Bi Kyo Ran — Go-Un
(Belle Antique 95149, 1995, CD)
by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:
Known for years as the group that sounds more like King Crimson than King Crimson themselves, Bi Kyo Ran have reformed after many years away, in the process growing from a trio to an eight-piece of dual guitars, bass, keys, triple-percussion, and multi-voices, augmented by guests on woodwinds, brass, and chorus. Along the way they have nearly completely lost their early image as a perfect clone of 70s-Crimson. The new Bi Kyo Ran is a very adventurous unit, covering a lot of new territory, the added multi-percussion and second guitar have offered plenty of room to explore – and I expect that some looking for the band of yore will be profoundly disappointed. But progressive rock involves growth and change, and that's precisely what is offered here. Could one have expected the band to come back after twelve years (with five new members, no less) and serve up the same old dish? I think not. Not surprisingly, many of the tunes center around percussion and voice (five band members offer vocals, not counting guests), and the interplay of acoustic and electric guitars (as on the Spanish flavored "Psycho, Part II." On the other hand, the piano and synths are rarely heard. Some of the material is very quiet and subtle – and very Japanese, for example the closer "21st Century Africa," on which two kalimbas are joined by various other percussives in a lengthy intro that finally gives way to some irregularly timed rock with Fripp-oid guitar leads. This is a more subtle album, far away from their earlier in-your-face approach. It takes a few listens to grow into, but patience will reward. Welcome back!
by Mike McLatchey, 1996-03-01:
Bi Kyo Ran were the Japanese equivalent of mid period King Crimson from the obvious "Larks Tongues in Aspic" copy at the beginning of their self-titled debut to one of their recently released live compilations which is all King Crimson covers. Regardless of these obvious influences, Bi Kyo Ran were still great, both their debut and second album, Parallax, are fine albums, the latter amongst the best of all 80s Japanese progressives. How Bi Kyo Ran could live with such a strong comparison is beyond me, but now the band after over a ten year hiatus have reformed with a new album and an effort to put the Crimson references to rest... well almost. The opening track, "Ran Part II," here is the only one that brings back the Crimson spirit with very angular Frippian guitar work and a flashback to the early Bi Kyo Ran sound. The rest is a mixed bag and hard to describe. Bi Kyo Ran have definitely modernized their approach, the tones have more in common with the underground Japanese scene a la God Mountain label (most of the bands on Neu Konservatiw would be decent pointers) yet not in any way industrial. Certain things annoy me about the change, the discoid female vocals on "Journey's End" remind me of bad Talking Heads and practically ruin the song. Most of the music is good though and except for the intro is practically devoid of King Crimson references and seems much more indigenously Japanese. It should be interesting to see what happens as Bi Kyo Ran evolves their new style (they have a new live album already out since this title). Certainly not as good as their first two albums, but definitely more original.
Related artist(s): Bi Kyo Ran / Madoromi
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more
Thee Majesty - A Hollow Cost & Thee Fractured Garden – The incarnations of Genesis P-Orridge continue to manifest in many different and sometimes compelling ways. Two of the composer’s spoken word series are reissued here by Voiceprint in part to... (2005) » Read more
Hardline Project I. - A Virtual Exhibition With Music – As the title implies this multi-media CD-ROM features accompanying artwork but since the review copy only contained the music we'll leave the art to our collective imaginations. The musicians here... (2000) » Read more