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Yuka & Chronoship - The 3rd Planetary Chronicles CD (album) cover


Yuka & Chronoship



3.95 | 93 ratings

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5 stars Yuka & Chronoship are baaaaack! Caught completely unaware by this fine Japanese band's previous 2013 album, "Dino Rocket Oxygen", I was very skeptical of any kind of future repeat performance and again, I was proven both wrong and foolish. This new album "The Third Planetary Chronicles" is a tremendous piece of modern prog using all the old school techniques with a fresh and vibrant approach that is sure to thrill all progressive rock fans. Yuka is Yuka Funakoshi, a lady keyboard virtuoso who can handle a wide variety of ivories with talent and aplomb, never overtly flashy but very expressive and unafraid to show it. Her piano playing in particular is quietly exquisite, choosing elegant sequences and making the technical look easy in the process. Chronoship are the three seasoned musicians that keep her stoked, probably the finest trio in Japan, led by sensational guitarist Takashi Miyazawa, who positively smokes when asked to do so, aided and abeted by slick bassist Shun Taguchi and tectonic drummer Ikko Tanaka. This is a concept album that goes from the dawn of time, snapping music photographs of milestone events that eventually lead to today and beyond. Technically this is an instrumental opus but what was started on their previous release has now become a hallmark feature that must be immediately identified and illuminated, I am referring to Fuka's voice being multi-tracked as a choir and being liberally used throughout with great effect. This 60s voice style is truly breathtaking as it gives the highly modern sheen (the production is first rate) that organic feel that we can all identify with.

Befitting a concept style, there is a beginning, recurring and ending piano sequence that is ultra-simplistic, even hypnotic but full of emotional gratitude. After the "Birth of The Earth" awakening , we shuffle into "Stone Age" which wastes little time in introducing those sweeping choirs mentioned above, a thoroughly exalting dive into majestic symphonic prog with swirling synthesizers, including a delightful flute patch ascension that really sets the tone remarkably. The tribal drum fills give this a true caveman feel, highly cinematographic and evocative of the conceptual subject. Fuka rips through some spirited soloing that has both pace and substance, leading to another glorious choral passage.

The 2 part "Galileo" suite swoons into the horizon with a first part ("And yet it moves") that seeks to highlight the grand piano as well as a barrage of synths, with some sublime shifts and contrasts, while Part2 "Copernican Theory" revs up the score mightily , as the piano continues its cosmic quest , shouldered by a pulsating drive. Intensely melodic with loads of restraint, you can sense the impending eruption as the synthesizers finally kick in with strong electric guitar support. This piece features some stunning cymbal work from percussionist Tanaka, segueing again into another choral section, egging the delectable piano onward.

After that recurring intermezzo, the epic "Age of Steam" is without question or hesitation, one of the highlight moments here, a simply magnificent piece of symphonic prog. Pastoral acoustic guitar and flute weave to create a dazzling melody, accentuated by a more distinct vocal and choir from Fuka, as the elegant piano takes over before exploding (and I mean exploding, with a churning organ and heavy beat) into a short scorching guitar solo that is way beyond the norm, seething , stirring and growling like some manic beast. Within a few minutes, Fuka saddles her organ and begins to swelter smoothly, slowly urging it towards more and more dissonance and obliqueness, sounding like Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant fame. The lead guitarist is given another opportunity to shine and he does until the fade out.

Now if that didn't nail you to a cross, the next track will. "Wright Flyer" is taken over by Miyazawa's blistering axe, sliding a metallic phrasing that will turbocharge any propeller, the main choir melody is shatteringly attractive and a soaring acrobatic loop of divine music that only fuels the harpsichord to provide some bucolic release. The ensuing extended guitar solo is one for the ages, loaded with blistering bluster, shrill effects and tortuous finger work that will make you sit up and notice. The choir symphonics' return will provide even more goosebumps and seal the magic.

The effects-laden "On the Radio" serves to perpetuate the concept, where an echoed voice states: 'one thing is certain, the human being should never enter the realm of God'. This leads to another repetitive piano beacon that will ultimately introduce the next chapter "E=c#m", a swelling and manic keyboard manifesto, led by rapid-fire piano ornaments and sprinkled with some whirlwind synth soloing. Our ace guitarist shows off his rather considerable chops once again, blitzing manically with furious determination, a flawless foil for Yuka's ivory romps. This is where the proof of musicianship is indelibly stamped. This is one hell of an accomplished band! Einstein would have been proud.

Time to relax from all the bravado, "I am Thee" explores more exotic horizons, highly moody and affected, adorned by velvety guitar licks and brooding keyboard caresses. There is a sudden acceleration with both choir and instrumental participation, shifting wisps of electronics and that roiling organ once again coming to the fore. A wee angular guitar solo that hints at Vai or Holdsworth, more 'sturm und drang' to keep the heart palpitating. Breathe in the air!

This monumental disc ends with "Birth of the Earth-Embryonic" which serves to recap the concept in one 8 minute + epic finale, with all the usual suspects described above taking a bow. Can't say enough about the effusive piano work here, can't drool enough over the sweeping synthesizers, the majestic melodies and the engrossing choral passages that give this release so much depth and suspense. The electric guitar is sensational, the bass/drums are powerful, confident and bold.

Like in a great sci-fi movie, the insistent piano coda sears itself into the mind. And then, silence?.

5 universal archives

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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