Shingetsu - Shingetsu (1979)

On listening to this eponymous album by Japan’s most interesting progressive group, I defy you not to be captivated by the vocals of Makoto Kitayama. Never before will your cd player have purveyed such grievous tones. Well up there with the very best of prog vocalists, Makoto Kitayama, whilst mournful, also manages to be forceful, impassioned, defiant, gentle, wistful.

Fans of 70’s prog may find many of the sounds on this album somewhat familiar, reminiscent for example of Hackett and Fripp guitars, and certainly Kitayama’s stage presence gives a firm nod to Peter Gabriel’s performances. But, although Shingetsu themselves will admit to being fans of groups such as Genesis and King Crimson, (and how can that be a bad thing!) although they do share sonic similarities it does not prevent Shingetsu from carving out a prog niche all their own.

Although sung entirely in Japanese, and therefore ostensibly less accessible to the Western prog fan, ‘Shingetsu’ will reward close study, of both the lyrics and music. Quintissentially Japanese, but somehow simultaneously universal, the lyric matter of ‘Shingetsu’ (‘New Moon’ in English) is all about capturing moments in life and nature; situations and feelings that we have all encountered but perhaps never yet articulated. The beautiful ‘Other Side Of Morning’ captures perfectly the sensation of stillness and the almost dreamlike quality of a quiet dawn, with ethereal 12-string guitars and a melody rife with nostalgia, sadness and yet hope.

‘Fragments of the dawn’ is again another beauty, opening with a searing guitar and seriously funky (yes funky!) bassline, quickly segueing into a blissful vocal melody, guitars and mellotron, combining with the lyrics to capture a still moment of meditative contemplation.

But Shingetsu are by no means whimsical prog nancy-boys. They can rock out with the best of them, as proven in the first track, ‘Oni’, a saga named after a demon, concerning fear and confusion, and also in 'Night Collector' with its furious drumtastic energy.

Even if you can’t understand the lyrics, Shingetsu’s music plus Kitayama’s voice seen solely as another instrument in the mix, are more than enough to highly recommend this wonderful album. - Review by mitsubachi



Track Listings

1. Oni (9:32)
2. The other side of morning (4:12)
3. Influential street (4:25)
4. Afternoon ~ After the rain (4:08)
5. Fragments of the dawn (7:06)
6. Freeze (3:04)
7. Night collector (5:04)
8. Return of the night (5:36)

Total Time: 43:01
Line-up/Musicians

- Akira Hanamoto / keyboards
- Makoto Kitayama / lead vocals
- Shizuo Suzuki / bass
- Naoya Takahashi / drums
- Haruhiko Tsuda / guitar

+ Takashi Kokubo / synthesizers programming
- Hiroshi Morimura / saxophone (4)
Releases information

LP Zen Records 1009 / CD Made in Japan MHD 32001 (????) / CD Belle Antique 9474 (1994)


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Sounds interesting. Thanks for the post. I hope you are well. You have a wonderful site here.

Cheers, Andy (Hrothgar)

15 de novembro de 2007 09:59  

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