Exposé Online banner

Bellaphon — Firefly
(Musea FGBG 4194.AR, 1987/1996, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:

Firefly Cover art

Probably best known for their 1987 album, Firefly, this instrumental four-piece existed from around 1982, and co-existed with the mid-80s Ain Soph, keyboardist Mitsutaka Kaki and drummer Taiqui Tomiie being members of both bands, and Ain Soph bassist Masahiro Torigaki was involved in the earliest formation of Bellaphon. Their sound could be compared at times to early Camel, circa Moonmadness, with a strong emphasis on melodic content and heavy interplay between keyboards and guitars. Symphonic touches abound, and the compositions are quite good, yet sometimes lack some of the thematic development that might make the material classic. Other comparisons might be Finch in their Galleons of Passion period, or Sebastian Hardie, due to the prominently featured guitar and keyboard soloing.

Delphi is an album's worth of early recordings that pre-date the Firefly LP by several years, some from as early as 1982. The collection includes four studio takes and two live, a couple of which survived in rearranged form into the Firefly period. In fact these early recordings stand quite strong, probably taken from early demo tapes, and many are at least equal to the material that was eventually released on the LP. Sound quality on the studio material is good, while just average on the live recordings. Overall a good release, although for the newcomer I would recommend investigating Ain Soph and Kenso first.


by Steve Robey, 1997-02-01:

Bellaphon are a four-piece from Japan, consisting of the standard guitar / bass / keys / drums lineup. Their arrangements are heavy on the keyboards, with Camel-like guitar breaks providing the contrasts. As a purely instrumental units, they eschew vocals in favor of the soloing strengths of Toshihiro Tanaka (guitar) and Mitsutaka Kaki (keys), which are quite impressive. Even better is when Tanaka whips out the acoustic guitar and picks out some lovely progressions. Occasional meter changes from 4/4 to 6/8 are also a plus, as on the title track, which also introduces a Hammond organ sound (albeit a digital-sounding one) and a typically lyrical guitar solo.

While this set is certainly accomplished, there is nothing too distinctive or memorable about it. The flowing instrumentals and solos seem to be not the means to an end, but an end itself. In other words, they just don't dig any deeper than skin-deep. I'm sure this is just a matter of taste; thus, I urge you to judge for yourself. The energetic instrumentals do leave a lot of room for interpretation for the listener.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 11 , 1996 releases, 1987 releases

Related artist(s): Bellaphon

More info

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

miRthkon - Vehicle – Stylistically, miRthkon covers a lot of ground. Led by guitarist/composer Wally Scharold, the band features twin guitar, bass, drums, sax, and clarinet on most songs. The album is a primarily...  (2010) » Read more

Electrelane - Rock It to the Moon, The Power Out, & Axes – Contortions for dirigible apoplexy flex muscular curvatures in modern sound passing raiment unto itself, ballooning into monsoon walls with torque and cresting on a fine knacker. Galloping seesaw...  (2007) » Read more

Beyond-O-Matic - Sonic Reclaimator – Sonic Reclaimator is the second release of improvised space music from San Francisco’s Beyond-O-Matic. They use a wide variety of instruments, both electric and acoustic, some of them invented and...  (1999) » Read more

DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid & Dave Lombardo - Drums of Death – DJ Spooky (Paul Miller) and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo are the core of this oddly compelling recording. Together with bassist Jack Dangers, this cleverly arranged fusion of samples and hard rock...  (2006) » Read more

Spirogyra - Burn the Bridges: The Demo Tapes 70-71 – Not to be confused with a similarly-named 80s fusion act, this British band released three undisputed classics of progressive / psychedelic folk back in the 70s: St. Radigunds, Old Boot Wine, and...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues