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Opabinia - Opabinia CD (album) cover





4.00 | 3 ratings

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4 stars Most of all, it's jazz. Excellent jazz jamming from a high-skilled Japanese trio. The opening track of the only one album released by Opabinia (which is a pre-Cambrian monster sea fossil) is a sort of free jazz jam, but it features a guitar which is heavy even if clean. Listening to it I think to Zappa. I'm sure that he would have liked this performance. Unusual passages live together with armonies and melodies, a very good start.

12-string guitar and a violin, played by guest Yuriko Mukojima, are the base of the second track which after a bit more than one minute calms down, the percussion stop for a while and the violin is replaced by keys just to be back after a while. It's less jazzy but surely 100% progressive, I can't think to another artist to compare it with.

Electronic noises and percussion, now. Bit more than two minutes of concrete music reminding me to Vangelis' Invisible Connections. Its shortness is a strength, it's the perfect length for it. The transition to the following track is remarkable. You are transported into something very unusual: a reggae bass line with a bluesy guitar and remains of the weirdness of the previous track. Again, I think to Zappa. Three performers doing each a thing, like each one is playing a different song which results in something so harmonic and pleasant.

Sounds which seem to come from the studio disc of Ummagumma open the serie of three tracks which is supposed to be a suite. The mood of the first part is similar to Rick Wright's Sysyphus, but there's more jazz, especially in the guitar. Percussion and piano make the first three minutes of this suite like a reminder to the middle section of Saucerful of Secrets, but then it could be Soft Machine as well as Miles Davis. Electric free jamming with a Canterburian favor.

The first part ends suddenly, so it's quite natural that the second starts smoothly in crescendo from silence. This part is like an interlude featuring some weird sounds, but it's dreamy,and I feel a classical influence. It's the part of thealbum closer to my personal tastes.

Of course the following section, the last of the suite, is totally different. Unstructured and crazy, with sounds that can come from a circus. Pay attention to the incredible things done by the guitar while the drum kit plays very jazzy. The jam proceeds with smooth changes, transforming itself in a piece of samba before going into swing but always without loosing a bit of weirdness. The last part of the suite returns to a Zappa kind of guitar.

Nice and funny, "Googli Moogli" features a "smiling" clarinet on a strange rhythm, country- blues guitar for an irresistible mix. A very nice piece which, even though far from being radio- friendly, is so cheerful that one doesn't realize that the last minute of it is totally crazy.

"Bloops" from the deep sea make the rhythmic base. Clarinet and Violin emerge from obscurity for a track which has a classical mood. Some notes remind to Gershwin. It's lazy, quiet, this violin is fantastic. It becomes even more melodic with the guitar harping which is added in the middle of the song. That's why it changes drastically in the second half: same instruments different mood. Now the violin, too, is dark and weird. An ambient track, but split in two rooms. I like both.

After all that quietness some rock. Uptime, lead by the rhytmic section with a keyboard reminder of Keith Emerson's live performances plus a very fast guitar. Technically speaking is maybe the best album's track. More than ELP I think it can be compared to Niacin, even though the following track has that smooth start of the kind of the B side of Trilogy.

This is the only track which has some hints suggesting that this band is from far East. Now we can realize that what started as a jazz-fusion album has been gradually transformed into something very different. "Minerals" can be Gentle Giant, too.

The last track, "Tasmania"(the place were Opabinia's fossils have been found), is piano, drums and guitar. Very imaginative music, good to relax or to comment images for the first minutes, then the tempo increases but the mood doesn't change too much, so that a drum solo can be inserted without interrupting the continuity. When it stops we are back to the initial quietness. Some more rock appears in the last minutes but without changing the general spirit of the track, then the last minute is filled with just good jazz-rock in Weather Report style.

An excellent progressive album. I'm really happy to have actually voted for the band's inclusion on PA. Not less than 4 stars.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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