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Psychedelic/Space Rock • Japan

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Kanzeon biography
It's said a Japanese one-off project KANZEON were formed in (maybe) 1980 by Aki FUKAKUSA, a founder / bassist of Far East Family Band, and a keyboardist Shin'ichi SUZUKI. They saw the light on Side A of a vinyl titled "Made In Japan", released by Numero UENO (the owner of Made In Japan label, later) in 1981.

KANZEON had recorded some material for their production from 1980 until 1981 with collaboration from several renowned Japanese session musicians like Kiyohiko SEMBA, but sadly got disbanded in 1981, just in the depths of progressive rock scene. Finally in 1991, Made In Japan Records released their material as a self-titled compilation CD, that cannot find easily now, in fact.

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 Kanzeon by KANZEON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
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Kanzeon Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars At first let me say thanks to honganji for suggesting such a great Japanese obscure gem. KANZEON were a Japanese one-off project formed by Aki FUKAKUSA, a founder / bassist of FAR EAST FAMILY BAND, that be renowned all over the world as a Japanese psychedelic progressive rock band. Aki played in this project not only as a bassist but also a koto player, whilst KANZEON's soundscape sounds not only psychedelic but eclectic (featuring a couple of Japanese instruments like koto, fue, shakuhachi, tsuzumi, and yokobue), filled with Japanese / Oriental sound traits and Japanese words ... much influenced by Shin'ichi SUZUKI's keyboard work I guess, though.

In the first track "Yokobue" they gave the first cry with thunder storm, after that massive rock symphony featuring heavy rhythm riffs and sharp-edged keyboard shots. Their melody / chord lines, keeping ethnic flavour, show a straightforward advance for innovative, aggressive symphonic complexity. Although a bit Neo-symphonic footsteps can be heard via keyboard plays, they got no place to compromise in their playstyle and composition. The second out "Sora No Ue", played on the stage in a Japanese live house legend Kichijoji Silver Elephant in 1981, is more psychedelic, leaning toward Far East Family Band, than the first bullet. And they pushed their ethnicity with Japanese traditional instruments out more directly than FEFB. In collaboration with several Japanese session musicians like Kiyohiko SEMBA, they splendidly have done a unification of rock and Japanese folk (yeah this is progressive rock really!). Anyway "Sora No Ue" recorded in a studio can be listened to in the fourth track ... please compare one with another ... the live version sounds more "lively" and more "organic" than the studio one, doesn't it? As if a dramatic theatre would go ahead for an impressive ending, they played sometimes strictly-with-music and sometimes improvisationally. Gradually they got more and more powerful, enthusiastic ... this stream can be called as one magnificent sound world, let me say.

"Setsuyubo" (to be honest, we're afraid we might not read this Kanji title precisely) reminds me Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". Obviously their symphonic psychedelia should get inspired by Pink Floyd ... especially in Roger's era. So beautiful is a fusion of heavy bluesy downtempo knocks with depressive Japanese voices and ambient ghostly atmosphere with chilling synthesizer blizzards. Some phrases are slightly pop-ish but who cares? Their psychline heard here, there, everywhere is beyond expression, like Aki's former combo. The last "Toryanse" is a famous Japanese nursery rhyme, that contains quite terrible sense (you can go forward but never come back ... omg). Female voices arouse such an atmospheric sound-spectacle along with old-fashioned traditional Orientalism / Japanesque-ism. We get into a dead end and of course cannot come back to our mind. Can feel lyrical, thrilling, and theatrical song parade in this obscure, but fascinating creation. Very regretful they'd got disbanded with only one gem left in the progressive rock scene.

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the artist addition.

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