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SHINSEKAI

Eclectic Prog • Japan


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Shinsekai biography
SHINSEKAI is a solo project of Yu SHIMODA (guitars, bass, mellotron, programming), who has been renowned in Osaka, Japan as a sound creator of games. At the same time he is a freak of 70s British progressive rock, and as a result, Yu, with his incomparable talent, tried to produce his own progressive rock world. Various artists belonging to various rock genres (e.g. KBB, NAIKAKU, NINGEN-ISU, KINZOKU-EBISU, GERARDetc.) assembled around Yu and his dream could come true - his project named SHINSEKAI associated with a famous place in Osaka finally got started with the eponymous debut album in 2005. And in the following year they released 'Alice Through The Looking Glass' with more and more aggressive & eclectic approach, like most of Osakan people.

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SHINSEKAI discography


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

2.66 | 6 ratings
Shinsekai
2005
3.88 | 5 ratings
Alice Through The Looking Glass
2006

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SHINSEKAI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shinsekai by SHINSEKAI album cover Studio Album, 2005
2.66 | 6 ratings

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Shinsekai
Shinsekai Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Shinsekai was the moniker displayed by Japanese artist Yu Shimoda for his personal music, who mainly works as a sound creator for video games and TV series.Shimoda though was also a fan of 70's British Progressive Rock and for this reason he settled this Shinsekai project.His first self-titled album was released in 2005 on both the Japanese labels Fragile and Poseidon, helped by Masaru Teramae on guitars/flutes, Tadashi Teramae on drums and Akinobu Kajimoto on bass.

Easily enough one could limit Shimoda's love for Progressive Rock to the whole range of the different KING CRIMSON works during the 70's, borrowing elements from their first symphonic- inclined albums to the later more complex and chaotic works.Moreover his music draws obvious comparisons with early BI KYO RYAN, being a mix of powerful and complicated guitar- based Heavy Rock with Mellotron-drenched Progressive Rock.The result is a short album (about 37 minutes long) filled with eight very dynamic compositions, characterized mostly by the torture of Shimoda's Mellotron and the frenetic guitar exercises of Masaru Teramae and his evident ROBER FRIPP influence.The music remains highly adventurous throughout with maybe an excess of complexity regarding the compositions with chaotic guitar parts and complete Mellotron themes next to a very strong and effective rhythm section.Sometimes the atmosphere is very haunting and muddy, especially when the Shimoda's Mellotron takes over, but he also threw in a couple of more symphonic tracks with a less intricate sound and an overall elegant atmosphere with acoustic textures, Mellotron and flutes.

Interesting yet a bit unoriginal debut by Shinsekai, blending contemporary and vintage sounds in an often very attractive mix.Recommended.

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 Alice Through The Looking Glass by SHINSEKAI album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.88 | 5 ratings

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Alice Through The Looking Glass
Shinsekai Eclectic Prog

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

4 stars ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is very much the pet product of one man, Osaka based guitarist-composer Yu Shimoda, who seems to have thought: 'The time has come to do my own album in the styles of ALL my favourite prog bands, adding one or two distinctly oriental flavours'. ALICE may seem derivative, but it should be considered as homage to Shimoda's prog heroes, not as mere imitation. Moreover, it is so high-spirited, it really takes the listener to a better place. Japanese prog bands are not known for their sense of humour, but ALICE abounds in it. As far as I can tell, Shimoda enjoys a sense of the absurd similar to the Yellow Magic Orchestra's. An earlier reviewer has compared ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS to okonomiyaki, i.e. Osaka-style omelet or pancake. The nearest non-Japanese equivalent would be pizza capricciosa, I suppose... Shimoda has indeed employed a large number of guest musicians (all from bands I'd never heard of: Triton, Naikaku, Demetori etc.) with very specific aims in mind, and the result is nothing less than spectacular.

Take the following conceit: you intend to rewrite Focus's 'Hocus Pocus' (notorious for flautist Thijs van Leer's eerie yodelling) but instead of using a rock vocalist, you're inviting Japan's only true Swiss Alps Style Yodeller. (His name happens to be Kawakami, and he definitely sounds AND looks the part!) Or imagine you're reshaping Bruford's 'Five G' (calling it 'Five Q' in the process) while having one and the same artist (Masaru Teramae) replicate both Jeff Berlin's slap-bass AND a lead guitar solo that sounds just like Allan Holdsworth...

