Kenso - Kenso II

Year of Release: 1993
Label: King Record Co. Ltd
Catalog Number: KICS 285
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:59:00

Kenso II is another of those gems that entered my collection (at the same time as Kenso III), but didn't get the attention it deserves. This is beautifully rich classico-symphonic progressive. The first track is a standout, though each track has its moments. Because the booklet information is in Japanese, I cannot tell you exact track titles, and thus will refer to them by track number.

Each track truly is stunning. Track 6 [Hanukanaru Chi E (Toward The Land Beyond)] builds slowly, heavily (making me think of Ambrosia), emerging via taut, stretched guitar notes into a brighter, sunnier track. Layered keys over dynamic percussion, a heartbeat of bass and, at one point, vocal effects. A great guitar solo enters the proceedings ? Camel circa Rain Dances - as the outro here reminds me of that track.

Swirling keys open track 7 [Naibu E No Tsukikage (Moon Casting Shadows Within)] - like the wake of rippling waves upon being gently disturbed. These are contrasted by angelic female voices, as they trade sections. Imagine yourself a diver beneath the sea, close to the shoreline of island - maybe you're snorkeling in a beautiful lagoon (companion optional) - either way, you're marveling at the magical underwater - there goes a school of rare fish disappearing behind brilliantly coloured coral? the track is that languid, floating, and is a beautiful as that imagined lagoon.

Track 9 [Folkloric Song Of Japan] is a standout as well, quite dynamic. This just blows me away - I'm thinking of Camel at times, as well as of Gryphon, but mainly Camel. I can only sit and marvel at the impressive musicianship on display here. The jazz element found in III isn't so apparent here, though it's there. The flute lines on Track 1 fall somewhere between Jethro Tull and those found in Italian prog - much closer to the latter than the former.

Released in 1982, this album is contemporaneous with Camel's Nude, a disk which III made me think of as well. Unlike Camel, though, this is all instrumental. But that isn't a criticism by any means.

If you like Camel, Italian prog, or simply excellent music, do yourself a favor and track this disk down.

[August 2002: Thanks to James Tejada who sent me a scan of the recently reissued version of this album with the titles in English spellings ... that new version leaves off tracks 9 - 11 here and appends two bonus live tracks, "Power Of The Glory" and PFM's "Four Holes In The Ground." The track listing below is the version reviewed, as listed at the Kenso website. - SS]

Sora Ni Hikaru (Shining In The Sky) / Masui Part 1 (Anesthesia Part 1) / Masui Part 2 (Anesthesia Part 2) / Hyo-To (Frozen Island) / Brand Shiko (Brand IX) / Harukanaru Chi E (Toward The Land Beyond) / Naibu E No Tsuki-kage (Moon Casting Shadows Within) / Sayonara Progre (Arrivederci: Goodbye Prog) / bonus tracks: Nihon No Mugi-uta (Folkloric Song Of Japan) / In-ei No Fue (Flute Of Light And Shadow) / Umi (The Sea)

Atsushi Makiuchi - keyboards (1 - 8)
Kimiyoshi Matsumoto - bass (1 - 8)
Yoshihisa Shimizu - guitar, kbds, mellotron
Shiro Yajima - flute
Haruhiko Yamamoto - drums


Sachiko Miyashita - ?
Masayuki Tanaka - bass (9 - 11)

Kenso (1980)
Kenso II (1982/1993)
Kenso III (1985)
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: February 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1022
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]