KUMORIGAHARA – KUMORIGAHARA

Posted: 290422

Review Erik Neuteboom

The Japanese four piece formation Kumorigahara was founded in 2013 and features Shota Ishigaki (bass, vocals and second guitar), Vaiolite (electric guitar), Akira (keyboards, organ and piano) and Mu Japan  (drums). Website info: “The band has an important background in independent music scene, and their high level of technique and powerful performance have made them a key figure in the next generation”. In December 2021 Kumorigahara released its eponymous debut album on the Japanese Arcangelo label. This album was recommended by a friend who knows me since the early Nineties, we are both progrock reviewers and love vintage keyboards (especially the Mellotron). And as a huge fan of the Japanese progrock (I even attended gigs by Gerard and Ars Nova in The Netherlands) I was very curious to this highly praised new Japanese band. Well, after my first listening session I was blown away, and overwhelmed, what an exciting sound, what a very dynamic and varied compositions, and what an excellent musicians!

A pastoral Mellotron sound collage (like Anekdoten) in the opener Prefectural Route 334.

From powerful and dynamic up-tempo blend of prog (King Crimson) and jazzrock with pleasant Japanese vocals (reminding me of Gerard), fiery guitar, swirling Hammond organ and a furious rhythm-section to mellow with varied piano work, then a biting guitar solo, melancholical vocals with Mellotron violins, and finally an ultra-bombastic atmosphere with heavy guitar and powerful Hammond in the track 3472-1. The second part strongly evokes Seventies Deep Purple on stage.

Nakano Street is a wonderful ballad featuring majestic waves of Mellotron violins, warm twanging guitar and vocals, halfway a moving guitar solo (backed by powerful drums), Mellotron violins and Hammond runs, the interplay is amazing. It’s incredible how easily this band switches between mellow, heavy, dynamic and bombastic!

Sunrise On The Sand starts dreamy with melancholical vocals, Mellotron violins and Hammond, then Heavy Prog like Made In Japan featuring exciting soli and duels with swirling Hammond organ and blistering guitar. Now the music shifts back to mellow with tender piano runs, and warm vocals (again reminding me of Gerard), Mellotron violins join. Wonderful, and what a strong contrast with the previous heavy and bombastic climate. Finally a strong build-up to a powerful and sumptuous sound with heavy guitar, Hammond, propulsive drums, and emotional vocals, wow!

Snow Bug begins with the mellow side of the band with dreamy twanging acoustic guitar, sparkling classical piano and pleasant vocals, topped with lush Mellotron violins (early King Crimson inspired). Next a slow rhythm and more powerful sound. Halfway an exciting slide guitar solo, another strong musical idea. In the second part the music builds from sparkling piano and inspired vocals (backed by a strong rhythm-section) to a fiery and howling guitar solo, embellished with omnipresent majestic Mellotron violins, goose bumps.

Tryptan delivers a swinging mid-tempo, with the distinctive sound of the Hohner clavinet and Vox Continental organ (known from House Of The Rising Sun), the rhythm-section is excellent, halfway fiery guitar and then swirling organ, very tasteful and dynamic.

Tears of Rabbit is another alternating and dynamic song. First a swinging up-tempo featuring flashy synthesizer flights, propulsive drum beats and powerful vocals, in a bombastic climate. Then a mellow break with the distinctive Japanese koto, Mellotron flutes, and dreamy vocals, simply wonderful. Halfway Heavy Prog with swirling Hammond and powerful drum beats, then a fiery guitar solo. In the end spectacular pitchbend driven MiniMoog synthesizer flights, again in a bombastic atmosphere. Variety rules!

Finally the epic composition Kawazu-zakura, close to 14 minutes. The first part features bombastic Hammond organ and harder-edged guitar work, soon a fat Moog sound joins. Next the music turns into a powerful mid-tempo with heavy guitar, thunderous drums, and another swirling Hammond solo (like “Jon Lord meets Toshio Egawa”), pretty exciting! Suddenly the climate shifts to dreamy with Mellotron flutes and the koto, topped with warm vocals. The long final part delivers a compelling atmosphere, from mellow and psychedelic to a bombastic mid-tempo, culminating in a powerful sound with Hammond, Mellotron violins, fiery guitar play, and propulsive drums, another ‘wow’ moment!

What a stunning debut album by this new Japanese formation, highly recommended!