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(50 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Corridor of Time 11:19 2. Gentle Scenery 4:58 3. Breeze 2:40 4. Tropic 7:52 5. The Hill of Water 9:16 6. The Sea Without a Shore 12:33 7. Departure for the Fortune 1:57 All tracks: by Cinema. Produced by Cinema. Engineered by H Fukui. LINEUP: Hiromi Fujimoto - vocals; piano Yoshihiko Kitamura - synthesizer, piano, ocarina Tohru Ohta - electric & acoustic guitar, bouzouki Tokiko Nakanishi - viola & violin Hirokazu Taniguchi - drums Masaki Mashimo - bass
Prolusion. "Mindscape" is the third album by Japanese proponents of Neo, CINEMA, following "Seven Stories" (1997) and "Into the State of Flux" (2000). I've heard the latter, and it didn't impress me.
Analysis. For starters, Cinema offers the listener a walk through The Corridor of Time. Alas, there is nothing mysterious or supernatural in this journey, regardless of what the title may suggest. It's boring, like an ordinary walk on the nearest street. These musicians' conception of time is pretty primitive, quite well corresponding to the band's name. The totally slow, repetitive passages of synthetic and real strings, sometimes accompanied by fluid solos of guitar and the equally plain rhythm section, with a strong cinematic feel throughout, flow tediously and so long - in the course of the whole 11 minutes! There are some islands of pseudo-Classical music in this sea of uninspired symphonic Ambient, which would be the worst instrumental on the disc. Gentle Scenery follows and would be the worst song here. The vocals are in, the rhythm section is out, but all the principal words said about the first track remain topical. I wouldn't say that the other tracks are great, but they are more diverse and, what's important, more inspired. The remaining instrumentals: Breeze and Departure for the Fortune are short, but since both are based on the parts of violins, they can be referred to light classical music. Structurally, there is much in common between the first two tracks and the songs: Tropic and The Hill of Water. These, however, don't look as a mosaic, compiled of random themes. Also, they feature elements of authentic Art-Rock, which, though, is too straightforward to be subtitled otherwise than as Neo. The longest track here, The Sea Without a Shore, runs more than 12 minutes and is the best, though it could not exist without obvious drawbacks, too. The tune is made up of multiple themes, most of which tastefully intertwine between vocals sections. To be more precise, the main musical events develop in the course of the first seven minutes and represent a powerful, diverse, really strong Art-Rock with elements of light classical music. However, their drummer's performance isn't always on par with the other musicians. At times his performance is tight and diverse, in other instances it's amateurishly awkward. Unfortunately, the rest of the track is enormously monotonous. The music is slow and is cycled within only three or four chords performed with the most primitive measure, 4/4. So there is enough space and time for a guitarist to do stupid long solos. The man has probably imagined himself a virtuoso and decided to show that... that in reality he isn't.
Conclusion. All this sounds romantic and beautiful, but it's not enough for me, as I am naturally predisposed towards more complicated music. Nevertheless, most of the material presented can hardly be subjected to some direct comparisons, and I value originality in any kinds of the art. So let it be: this is an okay album overall, but its creators, Cinema, are hardly an honor to such a strong progressive scene as Japan's.
VM: February 10, 2005
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