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Geinoh Yamashirogumi biography
Geinoh Yamashirogumi is a Japanese collective that was founded in 1974 by Tsutomu Ōhashi, also known as Shoji Yamashiro, his pseudonym. While this collective is classified as avant-progressive, it makes a unique blend of avant-gardism and of traditional and folk music from Asian and European countries, notably. It is also very progressive, but probably different from what the usual listener is habituated to.

A particularity of this band is that many people are involved in it ? and most of them are not musicians. In fact, they come from various backgrounds; some businessmen, doctors, engineers, journalists and students are (or have been) part of this band.

Over the years, the released many albums, but they are well known in Japan for they have written and performed the soundtrack of Akira, a movie that was directed by Katsuhiro Ōtomo. Even if this original soundtrack is probably their best known album, they have made plenty of excellent ones, exploring many styles and genres while always staying good. I suggest the album Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai to any lover of original, unique and (a bit) rewarding music; it is a chef-d?oeuvre of the genre.

Biography written by Gabriel Rivest (Tsevir Leirbag)

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

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

3.42 | 14 ratings
Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai
2.56 | 5 ratings
Chi no Hibiki Higashi Yuroppo Wo Utau
3.17 | 5 ratings
Yamato Gensho
3.05 | 2 ratings
3.10 | 2 ratings
Shonentachi E No Chikyusanka
4.00 | 1 ratings
Africa Genjoh
4.33 | 3 ratings
Rinne Kohkyogaku
4.04 | 4 ratings
Symphonic Suite Akira
3.00 | 1 ratings
Ecophony Gaia

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


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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Selection of Geinoh Yamashiro Gumi

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shonentachi E No Chikyusanka by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.10 | 2 ratings

Shonentachi E No Chikyusanka
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars Geinoh goes to Africa.

Choir and percussion open the album with a Kyrie Eleison (this is the title of the first track). So the mood is set to the Africa of the christian missions., like in Pink Floyd's "Absolutely Curtains". The very African accent of the lead singer is remarkable. If it wasn't for the female voices, there are no clues of it being a Japanese band.

It's on the 3rd track that the female lead vocalist reveals her heritage, even if the music is still very "African" and "tribal": a repetitive choir with no percussion on major chords.

I don't know what "Yando" means, but track 4 sounds like a tribal rite. For the first time a wind instrument is added, so not only percussion. It could be from any part of the world, not Africa only. The subtitle says, if Google is right, "Silk Road Medley".

Not only Christians: the next track is translated as "by the power of Jehovah us, we sincerely love thee free", and effectively this choir doesn't sound African. I don't know if there's a proper "Jewish religious music", but if it exists, this should be how it sounds. Not too different from ancient catholic chants.

"Song of Horsemen", probably for the title's argument, sounds quite British, even if the lyrics are everyting but English. Choir only also this.

Back to Asia, I suppose, with "Gengis Khan Hymn", another male choir, which is followed by a female choir which to my ears reminds to the Bulgarian choir tradition.

Piano appears for the first time in a track whose title Google was unable to translate. It's a sort of American song of the 30s which I think is sung in Japanese. A nice interlude after all the choral music. But piano introduces also the following track which is very good, still "retro" as the previous one. Short and sweet. The piano doesn't go away. Track 11 (Lunch) is another short joke for piano and choir, and is followed by a sweet melodic tune for piano and choir. It's like he soundtrack of a Disney movie of the 30s, like Snowy White or the Sleeping Beauty...not Dumbo, luckily.

On Track 13 there's a complete band. Imagine a Japanese choir singing on the main title of an American western movie of the 60s mixed with the brasses of Anime soundtrack like "Jeeg Robot". Then, unexpectedly, the 14th song is opened by an electric guitar. The song is very "Japanese pop", but keep an ear on the bass. The bass opens also the next one which is the most Avant oriented of the album, with changes of rhythm, a general dark mood, but very melodic in the choir. Probably too much melodic.

Now the strange thing: the tracklist says 16 tracks, but effectively they are 17. I think that the 16th may have been unreferenced (the - sign between track 15 and 16 in the tracklist). Anyway it's just another pop song. Not bad but nothing special.

Finally we have an interesting track. Hibiki (Whisky) is opened by percussion and followed by a "mute" choir on minor chords. Bells and electronic sounds surround what I think is best track of the whole album.

