Exposé Online banner

Ars Nova — Fear and Anxiety
(Made in Japan MCD 2923, 1992, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-02-01

Fear and Anxiety Cover art

Here is one of those albums that I hate at one listen, and love at the next. Ars Nova is a Japanese instrumental trio of mega-keyboards, bass, and drums, playing pretty much in the tired old keyboard trio format pioneered by The Nice, ELP, and followed by so many others since, most notably in this case another Japanese band, Deja-Vu. But it can't be dismissed that easily. The sound is busy, multi-layered keys handling just about everything – keyboardist Keiko Kumagai is certainly competent, and offers some very interesting compositions with passion, fire, and rhythmic intensity – as well as some very cheesy, derivative and overblown moments, often within seconds of one another. Bassist Kyoko Saito and drummer Yumiko Saito add very little flash to the music, handling their duties quite competently but remaining buried under the dense wall-of-keyboard sound. The comparisons with Deja-Vu are not unfounded, as the main influence here seems to be European classical, both in rhythm and melody, albeit sometimes shallow and jejune. Whereas Deja-Vu at least had vocals to cover its weaknesses, Ars Nova chooses to forge ahead without a singer, indeed these compositions do not lend themselves well to vocals – too many tight, abrupt changes and chaotic twists and turns. Still, this is not bad for a debut album. Some of the album's better tracks are the furious fast-paced "d3iha:d" (no, that's not a typo), and the nine minute album closer "Fata Morgana," which offers a memorable main melody draped in synthesizer wash, articulated by other interesting side trips along the way.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 2, 1992 releases

Related artist(s): Ars Nova

Latest news

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Strato Ensemble - Drawn Straws – Hovering somewhere between jazz-rock fusion and explorative electronic sounds, this group of improvisors is led by keyboardist Dean De Benedictis, who has already received great reviews in our pages...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues