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lunes, 30 de marzo de 2015

Ars Nova - Android Domina (2001)

Artista: Ars Nova
Álbum: Android Domina
Año: 2001
Género: Hard rock sinfónico
Duración: 51:18
Nacionalidad: Japón

Lista de Temas:
1. Android Domina
2. All Hallow's Eve
3. Horla Rising
4. Mother
5. Succubus
6. Bizarro Ballo In Maschera

- Keiko Kumagai / hammond, synthesizers, programming
- Mika Nakajima / voices, synthesizers, piano, organs
- Akiko Takahashi / drums, percussion
Ken Ishita / bass
Noboru Nakajima / bass
Numero Ueno / voice
Reina / voice

Android domina:

No, no, no tiene nada que ver son el SO para celulares, son las ELP japonesas, algo más bizarras, un poco más power, sobretodo más lindas, pero ofrecen un rock sinfónico enreverado, moderno aunque basado en el sinfónico de Wakeman, ELP y toda esa movida. Hay que admitir que para tocar esta música son sin duda hay que ser un músico técnicamente muy talentosos, y ellas lo son. Brillantez técnica basada en los teclados pero con una muy buena base de batería, que crean un flujo constante de complejidad melódica, un constante exceso dramático basado en gruesas capas de sintetizadores y teclados.
Pareciera que el espíritu de este álbum es la pesadilla, el horror y la bizarrez perversa y condenada... veamos los títulos de las canciones: "Horla Rising" parece ser el título de un cuento de Guy de Maupassant que trata sobre el horror y la locura, "Succubus" es un demonio convertido en un bella mujer, mientras que el álbum se abre con una mujer gimiendo de placer, el resto es un adrenalítico viaje de casi una hora de duración con un enérgico teclado llevando adelante una música instrumental compleja y musicalmente desafiante, ya que si bien su sonido recuerda a estos viejos héroes del rock progresivo, tienen una mente innovadora, buscan la exploración y la aventura. En otras palabras, su música no suena como si estuvieran tratando de copiar a nadie.

Para los desprevenidos que asocien a chicas haciendo música con las cantantes pop de moda, les aclaro: la música de estas niponas no es tan fácil entrar, pero si se toma el tiempo y realmente escucha sus discos con atención les prometo que vale la pena.
Y antes de los comentarios en inglés, les dejo un video de una presentación de estas chicas en Brasil:

One of the best symphonic albums from Japan. Beside GERARD, this female band is the maximum expression of the powerful symphonic rock in that Asian island. Keiko, the keyboardist, has great ability composing and playing, making with each piece a bombastic and -at the same time- melodic opus. Again, the mandatory reference is ELP (and even Rick Wakeman sometimes). All the album is really enjoyable, and "Bizarro Ballo In Maschera" the highlight.
Marcelo Matusevich

Android Domina is for me one of the greatest progressive rocks albums of last years. If you survive with health to the female moaning when the album begins, you will be into an incredible world of sex, magic, music and emotion. The band sounds sometimes like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but it have its own style also. More dark, more gothic. It´s an essential album and if you really want to have the best of the story of progressive rock, you can´t avoid it.
Rodolfo Del Bene

Dressed in a minimum of clothing with lace and leather, two of the girls in the Japanese band ARS NOVA are posing on the cover to their 2001 album "Android Domina". Is this really the cover of a progressive rock album? If I hadn't knew the answer I would've guessed that this album originated from a 80's heavy metal band á la Madam X. The album then opens with a moaning woman and you wonder whether ARS NOVA have turned into a sexual out-studied band or not. But then the music starts and takes you on an almost hour-long journey together with ARS NOVA's energetic, complex and musically challenging instrumental keyboard dominated music. They often have been compared to early EMERSON LAKE & PALMER. The comparison is understandable, but there's also reminiscences with band such as BANCO MUTUO SOCCORSO, GOBLIN, UNIVERS ZERO and Rick WAKEMAN. I would say though that ARS NOVA have find their own expression, and even if their sound is reminiscent to these old prog rock heroes, they have a innovative, exploring and adventurous mind. In other words, at least on this album, it doesn't sound as if they are trying to copy anyone. ARS NOVA's music isn't that easy to get into, but if you take the time and really listen I promise you that it's worth it.
Greger Rönnqvist

A bit better than their previous works, as this new album is more personal... despite of this consideration, the music atmospheres are quite repetitive (their usual defect along with their poor drumming section), nevertheless you don't find here particular excesses in the execution of the keyboards' solos and besides the track "Bizzarro Ballo" is alone worth checking out... It's an interesting album, although I can not regard it as an essential number!

In the late Nineties I did an interview with this female keyboard driven progrock trio. It was a funny one but only the bass player spoke a bit English. And all ladies were super friendly but very shy. What a contrast with the sensual cover from this fifth studio album (2001): two band members with sexy underwear and very tempting looks! And on the first minutes of the opener Android Domina we can hear all kinds of female orgastic sounds, I could hardly believe that these women were the same as I had interviewed .... By the way, later they told me in an e-mail that this kind of behaviour is a taboo in Japan so this was their provocative protest annex statement for acceptance.
Back to the music, on this CD Ars Nova prooved again that they belong to the best bands within the Japanese progrock scene and in my opinion they even can compete with many great progrock acts in Europe: tasteful compositions, loaded with bombastic, often virtuosic keyboard work (flashy synth runs, impressive Hammond waves, sparkling piano and harpsichord and majestic violin Mellotron - and church organ samples). The rhythm-section is dynamic and powerful although the drums sometimes sound a bit too tight for me. If you like Triumvirat, Le Orme, Trace or ELP, this Japanese trio is worth to check out.
Erik Neuteboom

This was the first album where the members of the japanese Emerson, Lake and Palmer appear in the cover, and they do so in a porn picture! This album must be good!
Though Japan have a wide and rich prog rock scene, Ars Nova was the first japanese prog band i ever heard anything about and the more i learned about this band more i liked it. Eventually, i found this album, Android Domina. It drew my attention not only because it is an Ars Nova album, but also because of its porn cover, where both keyboardists, Keiko Kumagai and Mika Nakajima, are wearing bondage clothing and doing a sexy pose (note: the cover of the album i have is not the one that is in PA).
When i checked the music inside the album i was both very content and discontent. I was very content because the music is very good, à lá Ars Nova: powerful dual keyboards (something that only Ars Nova, as far as i know, does) with big ELP influences (though the bass part here was made by a keyboard), but without sounding derivative nor emulative, something they have being doing since The Goddess of Darkness. Another good point here is that, for the first time, there were vocals with words in their music, something they never made before (maybe Keiko is learning more than basic english now, but who knows. . .).
However, besides the good points, there is something i just hated in this album: there were many cracks and some background hiss through the whole album. That just cannot happen these days, when technology in the mastering, mixing and recording process made fixing those inconvenient noises so easy and cheap.
Although those noises were a problem in a time where high definition is the rule, the music mostly overcame it. the highlights of this album are: Android Domina, All Hallow's Eve and Bizarro Ballo In Maschera. Actually, a big part of the cracks and hisses are in the song Android Domina.
Grade and Final Thoughts
A nice album with very good songs and a bondage pin-up cover, enough said.
Caio "Dot" César

Immediately after the release of ''The book of the dead'' Ars Nova hit the road for an extended world tour, featuring support keyboardist Naomi Miura (ex-Rosalia and After the Rain).They visited Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and England, before flying over to the USA.In 1999 Miura's temporary place was permanently taken by Mika Nakajima, who played all kind of keyboards.The same year the trio teamed up with Gerard to release the album ''Keyboards triangle''.They failed to find a bassist upon the recordings of the new album ''Android domina'', Ken I[&*!#]a and Noboru Nakajima provided these duities in a pair of number, but the album came to completion primarly by the new double keyboard/drums line-up.As with ''The book of the dead'' this one was released on Made in Japan for their homemarket, Musea for the European one, while Black Widow pressed a vinyl issue.
With the kinky front cover and the sound of a loving woman in the opening minutes, ''Android domina'' marked a brand new era for the band.With the absence of a regular bassist and the presence of two female keyboardists, the sound of Ars Nova took a slightly less pounding and more romantic direction, though the darker moments have not been abandoned by the group.This time they reminded me a lot of IL BALLETO DI BRONZO with all these odd keyboard fanfares finding their way from Classical-drenched church organ and tricky synth exercises to the typical Ars Nova E.L.P.-like masturbations on Hammond organ.GERARD and RICK WAKEMAN were and still are pretty good reference points, the first come to mind during the long and pompous synth drains, while the latter springs to mind mainly during the more apparent Classical influences.The music is largely instrumental and deeply symphonic with lengthy tracks and virtuosic solos, melodies are rather absent and the focus here is on emphatic, detailed and varied compositions with tight links between the movements, always propelled by the sound of keyboards.As aforementioned, the sound is a bit more ethereal (compared to the last couple of albums) but always dense and certain parts recall THE ENID's delicate and grandiose arrangements.
Ars Nova enter the millenium with a pretty nice keyboard Prog effort.The music is always magnificent, cinematic and haunting, but the addition of a keyboardist instread of a bassist has made more bad than good to a nonetheless heavily keyboard-led group.Anyway, this is a pretty great work for fans of E.L.P., TRACE, REFUGEE, TRIUMVIRAT, SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING, RICK WAKEMAN and the likes.

Having seen the "Three Degrees" of prog live on a couple of occasions and having a decent amount of their recorded output, it was nevertheless a big surprise when I put their brand new Android Domina in my CD-player. The all female ELP clone this time around kicks off with a faked orgasm, as if you're witnessing the audio channel from a porn CD-ROM. The long opening title track however is the combination of five parts, which in the end sum up the many talents of Keiko Kumagai and friends. Produced once again by Keiko's "boyfriend" Numero Ueno, it once again strikes me how powerful the tiny Akiko Takahashi bangs the drums, creating an often eerie atmosphere that comes close to the era of Italian horror movies (isn't Goblin one of Keiko's favourite bands?). No wonder Ars Nova delivered a track for the Black Widow label compilation .. E Tu Vivrai Nel Terrore.
Newcomer Mika Nakajima even lends her (Japanese) voice for a moment before bombastic church organ delivers an Ars Nova I have never heard before. Then both keyboard players battle it out as if we are hearing a preview of the much rumoured Wakeman-Emerson collaboration. I have to inform you that producer Numero Ueno is also involved in the making of Japanese fantastic films. If my information is correct then he designs props and stage sets for sci-fi movies, which is not at all weird if you look at the Ars Nova costumes and sleeve designs. But as Japanese people always go for the most professional result, we also have to admit that the new album sounds very detailed thus also giving a chance to quieter passages. Talking of quiet music, how about the dreamy lullaby "All Hallow's Eve," which even sounds a bit X-mas-like when you listen closely to the bells and vocals. But if you know Ars Nova then you'll know that this atmosphere simply can't last for well over seven minutes, hence the fact that it switches to a more rock idiom with classical elements intertwined. Towards the end the music even becomes overwhelming and even soundtrack like.
With the help of ex-D?ja Vu member Ken Ishita on bass, there's an extra dose of power hidden inside of "Horla Rising," an outstanding track with loads of tempo changes and rhythm breaks. As written so many times, I would also be impressed to hear real acoustic instruments make their entry here regardless of the fact that during live concerts Keiko will nevertheless reproduce these sounds on her many keyboards. As the sound is very detailed why not go for some extra guests on "pure' classical instruments? After all, drummer Akiko also plays the violin so why not opt for such a move which can also be a great asset live? The track "Mother' is clearly stated as being a special Musea bonus track, but I have to admit that it starts off in a very scary way with the false vocals of a child called Reina. Luckily that's only the intro which is followed by vocal acrobatics courtesy of Mika and Numero Ueno. The tape loops and sequencers give the song a slight commercial feel, almost in the same way like Ultravox and Tubeway Army used to approach their bank of synths. The song ends with a heartbeat rhythm. "Succubus" is the typical Ars Nova sound all over, smearing thick layers of musical drama all over the arrangement. To my ears there's also a decent amount of Bach influences to be found here. The love for Italian baroque is the main ingredient found in the closing track "Bizzarro Ballo In Maschera? with clavinet joining the strings (why no flute or viola here?). Probably one of the least aggressive and most melodic songs the band has ever composed. When military drums set in, there's like an army of mandolins in the background, blending together with the superb mellotron sounds. For a short moment there's even a slight hint of a rumba rhythm to be noticed before spacey synth sounds and harpsichord take over. The song ends with a real waltz as written by Johan Strauss. So don't be surprised when our three geisha's are dressed in lavish ballroom dresses on the sleeve of their next album. Richard Clayderman, Jan Vayne and Andr? Rieu have been warned!
Although Android Domina is one of their most accessible albums to date, Ars Nova still remains pretty difficult for most prog fans, [? -ed.] so instead of dissecting a complete album why not go for one track as a taster. The recent Musea sampler Un Voyage En Progressif Volume 6 offers an Ars Nova track from this album and at only 30 French francs it's really a steal and a great introduction to the wonderful world of Musea.
Progressive World

So far, "Ars Nova" was an all instrumental band, but some (rare) "vocals" will be featured on this album.
This album is longer than usual (but just over fifty minutes) and since most of their previous work was rather repetitive, I was afraid to suffer after half of this album.
The title track is the longest piece of this "Android Domina" and features, as usual some brilliant technical aptitude from Android Keiko. We all know she displays gorgeous synth sounds but I can't say that "Ars Nova" music is very creative. The "vocals" here are a simulation of an orgasm. Might give you some ideas when looking at the cover. Gently provocative but not very much in the Japanese spirit which is rather wise and not really provocative.
I have used to listen to their works as a substitute to "ELP" while I fancy to listen to some derivative music instead of the genuine model. I guess that a "Best Of" should have worked better on me than all these separate records which sound almost the same.
It would be difficult to tell from which album a number comes from. So similar they are. Still, this Japanese band never released a poor album so far.
This album is on the up side as far as the first two numbers are concerned; with some very good and varied rhythms during "All Hallow's Eve" which is one of the best tracks. There are so many different themes, sounds that it is one of their most complex number. A highlight. It is at times pleasant to discover that the band can play something else than "ELP" songs. They should concentrate more into this direction IMO.
But, apparently, this was only a short digression since they will revert to their traditional style with "Succubus". But after a bombastic explosion, some very melodic notes escape from those keys. The trio is really great in this shorter song. I have to say that so far this album is very pleasant. A special mention to the very good bass play (performed by a guest since this album is featuring two keys players and a drummer).
When I spoke of some vocals during this release, do not expect expert work. During "Mother", they sound more as lullaby for young children than true rock vocals (as one could find on most of "Teru's Symphonia" work). This song features an interesting Eastern Oriental mood which is also welcome and breaks the uniformity one could feel while listening to most of their previous records.
"Horla Rising" also holds one of their most symphonic breaks. A bit too short (the break I mean since this song almost clock at ten minutes) but so magical.
The closing number Bizzaro Ballo in Maschera is a bit long to really kick : almost four minutes of chaotic music before an almost classical second part. The keys duo is fully complementary and adds another dimension to this song (but not only).
IMO, it is the best work of the band. The most varied one for sure.

Y si ustedes quieren y lo piden, les puedo traer varias cositas de estas maravillosas y musicalmente enfermas muchachitas niponas. Ya saben, si quieren, pidan nomás.
Sea como sea, Android Domina...

4 comentarios:

  1. Moebius quiero TODO lo de estas japonesas espectaculares!!!
    Cabeza de Moog es ESPECTACULAR!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Lamentablemente no puedo descargarlo. Mega me tira error.

    1. Intenta en firefox. Con ese no tienes problemas de ese tipo, también prueba en internet explorer. A mi me está jalando en chrome, pero a veces ese chrome es el mamón.

  3. Yo lo puedo descargar. Debe ser el típico error temporal que cada tanto tira Mega, todo un sello de la marca. Prueba más tarde que va a funcionar.

    Y si lo quiene, marchan entonces más Ars Nova para todos los cabezones!!!! Dentro de poco publico más discos de las japonesitas


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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).


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).