Musea Records – [Release Date 2013]
Great progressive rock music is appearing from all corners of the world at the moment – especially from eastern Europe, Scandinavia and South America.
But now Japan are muscling in on the scene in the shape of Yuka & Chronoship.
Essentially the brainchild and band of exceptional keyboard virtuoso Yuka Funakoshi, the band have obviously been delving into their parents’ 1970’s imported vinyl collections and been mightily impressed with what they’ve heard.
All the classic prog influences are here – E.L.P., Yes, Genesis and in particular King Crimson jostle for the listener’s attention while the Roger Dean artwork wraps the whole thing in a warm, nostalgic glow.
Essentially an instrumental album although there are a few lyrics here and there, the work is split into three suites as listed in the title: Dinosaurs – divided into three movements, R is for Rocket – divided into five movements and dedicated to the memory of the late Ray Bradbury and Oxygen – divided into three movements.
The word movements is used advisedly as each suite is played almost as if it were a classical concerto and, in classic progressive rock tradition, each is markedly different to both the suite and movement that preceded it.
Although keyboard led, and exceptionally so by Yuka, Takashi Miyazawa’s guitar interplay is worthy of joint top-billing and the engine room of Shun Taguchi (bass) and Ikko Tanaka (drums) are as tight as a gnat’s chuff.
Having listed the influences, it would have been very easy for the band to stumble carelessly into the ‘ho-hum just another retro rip-off’ elephant trap.
The fact that they don’t is testament to both interesting and contemporary song structures which introduce a myriad of external influences – so jazz, folk and even world music weave their way into the tapestry of the music, at times to quite stunning effect.
Of the three suites, I would push ‘Oxygen’ forward as perhaps taking the highlight plaudits as it is definitely the most contemporary in feel and has a scattering of killer riffs which achieve anthemic status at times.
Add in to all this the fact that the whole thing was recorded in Japan using the best technology and sound engineering available and it’s a heady mix.
As contemporary instrumental progressive rock with some real twists – this is about as good as it gets. *****
Review by Alan Jones
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