Mizukagami - Mizukagami

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Musea
Catalog Number: FGBG 4496.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:08:00

Can you say ?Eighties?? Sure you can, just repeat after me: ?Mizukagami, Mizukagami?.? Okay, so what if we untrained Westerners never get the name right, who cares? Mizukagami conjures up some major ?Me Decade? déjà vu with their eponymous first album, and does it with a unique flair that puts an unusual face on symphonic rock in the 21st century.

Eighties? Symphonic rock? I'm kidding, right? Afraid not, fellow proggers; Mizukagami mix Seventies symphonic rock, Eighties neo-progressive and modern rock, a dash of new wave, and traditional Japanese folk music to create their highly original orchestral maneuvers.

The driving force behind Mizukagami's musical magic is keyboard player Junya Anan, who wrote all the music on Mizukagami. Anan's influences are eclectic and numerous; Marillion, Camel, early Genesis, and especially Keith Emerson are prominent, but there is also a great deal of the Eighties sound (a la Rush, Tears For Fears, Eurhythmics, and Blondie to name a few) evident in his playing. Anan's writing centers around the keyboards, using them (lots of them!) to create both Emerson-flavored solos and sonic tapestries. His songs are long, ranging between five and twelve minutes, and feature multiple parts that incorporate terraced dynamics which pit driving rock against the softer folk music of Japan. The lengthy arrangements and mixture of traditional Japanese and modern rock instruments add a cinematic feel to the songs, one that evokes breath-taking vistas and heart-stopping car chases, often within the limits of the same song (?Sakura?).

And - remembering that this is a band - the rest of Mizukagami seem up to the challenge of Anan's kinetic visions. Especially fetching is Futaba Tanaami, whose lyrics, melodious vocals and flutes lend much of the Oriental feel and originality to Anan's songs. Guitarist Yasuo Asakura plays a disciplined role within the songs, providing mostly rhythmic and melodic support, but getting some decent solos here and there.

However, and this is my only real gripe, bassist Keiichi Yanagawa and drummer Keita Kamiyama just don't seem to have enough to do. Clearly capable of more complex work, Yanagawa and Kamiyama instead provide simple, uncluttered grooves to drive the songs. The best example of this under-use is ?Takamura? (which reminds me of ?Love Is Blue?), where the beat is so relaxed that the gents sound like they might be playing in their sleep.

That said, Mizukagami's mix of Eighties attitude and 21st century savvy (check the Blondie-ish ?Shinato no kaze? if you don't believe me) rates Mizukagami some time on your CD player. Worth a listen.

Released in Japan by Poseidon (PRF-005)

Sakura (11:19) / Haru No Sono (5:31) / Suzukaze (7:17) / Shinato No Kaze (5:01) / Takamura (8:29) / Yukimushi (10:29)

Tanaami Futaba - vocals, flute
Junya Anan - synthesizers, mellotron, string ensemble, organ, electric piano, vocorder, percussion
Keiichi Yanagawa - bass
Yasuo Asakura - guitars, theorbe
Keita Kamiyama - drums, percussion

Mizukagami (2003)
Yugake (2007)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin JP

Added: September 22nd 2003
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website: www.mizukagami.jp
Hits: 555
Language: english


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