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Shinsekai Alice Through The Looking Glass album cover
3.80 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Alice Through The Looking Glass Part 1 (3:24)
2. Alice Through The Looking Glass Part 2 (3:23)
3. Jabberwocky (2:29)
4. I Love FOCUS (7:07)
5. Turn Right On Sennichimae-Indian (5:46)
6. Five Q (3:51)
7. Return Of Progressive Rock (4:13)
8. Hamatai (2:43)
9. Fairy Tale (3:58)
10. Die Welt Als Wille Und Vorstellung Part 1 (4:02)
11. Die Welt Als Wille Und Vorstellung Part 2 (10:36)
12. Music For The End Of Life (6:45)
13. Mellotron Solo "KIMIGAYO" (1:16)
14. Elegant Talk (9:07)

Total Time 69:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Yu Shimoda / guitar, bass, mellotron, minimoog, programming
- Masuhiro Goto / drums
- Tsuboy Akihisa / violin
- Suginami Junior Chorus / chorus
- Kazumi Suzuki / flute
- Satoshi Kobayashi / bass
- Daichi Takagi / guitar
- "Yodel Master" Kawakami / yodel
- Wakana Ichihashi / ondes martenot
- Null Suzuki / theremin
- Notitaka Ubukata / Wuritzer, Santoor&Tabra
- Masaru Teramae / lead guitar, slap bass
- Masato Hirai / guitar
- Yoko Yamamoto / voices

Releases information

CD Fragile Online PGL9960 (2006)

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the addition
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SHINSEKAI Alice Through The Looking Glass ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (29%)

SHINSEKAI Alice Through The Looking Glass reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams
4 stars (From PA blog "Japanese Progressive Rock presented by DamoX")

An eclectic music space constructed by various musicians, with a terrific Osakan power.

Have you heard about 'okonomi-yaki'? Suggest you have never ... Okonomi-yaki is a common food in Osaka, Japan - a mixture of cabbage, pork, sea foods, and wheat flour, baked like a hot cake and seasoned with sauce, laver powder, red pickled ginger, or mayonnaise. Oh no this is not 'Galloping Gourmet' but the important point I want to emphasize is that Shinsekai's soundscape should be an eclectic fusion with various essence - symphonic, avantgarde, jazzy, psychedelic, electronic, Raga-Oriental, yodel (!), and especially heavy (!!). We can easily understand that by the established fact that all artists supporting this project are much renowned for various scene of Japanese progressive rock, and of course, that this project was around Yu SHIMODA, an Osakan multi-instrumentalist!

Furthermore, surely Suginami Junior Chorus can clad this album in more mysterious and more magnificent armour. The first part Alice Through The Looking Glass Pt. 1 ~ 2 can notify us this situation. After an ethnically beautiful mellotron solo, dignified falsetto chorus completely conquer the part, around heavy riffs by guitar, bass, and drums. Everybody may have never gained such an experience - yep, this eccentricity is absolutely one of the Osakan characteristics. The scene turns on the next song Jabberwocky and deeply heavy riffs and childlike but WEIRD chorus with WEIRD lyrics (about a monster named 'Jabberwocky' under the sunset) launch an all-out attack to us. The content of the lyrics is indeed cheesy like an RPG (because Yu is a composer of computer games or RPGs???) but this exaggerated direction does make this song more dramatic and more serious.

Here on I Love FOCUS (naturally, absolutely naturally the parody of Hocus Pocus!), the Yodel Master has come! Beautiful (but slightly freaked out?) yodel voices ride on the heavy metallic riffs. How queer but amazing the mixture of rock and yodel should be - this richness of ideas lots of Osakan artists have. Not only a heavy progressive style but a very eclectic one inviting various elements in various nations or regions. Another strange song is the next Turn Right On Sennichimae-Indian ... MEANINGLESS! Eerie Junior chorus can go wonderfully into our brain, though. Five Q reminds us ethnically heavy King Crimson during Discipline period and Tony Levin's delightful slap bass solo, like a fantastic speedy progressive machine gun. Well another side of SHINSEKAI is Return Of Progressive Rock 'Tadaima'. Suggest Yu's progressive rock may be complex but enjoyable sound and style featuring Oriental (Japanese, and Osakan) feeling. The song where Suginami Junior Chorus can push their real power should be Hamatai, I wanna say. Cannot understand the meaning of the lyrics at all but sharp-edged chorus is enough amazing for us.

