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Shinsekai - Shinsekai CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.72 | 8 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Back in 2006, Shinsekai astonished the world (or at least those who KNOW) with their album ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, which firmly put the "e" back in "eclectic"...

However, before they got to do so, they released this all-instrumental debut, which seems little more than a try-out. At just over 37 minutes, it's the kind of thing some of you might call a mini-album. But bear in mind it's actually longer than some of the most beloved classics of prog. Also note that it comes with an extra "sound sheet" which is supposed to contain an extra 6 minutes 43 seconds of music. The sheet looks like the kind of thing you can put on an old-fashioned record player, and since I do not possess one of those I can't actually hear it! A shame really, since the A-side apparently contains a track entitled "30 percent for nothing" (Now where did they get THAT idea?) and the B-side consists of "Cafe Sennichi- mae", which sounds intriguing, since the Sennichi-mae area is THE place in Osaka if you want hot noodles or sweet-potato based liquor...

Anyway, back to the main album! Let me quickly run through the main tracks. They're played by a quartet consisting of keyboards (vintage mellotron in particular), guitars/flute, bass and drums.

"1000 Days Before Part I" sounds like the opening riff from Yes's "Heart of the Sunrise" mixed with classic Robert Fripp-style electric mischief. It tells you nothing you haven't heard before but it sure whets the appetite for more. After that, the thoroughly conventional title track comes as a serious let- down. It moves from slow to fast (and back again) just a few times too many and is the kind of instrumental that most prog bands could play in their sleep. Fortunately, things start looking up once "OCAT" takes off. This contains a sweet melody, led by mellotron and gentle guitar arpeggios, with some highly convincing Bruford-style drumming; it could be a runaway track from King Crimson's RED, or at least from one of Anekdoten's best albums.

It's back to "Schizoid Man"-style madness on "All or Nothing", while Shinsekai get REALLY experimental on the strangely unhinged "Riviere of Life Part I", which sounds like nothing so much as that chaotic middle section from Yes's "Ritual: Nous Sommes du Soleil" (especially in its live incarnation). Hmmm... interesting, but do we really want to hear this OFTEN? (Perhaps not!) Things slow down for "Riviere of Life Part II", which is an instrumental, mainly for flute, mellotron and acoustic guitar - obviously inspired by "I Talk to the Wind" but far, FAR less memorable. When "Nishinari Skidrow" opens, and turns out to be yet another attempt to rewrite King Crimson's "Red" (something the great Fripp himself has had a few gos at!), all you probably want to do is fling the CD away in disgust. At least that's how I felt...

Final verdict: does one superb track ("Ocat") warrant purchase of this album? I leave it up to you. Meanwhile, please rest assured: there's quire a bit of far better music to be found on ALICE: THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS.

fuxi | 2/5 |


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