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OPABINIA

RIO/Avant-Prog • Japan


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Opabinia biography
OPABINIA, named after an underwater creature with five eyes and a cleaner-like mouth in the Cambrian over 5 hundred million years ago, were founded as a short-lived one-off trio by three renowned, talented progressive rock-related artists - Natsuki KIDO (guitar; Bondage Fruit, Korekyojinn, P.O.N., Kazutoki Umezu Kiki Band, Salle Gaveau, etc.), Kazuto SHIMIZU (keyboards; Killing Time, Hikashu, etc.), and Yasuhiro YOSHIGAKI (drums; Shibusashirazu, Ground Zero, Altered States, Rovo, Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden etc.) in early 2000s. Versatile elements of the three were crystallized as their only one album "Opabinia" released in 2003.

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4.00 | 3 ratings
Opabinia
2003

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OPABINIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Opabinia by OPABINIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Opabinia
Opabinia RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars Most of all, it's jazz. Excellent jazz jamming from a high-skilled Japanese trio. The opening track of the only one album released by Opabinia (which is a pre-Cambrian monster sea fossil) is a sort of free jazz jam, but it features a guitar which is heavy even if clean. Listening to it I think to Zappa. I'm sure that he would have liked this performance. Unusual passages live together with armonies and melodies, a very good start.

12-string guitar and a violin, played by guest Yuriko Mukojima, are the base of the second track which after a bit more than one minute calms down, the percussion stop for a while and the violin is replaced by keys just to be back after a while. It's less jazzy but surely 100% progressive, I can't think to another artist to compare it with.

Electronic noises and percussion, now. Bit more than two minutes of concrete music reminding me to Vangelis' Invisible Connections. Its shortness is a strength, it's the perfect length for it. The transition to the following track is remarkable. You are transported into something very unusual: a reggae bass line with a bluesy guitar and remains of the weirdness of the previous track. Again, I think to Zappa. Three performers doing each a thing, like each one is playing a different song which results in something so harmonic and pleasant.

Sounds which seem to come from the studio disc of Ummagumma open the serie of three tracks which is supposed to be a suite. The mood of the first part is similar to Rick Wright's Sysyphus, but there's more jazz, especially in the guitar. Percussion and piano make the first three minutes of this suite like a reminder to the middle section of Saucerful of Secrets, but then it could be Soft Machine as well as Miles Davis. Electric free jamming with a Canterburian favor.

The first part ends suddenly, so it's quite natural that the second starts smoothly in crescendo from silence. This part is like an interlude featuring some weird sounds, but it's dreamy,and I feel a classical influence. It's the part of thealbum closer to my personal tastes.

Of course the following section, the last of the suite, is totally different. Unstructured and crazy, with sounds that can come from a circus. Pay attention to the incredible things done by the guitar while the drum kit plays very jazzy. The jam proceeds with smooth changes, transforming itself in a piece of samba before going into swing but always without loosing a bit of weirdness. The last part of the suite returns to a Zappa kind of guitar.

Nice and funny, "Googli Moogli" features a "smiling" clarinet on a strange rhythm, country- blues guitar for an irresistible mix. A very nice piece which, even though far from being radio- friendly, is so cheerful that one doesn't realize that the last minute of it is totally crazy.

"Bloops" from the deep sea make the rhythmic base. Clarinet and Violin emerge from obscurity for a track which has a classical mood. Some notes remind to Gershwin. It's lazy, quiet, this violin is fantastic. It becomes even more melodic with the guitar harping which is added in the middle of the song. That's why it changes drastically in the second half: same instruments different mood. Now the violin, too, is dark and weird. An ambient track, but split in two rooms. I like both.

After all that quietness some rock. Uptime, lead by the rhytmic section with a keyboard reminder of Keith Emerson's live performances plus a very fast guitar. Technically speaking is maybe the best album's track. More than ELP I think it can be compared to Niacin, even though the following track has that smooth start of the kind of the B side of Trilogy.

This is the only track which has some hints suggesting that this band is from far East. Now we can realize that what started as a jazz-fusion album has been gradually transformed into something very different. "Minerals" can be Gentle Giant, too.

The last track, "Tasmania"(the place were Opabinia's fossils have been found), is piano, drums and guitar. Very imaginative music, good to relax or to comment images for the first minutes, then the tempo increases but the mood doesn't change too much, so that a drum solo can be inserted without interrupting the continuity. When it stops we are back to the initial quietness. Some more rock appears in the last minutes but without changing the general spirit of the track, then the last minute is filled with just good jazz-rock in Weather Report style.

An excellent progressive album. I'm really happy to have actually voted for the band's inclusion on PA. Not less than 4 stars.

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 Opabinia by OPABINIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 3 ratings

BUY
Opabinia
Opabinia RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars OPABINIA were temporarily formed as a three-piece one-off project in early 2000s, that had released only one eponymous album filled with various tasty elements. As the song titles say, their bottoms of sound and play are drenched in funny, funky, skunky atmosphere ... also the project's name Opabinia, a strange underwater creature with five eyes (!) over 5 hundred million years ago ... namely, an obscure stuff maybe.

"Johnetsu No Tohri-ame (Shower Passing Of Passion)" can be called as an eccentric and gigantic heavy rock experiment by Natsuki's guitar passion ... his cool but loud guitar fireworks along with sticky, strict rhythmic riffs by Yasuhiro's drumming are pretty awesome, that can get in your ear in another track named "Kombu-tori (Kombtry)", an aggressive heavily-peated avantgarde space monster ... but believe me this fascinating track may not the masterpiece in this work I suggest. Actually, "Pre-Cambria Dreamin" led by a violin maze is a bit pop-ish but their mischievous attachment can be heard here and there. Natsuki's backing acoustic guitar claps are very comfortable indeed.

The air has shifted drastically - "Crunchy Brains" is another electronik cynik (based upon Kazuto's intention?), with scattered percussion plus drum-machine shots and cheesy tape effect controller-based sticky ambience, that makes us laugh out loudly. "Hyorokudama" is a real dramatic RIO veiled jazzy persistence and ethnic acquaintance eh. Oh yes, one more pleasant delicious dish is "Fugu-jiru", supra-funk / reggae rolling stones created by percussion chopping and synthesizer wheezing. Their harmony can be heard just like blades of a large windmill, also upon another punk / funk titled "Googli-Moogli", a piece of punk-rock-y steak unified with steady rhythms and guitar tensions, and quirky synth-noise quakes ... always a bunch of humour around them really.

On the other hand, "Saiteijin (The Lowests Variations)" suite should be the highlight in this album really. In the first part, Natsuki's weeping delicate guitar progression upon a dramatic plaintive psychedelic sound river flow like "Shine On A Crazy Diamond" by Pink Floyd. And scenes will alter themselves minute by minute ... powerful heavy rain shower produced by all instruments can make us forget the previous one I imagine ... very addictive and enthusiastic theatre. The next interlude stage is fuzz andromeda with crazy drone and deep inferno. And upon the last Part 2 the Opabinic human will jump up and out of the inferno aggressively, who can vaporize our drone nightmare. Quite bulky passion around the last scene, amazing.

The finish of this creation is cool too. Non-pure, muddy water sound / noise and inorganic ambient palpitation "Minerals", followed by another explosive complex drumming / wildly crying guitar chopping- based heavy sound-wind-shower blows "Tasmania" ... These two full-blown dramas can be suitable for the epilogue in this funny funky fantasy in my opinion.

Really eclectic theatre. Enjoy such an enthusiastic ambrosia.

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