Kenso - Kenso III

Year of Release: 1985
Label: King Record Company Ltd/Nexus Classics
Catalog Number: KICS 2509
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:55:00

First a short story: There is a shop nearby me (Rhino Records in Claremont) that has a middling-sized progressive music section - it used to be bigger. As I would peruse this section, I'd keep coming across Kenso. I knew nothing about them, there was no helpful little blurb sticker to guide me, so I passed this by. Well, my [one time] cohort in this project, John Gabbard, sent me this disc (amongst others) to listen to/review. Man, I tell ya, I shoulda bought the disk way back when (okay, 1991).

This is great stuff! Jazz rock. This was released in 1985, and even though 15 years have gone by, this still sounds mostly fresh and modern. Yes, it has a very European sound to it, so maybe that's why I like it. I am reminded of Minimum Vital, Eris Pluvia and Camel (circa Nude). Listening to this band defies caring about origin or nationality - which is the way it should be, really. Their sound is reminicent of ... one part ELP, one part, well, jazz ... mid- to late-80's Tangerine Dream, when Paul Haslinger was in the band. The jazz element is the more prominent than the others.

The only negative things about this album are: it's too short at 40-something minutes; the "tuning up the instruments" like "Patter Of The Groovy," though it lasts less than a minute - it doesn't sound bad, just uncohesive; and the audience applause of "La Liberte De L'Esprit" is cut off rather abruptly rather than allowed to fade out. So there are some production issues of that nature, but it's sound it great, clear, dynamic.

The opener, "Sacred Dream I" is a mostly keyboard focused track, though the bass is also fairly up in the mix. "Power Of The Glory" takes the same musical motif, darkens it, speeds it up a bit, puts the guitar out front - this is most like Camel here. There are passages where the keys take the lead again, a smoother, more washy type feel - the glory to the other part's power, so to speak.

"The Breeze Whispered Through My Mind" is appropriately airy and light, with a 40s movie soundtrack feel to it. This is the second shortest track at 1:12.

"Far East Celebration" has hints of Asian musical styles, but it doesn't sound as I once expected Japanese prog to sound - all kotos and flutes, plucky, dry. No, there's a warmth here, and although there are kotos and flutes in the mix, not as I just described. Guitarist Yoshihisa Shimizu has a great tone, good phrasing here - soaring at times. Here they sound most like what Minimum Vital do now."

"La Liberte" is the most smooth jazz like, where if someone had put this in without telling me who it was, I might have guessed The Rippingtons. Yes, yes, that does mean that, to me, it hews closer to the jazz element. I don't consider any of that a negative. I like the Ripps, smooth jazz though they are. There are moments on this track, too, where I thought of ELP.

There are some interesting shimmers on "Turn To Solution" - glass is listed as an instrument, and played by percussionist Haruhiko Yamamoto. Again a good guitar solo by Shimuzu is featured.

The last track, "Umi" is almost entirely another beast - it is jazzy like the other tracks, but it is a darker and heavier sound, all down to the keyboards which here are played by Atsushi Makiuchi (versus Kenichi Oguchi and Toshihiko Sahashi). The guitar is harsher, more harder edged.

This is a pleasant album to listen to, and would appeal more to jazz rock fans than neo-prog fans. Recommended.

Sacred Dream I (2:47) / Power Of The Glory (4:16) / The Breeze Whispered Through My Mind (1:12) / Far East Celebration (2:41) / La Liberte De L'Esprit (The Liberty Of Spirit) (6:07) / Patter Of The Groovy (0:49) / Turn To Solution (6:32) / Nostalghia (2:53) / Sacred Dream II (6:02) / Beginnings (6:33) / UMI (6:03)

Yoshihisa Shimizu - guitar
Kenichi Oguchi - keyboards
Toshihiko Sahahsi - keyboards
Atsushi Makiuchi - keyboards (#11)
Kimiyohsi Matsumoto - bass
Haruhiko Yamamoto - drums and percussion
Shiro Yajima - flute
Hiroyuki Nanba - add'l keyboards
Kyoko Nemoto - oboe
Junna Kaku - voice
Tsunekatsu Takagi - voice

Kenso (1980)
Kenso II (1982)
Kenso III (1983)
In Concert (1986)
Self Portrait (1987)
Sparta (1989)
Yume No Oka (1991)
Live 92 (1993)
Early Live Volume 1 (1994)
Early Live Volume 2 (1995)
Zaiya Live (1996)
In The West (1999)
Esoptron (1999)
76/77 (2000)
Ken Son Gu Su: 25th Anniversary (2000)
Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis (2002)
Chilling Heat (2005)
Utsuroi Yuku Mono (2006)

Ha-Re-Ki (2003) (DVD)
Ayr (2004) (DVD)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin JP

Added: August 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1334
Language: english


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