Gerard - Sighs Of The Water

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Musea
Catalog Number: FGBG 4439.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:35:00

Gerard are a Japanese trio consisting of drums (Masuhiro Goto), bass (Atsushi Hasegawa) and keyboards (Toshio Egawa). Keyboards. Yes, maybe that says it all about Gerard. Keyboards. I saw them live at NEARfest 2002 and Egawa was engulfed by them, until he slung on a keytar and stepped away from them, but even then he wasn't very far. When you mention keyboards both Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman almost immediately come to mind. I'd also mention King Crimson, owing to the percussive-heavy, throbbing "Pain In The Bubble," though many of the driving keyboard solos here recall Emerson. In true classic progressive rock style - Yes, Genesis, etc. - Gerard easily transition from rock passages to pastoral. Though I hesitate to say it (though it seems others have said it, too), there were a few times when I thought of Marillion, and of Mark Kelly especially.

The album leaps right out of the gate with layers of lush keys on the title track "Sighs Of The Water," where the lead layer plays the usually occupied by guitar in this style of progressive rock. Here Egawa runs through the gamet of keyboard sounds - organ, gothic/horror film, parpy, twiddly, piano-like, violin-like, etc. Beneath this we hear taut, dynamic drumming and throbbing bass. The theme of "water" runs through the album from the track titles, to the awkwardly poetic lyrics of Numero Ueno, a name many of you will recognize from his work with Ars Nova (whose Mika Nakajima guests on "Keep A Memory Green"), to the aquatic nature of the arrangements. Mostly achieved by the keys, in "From The Deep" that arrangement is dark and murky, as befits a song about the protagonist facing some creature from the lake. The arrangement takes on a more tranquil aspect in "Keep A Memory Green," a song that is more reflective. They shift from calm (and lush, as always) to turbulent in "Aqua Dream Part One: Aqua Dream." It's a piece that would appeal greatly to fans of contemporary instrumental as well instrumental prog rock. The sequel piece, "Aqua Dream Part Two: Spring Tide" (an Musea edition exclusive) repeats the theme of the previous piece, naturally, but here we get the sense that life has returned to the waterway, that there is much more activity - here brought forth by the bass work of Hasegawa.

Three of album's tracks feature vocals from Goto with help from Jean "F." Nakaji on two of them. Goto's is a highly stylized approach, theatrical in a way. In the case "From The Deep" his style would suggest vocals sung in Italian, accompanying a horror film - which is entirely appropriate, given the theme mentioned above. It's sung in English, but Goto's enunciation isn't clear enough that you know what he's singing - he glosses and slides over many of the syllables such that three words become one. He's got the vocal expression down well, using the right inflection to get meaning across, and as another sonic element, they work quite well during "Keep A Memory Green." But the highlight will remain their instrumental prowess. On "Cry For The Moon," which to me sounds like something by Ayreon (especially the keys), the vocals don't work, as Goto's tone darkens and gets gravelly. Musically, though, it is epic and ominous, big.

There is a whole lot to like about this album, the only draw back being the vocals. And even then, if you don't try to listen to them word for word, their cadence and tone do work quite well (except in "Cry For The Moon"). If you love keyboards, then you have got to check this out. But even if you just love well-played symphonic progressive rock then you need to check this band out. Solid instrumental performances throughout.

Sighs Of The Water (8:08) (Musea version) / From The Deep (7:22) / Pain In The Bubble (5:53) / Keep A Memory Green (5:10) / Cry For The Moon (4:45) / Aqua Dream Part One: Aqua Dream (6:50) / Aqua Dream Part Two: Spring Tide (8:23) (Exclusive Musea bonus track)

Toshio Egawa - keyboards
Atsushi Hasegawa - bass
Masuhiro Goto - drums, percussion, vocals

Gerard (1984)
Empty Lie, Empty Dream (1985)
Irony Of Fate (1990)
Save Knight By The Night (1990)
The Pendulum (1996)
Evidence of True Love (MCD) (1997)
Pandora's Box (1997)
Meridian (1998)
Live In Marseille (1999)
The Ruins Of A Glass Fortress (2001)
Sighs Of The Water (2002)
Power Of Infinity (2004)

also appearances on:
Keyboard Triangle (2000)
Keyboard Triangle 2/Live (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin JP

Added: June 1st 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1102
Language: english


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