So, half good and half tasteless, this album has some good moments but it's surely not one of the best outputs of the Geinoh ensemble.

 Ohgonrin-Sanyoh by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.05 | 2 ratings

Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars This short EP released on 12" vinyl and rereleased on CD in 1994 contains five original compositions based as usual on a clean choir.

It starts with the "Ave Maria" that has a strong classical influence. It's strange how a Japanese collective can have assimilated a western religious concept in this way. This choir might have been recorded in a catholic church and for my tastes is surely better than many classical compositions based on the Virgin, including Schubert's famous one that I have never liked.

"The Nightingale" is not too different from the previous but the melody is lighter and less solemn than the previous. The output is more "pastoral" and transmits an idea of fields and mountains. I have already written in other reviews of this collective that those choirs are very similar to those characteristic of the Alpine region.

"Kleenex " is a famous brand of handkerchiefs. I don't know if there's any relationship, however this is the first track from which you can guess that the band is Japanese, from the sudden stops with a scream at the beginning and at the end of the track.

A male solo opens "Diambego" later joined by a choir. I know that Diambego is a traditional Georgian, and it doesn't look like a coincidence as the Georgian one is a composition for choir as well. I haven't ever heard the georgian so I can't say. Effectively it's different from the other tracks but I can't understand in which language they sing.

The title track is the only one on which we can hear something different from human voices. It seems to be a church organ but with this band you can't say as they often use traditional instruments which may produce similar sounds. This is a very nice track for organ and choir, but as often happens with Geinoh Yamashirogumi I wonder how "progressive" can this work be considered even though this last track has some true prog feeling.

The subtitle "Exultent Pisces In Cantics Nostris" is Latin and means something like "Leave the fishes in our chants"

Good if you like the genre

 Yamato Gensho by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.17 | 5 ratings

Yamato Gensho
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars I'm starting to be more used with Geinoh Yamashiroguni. This choral ensemble seems to demonstrate that the vocal harmonies are similar in each part of the world and this makes this music very approachable if you have the patience to listen to choirs only.

The first track is sad and the oriental flavor seems so relevant mainly because of the lyrics and the tonality of the lead singer. I think that traditional music of a lot of places from Mediterranean Sea to Japan passing by Arabia and India have similar harmonies.

"Warabauta.-Sho" has a strange sound. The Japanese lyrics and the backgroud voice are very Japanese but the chords sung by the two have some of Irish. Try to believe. This is an excellent vocal duo on which the second voice sometimes speaks as in a sort of far-eastern rap adding rhythm to the song.

The first percussion (woods) comes only with the third track, a long one of more than 15 minutes. Male voices coming from "far and below", with a strong reverb effect are introduced by a gong. It seems really to be a hidden religious anthem. An instrument with a sound similar to a didgeridoo leads the first part of a track on which the choral element is less relevant than on the first two tracks and the gong interludes come only when they are effectively needed. the singular thing is that there's less rhythm on this track which has percussions than in the two previous "choir only" tracks. Hypnotic as an early Tangerine Dream album. The second half of the track, after a short pause is mainly vocals and percussion, exactly the opposite of the first half. Here the compulsive rhythm is the basis of all the variations. The choir, too, is rhythmic and a sort of trumpet or a string instrument (I'm not expert in japanese folk) is the variation element. A sort of Japanese Krautrock...

Traditional string instrument and female vocals. This is what "Yanagi No Ame"is made of. Watch a picture of mount Fuji while listening.

The closer starts with a male choir very similar to alpines. This is something that I have already written about other albums. The vocal harmonies are so similar and based of major chords as well as to Christmas carols, but it's interrupted by the string instrument of the previous track (that's supposed to be an intro to this) and by a teathrical speech. At minute 4 the big surprise.....Drums and Bass, then keyboard and electric guitar. If it wasn't for the choir it could be one of the funky-jazz excursions of Klaus Shulze with Stomu Yamash'ta. Very 70s funk totally unexpected and very enjoyable. The choir element acquires almost an African atmosphere so that the first band that comes to my mind as a reference is Osibisa. Just 2:30 minutes, the we are back to Japanese folk. At minute 9:30 another funky-folk section stars. What's the sense of it all? I think you need to know the Japanese to understand it, however it's ver pleasant. At about minute 11 a solo of shakuyaki or how that instrument is called creates an exciting contaminated crescendo as it's backed by bass and drums. A track like this deserve the band's inclusion in the avant subgenre. The alternance of folk and funk continues with different sections until the end when the track has its most avantgarde moments.