The highlight of this album is the last part - particularly the suite Die Welt Als Wille Und Vorstellung Part 1 ~ 2. This section may be a real copy of King Crimson, Fripp and Bruford! About 15 minute suite is not boring at all for us and let us enough enjoy the heaviness and progressiveness, with altered rhythms and eccentric riffs, inspired (maybe) by Bill Bruford's drumming. Beyond expression about their technique and their harmonized and thrilling plays, all of those can amaze us and simultaneously ease us. The bone marrow of their progressive rock. Music For The End Of Life means such a psychedelic FINE of us 'progressive freaks' ... we can find their various possibility!

By the way, KIMIGAYO is the national anthem of Japan ... please never forget it. ;-)

Review by fuxi
4 stars ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is very much the pet product of one man, Osaka based guitarist-composer Yu Shimoda, who seems to have thought: 'The time has come to do my own album in the styles of ALL my favourite prog bands, adding one or two distinctly oriental flavours'. ALICE may seem derivative, but it should be considered as homage to Shimoda's prog heroes, not as mere imitation. Moreover, it is so high-spirited, it really takes the listener to a better place. Japanese prog bands are not known for their sense of humour, but ALICE abounds in it. As far as I can tell, Shimoda enjoys a sense of the absurd similar to the Yellow Magic Orchestra's. An earlier reviewer has compared ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS to okonomiyaki, i.e. Osaka-style omelet or pancake. The nearest non-Japanese equivalent would be pizza capricciosa, I suppose... Shimoda has indeed employed a large number of guest musicians (all from bands I'd never heard of: Triton, Naikaku, Demetori etc.) with very specific aims in mind, and the result is nothing less than spectacular.

Take the following conceit: you intend to rewrite Focus's 'Hocus Pocus' (notorious for flautist Thijs van Leer's eerie yodelling) but instead of using a rock vocalist, you're inviting Japan's only true Swiss Alps Style Yodeller. (His name happens to be Kawakami, and he definitely sounds AND looks the part!) Or imagine you're reshaping Bruford's 'Five G' (calling it 'Five Q' in the process) while having one and the same artist (Masaru Teramae) replicate both Jeff Berlin's slap-bass AND a lead guitar solo that sounds just like Allan Holdsworth...

Shimoda managed both feats - but that's is just the start!

For my part, Shimoda's GREATEST touch of genius was employing the Suginami Junior Chorus, an energetic girl choir who sound as ladylike as the Northettes. (From those classic Hatfield and the North albums...) Since we're talking about a concept album (partly devoted to Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass") this choir makes a triumphant appearance on the title track, and also in a delightfully 'heavy' Japanese adaptation of the well-known nonsense poem 'Jabberwocky', musically influenced by 'Hina Matsuri', a traditional folk song. The choir shines again on the equally absurd 'Turn Right On Sennichimae-Indian' (Sennichimae is Osaka's most famous thoroughfare, and the 'Indian' in question is an Indian restaurant), and on the catchy 'Hamatai' ('Rude Snapper', a kind of fish), which will get you singing along in no time to the unforgettable chorus: 'Bon bon bobbeeron, bobbeerobbeeron!'

All through the album you'll find delightfully (fake-)oriental tunes performed on synths and vibes (sometimes reminiscent of Kraftwerk, sometimes of Pierre Moerlen's Gong); guest solos on flute, violin and theremin; and then there's 'Fairy Tale' as well - a sweet pop song for female voice, with a charming Camel-style moog solo.

Toward the end, the album gets heavier: 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung' (pts. 1 & 2) consists of two wonderfully inspired freak-outs for lead guitar and drums, with extra accompaniment on ondes martenot (!) in part 2. (What is it with Japanese prog bands and German philosophy? Kenso, too, have a peculiar penchant for 'heavy' German song titles!) This fifteen-minute freak-out is followed by 'Music for the End of Life', a six-minute track which can only be described as Frippertronics. The album closes on a solemn mellotron performance of the Japanese national anthem.

"Alice through the Looking Glass" is charmingly illustrated by the manga artist Megumi Isakawa. It comes with full lyrics (in Japanese), colour photos of all musicians involved, and a 'CD extra' feature which includes full scores of all the tracks. I have no idea if the album is easy to get hold of, but I recommend it to all adventurous listeners.

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