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jueves, 7 de mayo de 2015

Gerard - The Ruins of a Glass Fortress (2000)

Artista: Gerard
Álbum: The Ruins of a Glass Fortress
Año: 2000
Género: Neo-progresivo sinfónico
Duración: 45:13
Nacionalidad: Japón

Lista de Temas:
1. Labyrinth (Muséa Version)
2. The Edge Of Darkness
3. Time Paradox
4. Awake (Muséa Version)
5. Fall Into A Doze
6. The Ruins Of A Glass Fortress - Part 1
7. The Ruins Of A Glass Fortress - Part 2

- Toshio Egawa / keyboards
- Atsushi Hasegawa / bass
- Masuhiro Goto / drums & percussion
Special guest:
Jean-Luc "F. Nazaki" vocals

Otro aporte de Neckwringer en esta semana de aportes de nuestros amigos. Ahora los japoneses Gerard como trío, en un disco con la tapa de un grabado de Duré.

Gerard es un grupo de rock progresivo japones.
La banda nace despues de que el gran tecladista japonés Toshio Egawa decidiera dejar la legendaria (al menos en lo que respecta al ámbito nipón) banda de rock neo progresivo NOVELA, para ampliar sus horizontes y dar a conocer al mundo de lo que era capaz, poniéndose, quizás sorpresivamente, a la altura de los más grandes tecladistas del género hasta ese momento (Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Eddie Jobson, entre otros). Recluta entonces algunos músicos de virtuoso talento, como es el caso del guitarrista Yukihiro Fujimura, y se lanza al ruedo.
Así, desde el mismísimo primer lanzamiento de la banda en 1984, comienza a quedar claro que Gerard será uno de los grupos más significativos e influyentes de la escena japonesa del rock progresivo y sinfónico.
En cuanto al sonido y estilo, en líneas generales se puede decir que Gerard es una banda clásica, fiel a los más básicos axiomas del rock neo progresivo (lo cual no es raro tratándose de una banda ideada por un tecladista). Contando con este característico sonido tan conocido por los amantes del género, Egawa, para variar, da un toque personal y exclusivo que hace que, a pesar de ser una banda más del género, sea LA banda más, generando un quiebre fundamental con lo que se venía escuchando, primero en el Sol naciente, y luego en el mundo.
Last FM

Y en esta semana de aportes de cabezones amigos, les voy avisando que mañana tenemos sendos aportes de Carlos, con varios disquitos de Zappa. Así que, como les dije, vayan haciendo lugar en su disco duro... y me quedan pendientes dos grandes aportes de Alberto que vamos a ver si los puedo hacer entrar, aunque no creo que tenga tiempo para todo...
Vamos ahora con comentarios, en inglés, de este disco que nos trae Neckwringer...

Taken from the same titled album, this mini-suite is another proof of Gerard's skills. Not only these Japanese guys are great composers, but they also offer lavish performances. Take Toshio Egawa's keyboards in this song: they're so different, original and well mixed that one could imagine a whole orchestra is involved. And also the structure of this two-part suite is a treat, with its changes, and the main theme reprises both in instrumental and sung sections.
Here I can't omit a special mention to the guest singer Jean-Luc F.Nazaki, whose suggestive voice adds an arcane mood to the track and to the trio line-up of Gerard. Of course, when the keys go on fast arpeggios in the second half of part 2, well, my prog ears celebrate... yes, the celebrate for real!
Domenico D'Alessandro

The Japanese progressive rock trio GERARD is one of the most well known names in this genre from Japan. The band is lead by the keyboard player Toshio Egawa (ex. EARTHSHAKER, NOVELA, SCHEHERAZADE). Toshio is the main reason why GERARD have so many similarities to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER. His virtuous keyboard playing brings ELP to mind and the band is a trio, just like ELP. What differs these to bands though, is that GERARD is heavier, almost towards hard rock now and then. They also have more instrumental songs than ELP. We're not talking about any ELP clones here; ELP is just mentioned to give you a hint of how GERARD sounds like. Their musical skills are breath taking, and hopefully this Musea release will help them to gain some attention even outside Japan. Because they really deserves it! Check it out!
Greger Rönnqvist