I don't rate it 4 stars because of the words"ANY prog rock music collection". It's not for everybody but it's excellent anyway.

 Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.42 | 14 ratings

Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is another of those albums that I certainly never would have heard of had I not become a member of the Progarchives forums. Just as there are some true gems languishing in obscurity, however, there are also genuinely mediocre albums out there that are interesting but not a whole lot more.

It's a big risk to release an album with only two side-long tracks. On the one hand, it can end up being a conceptual masterpiece, but if one of the songs is subpar than half of the album ends up being tanked. Unfortunately, I have to argue that this is the case here: the first track is a bizarre but brilliant genre bender that shows that music can be incredibly experimental and still very listenable. The second, on the other hand, just doesn't have enough mass to sustain its 19 minute run-time. As a result, the album falls decidedly into the middle of the quality spectrum, half great and half "just ok."

"Osorezan" begins with a piercing scream which is followed up by some drum fills. After this an ambient synth part that is itself quickly replaced by extremely minimalistic bass accompanied by a group of ghostly voices. All of this, keep in mind, happens in under two minutes, and the result is that the track becomes very unsettling, lacking any kind of tether to the average listener's musical reference points but at the same time avoiding becoming straight noise. The next section in particular highlights this very well, with a brief, spacey guitar and synth part quickly becoming overwhelmed with the wailing of the same haunting vocals from earlier on in the track. Apparently the translation of "Osorezan" is "Mountain of Fear," which I think seems very fitting given that most of this music wouldn't sound out of place in a haunted house. In fact, though there are instruments present (most notably percussion), probably a good three quarters of the first half of the track are dominated by those voices: growling, wailing, and sometimes even screaming. However, at about the 9 minute mark the track begins to take on more recognizable musical traits, taking up a steady rhythm for the first time and including an extended guitar solo that I think would fit in comfortably on several fusion releases, and a sax solo as well. Somehow, though, the extremely experimental opening 9 minutes meshes pretty darn well with this latter section, managing to avoid sounding like two separate pieces of music that were just slammed together. In fact, when the voices make a return in the last quarter of the track it even gives the track a nice sense of harmony, as if the wandering spirits of the first half have found refuge in the order of the music. A very minimalistic but pretty conclusion ties the song together, and "Osorezan" ends up being a very satisfying piece of work, though a decidedly strange one.

"Dou no Kenbai" also begins with a scream, though this one is a bit less panicked than the one that began "Osorezan." This is followed up with some chanted vocals that create a similarly eerie feeling to the beginning of "Osorezan." The chants eventually change into an almost percussive a capella part over which a solo female vocalist delivers a sometimes folky, sometimes operatic and sometimes spoken word vocal line. Unfortunately, in my opinion this vocals only motif is taken too far- in fact, there are no instruments on the track except for some brief percussion. It's an interesting idea, but it lacks a lot of the intensity of the vocal parts in "Osorezan" and thus doesn't set up an atmosphere nearly as effectively. Additionally, despite its best effort I do feel the track gets a little bit repetitive: it simply seems there's not enough here to sustain an entire 19 minute track. When the entire piece is essentially composed of the same textures it does get a little old.

So this album is kind of a mixed bag for me. Osorezan is really an excellent piece of experimental music, blending styles and going places that most music doesn't, and doing it all with an impressive intensity. "Dou no Kenbai," on the other hand, while certainly no less inspired or forward thinking, in my opinion doesn't have enough material to fill the amount of space it wants to. Sections are certainly interesting but on the whole the track doesn't do too much for me. Unfortunately, since its 19 minutes take up nearly half the album, this doesn't do great things for the album from a holistic standpoint either. Definitely worth a listen but I don't see myself listening through the entire album again anytime soon.

2.5/5, rounded up for "Osorezan"

 Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.42 | 14 ratings

Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The only reason I went out of my way to get this was for the singular fact that it appeared on that damn obsessive 'Nurse With Wound' list. Riddled with so many obscure 70's music, I simply couldn't resist.

'Osorezan' is unlike most Japrock albums you'd expect to hear from that time. Opening with a scream so loud you'll spit coffee from your mouth all over your monitor in sheer fright, then get really annoyed that you're so easily shaken.

