Peter Thelen    30-March-2001 Kenso II

Here we have the entire second album, along with the better half of the tracks on the first, all on one compact disc. Their sound in the early years could be likened to a Japanese answer to Happy The Man meets National Health. The dominant lead instrument is the flute, backed up by a powerful guitar and keyboard presence, and a very agile rhythm section. The strong influence of Japanese traditional can be heard throughout this bold instrumental set, but no more so than on "Flute in the Dark Shadow" (Track #4 for those who don't read Kanji) and the three tracks culled from the first album. Throughout, the compositions are brilliant and incredibly sophisticated, and the performance is spirited...of course this is no news to anyone already familiar with Kenso's more recent output, for whom this one is a must-have. For anyone not familiar with Kenso, this is as good a place as any to start. My highest recommendation.

(Originally published in Exposť #1, p. 11, Edited for Gnosis 1/21/01)

Sjef Oellers 30-March-2001 Kenso (aka III)

Japanese progressive fusion with obvious nods to the Canterbury scene. Unfortunately, at times they veer off in slick "fusion lite" territory with an overkill of digital keyboards. Several short atmospheric and/or pastoral pieces provide a welcome variation to their fusion sound. All in all, quite excellent progressive fusion only occasionally spoiled by 80s digital synth schmaltz.

Sjef Oellers 30-March-2001 Sora Ni Hikaru-Early Live 1

Sora Ni Hikaru (Early Live Volume 1) features old live tracks from Kenso's early 80's period where they played an energetic mix of Canterbury fusion and symphonic rock. A solid, driving performance, but sometimes a bit heavy on digital synth equipment (for my tastes).

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