As usual it's another derivative work from Japan, in the vein of UK or ELP, whose technical aspects are evident, thanks also to Toshio Egawa's keyboards, but I don't think it's enough to make the present album a must-have (actually it's not recent at all, being produced in the course of 2000) ...first of all their classic prog "steers" in the direction of such metal prog (think of Dream Theater); secondly it seems an album by Yngwie Malmsteen, where They try to demonstrate They're fast as well as virtuosic in their execution, especially talking about their skill. Fortunately our favourite prog music is special thanks to other features, such as the sense of melody, the creativity or the intelligent dinamycs within the same suite. Are Gerard able to do that? I'm not sure about it and - moreover - the Japanese accented vocalist (Jean-Luc "F. Nazaki") - when He sings in his personal English - is just a little bit tiresome..nevertheless you can find some interesting characteristics inside: for example the bass guitar solo within "Freedom" or their attempt to emulate Il Banco of the Golden Age (the period concerning "Darwin"), during the interplay between the organ and the other instruments.
Then their experience and the sense of maturity too, taken directly from other live performances all over the world, are able to hide their defects quite well (I think of bands like Novela or Scheherazade for instance, always Japanese, sometimes touring in Europe in small gigs, winking at the Italian prog and at Renaissance by A. Haslam as well, to understand their purpose)...after all the bombastic albums by Ars Nova (probably the most acclaimed band of Italian classic prog style in Japan), whose members are determined women, doesn't represent the only way to play prog music in Japan...so at the end make your own choice regarding the collection of Japanese prog!!

In my review of the Gerard's "Pendulum" (1996) album I put this statement to start my write-up:
I don't know whether it happened accidentally or not but for sure the music of Gerard - if I can tell you in a nutshell - is very similar with its counterpart from Japan: Ars Nova. Influence-wise both are similarly influenced by ELP and Triumvirat. While Ars Nova is very focus on Keith Emerson center of ELP music, Gerard is more towards emphasizing the symphonic side of ELP / Triumvirat. Gerard has more sense for melody as opposed to rapid-fire keyboard solo. However, you may hear segments with multi-layered keyboard textures combined with simple solo. Awesome. That's the overall picture about Gerard. But, talking about this album - when you listen to it at first spin, the music will ring you a bell on something you may have heard before: it's like a combination of Pendragon, Marillion, and ELP / Triumvirat. With the voice line by western vocalist Robin G. Suchy, the band can remove the Japanese- English dialect. Now, I think you have a complete picture about the music of Gerard.
In this "The Ruins Of A Glass Fortress" album which was released four years later (2000), the music of Gerard is consistent. I can conclude that they have been very happy with the direction of music they have taken. Having known this two albums, I conclude that I have to have all albums of Gerard. Why? The music of Gerard really fit my taste! As simple as that. But, does it fit your taste? I really do not know. If you love ELP or Rick Wakeman "Six Wives of Henry VIII" I would guarantee you would enjoy this album as well, and presumably other albums of Gerard. This album impresses me even from the start of the album which delivers a very dynamic movement through changing styles and tempo, pondering your pulse to pump your adrenalin flow faster. Well yeah .. the first two tracks "Labyrinth (Muséa Version)" (4:38) and "The Edge Of Darkness" (10:30) do bring good memory on the beauty of Rick Wakeman's "Six Wives of Henry VIII" where all the instruments involved contribute dynamically to the music. Keyboard moves in rapid-fire speed while drumming is also very dynamic, supported with tight basslines that make the compositions sound great to my ears.
It does not mean that only two tracks that really good from this album, because the track with vocal like "Time Paradox" (5:12) still maintain the dynamics of the music. Oh man . you should not miss this band, I tell you straight from my heard! In fact, right now I am listening through my Sennheiser PX-100 headphone system, the work of the bass guitar is really mind-boggling! Superb! Having known these three tracks only, actually it's justifiable to purchase this album. Other tracks are also excellent. The peak is really when we reach the album title track which comprises two tracks in which both of them are excellent.
Do not waste your time, just purchase this album soon! It's really worth it to have this album. Keep on proggin' ..!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
Gatot Widayanto

