic guitar and synthesizer, a combination I tend to love. During the second half, it becomes a flute-led instrumental folk piece complete with a happy bass alternating between the root and the fifth.

"Aurora" Quite similar to a post-Gabriel Genesis instrumental (although featuring a flute), this is a lovely piece, even if the transitions leave much to be desired. Once again the flute and guitar work quite well doing two separate things, but as a whole, this composition is rather slapdash and therefore not nearly as good as some of the others.

"City" For the final track, the band uses the flute and electric guitar once more to a great effect, reminding me of "Supertwister" by Camel. Also once more, the transitions are fairly nonexistent, with the next part of the piece just happening with nothing leading to it. Still, each part is good nonetheless.

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 The Earth Explorer by TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.39 | 17 ratings

BUY
The Earth Explorer
TEE (The Earth Explorer') Neo-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars 01. L'oiseau Bleu (Trans Europ Express) ~ Departing For The Future ~

First, one thing must be said. Soon the record initiatey we seem to be listening to a forgotten recordc from 70's, blame the perfect choice of sounds for the instruments. Me, being a bass player 'came particularly pleased with the sound from bass of Yukio Iigahama. The funny thing is that at various times the quiet and introspective sound of the band reminded me of some other sound, but not a specific sound, I imagine that this is due because the band seems to have a lot of influences, like VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, YES, PINK FLOYD, KING CRIMSON and FOCUS, just to name a few of them. Beautiful guitar lines of Katsumi Yoneda with light nuances worked well with the keyboards from Ryuji Yonekura and flutes from Kenji Imai. Meanwhile back there are the drums from Takayuki Asada.

02. Exotic Landscpae Nomad ~ ~

Complex, urgent, and still beautiful! This band got it all at one time that 70's have been rediscovered, but all give their 'personal touch' to them, is no different in this case, however, here the 70's are revisited in a perfect manner, but not as a copy, but as if the band had gone directly from that decade. Awesome! Beautiful acoustic passage in the second half of the song. Calm and beautiful. It's amazing the approach that Kenji have on his flute, completely different from all the pipers of prog I've ever heard. Innovative!

03. Sirocco Chase ~ Sailing For The Mystic Palace ~

A theme which begins infectious, full of emotion, and gradually becomes beautiful and emotional. Here the guitars from Katsumi are the highlight, melodics and beautiful lines. At the end of the song it becomes full of power again and the flute takes over the theme.

04. Col De L'Iseran ~ Arduous Path Of Makind ~

Here we have the synthesizer for the first time in the album, another thing you'll notice right away is the rhythm completely broken. The band recorded vocals in this track, which in my opinion was extremely interesting, they can bet more on this on the next album will be perfect. Just over two minutes, the sound of water and beautiful guitar bring peace to the listener. The end of the track brings about a circus, or at least a good music festival. Wonderful theme!

05. Aurora ~ Breath Of The Earth ~

A calm piece, as the name suggests, this song reminded me somewhat of the themes used in anime (japanes cartoons), they managed to depict landscapes that song, just as the record name and track suggests. At four minutes a fantastic bass line and a piano and guitar in the background that 'scream' as guitar and drums make the track sound naturally. Intriguing keyboards in six and a half minutes, a kind of 'sound of the fairies', which came in handy with the rest of the band's sound. It's amazing how much the band knew how to choose the sounds for the album.

06. City ~ Land Of The Living ~

I believe the more 'fusion' track of the album. Guitar and flute doubling the same line as drums and bass sound 'wrecked' with its bars very strabge to our ears. Four minutes, all the instruments stop suddenly, only the bass like a timeline in a continuous note, at least until the flute begins to 'roar'. What you hear then it is a theme in a broken time and with virtually all instruments doubling the main melody. And so ended one of the best surprises I've heard this year and in recent years.

The band knew exactly how to dose the record, just over 47 minutes in length with 6 tracks. And which usually bothers me, the lack of vocals, here goes unnoticed because the group 'sings' with the instruments and tastes great as well as choose the sounds of them. As I said earlier in the text, the band does not emulate the sound of the 70s, the band came out of the 70's, even if it is not true. A great listening for all lovers of progressive rock!

4,5 stars!

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