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Daimonji - IMProg CD (album) cover





3.64 | 13 ratings

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4 stars This is a highly enjoyable album that grew out of a side project. The trio, including Ruins mainstay Yoshida Tatsuya, are all members of the Jun Togawa band, whose concerts usually start with some improvisation. This became a project in itself, and the four lengthy tracks on this album come from two concerts including their debut alongside the remarkable Bondage Fruit.

For the most part this is a long way from the manic hardcore Zeuhl of Ruins, although there are similarities with the Syphonica album. There is a strong Zeuhl feel to these pieces, however, and Yoshida gives his Magma fixation free rein. There are some interesting vocal interludes, some more successful than others, and for much of the time (particularly on the first two tracks) the main keyboard is electric piano - at times the sound is extremely close to Wurdah Itah or Live:Hhai. There's also a very jazzy feel to a lot of the music, which occasionally calls Soft Machine circa 3 and 4 to mind. The real surprise is just how melodic and accessible this is, given that all the music was improvised. There are occasional discordant passages, but for the most part it's easy to forget that this all occurred spontaneously. Fans of old school prog keyboards will also enjoy those segments where Hoppy Kamiyama moves away from electric piano to his synths, which he deploys to great effect. There are moments of remarkable interplay here; at times there is a kind of musical game of tag, where two of the musicians will lock into a groove and the third will play across it, the three musicians trading places so that at any given time one will be taking the lead for a couple of bars before trading places with one of the others. Most of the album is tight, upbeat and remarkably easy on the ears.

Newcomers to Japan's remarkable prog scene, in particular the Zeuhl influenced bands, would do well to start here, while established fans of Bondage Fruit, Koenjihyakkei, Happy Family and so on will find plenty to enjoy. Not everything works, because that's the nature of improvised music, but it's rare to hear improvisations as coherent and accessible as this in any context. The musicians are all at the top of their game and turn in remarkable performances. Warmly recommended to any adventurous prog fans.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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