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Ars Nova (JAP) - Transi CD (album) cover


Ars Nova (JAP)

Symphonic Prog

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3 stars It's a good derivative work, characterized by surprising solos at the keyboards, but boring parts regarding instead of the Japanese vocals and their derivative parts in the vein of BALLETTO DI BRONZO, GOBLIN and EMERSON LAKE & PALMER as well... This mood generally characterizes the whole production!! Interesting but not essential work!!
Report this review (#1077)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The second album of this Japanese band is still hesitant.

Some thirty minutes of music from which you can skip the first two numbers which are very short (just over four minutes in total). By far the weakest tracks in here. The album really starts with a pompous but good (after all, their model is "ELP") "Danse Macabre". Very good drumming is one of its major attractive. Its bombastic character being another one.

The global feeling while you listen to this album is of course the one of "déjà vu". If you are a keyboards lover and if you are found of the early "ELP", there are some numbers like "Sahara 2301" which will surely please you. It is not very original, but you' ll be intoxicated with these pleasant and wild keyboards sounds. It is my favourite track from "Transi".

The epic of the album is the closing number. "Nova" is mixing some Arabian and "EMP" influences with brio. This track is for sure a highlight here. Again, drumming is very powerful and some parts are really melodic, well polished and features an excellent musicianship. Some parts are even more Banks than Emerson oriented.

Still, this is just short to make a good album but it deserves more than two stars. I'll upgrade this fully instrumental album to three (but maybe one day, we'll be able to rate with halve stars...).

Report this review (#156182)
Posted Friday, December 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Second this Japanese full-female trio album contains their characteristic keyboards- based symphonic prog. Heavily influenced by ELP, a bit more modern, but at the same time with specific "Japanese" synthetic sound.

Melodies are OK, and musicianship level is not lower than average. Drummer's work is even better that you can expect (and better than in their later works). Keyboards passages spiced with light jazzy sound.

Compositions are different enough to save you from being bored, but not memorable. Too often the sound balances on danger border with instrumental pop-music. Possibly, absence of vocals doesn't help as well.

Generally, average band's album, will be pleasantly listened by ELP and neo-classical keyboards music lovers. Not innovative or serious enough to attract other listeners .

Report this review (#269951)
Posted Saturday, March 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The same year ''Fear & Anxiety'' was released the Japanese trio participated also in the compilation "Progressives' Battle 1992 ".In 1993 though drummer Yumiko Saito left Ars Nova and was replaced by Akiko Takahashi, member of the New Wave/Avant-Garde bands Nothing Inside and Danball Bat.The following year Ars Nova returned with their second full-length attempt ''Transi'', released again on Made In Japan Records.

The Japanese ladies followed the same formula as with ''Fear & Anxiety'', a 6-track album of bombastic, keyboard-driven Symphonic Rock with a fair dose of melodies and a huge amount of virtuosic themes.Keiko Kumagai uses a variety of analog and digital keyboards, inclusing organs, church organs, Mellotrons and multiple synthesizers to produce the appropriate mood for its case.The style of Ars Nova is still grounded in the E.L.P./RICK WAKEMAN Symphonic Rock category, but this time they colored their sound with darker and more sinister atmospheres akin to DEVIL DOLL or GOBLIN.The performances remain excellent with Kumagai being the central figure.Superb edgy synthesizers and haunting organ sounds supported by huge Mellotron waves and some delicate harsichord in rich arrangements with a very dynamic rhythm section offer modern rock symphonies of nice quality for all lovers of technical listening experiences.The themes are complex and adventurous with a few smoother passages added for good measure, highlighted by the excellent self-titled track and its changes between horror atmospheres and more elegant and Classical-based textures.

Recommended to the audience of both vintage and modern Symphonic Rock, ''Transi'' is certainly a music heaven for all fans of majestic, keyboard-driven soundscapes with tons of virtuosic passages.

Report this review (#861446)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars It's not fair to instantly dismiss instrumental Japanese prog group Ars Nova as being lazy or unimaginative Emerson, Lake and Palmer clones, even if the all-female trio are heavily influenced by the legendary band as a starting point. Instead, they marry the grand bluster of that classic Seventies act to a heavier and darker gothic sound, and their second album, 1994's `Transi', in addition to being perhaps their most grandiose and complex work overall, weaves in plenty of demented and noisily schizophrenic touches as well!

Opening introduction `Phantom' sounds like the love-child of horror director/composer John Carpenter and legendary Italian soundtrack doomsters Goblin with its ghostly electric piano tip-toes and approaching infernal majesty. It leads directly into the punchy little `Chase', unsurprisingly attacking and up-tempo, and full of Keiko Kumagai's frantic races of buzzsaw-like electronics, dizzying Moog spins and staccato piano stabs, Akiko Takahashi's bashing relentless drums and Kyoko Kanazawa's stalking grumbling bass.

From there on, `Transi' and all the lengthier epic pieces bring plenty of classical pomp and gothic flair, coming together to resemble a gloriously over-the-top spectral pantomime. With everything from fanfare church organs rising around whipping tension and echoing ambience, snaking icy Mellotron slivers, searing Hammond blasts, upfront coursing bass spasms and pounding drum tantrums, the album takes no prisoners. Breathless and relentless, victorious and grandiose, kitsch and histrionic...and there's a devilish mischievousness creeping out of every pore that will surely have Old Nick licking his lips with malevolent glee!

`Dance Macabre' incorporates some exotic Arabian flavours here and there, and `Sahara 2301' houses reprising Moog themes that are both heroic and romantic in a proud Rick Wakeman-esque manner. The near-thirteen minute closer `Nova' is overloaded with sumptuous sweeping flourishes but also moves through everything from avant-garde jazzy piano noodling ala early Pink Floyd, a little bit of swooning Vangelis-like prettiness and an abundance of deliciously scratchy organ violations and hellish Mellotron fire, and an unexpected subdued ambient outro will make you wish Ars Nova explored that area a little more.

Yes, this one can be a little overwhelming and exhausting in the way it darts about in constant multiple directions most of the time (some listeners will likely find that particular quality aggravating), it sure could do with a few more quieter breaks to allow the listener to catch their breath, and you will likely wish the band would calmly develop a few more stronger reprising themes here and there. But the technical virtuosity, extravagant arrangements and inspired energy on display is infectious and hard not to be impressed by, and `Transi' remains a blurring kaleidoscope of musical colour for symphonic-prog lovers.

Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#1947411)
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 | Review Permalink

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