Kadenzza - Into the Oriental Phantasma - 2003
introShocking, brutal, intelligent, really progressive. These are some of the adjectives that come to my mind after having listened to this first (¿?) album of Kadenzza, the creature conceived by the brain of the Samurai You Oshima (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, synths, theremin, sampling and programming).
Don´t worry, progVisions won´t change its name to extremeVisions but it´s true that a fresh air comes from extreme music, as happen with heavenly-voices, gothic, industrial music, etc, full of progressive attitude (read: innovation) much more than the “traditional” progressive played nowadays. And I´m not the only one who think this way… Steve Wilson (the progressive guru) is fan of bands like Messugah and he didn´t stop until he produced “Deliverance” and “Damnation”, the lastest Opeth´s albums. In the same way Adrian Belew didn´t stop until he collaborated with his hero Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails).
Before reviewing this album in depth I must aware that this is the kind of album you must listen firstly! (believe me). This is not for the guys who have only listened to Yes, CAP, or Camel. This is extreme music... very extreme music at times... but with millions of shades that reminds me of different bands such as Mekong Delta, the early Voïvod, King Crimson, some ELP flavour, Pink Floyd, NIN, Magma, and the japanese noises created by crazy guys as Masami Akita.
First track “Kamikaze Blows” (5:41) is inspired by the flight of japanese kamikazes. The first seconds are very soft, with a gently synth as a war prelude. After the first minute you´ll find an epic part… but when the counter reaches 1:35 the fury is unleashed. Indescribable... the programming (a human drummer can´t follow this rhythm without breaking the arms) beats the brain as a voice, martial or evil, gets us inside the attack. Meanwhile lots of changes of rhythm and fast synths and guitar solos. An amazing beginning. “Mononoke” (6:24) is the second cannonball shot by this japanese Hiryu. No rest for the listener. Extreme violence calmed down with intelligent breaks and changes. After 90 seconds there´s an intermezzo with oriental aromas with a keyboard solo full of technique. From minute 2:30 on begins an acoustic part with beautiful synth landscapes and guitar arpeggios as we can listen to some background voices. When the counter sets 4:23 the sonic battle returns. The third track, “Wheel of Fortune” (5:13), has a beginning a la Yngwie Malmsteen inspired by the 1st chapter of Mozart´s symphony #25. Along the whole track there are influences of bands such as ELP (the sound of the playful synths) or Angizia (the joyful pianos). A song very epic and not too extreme. Now it´s time for the first suite of the album, the eleven minutes of “Endless Laberynth (suite opus 5)” divided into four parts. The track starts in a ritual way, influenced by european dark bands. Three minutes later… the silence… and step by step the music begins to flow again. In the middle of the track there´s another delicate part with synths that ends in a brilliant progressive instrumental development with classic influences and zeuhl-ish/Zappa sounds. Almost in the end, “Lament 1999” (3:35) is wonderful... simply wonderful. No metal, only synths, acoustic guitars and slight sounds of bells for a very cinematographic track (by the way, the way this guy plays arpeggios on guitar reminds me of Alex Lifeson). This musician is, definitively, a genious or a madman. And the album finishes with the amazing “War Phantasma (suite opus 4)”, divided into six parts with titles like “Requiem for the past war” or “Lament 1945”. More than twelve minutes and one of the best tracks of the year. The beginning reminds of bands like Opeth, Anathema (Eternity era), or the early Theatre of Tragedy. The arrangements and the sensation of orchestrated chaos reminds of bands like Saviour Machine. The music is drenched with oriental elements taken from chinese operas and japanese music. Even the decadent sounds seem to be taken from Roger Waters mind. Little musical boxes over gloomy whispers. And the electric part appears with an amazing Keith Emerson-like synth solo. Female vocals. Sad and melancholic pianos. Sea waves and the musical box sounds until the end. There´s no metal... that makes me think (I don´t have information about the album) that You´s career began with extreme metal (“Kamikaze Blows”) but now he wants to compose songs like “War Phantasma”.
I insist: listen to the album first and listen to it a lot of times (perhaps you won´t get it in a very first listening). Those who are into extreme music or those who have enjoyed with Opeth´s “Deliverance” (for me “Into the Oriental Phantasma” is even better than “Deliverance”) won´t have any problem. I recommend that classic progheads begin listening to “War Phantasma” and the rest of the album backwards, and you´ll find lots of creative music.
This is, undoubtedly, one of the best albums of the year. Sorry I don´t have more information about the artist but I promise an interview with him asap.