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MIDAS

Symphonic Prog • Japan


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Midas biography
Though MIDAS were formed in Japan in the early eighties, the band persisted primarily on infrequent live appearances and with a more traditional Japanese rock sound their first fourteen years. The band released only a single vinyl album in 1988 (since reissued on CD), before reforming with a more modern, aggressive sound, often with Japanese folklore leanings in their lyrical compositions, in 1992. They have released three additional studio and one live album since their reorganization

The band also added the electric violin around this time, with the inevitable result of them finding themselves often labeled as a progressive symphonic band. Leader Eigo Utoh pointedly distances himself and the band from other symphonic bands and particularly those of Japanese origin, which he suggests are too often influenced by the more well-known European bands. MIDAS instead has focused on developing their own uniquely Eastern-leaning sound that is heavily infused with synthesized arrangements from a variety of keyboard instruments. The newer MIDAS sound combines elements of jazz and classical music with the peculiar modern Japanese interest in complex electronica and dance, and even adds a heavier rock sounds at times. All this is textured with multiple layers of keyboard and violin and an comparative scarcity of electric guitar. With their last album the band moved closer to pop-leaning song constructions, although the violin and ever-present synthesizers ensure a neo-progressive bent of sorts remains in the music.

The band's lyrics are sung in Japanese with themes that are often socially and politically-charged, while just as often are folk-leaning. MIDAS' style is quite difficult to compare to any other, although OUTER LIMITS has been mentioned as similarly-leaning in their musical ambitions, if not in their actual sound.

MIDAS are still nominally active, and are reportedly planning a new studio album in 2006 or 2007.

MIDAS deserve recognition on the Archives for their unique blend of several progressive styles (jazz/fusion, RIO, metal, symphonic, neo, folk), as well as their intentional focus on developing an Eastern-leaning sound to distinguish them from European progressive bands, and to pave a way for the development of a new family of Japanese progressive music.

Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth)

Midas official website

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MIDAS discography


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

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

4.00 | 15 ratings
Beyond The Clear Air
1988
3.03 | 6 ratings
Midas II
1996
3.87 | 4 ratings
Third Operation
1999
3.33 | 3 ratings
International Popular Album
2000
4.00 | 2 ratings
Touch The Clear Air
2013

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

4.00 | 2 ratings
In Concert
2002
4.00 | 1 ratings
25th Anniversary Concert & Early Rare Tracks
2009

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

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

MIDAS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Midas II by MIDAS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.03 | 6 ratings

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Midas II
Midas Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Midas were seemingly falling in hiatus after the release of ''Beyond the clear air'', as Eigo Utoh was too busy with his normal job as a dentist to handle both a demanding occupation and the needs of a regular group.Three years would pass before his passion for music would come again on surface, reforming Midas with Eishyo Lynn again on keyboards and newcomers Kenjiro Kawakatsu (drums) and Shohei Matsuura (bass) (formerly of Mugen) joining in.Changing label, the group would now land on the endless list of Belle Antique bands and this way the new album ''Midas II'' sees the light in 1996.

The new album does not offer any significant changes in the style of Midas, which play an intricate mix of Symphonic Rock with touches from a U.K.-influenced Fusion, close to the sound of compatriots OUTER LIMITS.The violin work of Utoh with his instant Classical melodies is again on evidence with the most significant change coming in the keyboards section, where Lynn's performance is now a bit sharper and less grandiose.Vocals are still in Japanese and they are least bearable, the music on the other hand ranges from good to great, always delivered through fascinating arrangements, complex breaks and solos and pure, symphonic melodies.Both the synthesizers and the rhythm section sound a bit thin at moments, but generally the song structures follow Midas' familiar style, shifting from bombastic instrumentals to more elaborate and smooth plays.You often get the feeling the keyboards edges come from a Neo Prog album, the next time though Lynn's offerings get back to a very Classical-inspired mood along the principles of THE ENID.The romantic ''La festa'' with the alternating violin/synthesizers themes is propably on of the best example for the fascinating sound of Midas.

