Perhaps Ars Nova were hoping to capitalise on their sex appeal with the release of their new CD "Android Domina", or they were simply playing with a Machine/Sex concept in their song writing. The packaging and opening sexual moans in "Android Domina" could surely attract a wider audience than the progressive fans that this Japanese threesome have built through out the years.
What is amusing is that someone who buys the CD thinking the music is techno-dance will be greatly surprised and that the women in provocative outfits are actually the members of the band, not some models used for the photographs.
Regardless of all these superficialities, "Android Domina" is Ars Nova's most accessible release to date. The songs are more symphonic and melodic and will surely draw in more progressive music fans who were ultimately turned off by the intensity of previous recordings.
Ars Nova consists of three young ladies from Japan; Keiko Kumangai on Hammond Organ, synthesisers and programming (and the main songwriter); Mika Nakajima doing voices, synthesisers, piano and organs; and Akido Takahashi on drums and percussion. The band, like many from Japan, borrows intensively from ELP and has released several albums which have been highly virtuosos, but have not been developed melodically. All that has now changed.
Fans that liked the speed and intensity of Ars Nova may be at first disappointed by "Android Domina". However, after repeated listenings, I find the songs are as complex and well played as previous releases. Add to that the musical elements and "Android Domina" is the best Ars Nova release to date, with only a slight compromise. The band have thankfully not given up any progressive elements in their sound.
"Android Domina" begins things off with a lot of musical variety. Being a song in many parts, it explores all elements of Ars Nova's music. "All Hallow's Eve" is very symphonic, and is counter-pointed by various atonal bridges. It's a clear indication of the symphonic direction the ladies have taken.
"Horla Rising" has hints of the ELP-driven influences of earlier Ars Nova, but it also is layered in symphonics and melodic passages as well. There's also a medieval influence in some of the quieter moments. Child-like voices introduces "Mother" a special Musea bonus track. The song transforms into a interplay of synthetic percussion and heavily sampled choral voices. It's a well developed song and builds to a nice crescendo.
"Succubus" is the shortest song at 5 and a half minutes and begins frantically, but is mixed with similar sampled voices and symphonic parts. Some great lead synth passages make this song similar to the previous track.
The final track of the CD is "Bizzarro Ballo in Maschera" which begins in a playful manner, almost sounding like Wendy Carlos does carnival music. But the music keeps changing and one has to run to keep up to it. Again, this long, complex piece is a clear indication of the maturity in Keiko's song writing and the variation of keys this band is capable of.
All six tracks on this CD stand out. Averaging in 7-11 minutes in length, "Android Domina" contains nearly fifty minutes of keyboard driven prog. I strongly recommend it as a starting point for anyone not familiar with Ars Nova's music.