Shimoda managed both feats - but that's is just the start!

For my part, Shimoda's GREATEST touch of genius was employing the Suginami Junior Chorus, an energetic girl choir who sound as ladylike as the Northettes. (From those classic Hatfield and the North albums...) Since we're talking about a concept album (partly devoted to Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass") this choir makes a triumphant appearance on the title track, and also in a delightfully 'heavy' Japanese adaptation of the well-known nonsense poem 'Jabberwocky', musically influenced by 'Hina Matsuri', a traditional folk song. The choir shines again on the equally absurd 'Turn Right On Sennichimae-Indian' (Sennichimae is Osaka's most famous thoroughfare, and the 'Indian' in question is an Indian restaurant), and on the catchy 'Hamatai' ('Rude Snapper', a kind of fish), which will get you singing along in no time to the unforgettable chorus: 'Bon bon bobbeeron, bobbeerobbeeron!'

All through the album you'll find delightfully (fake-)oriental tunes performed on synths and vibes (sometimes reminiscent of Kraftwerk, sometimes of Pierre Moerlen's Gong); guest solos on flute, violin and theremin; and then there's 'Fairy Tale' as well - a sweet pop song for female voice, with a charming Camel-style moog solo.

Toward the end, the album gets heavier: 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung' (pts. 1 & 2) consists of two wonderfully inspired freak-outs for lead guitar and drums, with extra accompaniment on ondes martenot (!) in part 2. (What is it with Japanese prog bands and German philosophy? Kenso, too, have a peculiar penchant for 'heavy' German song titles!) This fifteen-minute freak-out is followed by 'Music for the End of Life', a six-minute track which can only be described as Frippertronics. The album closes on a solemn mellotron performance of the Japanese national anthem.

"Alice through the Looking Glass" is charmingly illustrated by the manga artist Megumi Isakawa. It comes with full lyrics (in Japanese), colour photos of all musicians involved, and a 'CD extra' feature which includes full scores of all the tracks. I have no idea if the album is easy to get hold of, but I recommend it to all adventurous listeners.

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 Shinsekai by SHINSEKAI album cover Studio Album, 2005
2.66 | 6 ratings

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Shinsekai
Shinsekai Eclectic Prog

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Back in 2006, Shinsekai astonished the world (or at least those who KNOW) with their album ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, which firmly put the "e" back in "eclectic"...

However, before they got to do so, they released this all-instrumental debut, which seems little more than a try-out. At just over 37 minutes, it's the kind of thing some of you might call a mini-album. But bear in mind it's actually longer than some of the most beloved classics of prog. Also note that it comes with an extra "sound sheet" which is supposed to contain an extra 6 minutes 43 seconds of music. The sheet looks like the kind of thing you can put on an old-fashioned record player, and since I do not possess one of those I can't actually hear it! A shame really, since the A-side apparently contains a track entitled "30 percent for nothing" (Now where did they get THAT idea?) and the B-side consists of "Cafe Sennichi- mae", which sounds intriguing, since the Sennichi-mae area is THE place in Osaka if you want hot noodles or sweet-potato based liquor...

Anyway, back to the main album! Let me quickly run through the main tracks. They're played by a quartet consisting of keyboards (vintage mellotron in particular), guitars/flute, bass and drums.

"1000 Days Before Part I" sounds like the opening riff from Yes's "Heart of the Sunrise" mixed with classic Robert Fripp-style electric mischief. It tells you nothing you haven't heard before but it sure whets the appetite for more. After that, the thoroughly conventional title track comes as a serious let- down. It moves from slow to fast (and back again) just a few times too many and is the kind of instrumental that most prog bands could play in their sleep. Fortunately, things start looking up once "OCAT" takes off. This contains a sweet melody, led by mellotron and gentle guitar arpeggios, with some highly convincing Bruford-style drumming; it could be a runaway track from King Crimson's RED, or at least from one of Anekdoten's best albums.

