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Yuka & Chronoship - Dino Rocket Oxygen CD (album) cover


Yuka & Chronoship



3.90 | 56 ratings

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4 stars Yuka and Chronoship passed by my progressive radar and I did not pick up the blip, shame on me. So, my delightful Aussie-Byrd-Brother friend and colleague then wrote a definite review that managed to seduce me (which is the whole point of reading his reviews) into delving further into this unique package. And what a deal this is, a rollicking adventure of instrumental cheek, very retro at times, a cinematographic travelling circus of sounds and images. It turns out that this may be the best Japanese prog recording (with all due respect to KBB- Four Corners' Sky) ever! At least to my finicky tastes. First of all, it's brilliantly constructed with three segments that have mini-suite tendencies. Dino is for the 3 part Dinosaur's suite, R is for Rocket, owner of 5 booming pieces while the Oxygen section comprises of three acts. The instrumental crew is composed of the talented Yuka Funakoshi on Keyboard & Vocal, Takashi Miyazawa - Guitar & Choir, Shun Taguchi - Bass & Choir and Ikko Tanaka ? Drums. They are all most accomplished technicians who have a deep sense of feeling as well.

The pre-historic monster suite kicks off stubbornly with a swirling tempest of mellotron eerily reminiscent of "Watchers of the Skies" by the Genesis crew, eventually blending in various synthesized twirls as well as other keyboard compliments. If you are going to wear your influences, well, wear them well! Bombast, grandiosity, pomp and utter ceremony. The mood on the 7 minute + "Which Came First, The Dinosaur or the Egg? "is appropriately grandiloquent, explosive and lavish, Yuka displaying a Jürgen Fritz-like talent on a wide variety of ivories, allied with some sizzling guitar rants , a thundering bass guitar rambling and some seriously precision-tooled drums. There is in fact more similarities to classic Triumvirat than anything else, Yuka has that fluid knack for melody and technique that seemingly comes very easily (wish I could be born with such a gift!). At times, playful, adventurous, creative with a little dose of insanity, the suite travels over many glittering musical horizons. Miyazawa allows his axe to run riot, bending, molding and flickering like some man on a mission. "Ruler of Earth" keeps the tension on full throttle, Yuka provides extraordinary piano work once again, showcasing technique, virtuosity and command. This has a blues tinge that becomes obvious with the Gilmourian solo (a stunner), playing tag with the synthesizer. This asteroid ends the dinosaur section (sic!). Aptly titled, the Ray Bradbury dedicated Rocket suite has a different attitude, booster- powered prog engines are given a brief countdown and then 'Lift-off!'! "Cutting Gravity" follows its mission command orders and blasts into space with aplomb and grandiloquence. Nervous, fiery, explosive, the jet-propelled players really unleash speed and power in perfect harmony and interlocking instrumentation. The finale with the impulsive drumming, the rattling bass and the crazed guitar riffing is phenomenal. Once the Chronoship has attained its orbital sequence, the mood becomes more contemplative, as "Skygazer" permits a gentler conceptualization, a breezy choir-led travelogue that has a definite retro early 70s feel, with harmony "lalala' singing that is thoroughly enchanting and sorely missed in today's often over technical displays. The piece ends with a smart lullaby you will all recognize. Super cute! A brief snippet of classical music, someone walking, an acoustic guitar twinkling a la Steve Howe., "An Arrow of Glittering Music" only serves to announce the impending arrival of the "Blue Astronaut Helicopter", a deliriously fabulous synthesizer workout that mirrors the swirling swoosh of the rotors, keeping the Sea King airborne, as it scoops the beleaguered astronauts out of the salty brine. On "Beyond the Fence" they go rollicking along undaunted, the groove is relentless, upbeat and melodically astute, to the point of surprise as the ingenious vocoder (I am rarely a fan of this contraption) 'how-hows' with the piano. Yuka delivers a heartfelt little vocal that only further seduces. There is a slight nod to the Buggles, "I Love You, Miss Robot" in the overall experimental feel.

"Oxygen" is the final chapter, a nearly 19 minute extravaganza that will take your breath away (pun!) and it kicks off with a near calypso beat, marimba styles keys, raspy guitar shoots through like some tropical storm, and the bass and drum crew get to do the polyrhythmic thingy. Bubbling, overpowering and driven, the mood just intoxicates further into submission. Lot of overt winks at Wakeman and co?as there is little doubt that Yuka has spent many hours at the piano, learning the need for lyrical beauty and not just technical form, "O2" is her spotlight showcase, easily formulating bright sounds and captivating melodies that actually visualize the music perfectly. The bombast offers up contrast (hmm, that rhymed!), windswept eloquence, magical swooning to brooding shimmer, all the fluent elements are there! "O3" resupplies the breezy, high-pitched vocals (though they act as an instrument, really), fueling both the brash guitar rampage and the pushy beat to conclusive heights. Military snare drums, spooky synths loops, odd voice effects keep the flow ongoing, a sweet musical hiss filled with creative adjuncts. An album that ends on choir mellotron generally gets me something fierce, being a sheer sucker for that glorious sound. A tremendous instrumental display, easily a classic. I actually like the 'faux Dean' cover art, it's blue-ish sheen permeates the tracks.

4.5 T-Rex booster air bubbles

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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