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Kenso - Yume No Oka  CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 69 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Fifth Studio album (sixth overall , excluding, Self Portrait, a compilation) from the Kenso band that is now still a quintet but revolving around guitarist Shimizu and keyboardist Oguchi, the rest of the members having changed since the early 80's' line-up. Dream Hill (that's the album title's translation) comes with a peaceful pastoral landscape of a heard and again features most tracks written by Shimizu, leaving the two keyboard players Oguchi (2) and Mitsuda (1) crumbs, and his music seems inspired, even thematic as the album is book-ended by Phases De La Lune tracks.

I'm not exactly sure when Kenzo turned their sleeves inside out and opened their musical propos towards jazz-rock & fusion, but this album is certainly quite a departure fro m the first three albums, which were symphonic and light years from jazzy thoughts. Yes JR/F is a facet of their music, but if they sound sometimes like Brand X (Ancient In My Brain), it is mostly through their Genesis influences (so obvious on the their early albums), rather than a fascination to RTF or Hancock. While Shimizu has definitely asserted his guitar in the group, much of the sound still relies on the two keyboards, which develops digital sounds so typical of the 80's, which of course does not sit well with this proghead, especially when the sound chosen are sometimes plain incompatible with the music, ie: the "symphonic sound of the keyboards on a jazz-rock piece is unconvincing When they do sound a tad more convincing , they sound like a second grade Brand X or fifth-dilution of Mahavishnu or Gentle Giant. What irritates me a bit is the drummer's sound (not his technique), although I've heard much worse elsewhere but at the start of Alfama, it is infuriatingly bad.. Some tracks are complete bores (OIA), others would've gained a great deal with a better drumming (Fourth Reich)

An amazing improvement over the early 80's album, much more guts and balls, this album is worth a good listen, but pales in comparison to the albums it looks up to. And in some weird way, you could call this neo-jazz-rock, rather than retro-jazz-rock. From what I gather , it would be another 8 years before Kenso would record their next album, Esoptron, a more Crimsonian jam-band affair, but I have no idea why they kept sileny for so long. Way over-rated, certainly; but still worth a spin.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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