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ptf - What Is Constant CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.86 | 81 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars PTF are a Japanese four-piece instrumental jazz/fusion band who play in a very romantic and symphonic manner, their music frequently driven by Keisuke Takashima's warm and lively acoustic and electric violin playing replacing the need for guitar. Their debut `Percept From...' back in 2013 on the Musea label was a beautiful work full of spirited and energetic performances, and with the same line-up in place, this follow-up `What is Constant' progresses the band nicely, offering a touch more variety than the first disc as well as more ambitious arrangements and an added maturity that further time spent together as a band brings. Throw in some welcome Canterbury Scene touches, classical flourishes and endless symphonic grandeur, and you have one of the most dynamic instrumental albums of 2015!

Looking at the opening and closing pieces first, the striking lead-track `Time Lapse' dashes through moments of Yusuke Seki's thrashing drums, ghostly piano, Hiroyuki Ito's murmuring bass ruminations, searing yet reflective electric violin and Takeya Kito's humming Hammond organ (that takes on some Canterbury-like flavours just after the four minute mark as well!). As for the brilliantly titled closer `The Boundless Scenery of the Spheres', solo violin is slowly joined by the rest of the band to offer a series of joyful and soaring themes full of heart and hope, with a slightly eerie break in the middle to ensure the piece never becomes overly sweet or completely safe.

But the focal point of the majority of the disc is the 42 minute, four-part suite `The Thing (that is Constant)'. The longer running times of each section allows the pieces to develop more carefully, meaning less darting style changes and unhurried, more dramatically satisfying compositions. The opening passage `Glacier Blue' alone runs for 11 minutes, bookended with a glorious violin theme over rambunctious drums and sparkling piano that sneaks off into a spacey keyboard shimmer and brisk Canterbury-styled Hammond break in the middle. There's some darker gothic moods of second movement `The Versatile', all icy piano and sinister creeping violin that gives way to the light of uplifting and mellow symphonic themes with a steady Pink Floyd-like beat, and `Beyond the Ridge' is devilish and furious, scratchy violin racing alongside rumbling bass and manic drums at a break-neck pace. The 18 minute finale `Cloud 9' sprints through a mix of new ideas as well as reprising themes from earlier on in new interpretations, and there's not a single wasted second. Ravishing piano flights of fancy, majestic organ, dignified violin solos that reach symphonic heights as well as any guitar ever could, and there's even playful breaks that include a nimble country hoe-down!

As always, that honed technical precision found in so many intelligent Japanese musicians that perform in jazz and progressive related styles is present, but thankfully PTF's music is still rich with genuine emotion, never turning away from that human touch for even a moment. This follow-up is definitely better balanced than the debut album, lacking quite as much of the overly constant swooning qualities, instead replaced with maturity and sophistication. The entire 59 minute work holds so many strong themes and arrangements that become instantly memorable as soon as you hear them, meaning re- spins quickly allows the listener to focus on how cleverly flowing and impeccably performed and composed the album is. `What is Constant' is truly one of the most dynamic progressive/instrumental/fusion albums of the year from a bunch of exceptional musicians who've now delivered two exquisite works in a row, who will no doubt lift the standard yet again on their next album (but let's give them time to relax after outdoing themselves on this one!)!

Five stars - An essential purchase for violin freaks!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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