The first two albums of Midas could have been easily released in reverse order, as this one has a more 80's-like vibe overall.But the music is great, polished and well-executed and the group avoids any of the cheesiness met in the mass of Japanese bands.Great album, strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Beyond The Clear Air by MIDAS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.00 | 15 ratings

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Beyond The Clear Air
Midas Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Only recently was I aware of the japanese prog scene of the 80īs, and I have to thank PA for that. Somehow not a lot of prog fans seem to reckon that country fertile musical culture in the 80īs and 90īs. And I guess that was true to a lot of progheads, because thatīs the only possible answer when I found about this fantastic symphonic band and when I looked there was only two reviews concerning this CD and none by collaborators nor experts. So I am writing one now and warning all the symnphonic lovers about Beyond The Clean Air.

I was amazed by the incredible creativity and skill of those musicians, specially Eigo Utoh, their leader, violin player and vocalist. The guy is simply great on his instrument, sometimes reminding me of Curved Airīs Darryl Way. His interplay with keyboards maestro Eishyo Lynn are breathtaking! And while their music is definitly influenced by the british symphonic great of the 70īs, the sound on this work is still Midas own. Interestingly there is absolutely no guitar on this album. Even if I think it would be good to have such instrument added to the overall sound, I didnīt miss it too much.

There are no real highlights, although the epic 18 minute title track with its shifting moods and dazzling violin and keyboards solos is a classic. The only weak spot I could find in the whole CD is on the vocal front, and yet only partially. Utoh does have a nice voice that sits very well for the slow to midpace parts. On the fast numbers it is simply annoying. Still, I can live with that. The production is fine, the songwriting is superb and the arrangements are very tasteful. In other words, everything youīd expect from a first rate group. highly recommended. 4,5 stars.

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 Midas II by MIDAS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.03 | 6 ratings

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Midas II
Midas Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Since this is the first review of this album, I would like to endorse what Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth) wrote about Midas in the band presentation. His words very much describe this album. So if the band presentation made you interested in this band; this is an album you should check out.

On this album, Midas combines classical music and Celtic type folk music with the likes of THE NICE, ELP, GENESIS and in particular YES. Maybe that sounds a bit familiar and so what ? to you. But then let me add that everything on this album is drenched and layered in an Eastern soundscape and this album becomes a original piece of music. The electric violin is everywhere and is supported by superb keyboards. The vocals are in Japanese and a bit weak in my opinion. But I am starting to get used to the thin Japanese vocals now and it seems like this is the normal type of vocals over there. So instead of critizise them, I should rather call them untraditional to my ears.

The song structures are both complex and simple at the same time. Yes, they do follow the typical YES formula for songs. That means many layers of melodies and riffs. But Midas also brings the music down to earth with some flirtation with easy listening classical music and in one instance; Celtic folk music. But mostly; the music is pretty hardcore symphonic prog. The songs are not particular long (average six minutes long) and that is my gripe with this album. I wish Midas could had written some longer songs on this album because they have all the abilities of the likes of YES. The musicianship here is superb. The music is good. Unfortunate, the music is a bit anonyme at places. I have problems with the vocals due to reasons mentioned above. But I still like this album a lot. I think is has a lot of promise and I will keep it in my prog rock cellar like I keep good wine in my cellar. I incidently store prog rock albums like these together with the fine wine I buy. I guess I will pick this album out again when I opens some nice bottles of Chardonnay. Albums like these never fades away. They just taste better with the age. Roll on the rocking chair, some nice mature wine and this album.

3.5 stars

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 Beyond The Clear Air by MIDAS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.00 | 15 ratings

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Beyond The Clear Air
Midas Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars While the 80's decade was the worst one for progressive rock with a lot of prog bands releasing commercial albums,it was exactly the same time when the best prog rock bands emerged in Japan heavily influenced by the british and US prog rock of the 70's.Among those bands were MIDAS,who were formed by vocalist/violinist/guitarist Eigo Utoh.Eigo was a big fan of symphonic rock and baroque music.After several live appearances,through which MIDAS earned some fame,''Black Vinyl'' label gave the band the opportunity to release their first work,''Beyond the clear air'' in 1988.

