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ORPHEUS

Neo-Prog • Japan


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Orpheus biography
In early 1982, a Japanese obscure rock project ORPHEUS were founded firstly as a quartet in Osaka, Japan by Shigekazu KAMAKI (guitar), Yasufumi KAWAMURA (voices), Hiroyuki NAGASE (drums) and Naofumi OCHIAI (bass). Their formation had been altered step by step, whilst gigging many times in Kyoto or Osaka. Although Shigekazu had stepped down for a while since the following year, the new guitarist and bassist left away soon so that he came back to them as a collaborator.

In September 1983, Yasufumi persuaded all the other members to record material and release an album - the members in those days were Shigekazu (guitar), Yasufumi (voices), Hiroyuki (drums), Masaru KODAMA (bass) and Kazuki HATTORI (keyboards) - finally, their eponymous album was released in late 1983. Sadly they were disbanded soon after a gig in Hirakata Blow Down (Osaka) upon March 17th, 1984.

(Thanks to Shigekazu for providing their information.)

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3.95 | 2 ratings
Orpheus
1983

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 Orpheus by ORPHEUS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Orpheus
Orpheus Neo-Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Orpheus is probably the most obscure Japanese band I had pleasure to listen to. They only to manage record one self-titled LP in 1983 before they completely vanished. It seems that this album hasn't even been re-released on CD, so it's not easy to find it out!

Orpheus' eponymous album is filled with rather good but derivative neo/symphonic prog with hard rock touches, in general very similar to work of much more popular band from Japan - Novela. Nothing spectacular, but if you've already collected all records of Novela, Gerard, Vienna and alike, you should also check Orpheus 'cos you will find "more of the same".

This long-play includes 5, rather long tracks:

1. "Tsurugi No Mai" - the shortest track begins with thundering sounds of some huge storm followed by...naive-sounding "lalala" singing. A bit like kindergarten chorus :-). But don't worry and don't run away from the speaker 'cos after few seconds "proper" music kicks in! Soon "Tsurugi No Mai" appears to be rather simple but enough enjoyable hard rock song in the vain of Scheherazade. Especially middle section with Moog synthesizer/guitar solos is good. And one thing is sure from the beginning: Yasufumi Kawamura's voice is very similar to Hisakatsu Igarashi (Novela, Scheherazade). So if you don't like over-the-top, shrieking vocals it may be not a perfect choice for you to listen to Orpheus...

2. "Mermaid" - another track is a truly nice mini-suite (almost 10 minutes long). After first part with sea waves sounds, acoustic guitar guitar lines and soft vocals, before 4th minute we enter into dynamic, full-blown symphonic hard rock piece. Vocals become more "screamy" in this point but they are still catchy enough to deliver what we expects from such kind of music. Guitar is sharp, keyboards are floating and background Hammond organ chops are decent enough to provide us with fantastic prog-rock paradise.

3. "Les Sylphides Suite" - another long epic begins with sober church-like organ motif, truly magic moment. Later we have standard but surely entertaining symphonic prog music surely influenced by early Novela and Genesis. Around 5th minute tempo significantly rises and Shigekazu Kamaki's guitar riffs become more evident. Kazuki Hattori's keyboards are also decent, but especially his swirling organ parts are the most enjoyable for me, sometimes they bring lots of dynamics to the music and sometimes they create heavenly mellow atmosphere (like between 8:37 - 10:15 minutes). Fantastic epic with many memorable fragments and overall captivating ideas.

4. "Ai No Yosei" - it's a shorter, much more straightforward track, filled with up-beat drum and guitar work. There is also wakemanish synthesizer solo which should please symph-prog fans and in general Hattori's organ/keys lines are always nice to listen to. I would call it prog-inspired hard rocker.

5. "Shi To Shojo Suite" - opus magnum of the album: 14+ minutes long epic! I like that in this track Hammond lines are much more audible and sharp than in previous songs, where keyboards in general sounded to "muddled". I suppose cheap recording production... But anyway "Shi To Shojo Suite" is a magnificent suite for me. Yasufumi Kawamura's vocal is truly passionate here and whole band seems to deliver all the goods. Fast, adrenaline-driven fragments are mixed with atmospheric ones in a perfect balance here!

To sum up, I can say that Orpheus could be a real competitor for Novela and Gerard, so it's really a pity that they didn't manage to continue and disbanded soon after their debut was released. The only real problem I had with this album is very poor production values which made many keyboard parts sound too buried in the background. But I guess it's not band's fault, just like it's not their fault that it still wasn't remastered and recorded in CD with decent quality (anyway I don't know anything about it, so I listened to it from rather low quality vinyl transfer). But don't worry, if you overcome recording issues, I can assure you that the quality of the music itself is very high and all fans of Japanese 80's prog should enjoy Orpheus.

As I said target listener for this band are people who also like such formations like: Novela, Scheherazade, early Gerard, Vienna, Starless, Rosalia and alike.

4 stars from ozzy_tom

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the artist addition.

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