There appears to be a lot of folk yelling and shouting for the next five minutes - both male and female. The fact that this is sung in Japanese makes it sound real and earthy. Some pretty cool wah- wah guitar really kick starts things 8 minutes in and from then on things really pick up with (what sounds like) huge massed choral vocals that resemble the beginning of the Peking Olympics from 2008. From here on in it's mainly operatic vocals creating a feeling just like the cover looks.

There's a multiple vocal part on side 2, that for the life of me, I can't remember who stole it in more recent times. Bah!

Not surprisingly 'Yamashirogumi' is best known for his soundtrack to the badly dated and infantile Manga film 'Akira' , where at least the music sounds ok.

Some of you less refined listeners like me may find this similar to listening to parts of 'Shogun' starring Richard Chamberlain in the early 80's, but that would just be insulting to a record that has clearly had a bucket-load of toil and sweat involved in its production.

So much for the Julian Cope book 'Japrock Sampler' - where I was led to believe that this was a pretty ordinary release. It is, in fact, a very unusual and highly original album, full of vocals sung in Japanese, creating a cacophony of otherworldly noise. Singers sound like they're dropping knives on concrete, a few of which hit their feet, resulting in shrieks and wails.

One for all prog 'outsiders' willing to try something different.

 Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.42 | 14 ratings

Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars Japanese spirit warriors

If you want an album that takes you far beyond the edge of conformity - one that pushes you over the edge - one that tells tales of the deepest darkest pit found in the human psyche, then this Japanese outing just might be the thing for you.

Just by reading the somewhat daunting intro you could be led into thinking that this one perhaps is too far out and weird for your tastes, and though you might be right and probably are, I do feel this album is in the right. It doesn't act out and imitate strangeness and sonic bewilderment like a lot of others do, when they try to pull this kind of music off, - it is never a caricature - no this one feels like it's got a story to tell with these wild musical narratives. Like an old man on ecstasy mumbling away in his shredded pyjamas - trying to express the feeling of riding with the Samurai, fishing for killer whales with the emperor and eating lotus blossoms at the top of mount Fuji.

The first track is by far my favourite out of the two (yep it's one of those 2 sided epic albums). Incorporating a terrifying form of intrinsic musical rage and fear into the very soul of the piece - we start off with a scream. The track jolts and trembles under its own weight - oozing all kinds of differentiating moods and tempers varying between tribal chantings and soulfully played chiming sections that mellow things out - to woeful sonic depictions of every Japanese sorrow filled event coming from the ghastly vocals that shudder like a wet cat coming in from the rains. I hear emanations from great big samurai battles, the atomic bomb and nuclear waste transforming into black rain - all of these fears and frights shine through with radiant warmth in this remarkable track.

After a series of horrifyingly sung bonfire vocals, this caterpillar unanticipatedly transforms into a basking series of high powered pseudo disco butterflies - changing the feel of the track completely. It grows huge in scope, it gets psychedelic and we get a warm deep perspiring bass line leading this monster into new territories. Jagged gelatinous psych guitar raps its way into things - riding on the backbone of some foggy synth percolations that soak everything around them in this spacey expression. Oh yes we are indeed a very long way from were we started out. The music is now funky, strange, soothing - and almost symphonic in nature when finally a giant childrens choir starts singing. Welcome to goosebumps city.

Finishing this album off - the band flies around the world and attempts something that Jackie Chan never really managed to do, which is successfully pairing the sensible and pensive Asian culture together with the olden ways of the west. Starting out with a regular vocal hoedown for the drunk medicine men and sumo wrestlers - the ceremony begins. As things progress the track takes on the shape of a dizzying hybrid of Navaho n Samurai men - coming together to form a shelter for the mistreated and misguided souls. They chant and sing like their lives depended on it - howl at everything in sight - eliciting their forebears out of the burning embers.

The music itself is like a bizarre doo-wop. The voices and choral emanations seep in and out of each other - making up a totally unique listening experience that takes the listener through a series of wonderfully strange staccato melodic territories, reminding this listener of chit chatting animals with a mild form of Tourette's syndrome spurting Japanese - whilst sounding like an utterly insane rendition of the American Indian spirit induction accentuated through a tranced folk-like musical state.

In other words: this album sounds like nothing else. Absolutely nothing! Are you on the look out for something unique - something rare and precious like a turquoise gazelle jumping through hoops, then this album should be right up your alley.