And this is a fantastic album.Eigo's violin dominates the whole album through complex interplays with the keyboards of Eishyo Lynn or even with fast rhythmic passages.The synthesizers and strong piano work of Lynn give the album a bombastic taste.But there is also a lot of melody in this album except the grandiose complex symphonic moments.I would say that the album comes as a succesful combination of OUTER LIMITS and PAR LINDH PROJECT with a fully symphonic sound torn between melody and adventuruous playing.Eigo's vocals are also mostly great,especially when he sings in a calm ethereal or operatic style.It seems that there is a little problem in his more aggresive rockier style of singing...But the most obvious problem of the album is the mediocre production,that causes some problems in the dynamics of the band's grandiose music...Sometimes it's like these great compositions lose some of their energy due to the production...At the end of course it's the music where I personally focus on and the result is fabulous...

MIDAS'debut album is one of the most underrated gems of japanese prog.It's an album full of romantic vocals,adventurous moments and ethereal symphonic passages with top notch violin and keyboards' interplays.The only reason I can't give this album a 5 star rating is, unfortunately, the weak production...However this is an absolute essential album for your collection,especially if your deep into symphonic rock!

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 Beyond The Clear Air by MIDAS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.00 | 15 ratings

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Beyond The Clear Air
Midas Symphonic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Midas was one of the most notable Japanese bands from the prog revival era that took place in the 80s. Their style was clearly defined as a halfway between the stylish essence of vintage symphonic prog (Yes, UK, Camel) and the agile dynamics of neo- prog, with a preference for the former point of reference. It will also be fair to notice that the band's overall sound bears an exotic flavor regarding both melody and cadence, a factor that allows them to create originality across their influences. The fact that the violin assumes the leading role most of the times males the band enhance the symphonic possibilities of the keyboard input in order to let the violin solos shine whenever they emerge. In perspective, one can tell that their debut recording "Beyond the Clean Air" doen't equal the power incarnated in their third effort "Third Operation" (in my opinion, their highlight album), but all in all, it is a very strong debut, a musical work that should be undoubtedly appealing for any symphonic prog lover, especially for its melodic richness and predominant extroverted moods. 'Sham Noctulica' kicks off the album with a splendid slow intro, something like a mixture of UK's 'Danger Money' and Genesis' 'Eleventh Earl of Mar', somewhat leaning closer to the moderately sinister vibe of the former. The track's development turns into an exciting, colorful display of symphonic sounds framed under a neo-prog oriented guise: the interaction between the energetic synth solos and the elegant intrusive violin phrases are well accomodated on the solid rhythm section, before the majestic intro is reprised into the closure. This track is a solid garantee for a very good impression. Next comes 'The Slough of Despond', which fills the following quarter of an hour with an even more pompous exercise on symphonic prog melodies and ambiences, featuring a heavier presence of keyboards - Eishyo Lynn's style is evidently inspired by Wakeman and Jobson, in equal terms, particularly the playful classicism of the former and the sense of cosmic texture of the latter. The inclusion of some slight Celtic-inspired lines in some mofits helps the track to keep its uptempo vibe in a very consistent fashion. A piano-led interlude, a waltz-based progression and a Camel-meets-Pendragon motif set on complex rhythmic structures succeed each other in a well-ordained fluidity. 'Mortuary', despite its title's funeral allusions, keeps the joie-de-vivre spirit alive. Its uptempo exotic main melodic lines include a funny brief tango section: as weird as it may sound, the trick works quite well. It is the shortest track in the album, but not the simplest, since it contains enough twists to become musically demanding. The official repertoire end with the 18+ minute long title track, a real marathon that represents Midas' musical statement at its most expressive level. It begins with a melancholy introduction performed on piano, wodwind-like synth and violin, exrcising the ghosts of old Baroque muses. The first sung section bears the scheme of a prog ballad, conceived in a compromise between UK and Curved Air. When things get faster, they really get fast, creating the perfect pretext for the exhibition of bombastic solos on violin and synthesizer, while the rhythm duo keeps things catchy and dynamic. Things slow down, heading for quasi-cosmic fields, building a bridge toward a reprised old motif and its subsequent coda, which alternates the climatic and the melancholic. 'Green Forest' is a very good bonus track, which makes it more than accurate that it should be published on this CD edition of the album. Regarding ambience and mood, it is very closely related to tracks 1 and 2. The album, as a whole, works well, and despite the fact that the dominant keyboard sounds feel somewhat dated, it stands as a progressive gem to be preoperly appreciated by genuine symph prog fans - Midas is a mandatory entry in every collector's list.

