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TRACK LIST: 1. Tokusen burari tabi 13:12 2. Metempsychosis 4:56 3. Summer '90 7:36 4. Soshite 4:34 5. Night in Roppongi 11:30 6. Toscana 22:24 All tracks: by Head Pop Up. LINE-UP: Hiro Wada - keyboards; vocals Michi Mayanagi - keyboards; vocals (+ accordion on 6) Atsushi Iwasawa - guitar Teruro Mikami - bass Hisashi Abe - drums
Prolusion. All I can put here is that "Tokusen burari tabi" is assuredly not the debut album by the Japanese band Head Pop Up. The band is active since the first half of the nineties, but I did not have occasion to listen to their music until now.
Synopsis. This 64-minute album consists of six tracks, two of which: Metempsychosis and Summer-'90 (2 & 3) are songs, and one of the instrumental compositions: Soshite (4) features vocalizes. As you can see above, these three are rather short, but while they are certainly less rich in large-scaled arrangements than the remaining three instrumentals, they contain some specific features unavailable on the other tracks and, overall, are as unique and interesting as everything on this output. The main passion of Head Pop Up is a classically inspired Symphonic Progressive (and not Jazz-Rock, as it is stated on the label's website), but generally, their musical horizons are very broad. This factor is especially apparent on all of the said tracks and one of the purely instrumental compositions: Night in Roppongi (5). The music on Metempsychosis is especially unusual and represents a blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and RIO with elements of both of Classical and Avant-garde kinds of Academic Music. What an incredible combination! Although some parts of male choir remind me of those in Gentle Giant, I just shut my eyes while listening to them, especially since all the other vocal (not to mention instrumental) parts on the album are more than distinctly original. By the way, this is the only track here that features the sounds of Mellotron, and the main soloing instruments on the album are piano, organ, and electric guitar. Of course, with saying so, I was by no means going to disregard the rhythm-section, as all of the band members are fantastically masterful and inventive musicians. Both Summer-'90 and Soshite are about Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion and the bits of Prog-Metal, and Night in Roppongi is stylistically the most polymorphous composition on the album representing a complex conglomerate of structures typical for Symphonic Progressive, Classical Music, RIO, Prog-Metal, and Jazz-Fusion. Taking into the account the high level of innovation of the band's music in general, this composition can easily be regarded as the entity of Fifth Element. Both of the 'boundary' tracks of the album: the 13-minute Tokusen burari tabi and the 22-minute Toscana are about Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with distinct elements of Classical Music. As well as almost everywhere on the album, the music here is highly intensive, diverse, and intriguing, is notable for frequent, often kaleidoscopic, changes of musical direction and the continuous use of complex measures and is mostly in the state of constant development.
Conclusion. This Japanese band simply amazes me, and their "Tokusen burari tabi" is one the best and the most unique Symphonic Art-Rock and related albums I have heard this year. I am sure that this wonderful masterpiece will be highly appreciated by all the connoisseurs of profound Symphonic Progressive who get it, including the most fastidious ones.
VM: November 14, 2003
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