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After Dinner - Paradise Of Replica [also released as: Paradise Of Replica / Paradise Of Remixes] CD (album) cover

PARADISE OF REPLICA [ALSO RELEASED AS: PARADISE OF REPLICA / PARADISE OF REMIXES]

After Dinner

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.50 | 21 ratings

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Thai Divone
4 stars When I was a lot younger than today, I was first introduced to the RIO subgenre. It was an instant click, and thus I found myself not long afterwards going through long lists and heavy guides to this wonderful subgenre, trying to find a new band to like, to enjoy, to appreciate, as much as these words carry any weight with this subgenre. One of those early finds was an obscure band called After Dinner. Led by a female singer and originating from Japan, they sounded like a Japanese twist on the Art Bears to my young ears.

A few years later, and I still come back to them from time to time, and I still find this connection between them and the Art Bears' sound. But they are more than that, way more than that. They have some free jazz and noise influences, some Gentle Giant ones, and what seems to me like a strange cuteness factor. Let's just say that they are unique.

Paradise of a Replica opens with Haco's amazing voice, accompanied by some strange mixtures of sounds, first building towards a crescendo, and then leading to the song's proper beginning. The rhythm section sounds like coming from an "intro-t?Zen" course, the synths like coming from a nature show. And the vocals? while I don't understand what she sings about, the sounds do carry me over, showing me some beautiful and fantastical worlds. And all throughout, some strange sounds come to visit, reminding us that this band is more than what first meets the eye.

A Walnut opens with some cute sounds and arrangement, like a children's musical box coming to life and singing about the sorrows of life. Then the song changes, and Haco's voice is alone for a few seconds before an almost melodic mixture of sound joins her, and then we get the beginning section on steroids, with an almost rhythmic rhythm section, but only almost. A minute towards the end the song changes again, going slower and softer, without losing its charms, then finishing back on the steroids.

Kitchen Life I is a strange Japanese twist on the Art Bears famous sound, with some added noises. One of those songs that I wished I understood their lyrics. But it has everything one can ask for, from the drama to the melodies, from the arrangements to the changes of pace and shifts of moods. Perfect by all accounts.

Motorcycle is short, a vocalic break from the avant-garde with Haco harmonizing with herself, and a nice piano that comes to her aid for a few seconds. Not that she needs the piano, but?

Kitchen Life II is a variation on the first part, albeit a short one. It almost immediately starts to vary greatly, especially through a different play with the band members' ability to create and use noises.

Ironclad Mermaid is a short piece with even more unique voices and noises that build on the Kitchen Life 2- parter. The musicianship in here is just amazing, and so is their ability to build and maintain moods through the use of strange rhythms. Haco's vocal abilities in here are just amazing, showcasing all of her great and unique talent. Midway through the song it changes completely, going slower and much more avant-garde for a few seconds, before coming back to a combination of this strange new sound with the earlier part of the song. They're a bit melancholic in here, but mostly sounding ironic and cynic.

Dancing Twins is yet another short effort, which mainly reminds us of the country that they come from. This is Japanese music at its best. Sad, melancholic, and right to the point.

KA-NO-PU-SU-NO-HA-KO is the main attraction in this short album, a 7 minute epic beginning traditional Japanese, and then the vocals take the center stage. It's slow, it's dramatic, and it is so dark that one almost shivers. But little by little, as the song progresses, something is beginning to be built. The song grows epic-er with every bar, but it's also getting stranger and odder, like remaining in the known lands is not their cup of tea. The melody is thrown out, the rhythm takes center stage, and then at around the 5 minutes mark the vocals return. Everything is soft, calm, almost like a surrealist lullaby, before the entire song explodes all of a sudden, then coming back to the soft side.

I'll just go Birdwatching is the closing track, and boy it does well in this regard. Strange sounds pave the way for Haco's beautiful voice, later accompanied by some difficult to identify instruments.

And thus the album ends. An amazing effort by an obscure band from Japan. I can't say that this album is essential, but it doesn't mean that it's not an amazing (and not just excellent) addition to a Prog-Rock collection. 4 stars.

Thai Divone | 4/5 |

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