Daimonji - Improg

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Poseidon
Catalog Number: PRF-014 (Poseidon) / FBGB
Format: CD
Total Time: 77:11:00

Man, oh man, Poseidon and Musea have got it goin' on. The Japanese and French labels have banded together to share their combined wealth of progressive rock and jazz around the world, and are doing it in a big way. The Nippon-Franco juggernaut have been flooding the racks with loads of great music for about two years now, much of it coming from the land of the rising sun. Now, a lot of what comes from Japan tends to be extreme in content and performance, and extremely challenging to unsuspecting progressive rock listeners, because the Japanese tend to lean towards the jazz end of the musical spectrum. Add in the extremely improvisational, experimental nature of their jazzy explorations, and said prog-rockers may find themselves pulling off the headphones, shaking their heads in disappointment and disbelief.

All that said, there is a lot to like about what's coming out of Japan these days, and ranking among the strongest of the lot is Daimonji, a crazed trio that simultaneously drives me absolutely nuts and feeds my need for passionate musical exploration. I really don't know how to compare them to anyone, although I have read that their unusual attack is reminiscent of France's Magma, whose music I've never heard. Frankly, there are plenty of comparisons to be made, but Daimonji - Hoppy Kamiyama on keys and vocals, Tatsuya Yoshida on drums and vocals, and bassist Mitsuru Natsuno - are so skilled that everything they attack (and attack is exactly what they do), that I can't help think of them as a cross between The Stooges - or maybe Wild Zero? - and ELP, with a serious Return to Forever bent and a healthy nod to Frank Zappa.

As for Improg, the name is derived from the term improvised progressive rock, which is how Daimonji describes their music. It's a fitting description; throughout Improg, Daimonji pulls out all the stops - and tosses out a lot of the rules, whatever those might be - across four lengthy performances (the shortest of which clocks in at 14:29). The long songs allow for ample exploration and Daimonji doesn't waste any time. Racing hard rock (with some of the goofiest vocals I've ever heard) butts heads with mellower jazzy bits and long spacey jams, all interspersed with dashes of maddening dissonance and quirky Zappa-esque snippets. The trio themselves are superb; their ensemble playing is spot-on, rivaling that of any other threesome currently treading the boards. Keyboardist Kamiyama really catches the ear; his Corea-inflected synthesizer and Rhodes solos run the gamut, from blazing to bluesy to spacey and breathtaking.

Okay, I did warn you earlier that Japanese progressive music in general tends to be extreme, and Daimonji's Improg certainly fits that mold. But Daimonji can rock out when they want to and their jazz leanings don't dominate the music they play. So, I guess that what I'm saying is that Improg is an experience that might be compared to dumping four or five different jigsaw puzzles on a table top and randomly putting together pieces that just happen to fit: The result isn't exactly beautiful, but it sure is interesting and fun and hard not to like. For me, anyways?.

Glimpse (14:29) / Mongo Iian Bandits (22:03) / Night Dust (Monosyllabic Sex) (19:12) / Ombre Moned (21:25)

Hoppy Kamiyama - keyboards, vocals
Tatsuya Yoshida - drums, vocals
Nasuno Mitsuru - bass

Improg (2003)

Genre: Other

Origin JP

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website: k-mania.com/gm/
Hits: 1054
Language: english


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