It's back to "Schizoid Man"-style madness on "All or Nothing", while Shinsekai get REALLY experimental on the strangely unhinged "Riviere of Life Part I", which sounds like nothing so much as that chaotic middle section from Yes's "Ritual: Nous Sommes du Soleil" (especially in its live incarnation). Hmmm... interesting, but do we really want to hear this OFTEN? (Perhaps not!) Things slow down for "Riviere of Life Part II", which is an instrumental, mainly for flute, mellotron and acoustic guitar - obviously inspired by "I Talk to the Wind" but far, FAR less memorable. When "Nishinari Skidrow" opens, and turns out to be yet another attempt to rewrite King Crimson's "Red" (something the great Fripp himself has had a few gos at!), all you probably want to do is fling the CD away in disgust. At least that's how I felt...

Final verdict: does one superb track ("Ocat") warrant purchase of this album? I leave it up to you. Meanwhile, please rest assured: there's quire a bit of far better music to be found on ALICE: THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS.

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 Alice Through The Looking Glass by SHINSEKAI album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.88 | 5 ratings

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Alice Through The Looking Glass
Shinsekai Eclectic Prog

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

4 stars (From PA blog "Japanese Progressive Rock presented by DamoX")

An eclectic music space constructed by various musicians, with a terrific Osakan power.

Have you heard about 'okonomi-yaki'? Suggest you have never ... Okonomi-yaki is a common food in Osaka, Japan - a mixture of cabbage, pork, sea foods, and wheat flour, baked like a hot cake and seasoned with sauce, laver powder, red pickled ginger, or mayonnaise. Oh no this is not 'Galloping Gourmet' but the important point I want to emphasize is that Shinsekai's soundscape should be an eclectic fusion with various essence - symphonic, avantgarde, jazzy, psychedelic, electronic, Raga-Oriental, yodel (!), and especially heavy (!!). We can easily understand that by the established fact that all artists supporting this project are much renowned for various scene of Japanese progressive rock, and of course, that this project was around Yu SHIMODA, an Osakan multi-instrumentalist!

Furthermore, surely Suginami Junior Chorus can clad this album in more mysterious and more magnificent armour. The first part Alice Through The Looking Glass Pt. 1 ~ 2 can notify us this situation. After an ethnically beautiful mellotron solo, dignified falsetto chorus completely conquer the part, around heavy riffs by guitar, bass, and drums. Everybody may have never gained such an experience - yep, this eccentricity is absolutely one of the Osakan characteristics. The scene turns on the next song Jabberwocky and deeply heavy riffs and childlike but WEIRD chorus with WEIRD lyrics (about a monster named 'Jabberwocky' under the sunset) launch an all-out attack to us. The content of the lyrics is indeed cheesy like an RPG (because Yu is a composer of computer games or RPGs???) but this exaggerated direction does make this song more dramatic and more serious.

Here on I Love FOCUS (naturally, absolutely naturally the parody of Hocus Pocus!), the Yodel Master has come! Beautiful (but slightly freaked out?) yodel voices ride on the heavy metallic riffs. How queer but amazing the mixture of rock and yodel should be - this richness of ideas lots of Osakan artists have. Not only a heavy progressive style but a very eclectic one inviting various elements in various nations or regions. Another strange song is the next Turn Right On Sennichimae-Indian ... MEANINGLESS! Eerie Junior chorus can go wonderfully into our brain, though. Five Q reminds us ethnically heavy King Crimson during Discipline period and Tony Levin's delightful slap bass solo, like a fantastic speedy progressive machine gun. Well another side of SHINSEKAI is Return Of Progressive Rock 'Tadaima'. Suggest Yu's progressive rock may be complex but enjoyable sound and style featuring Oriental (Japanese, and Osakan) feeling. The song where Suginami Junior Chorus can push their real power should be Hamatai, I wanna say. Cannot understand the meaning of the lyrics at all but sharp-edged chorus is enough amazing for us.

The highlight of this album is the last part - particularly the suite Die Welt Als Wille Und Vorstellung Part 1 ~ 2. This section may be a real copy of King Crimson, Fripp and Bruford! About 15 minute suite is not boring at all for us and let us enough enjoy the heaviness and progressiveness, with altered rhythms and eccentric riffs, inspired (maybe) by Bill Bruford's drumming. Beyond expression about their technique and their harmonized and thrilling plays, all of those can amaze us and simultaneously ease us. The bone marrow of their progressive rock. Music For The End Of Life means such a psychedelic FINE of us 'progressive freaks' ... we can find their various possibility!

By the way, KIMIGAYO is the national anthem of Japan ... please never forget it. ;-)

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