Asturias - Bird Eyes View

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Poseidon
Catalog Number: PRF-023
Format: CD
Total Time: 24:54:00

Bird Eyes View contains only 5 tracks and lasts just about 25 minutes (far too short, if you ask me). 3 of those tracks are acoustic renditions of pieces that appear on earlier Asturias albums, the remaining 2 include a acoustic version of a piece that band leader Yoh Ohyama wrote with violinist Misa Kitatsuji, the original used for a video game; the second was written to accompany a video about railroads. The production is so clear on this release that you can "see" every note of each instrument.

The album opens with "Adolescencia" (from Cryptogam Illusion, 1993). This piece had me thinking cinematically, of a film from the late 50s/early 60s, a light romantic comedy (the likes of which they don't make anymore). You know the kind of film; might have starred Cary Grant and... Doris Day maybe. I'm not thinking of a particular film that starred either, but lets just put them in there as "icons" of the genre (whether you agree they are or not); and, of course, this is what's in my mind not the artists'. The "movie" opens with "Doris" driving a nifty convertible sports car up along the coast (east or west, hard to tell)... obligatory scarf flowing out behind her in the wind. Musically, we have a spritely violin playing a happy, jolly, youthful (look at the title again) tune, accompanied by warm, throaty clarinet (Kaori Tsutsui) and a strident piano (Yoshihiro Kawagoe). In this mix, too, is guitar (gut guitar as credited) in sync with the piano. During the piece, we follow her on a long (4:23) drive. We'll pick up this "movie" later in another track.

"Global Network" (the game music piece) is a warmer, calmer piece. Guitar is more prominent, in front of the tinkling piano, while a sad and sweet violin plays. This is a very lyrical and soothing piece. Lovely. Like the piece above, this seems to capture a time long gone; although this isn't quite so "cinematic" as the piece above, it's just as evocative. Here what you "see" is the actual performance, every note... again, that's down to great production.

"Distance" (also from Cryptogram Illusion) reminds me of the piano music of David Lanz, though I'm also brought to mind of a Billy Joel piece from Turnstiles ("Miami 2017" I believe). Don't fret that comparison. Like "Global Network," the violin tone is warm, though here it is "in a better mood." Happier. Kawagoe plays piano beautifully, his touch light and expressive. Here our two film leads have met and there is an attraction, though they can't at the moment actually act upon it (there isn't any of the "comedy" aspect in here musically).

"Bird Eyes View," written for that railroad video, begins with Ohyama on guitar accompanied by clarinet. This is an open and expansive piece of music, as the title suggests. You can imagine beautiful scenery flowing past. It's another stunning piece that allows the whole ensemble to shine...again.(Our stars have had a falling out, but in classic style, "Cary" has learned that what he believed to be true wasn't and is now trying to find "Doris").

"Ryu-Hyo," from Asturias' debut Circle In The Forest (1988) is another sad, sweet piece, putting violin and piano at the forefront; though guitar and piano also duet in this piece. When recorder is added, we get a Celtic feel that lasts throughout the rest of the track.

The pieces are short, and yet the seem longer. Not too long, just that so much happens in a short space of time that you feel they surely must have been longer. The collection was originally a private release, but Japanese label Poseidon reissued it last year (and it's distributed by Musea), so this should get into a lot more hands.

What do I think of it? In a word: Fabulous. I don't know how their electrified counterparts sound (yet), but this album is just absolutely fabulous. Oh, it's not progressive in any rock sense, its sensibilities more classical, but that's irrelevant. Most progressive music fans appreciate music of all forms (since many of those forms are absorbed and incorporated by progressive styles), so you will no doubt find this as fabulous as I do. And you can, of course, create any visual scenario you like.

Also released by Musea Records (FGBG 4583.AR)

Adolescencia (4:26) / Global Network (5:08) / Distance (5:22) / Bird Eyes View (4:54) / Ryu-Hyo (5:03)

Yoh Ohyama - gut guitar and glockenspiel
Yoshihiro Kawagoe - piano
Misa Kitatsuji - violin
Kaori Tsutsui - clarinet and recorder


Kanako Ito - voice

Circle In The Forest (1988)
Brilliant Streams (1990)
Cryptogam Illusion (1993)
Bird Eyes View (2003/2004)

Genre: Other

Origin JP

Added: May 29th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1303
Language: english


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