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Asturias - Electric Asturias: Fractals CD (album) cover





4.14 | 72 ratings

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4 stars Japanese project ASTURIAS have been around for a quarter of a century or thereabouts at this point, and appears to be the creative vehicle of composer and musician Yoh Ohyama more than anything else. The Asturias albums range from productions that basically comes across as solo albums to productions were it's fairly obvious that we're dealing with a full fledged band effort. "Fractals" is the most recent album to be released under the Asturias moniker at the time of writing, and was issued in 2011.

When you read up a bit about Asturias, a phrase that has been connected to this project is that this is the Japanese answer to Mike Oldfield. Presumably a description given a few years ago rather than to this specific album, as "Fractals" is a creation that doesn't have too many similarities with Oldfield, at leas as I know him. There is one common denominator however, the style explored resides fairly safely within the boundaries of the instrumental part of the progressive rock universe.

Positive, uplifting and fairly elegant compositions blending elements from symphonic art rock and jazzrock is the type of music explored in the majority of the material at hand, with Ohyama's bass guitar a a rock solid presence beneath delicate but spirited violin motifs, soaring and elegant keyboard textures and longing guitar solo escapades. The violin in something of a star role, especially in the first half or so of this production, with ample room for two or more solo instruments hitting off on a more intricate, harmonized run and even a few call and answer routines. Organ and violin combinations and violin and guitar combinations two of the more striking combinations given ample room and opportunity to hit it off. When the guitar isn't on a soloing run dampened riffs and occasionally funk-oriented light toned guitar licks are utilized as a supplemental detail, and there's also room here for calmer, intermediate phases and some instances of individual instrument solo inserts. All of it combined into a tight, compact package, and executed in a manner that indicates that the level of musicianship here is on a very high level indeed.

Apart from many songs that mix details from the stylistic expressions mentioned in a manner that makes it hard to point to similarities towards other bands, Moondawn is the odd one out that does include some fairly obvious details that at least for me carry similarities with bands such as Camel and Eloy. With a more purebred jazz-oriented sequence included though. Otherwise the main exceptions in terms of style and expression appears towards the end of the album, as the three part feature Suite of fate opens with a distinctly classical music inspires fugue, followed by a more purebred jazzrock composition and then concluding with a piece that again blends elements of jazzrock and symphonic art rock.

All in all "Fractals" comes across as a rock solid production through and through. Strong and distinct moods and atmospheres, excellently performed and produced. Those with a strong affection for instrumental progressive rock in general and who enjoy artists that blend symphonic art rock and jazzrock in particular should take the time to check out this production. I'm fairly certain that the greater majority of that specific audience will treasure this album greatly.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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