Music Reviews

Artist: Naikaku (@)
Title: Shell
Format: CD
Label: Poseidon Records (@)
Distributor: Musea
A Japanese progressive rock duo (Satoshi Kobayashi – bass; Kazumi Suzuki – flute) with the help of supporting musicians (two guitars, keyboards, and drums) to fill out the ensemble. This is their second album. All the Prog-rock elements are here: heavy riffing, lots of solos, the frequent change of timbre and tempo within tracks. There’s even the de riguer King Crimson-flavored mellotron epic (Tautology). The presence of the flute as solo instrument certainly sets the sound apart and all musicians play well. But hasn’t this all been done before? Of course, but when you like something there’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep on doing it and fans of this genre will not be disappointed. Lots of good solos, interesting melodies and attention to changes in sound and feel drive each track. On the whole this isn’t really on the spacey side of things although there are elements of it every once in a while, but come on, this is Prog-rock after all. The tracks exhibit a most decided Spanish flavor (made prominent by the guitar work, reminding me at times of Al DiMeola’s solo work and his work in Return to Forever) which is odd but not necessarily bad. Just different. Jazz elements make their appearance here and there, like on track three (Lethe), with the inclusion of a trumpet by guest musician Mitsuo who also plays electric guitar. Like I said, there’s spice here and there and that just makes the dish that much more tasty. The rhythm section keeps everything moving nicely with interesting changes so you don’t get bored. High marks for musicianship and composition. Worth more than one listen at least if you like good solos and interesting compositions.