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 Third Operation  by MIDAS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.87 | 4 ratings

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Third Operation
Midas Symphonic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Midas approached their third musical operation with real vengeance: "Third Operation" finds the band at thier strongest regarding both sonic power and composition. The presence of stick and bass synthesizer in the melodic half of the rhythm section serves as an introducer of new cadences in each track's tempo. Of course, violinist Eigo Utoh, as the main conductor of the ensemble, uses his instrument as a proper vehicle for the development of each piece under the empowered frame created by the band; the electric violin feels really loud, as do the keyboards, very reminiscent of Jobson during his glory days at UK's helmet. 'T.V. Illusion' kicks off the album with rich melodies and full sound, delivering a sense of optimistic vibes to the fore: Tohji's synthesizers' input at times makes the band's sound like a keyboard-based power trio with an added violin, but this superficial imrpession vanishes instantly everytime Utoh delivers his usual prescise solos and phrases. The opener's rocking energy is moderately sesoned with some jazz- rock timbers provided by the rhythm section. The catchy instrumental 'Flying Denture II', one of the album's highlights, goes a bit deeper into the jazz thing under a funky scheme for its opning section: things don't take too long before turning on the symphonic prog side of things, naturally featuring Utoh's violin. This track's main body can be described as some sort of Curved Air-meets-post- Bardens Camel. Really, its 4'20" span feels a bit short - personally, I wouldn't have minded if it had been more expanded across some of its motifs, especially the opening one, which still linger's in the listener's mind during the whole track despite not being reprised anywhere. 'Angelic Lights' is a very melodic soft rock piece with progressive arrangements: its overall mood may remind us of Vienna's early era, only with a leading violin and less guitar. The nice chord progressions that build up toward the track's coda bear a captivating lyrical vibe, which makes the final bravato quite weird. 'Common Factor' bears a psychedelic density, an elements that feels very helpful when it comes to creating interestin variation among the album's recurrent atmosphere, based on stylish symphonic rock with a modern attitude. Once again, the UK influence feels close to home, but Midas recycles this influence via the use of sonorities more akin to a harder edged symphonic style. You won't find complex tempo shifts on this one, but you will certainly enjoy the fluid passage from various different ambiences that go on succeeding each other without losing an ounce of integral cohesion as a whole. In a similar way to track 3, Midas knows how to come up with melodic hooks and then adorn them with inventive resources - for this one, the band chooses to explore a chain of partial climaxes and anti-climaxes all the way toward the closing crescendo, which fades out among the noise of firing shotguns and people running everywhere. The 12-minute opus 'A Winter Breath - The Lovers' sets the only moment of sheer calm of the album. The dual acoustic guitars (courtesy of Utoh and stickist Matsuura) display a clean, bucolic mood a-la Anthony Phillips, upon which the violin lines evoke silent memories full of nostalgia. A few seconds before minute 3, a set of keyboard textures emerges as a brief splendid momentum, before the dual acoustic guitars return, this time to focus the intro theme to 'The Lovers', a soft ballad with a strong contemplative mood. Although the use of delicate background synth and acoustic guitar is prominent, the track finds a pertinent closure with the moderately bombastic full- band coda: to put it simply, the violin lines are astonishingly beautiful. 'Strings Conversation' is the other instrumental, bringing a mood similar to that of track 2, albeit with some Arabic tones in a couple of motifs. Its 8 minute span gives room to expansions where the violin and the synth indulge themselves in creating effective solos. The closer 'On the Earth' fulfills the picture in its compact summarization of the ambiences comprised in tracks 1-3, with a special emphasis on the lyrical tendencies. "Third Operation" is, all things considered, an excellent prog item - the leagcy of Midas should be more appreciated among symphonic prog lovers, to say the least.

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