 Chi no Hibiki Higashi Yuroppo Wo Utau by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.56 | 5 ratings

Chi no Hibiki Higashi Yuroppo Wo Utau
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

2 stars I'm going to rate an excellent album with two stars only. The reason is that the music inside is not progressive or prog so the "fans only" definition applies, but this doesn't mean that the music is poor or bad.

It's a very interesting listening experience. The whole album is a collection of choral music and what makes it amazing is that even being sung in Japanese (I assume) and with some oriental harmonies appearing here and there, the final effect is not different from the western music of the same kind.

Some songs are very close to the Christian anthem, other are similar to the traditional choirs of the Alpine area and "Watashi No Ama Hatake" could be taken from a musical. What does it mean? Probably only that the roots of melody and harmony are common to all the cultures. A major chord is always a major chord regardless if its' played by SouthAfricans zulus, Japaneses, Alpines or Catholic priests.

In terms of pure enjoyment, it's everything very relaxing and very good to comment images, I think to National Geographic stuff.

In the end I wold consider this album as classical music and this is the only reason of the low rating. However open minded listeners and lovers of classical music can find a lot of goodies inside. An example is the short "Odori Jouzu Na Poetorunko" whose harmonies and high pitched accents are close to Bulgarian traditional choral music and the following "Hassanbedda No Uta" that is hardly comparable to anything, even Japanese.

Forget the rating and enjoy it.

 Chi no Hibiki Higashi Yuroppo Wo Utau by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.56 | 5 ratings

Chi no Hibiki Higashi Yuroppo Wo Utau
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by SaltyJon
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars With their album "Chi no Hibiki Higashi Yuroppo Wo Utau", roughly translated to "Reverberation of Earth" for the CD release from 1994, this magical collective, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, presents listeners with an incredibly beautiful, all vocal album of Eastern European singing styles. At times, we're presented with large choirs singing, sometimes with solo/featured voices, but never at any point is there anything which could be labeled as progressive rock, rock, or indeed even progressive here (for that, look to their stunning "Osorezan" album).

That's not to say the music presented here isn't masterfully crafted, beautiful, and a great listening experience every time I decide to put this album on. It's incredibly peaceful and full of emotion, and definitely recommended to fans of choral music. Last time I checked, though, this isn't the ChoralMusicArchives, it's the ProgArchives. Thus, even though I listen to this one more often than Osorezan and consider it on an equal level of quality, I can't give it the same rating - this one gets 3 stars from me for PA, it's a good (actually very good) album but not prog at all.

 Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.42 | 14 ratings

Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars This is a very little thing, but reviewing the debut of this Japanese (almost traditional) band wants to be a tribute to that land.

"Osorezan (Mountain of Fear)" is not an easy song. It opens with a scream like Eugene was really hitting Waters with an axe, then after a drums interlude we find a long chord full of harmonics, then bass and voices like in Vangelis' Heaven and Hell introduce a Jap folk vocalist. Without all the background noises it would have been evocative. Then stop. Then noises sustained by an open chord. It's like a fusion of psychedelia and krautrock with something that doesn't have equivalents in the western music. Chaotic and unstructured, it seems to represent spirits and elementals. The alternance of chaos and silence tells a story. Distorted vocals and screams while the chaos incerases, it's not totally scaring. The concept behind spirits and elementals in Japan is not the same as in the west.

Around minute 9 we have the first touch of what we are used to call music, with a choir singing over a base of bass and drums, quite jazzy, then a very good guitar solo. From here it proceeds in an easier way.

I have read that this is about a volcano on the island of Honshu on which some priestesses are a contact point between our world and the realm of deads, a sort of Japanese version of the Delphi oracles. This explains the first part of the track, when the priestesses get into a trance status and at the end of the jazzy section when the chaos is in crescendo and is closed by another female scream.

Finally it seems that we have reached the contact. In the last minutes the music is calm and low-volume with soft vocals and bells. This part reminds me to the Tibetan Suite of Lucia Hwong (who I have suggested for inclusion on PA....). At the end the voice of the priestess, I imagine, resurrects us like she's bringing us out from the realm of death to the top of the mountain.

The B side is "Dou No Kembai" (Copper Sword Dance). It starts as the male counterpoint to the first female song. A male ritual choir which alternates to a soloist occupy the first minutes. Not particularily appealing for western tastes, specially if one, like me, doesn't understand the Japanese. This track is based on rhythm produced by choirs instead of percussions. It is more challenging than the previous. It's tribal. I don't know if a copper sword dance really exists, but this B side can probably have a sense for Japaneses only. I can listen to it as I do to some unstructured Krautrock, with the difference that this is structured instead, but on a basis that's too far from what I'm used to.

