Ars Nova - Biogenesis Project

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Transi Label
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:04:00

Imagine three fragile Japanese ladies ... dressed in sexy SM outfits, behind a rack of keyboards and sounding like a reincarnation of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Then you are close to what Ars Nova is about: presence and high quality music. So I was very thrilled to hear the new album, called Biogenesis, a concept album with rock opera influences. Unlike their previous albums, they have invited several guest musicians, so the Biogenesis is not entirely representative for Ars Nova, but it shows a different side of them, of course not losing the elements that mark the music of the band.

Due to the many guest musicians, the album has become a mix of Japanese and Italian prog, lavishly garnished with the masterly, yet familiar, guitar riffs by Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One), and this results in a very diverse and sometimes a bit complex sounding album. Biogenesis opens with a monologue by Robert Allen, introducing the story and this is followed by Keiko Kumagi on keyboards and organ and the Ayreon guitar sound, which creates an epic atmosphere, with lots of space sounds, breaks and solos by guest musicians Gianni Leone (Il Baletto Di Bronzo), who is also one of the vocalists, and Claudio Simonetti (Daemonia). "Escape," the second track, has a few nice violin solos and is the first real vocal track, with Alex Brunori (ex-Leviathan) on vocals and Keiko on organ. "Mother Earth" starts with keys in the vein of IQ's Martin Orford and features Mika on vocals, which is really something as she sings in English, but it is not easy to understand. I guess this gives it a true Japanese touch, but she has a sweet voice and it is pleasant to listen to.

"Metamorphosis" is an instrumental track, where you can finally truly hear how good Keiko Kumagi is: a smashing keyboard solo with a clear reference to ELP (Peter Gunn)! "Humanoid's Breakfast" is a bit of a weird song, where Japanese sounds are mixed with electronic drums and voice samples, a cacophony of sounds, which ends with a scream, one of the lesser tracks on the album. However, "Against The Meteors" makes that up, with more grandiose keyboard play by Kumagi, this time only supported by drums. And then we have already reached the final track, "Trust To The Future," where Lucassen's guitar is back, just as all the other guest musicians. Here Mika's voice creates a contrast with Alex Brunori, and there are several synth solos as well as a leisurely played solo by Arjen Lucassen. This is the song with the "action" in it, changes in melody, vocals, guitar and thus a worthy close to the album.

Biogenesis is not an easy album, more an adventure, where different styles and cultures are blended to a somewhat consistent mix. Fortunately the power of the album lies in the music, and especially the many keyboard solos are excellent and make you beg for more. I am no fan of Italian vocalists, so I was happy there are not many vocal parts on the album, although Mika's vocals brightened up the songs. Production could use some work, but all in all, Ars Nova can be proud of this album and you, reader of this review, should try this album, you won't be disappointed. Furthermore I vote that Keiko Kumagi is listed with the great keyboard players, like Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Erik Norlander!

Also released by Musea Records (FGBG 4532)

[This review originally appeared July 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
I. Introduction - II. Biogenesis (6:01) / Escape (8:17) / Mother Earth (2:27) / Metamorphosis (6:17) / Humanoid's Breakfast (3:12) / Against The Meteors (3:27) / Trust To The Future (I. Part One: Maria - II. Part Two: Pilot) (15:21)

Keiko Kumagai - synthesizers, organ, computer programming
Mika Nakajima - vocals, synthesizers
Akiko Takahashi - drums
Alex Brunoir - vocals
Arjen A Lucassen - guitars
Lucio Fabbri - violin
Atsushi Hasegawa - bass
Masuhiro Goto - drums, vocals
Gianni Leone - vocals
Claudio Simonetti - keyboards
Robert Allen - as storyteller

Fear And Anxiety (1992)
Transi (1994)
Goddess Of Darkness (1996)
Reu Nu Pert Em Hru / The Book of The Dead (1998)
Android Domina (2001)
Lacrimaria (EP) (2001)
Biogenesis Project (2003)
Force For The Fourth - Chrysalis (2005)
Altavoz Masterpiece Series 2006 (6CD box) (2006)
Seventh Hell (2009)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin JP

Added: December 8th 2004
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1258
Language: english


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