Quality: 4.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.25 out of 5
I'm a little hesitant when I come across the term 'prog rock.' When musicians can work it towards a spacey groove rather than multi-suite wankery, though, that form of music does get my attention. With that in mind, we'll peg this one as a 'prog rock' classic. Kimio Mizutani was a psych rockin' session guitarist who created this album for his solo debut. He's got pretty awesome chops, and collaborated with some classical chamber groups on this album. Typically, the classical prog turns me away as well, but the band is smart enough to respond to the more orchestrated moments with a jazz vibe. Even Frank Zappa, who often recorded this way as well, tended to miss the point when he'd have his guitarists play rapid-fire walls of intricate guitar when a melodic solo would have done nicely. Mizutani doesn't make this mistake.
This set starts with several awesome tunes. The opening title track does indeed provide some nice jazzy haze, cut straight through with a monster riff from Mizutani's guitar supported by some groovy, Ginger Baker-like drums and streams of strange electronic noise. Once "Sail in the Sky" gets going, we're treated to a fusion vibe which features a very complementary woodwind arrangement. "Turning Point" sounds surprisingly like the post-rock band Tortoise, who wouldn't start recording until about 25 years after this album was released. "One for Janis" might not be the best tune for Janis, but it does give us another riff monster which is pretty fun. On the lesser side "Tell Me What You Saw" veers into hamfisted atonality which actually sounds pretty much the same as Phish jamming (although I'm sure that's a positive point for some of you), and "Way Out" doesn't tend to fit in very well as the only track with vocals. It comes out sounding like early-Return to Forever's vocalist stumbling into a funeral as the music is rather dirge-like.
Yeah, so this is prog-rock that I can be down with. The jazz vibe seems beamed in from the Canterbury scene, while the construction recalls Zappa, although without the 'too many notes' problem. Also, Mizutani is more than sharp enough to have a few of his own tricks up his sleeve and his guitar playing is psychedelically impeccable.