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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Natsuki Tamura

Summer Tree

Review by Gary Hill

Except for one of its four tracks, this is a truly solo album. Natsuki Tamura plays trumpet, piano and wok. Yes, you read that last one correctly. I cook with my wok pretty frequently, and I know that they were also helmets at one time, but I've never used one as a musical instrument. It's good to know that it can function that way. He is joined on one track by Satoko Fujii who provides vocals. The thing is, while you can pick out individual instruments a lot of the time, this sounds otherworldly and really transcends any expectations of limitations of the tools used to create the sounds. This is unsettling, and rather horror movie or at least science fiction like. It's unique, impressive and so creative, too. This is not progressive rock in traditional sense, but it is art music for sure.

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Track by Track Review
Summer Tree
Coming in noisy and cacophonous, this almost feels like something that would be at home in the soundtrack to a horror movie. This evolves gradually, but remains a bombastic and strange. It does move toward more melodic territory further down the road. The spooky kind of horror movie vibe remains throughout, though.
Summer Color
A clanging seems to sound an alarm as this gets underway. Weird sounds resembling speech of some strange creatures emerge. This paints a tapestry that feels horror movie related. A pounding is heard as it continues with blasts of piano emerging to bring a new angle to the piece here are there. This is noisy, in-your-face and so cool. It is very freeform and experimental. It turns almost classical, but in a bombastic and weird vein, later. The piano really pounds as the clanging is more intense further down the road.
Summer Wind
There is a sense of urgency and danger as this gets way. There is a voice, but closer to a scream turned scat singing than actual lyrical singing, on the number. Strange angry piano is heard as a musical tension holds down the back of the song.
Summer Dream
There is a sense of urgency in the backing layers of sound on this piece. The horn lends some classy old-school melody. This is the most melodic and "normal" piece here, but it's still freeform and tastefully unsettling. There is a real ominous quality to it.
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