Comparing with Gerard's albums from mid 80-s, this one is really competent neo-prog work. The band started as very unbalanced bombastic keyboards-led symphonic prog band, in fact - ELP clone, but with absolute accent on keyboards passages. After some albums and some line-up changes they discovered that even bombastic symphonic clones need rhythm section.
But their progression was quite impressive with time. Somewhere in 90-s they added fusion influenced rhythm section, different (and really better) vocals and more modern keyboards sound. From that moment their albums, even if not original, have quite pleasant and acceptable sound, and could attract keyboards-led bombastic symphonic prog fans.
The Ruins Of A Glass Fortress is one between their good works. On the edge of the new Millennium the band balanced their vintage symphonic prog (with slight fusion influence) well. Compositions are quite melodic, even if often faceless. You will hardly find there any innovative move, but at least this music is good clone release for fans of great symphonic prog bands from early 70-s.
Slava Gliozeris

The ruins of a glass fortress from 2000 is another worthy release from this japanese band. This time, I mean from previous 2 albums they optain for a distinct direction towards Triumvirat, UK and even Rick Wakeman influences here and there. The influences from the bands mentioned above are more evident here in contrast with early works, because the head of the band Toshio Egawa take out from the arrangements the guitar, no trace of this instrument here, and because of that the passages are keyboard driven prog. Not bad, really, but is not fantastic either, hardly original album and little flat in some parts, but the skills and talent of Egawa make from this album a real pleasent ride, not to mention that the rhythmic section is quite great and solid. Also in some moments I trace some fusion elements specilly in bass/drums category, where the instruments are complex and complicated, I like the bass lines very much. The opening track Labyrinth and Fall Into A Doze are the best from here, instrumental with complex moves, twist lots of layers, speedy keyboards and some dark atmosphere overall, but in the end really good I might say. All album is instrumental minus two pieces where features Jean-Luc "F. Nazaki", and to my opinion his voice is horrible at best, so I will not count this bad section from my rating system. So, even the arrangements and overall sound is more modern then let's say on Empty lie, empty dream from their early works, I prefer that 1985 album face this The ruins, because of the guitar who gives a more melodic , dynamic and overall better atmopshere to my ears. 3 stars rounded to 3.5 , excellent cover art, like on almost all Gerard albums, that romantic aproach very much in vein with the music offered. Good band, I like what I've heared so far from their catalogue, so for sure I will buy more of their albums.
Bogdan Olariu

A precious cover leads to a precious LP, where the keyboards are the princes of sound in a allegorical composition born in Japan, a land growing in good music, not even copied, but improved that the made in the rest of the world. An essential buying.

If you like bands like ELP or UK than you will like this album very much. After the great albums The Pendulum and meridian here we have The Ruins of a Glass fortress. This album takes you back to Danger Money from U.K. but very stronger and powerfull. The organ and synthesizers are like Eddie Jobson. Even the violin sound that keyboardplayer Toshio Egawa used on his synthesizers are in the Jobson style. Bass player Atsushi Hasegawa sounds like John Wetton when he was with king crimson, and drummer Masuhiro Goto is like Terry Bozzio. You may say: This is very cheap, but when U.K. came out with Danger Money in 1979, everybody was saying that they were imitating Emerson Lake & Palmer. The only thing i can say is when it's good enjoy it and if it's a copy of another band it doesn't matter. How many bands are there today playing great symphonic rock? The title track of this album is one of the best things i have heard in my life. It's very nostalgic hearing the acoustic part one which turns into the progressive part two. a little weak thing of this record is that there is a japanese singer. He cannot sing in english, at least for me it's difficult to understand him. Anyway for me this also a great Gerard album, you won't be dissapointed.
Rudy Stift

Hasta mañana, espero que lo disfruten y seguiremos con todos estos aportes, como siempre.

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Este espacio se reserva el derecho de publicar sobre cualquier tema que parezca interesante a su staff, no solamente referidos a la cuestión musical sino también a lo político y social.
Si no estás de acuerdo con lo expresado podrás dejar tu comentario siempre que no sea ofensivo, discriminador o violento...

Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).