Mike McLatchey    26-August-2002 Various Artists - Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome

VA - "Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome"
(Belle Antique 9464, 1994, CD)

Japanese progressive compilations are always an interesting listen, and this one's no exception - a collection of groups that never made an album but performed live in Tokyo in what sounds like the early 80s. The Made In Japan Session band is up first with their "Babylonia," a rich symphonic track that immediately moves into high gear with a brilliant Kit Watkins like keys solo. Moving through upbeat and mellow phases, this is a great way to start off this. Time Unit's track, "The Clap," starts out with a Crimson like feel, similar in style to bands like Bi Kyo Ran, Arachnoid, or Shylock, with picked angular chords over a solid rhythm base. This long track shows Crimson influence in various ways, especially of the Larks Tongue era, and moves in various phases from driving Ain Soph-like jams to mellow atmospheric parts. This one grows on you over several listens. Aquapolis' self titled suite is the compilation's gem although, unfortunately, the sound quality gets a bit hissy throughout it. Although it almost sounds like it was pieced together posthumously, the 15 minutes works well as a suite. This is a very picturesque track, one of the more vivid I have heard. The bubbling, twittering intro is very effective, giving a very good underwater impression. The music moves from spacey to upbeat back to Vangelis-like melodic synth over its course, and it works great. Green's "Miyako" is possibly a distillation of the previous three into five or six minutes, a dense web of progressive with a decidedly Italian flavor to it similar to Kenso - complex, innovative, and surprising.

(Originally published in Exposť #5, p. 23, Edited for Gnosis 8/24/02)

Links for further information