At this point, rating this album is very difficult for me. Side A may easily have 4 stars, but the B-side is too much for me. I'm sure that it's because I'm not used to this kind of music, so it's my fault, but at the end my current rating is 3 stars. I can rethink of it when (if I'll ever be) more mature for this kind of music.

A thought to our Japanese friends.

 Symphonic Suite Akira by GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.04 | 4 ratings

Symphonic Suite Akira
Geinoh Yamashirogumi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars I'm everything but a fan of Manga and/or Anime, but the movie of which this is the soundtrack was a good cyberpunk, even quite complicated in the plot and I remember to have enjoyed it. Also the soundtrack catched my attention.

Recently I have discovered that it was composed by Geinoh Yamashirogumi, and that this is the name of a band, not of an obscure Japanese artist.

This album has the limits of any soundtrack: all the tracks are disconnected and each one represents a different situation of the movie, but each track is strong enough to be able to live on its ownn.

The first two tracks are full of percussions and are between the traditional Japanese and techno-industrial.

"Winds Over Neo-Tokio" is the first highlight. A slow electronic which sounds a little krautrock.

"Tetsuo" starts with cymbals and traditional instruments (I suppose). If it wasn't for the rhythm and the melodic line that are not properly ethnic, it would be similar to the Indonesian Barong. Try to imagine Oldfield's tubular bells entirely played by tubular bells. It changes a bit when percussions join the cymbals. I can hear echoes of Tangerine Dream or Vangelis, even if no keyboards seem to be present. The more it proceeds the more it's intriguing. The second highlight; and this time is over 10 minutes long. The last minute is parossistic and should be listened to at high volume.

"Doll's Polyphony" is experimental. It's built by mixing female voiced spelling all the same word with different pitches. they do with voices what in the previous track was made with cymbals. When male voices arrive it finishes as a choral suite.

"Shomyoh" is opened by various noises and voices like in a market in the Samurai age. Then voices like in a Gregorian chant but spelling what seems to be Japanese have a weird impact. Female voices join to create an unusual athmosphere that is very appropriate to the movie's environment. Switch off the lights and put your headphones on.

"Mutation" is more chaotic, still voices and percussions but in a dark and rhythmic mood. It makes me think to the chaotic part of Vangelis' Heaven and Hell (Heavy-Aries-Heaven). As in that track with Vana Veroutis, after a small portion of silence a female choir with a solist replaces the darkness of the first part.

The first track to sound just like an electronic piece is "Exodus From The Underground Fortress" on which we can hear keyboards and electric guitar together with percussions and various noises. Lovers of Krautrock will be pleased by it. The harp reminds a bit to Vollenweider but this can't be called newage. The only "easy" track of the whole album.

"Illusion" is opened by soft keyboard with spare cymbals. I think to Edgar Froese or Vangelis again (in particular "City"). After few relaxing minutes it turns into the "No" theatre, maybe: A voice like somebody making a manual work, a rhytmic percussion and a pan flute or something similar. This is very Japanese, I think. It continues in this way until the end. A bit boring in this part, specially compare dto the excellent initial part, but it fits well into the album.

"Requiem" is started by very heavy funeral drums and a cymbal sounding like a bell. When it stops an ethereal choir still reminds to Vangelis' Heaven and Hell. The choir is then followed by an organ. Effectively it sounds like a requiem in classical sense. The organ is "disturbed" by some unexpected percussions before startin to sound louder, as a church organ. The percussions behind are again reminding to the chaotic section of Heaven and Hell. When the male solist sings on dissonant notes it's quite scary, like a black sabbath. I don't think this was the desired effect. The voice is full of pain. Probably is my western culture that makes me think to something so "negative". The solist is suffering for somebody's death. This is a requiem. The choir then replaces the organ but the transision is soft so you can take a while to realize that the organ has disappeared. Then percussions join.... This is the highest moment of this album.

Not an easy listening really, but with enough patience it's not too much challenging and is, I think, different from everything else. Even with all the points of contact and similarities with electronic prog and krautrock it's totally original and includes traditional elements. It's an excellent album even for those who haven't seen the movie.

Thanks to evolutionary sleeper for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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