Exposé Online banner

Various Artists — Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome
(Belle Antique 9464, 1994, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:

Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome Cover art

The Japanese symphonic rock scene didn't really pick up steam until the mid-80s, at least as far as record releases were concerned. Numerous bands existed prior to that time but were generally ignored by the Japanese labels, many releasing only demo tapes or flexi-discs. A few of the uncompromising outfits (like Shingetsu, for example) were picked up by majors, but quickly dropped when their albums didn't sell well, while others, like Novela, had to moderate their albums with more commercially viable material. The CD release Tokyo Symphonic Syndrome on Belle Antique attempts to document the studio recordings of four of Tokyo's most uncompromising bands who never made it to a proper album release. The Made In Japan session band is first up, a four-piece featuring members of Outer Limits and two other bands in a special studio side-project from 1981, and the only track on this compilation featuring vocals. Next up is Time Unit, featuring Takeshi Naganuma who would later go on to Lacrymosa and Golden Avant Garde; their contribution, the heavily Crimson influenced "The Clap" was originally released on a flexi in 1982. Aquapolis offers their "Aquapolis Suite," a sixteen-minute epic from mid-1981 that has never seen release in any form until now. Likewise with Green, offering the collection's shortest track at six minutes, "Miyako" exhibits a high degree of originality, fusing intense ELP like keyboards with an almost-Magma-esque rhythm section. Since most of the material here was taken from old tapes or flexis, the sound quality tends to be a little substandard, but is more than made up for by the inspired performances.


by Mike McLatchey, 1994-10-01:

Japanese progressive compilations are always an interesting listen, and this one's no exception — a collection of groups that never made an album but performed live in Tokyo in what sounds like the early 80s. The Made in Japan Session band is up first, with their "Babylonia," a lush and rich symphonic track that immediately moves into high gear with a brilliant Kit Watkins like keys solo. Moving through upbeat and mellow phases, this is a great way to start off this collection — dynamic emotional, and compelling. Time Unit's track "The Clap" starts out with a Crimson like feel — similar in style to bands like Bi Kyo Ran, Arachnoid, or Shylock, with picked angular chords over a solid rhythm base. This long track shows Crimson influence in various ways, especially in the Larks' Tongues era, and moves in various phases from driving Ain Soph like jams to mellow atmospheric parts. This one grows on you over listens. Aquapolis' self titled suite is the compilation's gem, although unfortunately the sound quality gets a bit hissy throughout it. While it almost sounds like it was pieced together posthumously, the 15 minutes works well as a suite. This is a very picturesque track, one of the most lush and vivid I have heard. The bubbling, twittering intro is very effective, giving a very good underwater impression. The music moves from spacey to upbeat back to Vangelis like melodic synth over its course, and it works great. I'd like to hear more by this group. Green's "Miyako" is possibly a distillation of the previous three into five or six minutes, a dense web of progressive with a decidedly Italian flavor to it similar to Kenso — complex, innovative, and surprising.

Filed under: New releases , Issue 5 , 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Various Artists

More info

Latest news

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Emily Bezar - Exchange – With Exchange, California singer/songwriter/keyboardist Emily Bezar has produced her definitive (so far) musical statement. The elements that have contributed to her past releases (progressive rock,...  (2008) » Read more

Halloween, Alaska - Too Tall to Hide – It hasn’t been that long since this Minneapolis band put out their debut (reviewed in #32), and here they come with the follow-up less than a year later. Far from merely avoiding the dreaded...  (2006) » Read more

Murple - Io Sono Murple – Murple is one of the countless Italian one-shots who released one rare album and disappeared off of the face of the earth. Their style was typical of the era – a classical/symphonic rock in the...  (1996) » Read more

Karda Estra - Weird Tales – For his eighth album, Richard Wileman has turned to familiar and not so familiar topics, with pieces inspired by vampires, Max Ernst paintings, actor Peter Cushing, and the short fiction of Sheridan...  (2010) » Read more

Cromwell - Burning Banners – Angular is a German based arm of the Musea label, specializing in a more commercially viable neo-progressive sound, and unlike WMMS — which seems to have trouble staying focused — Angular...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues