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KBB - Four Corner's Sky

Artist: KBB
Title: Four Corner's Sky
Label: Poseidon PRF-008/Musea 4501.AR
Length(s): 56 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2003
Month of review: [11/2003]

Line up

Akihisa Tsuboy - violin, cellolin on 5, guitars on 7
Toshimitsu Takahashi - keyboards
Dani - bass, guitars on 2, 7
Shirou Sugano - drums

Tracks

1) Discontinuous Spiral 7.17
2) Kraken's Brain Is Blasting 9.35 MP3
3) Horobi No Kawa 6.53
4) Backside Edge 6.50
5) Slave Nature 6.41
6) I Am Not Here 9.13
7) Shironji 10.10

Summary

Featuring Akihisa Tsuboy, also responsible for an album with Natsuki Kido, this is one of a large batch of Japanese albums on this website. Many of these can be obtained from either the Japanese Poseidon label or from Musea.

The music

Discontinuous Spiral is dominated by melodic violin playing. The music dances, is jazzy but in a folky fashion (mainly because of the violin who plays jiglike at times). The melodies are good, the vibes warm and excellent, while the piano tingles alongside adding freshness. The most obvious reference I can give is Jean-Luc Ponty. The ending proceeds in a swirling fashion with the keyboards also adding their two cents and plenty of cymbals to lay down the accents.

Kraken's Brain Is Blasting is something different. Okay, the violin is still the dominating factor, but now the playing raises the tension to extremely high levels. Guitars are also present here to lend the music more power. Although the music does die down sometimes and the bass and drum take over to be followed by some meandering guitar. After a few minutes the violin sets back in for another performance. The following quiet sequence is led by violin and piano and cymbals in the back. Around the six minute mark the song reaches the rapids, leading to a tension rich, frenetic ending. Sometimes I am reminded of Calamity by David Cross.

With Horobi No Kawa the manicness disappears again. In fact, it opens very peaceful with a nice simple theme piano. The song has a laid back seventies jazzrock mood with light piano and drums and a strong melodic bass presence. A melancholic track, but certainly not boring, it has a very nice flow to it.

The bass ups the ante on Backside Edge, which is a more typical jazzy track. Fast riffing on the violin and the rest of the band playing along, this is quite similar to the jazzrock of the seventies, although the violin is only rarely the dominating factor there. Think of Brand X here, but also the American side of jazzrock. There is more swing on this song than on previous ones. Plenty of rowdy organ playing, as well as a striking drum solo, there are elements which are quite in the line of modern Brand X. The final few minutes are for the violin again.

Slave Nature brings us back to a somewhat darker side of the band it seems at first, but the opening is in fact very thematic played by violin. Again, the vibes are warm. Excellent melodic playing on the violin here, while the organ also adds some darkness to the mix. In other places, the song can be very friendly and peaceful, a bit too sweet even, and a bit funky too. In the middle we are in for some fast paced playing with heavy guitarwork, going a bit in the direction of early day Kansas. At the end, the themes of the opening return.

I Am Not Here opens almost gamelan like, the music is quite dark and brooding with the violin and occasional notes on the piano and tension rich percussion. This is something quite different again. After a few minutes the music starts in earnest. It can be easily compared to latter day Univers Zero. Very good

The closer is Shironji, also the longest one on the album. The opening has both guitar and violin with this time a somewhat mellow melody. The guitar is quite emotional and bluesy. Among the songs here the most sugary, with some classically styled runs on violin. Still, it also contains some more appealling passages.

Conclusion

After Naikaku-No-Wa another excellent offering from Japan more or less in the progjazz vein. We have all sorts here: jazzy but with a folk feel, laid back jazzy tunes with good melodies, dark Univers Zero style meanderings and frantic violin playing with a good for tension. Keep a close watch on these guys, they know how to play and certainly don't forget the melodic side of it all so that the songs do not come out as meandering exercise in note playing; something that quite easily happens in jazzrock. Ponty and Brand X fans and the like should run to their supplier for a sample. Even avantgardists ought to get plenty of satisfaction here. Sometimes the band goes in the direction of Kansas in the seventies, so, hell, why not all you symphonic fans go and have a listen too.

© Jurriaan Hage