People are always asking, ‘hey, where’s all the good Japanese prog music?’ Well, okay – they might not be asking, but here’s the answer anyway – Yuka and Chronoship!
Cherry Red Records / Glass Onyon
11 / 60:46
Seemingly out of nowhere (to me, anyway) comes the fine Japanese prog band called Yuka and Chronoship. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly blown away by an hour of tasty, well-played melodic prog music that will delight the most discriminating fans of the genre.
The female-fronted quartet is led by Yuka Funakoshi on piano, keyboards and vocals. The very capable back-up is provided by Shun Taguchi on bass, Takashi Miyazawa on guitars, and Ikko Tanaka on drums – each of whom gets to showcase some pretty solid chops on various parts of the album.
Aside from some wordless vocalizing on the bouncy, hooky “Old Ship on the Grass,” there are only two songs with sung lyrics, and they book-end the rest of the tracks. “Tears of the Figurehead” features English-language vocals by Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina (actually sounding a bit like Yoko in her “Who Has Seen the Wind” mode), and “Did You Find a Star” is sung by Hiroyuki Izuta, whose very appealing McCartney-esque voice is a pleasure to listen to. The song itself is a wonderful way to end the recording – the melodies are memorable, the instrumentation is masterful but easy on the ears, and the complex structure of the song is deceptively simple at first hearing. Those who might remember the complex pop compositions of Yoko Kanno (Cowboy BeBop, Escaflowne) might hear a musical kinship here.
The opening seven tracks compose a suite based on Greek mythology but each song is strong on its own merits. There are moments where Yuka’s organ work are reminiscent of American proggers, Glass Hammer, and their prog-fusion also occasionally summons up those Dutch masters, Focus.
Ship is a delightful prog project free of pretention and full of good playing without overplaying – a trap that many prog bands fall into. This is one you’ll want to research, prog fans. You just might enjoy a ride on Chronoship.