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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Natsuki Tamura, Satoko Fujii & Ramon Lopez

Mantle

Review by Gary Hill

This makes it under the heading of prog because that's where we put fusion, and that is probably the closest fit here. Then again, much of this isn't far removed from Rock in Opposition, either. That's another heading that clearly fits under prog. This is definitely experimental art music that has jazz, classical and a lot more in the mix.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Nine Steps to the Ground
Piano brings this into being. The cut moves outward from there with dramatic and experimental sounding jazz of the fusion variety. Around the halfway mark this turns decidedly weird and freeform. From there it drops to near silence as they continue to explore the space in lower volume, but not really quieter, ways. It's mostly piano as this gets going. The volume and intensity come up gradually from there.
Metaphors
A horn brings this in and holds much of the first part of the number. Piano leads the way later as the piece continues to evolve. The horn returns to command further down the road. Some crazy music emerges as other instruments are involved. This reaches a peak and then drops back down again later.
From Spring to Summer
Freaky jazz concepts are on the menu here. This is in the vein of Rock In Opposition. It has a tendency toward the noisy end of the spectrum, and is freeform and feels a bit dangerous.
Your Shadow
No less experimental, this is more melodic in a lot of ways. While it has some classical music in the mix and more mainstream jazz, it's still fusion-oriented.
Encounter
At nearly ten-minutes of music, this is a dynamic and extended piece. It has some soaring moments and a lot of crazed weirdness. There is a much more melodic movement further down the road, but even it wanders into strange zones. In fact, there is some really strange stuff near the end as it gets noisier.
Straw Coat
Freeform jazz is the concept here. The piece has some intriguing concepts, both percussively and melodically. It's exploratory and gets noisy as it works forward. I love the dramatic, classical style piano movement later in the number.
Came, Left
The fusion jamming on this number gets incredibly fiery and crazed.
Autumn Sky
This is a mellower piece as it gets underway, and it seems a bit more restrained. I like the interplay between the piano and the horn. The drums take command around the halfway mark. The piano solo that follows gets tastefully crazed in a classical music way. The whole thing gets seriously noisy as the other instruments are added to the mix.
The Temple Bell
There is a real percussive nature to swaths of this. There are also other strange melodic sounds at points, but the percussion really dominates much of this number. There is some driving, crazed piano later. Then again, piano is technically tuned percussion.

 

 
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