Oct 4, 2015

RhoDeo 1540 Sundaze


Today more music from the rising sun....... N'joy

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Regarded by many as the first Japanese progressive rock group, the Far East Family Band featured the keyboardist and future new age composer, Kitaro. A keyboard-dominated space rock band, the Far East Family Band played extended compositions that brought comparisons to Tangerine Dream and early Pink Floyd.

The group's first album was released under the band name of Far Out. After changing their name, the band released The Cave Down to Earth in 1975. Their first European release, Nipponjin -- Join Our Mental Phase Sound (1975), featured re-recorded versions of material from the previous record and the album attributed to Far Out. The group's next record, Parallel Worlds (1976), was profoundly influenced by Klaus Schulze who Kitaro met on a trip through Europe. With the first track over 30 minutes long, the album bears similarities to Krautrock legends Ash Ra Tempel. Tenkujin (1977) followed and was the band's first and only American release. By this point, the band consisted of Miyashta (vocals, synths, guitars, bamboo flute), Hirohito Fukushima (guitar, vocals, koto), and Yujin Harada (drums, percussion). It would be the band's last record.

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Far East Family Band was a prog rock band that later gave us the careers of three New Age musicians: Fumio Miyash'ta, Akira Ito, and Masanori Takahashi, who we all know better as Kitaro. The other two are basically known just to New Age music aficianados and of course prog rock junkies who are aware of Far East Family Band. Apparently Far East Family Band wanted to do what PFM did and that was to record a (largely) English language version of an album they already did, in this case The Cave: Down to the Earth, which was their debut. The LP to Nipponjin came with an insert showing all the musicians and their equipment (apparently taken from The Cave: Down to the Earth album). It's pretty safe to say Nipponjin was to Far East Family Band what Photos of Ghosts was to PFM. That meant the band was trying to break in to the international market, which they did by having the album released on Vertigo in Germany. The Cave: Down to the Earth was sung entirely in Japanese. For Nipponjin, they decided to use Klaus Schulze to produce and mix the album and re-record most of it in English. Absent this time around are "Four Minds" and "Transformation". Those two songs were replaced by the title track, which was basically "Nihonjin" from the Far Out album from 1973, Fumio's pre-Far East Family Band band, this time with added synth effects and Mellotron. The songs for the most part are still pretty much the same, except for the language they're sung in. There's the occasional song where they kept part of it in Japanese, such as "The Cave". There are some atmospheric pieces that go between cuts that sound like an Oriental version of Klaus Schulze (complete with bamboo flute aka shakuhachi).

Far East Family Band - Nipponjin  (flac 305mb)

01 Nipponjin 16:47
02 The Cave 8:35
03 Undiscovered Northern Land 2:51
04 Timeless 4:38
05 The God Of Water 1:50
06 River Of Soul 8:27
07 The God Of Wind 2:25
08 Movin' Lookin' 1:34
09 Yamato 0:47
10 Mystery Of Northern Space 5:56

Far East Family Band - Nipponjin   (ogg 120mb)

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It all came together on Parallel World. Focusing on their instrumental cosmic sound and pretty much foregoing the pop commercial-oriented songs, the six-piece FEFB unleashed a gem that easily could have found itself on the Kosmische Kouriers label. In fact, the recording comes closest to sounding like the first Cosmic Jokers album with more focus given to the whooshing synthesizers than the guitars (Schulze's influence?). As one can guess, the two keyboard players are featured most prominently, and it's hard to imagine that FEFB actually had two guitarists as well!

The album opens with "Metempsychosis" (Arzachel anyone?) which is a tribal drum and synthesizer atmospheric backdrop piece that sets the stage for "Entering" which contains some intense fuzz bass and a ripping guitar sequence amongst the 12 minutes of keyboard ecstasy. Brilliant, and this is the finest track FEFB has ever recorded! "Kokoro," thankfully, is a short psych ballad. This is the sort of piece their first albums featured, so one can get a brief whiff of this style. The side long closer "Parallel World" sounds like a long-lost Galactic Supermarket recording and aptly finishes a masterwork of cosmic progressive space rock.

Far East Family Band - Parallel World (flac 334mb)

01 Metempsychosis 4:50
02 Entering 7:57
03 Times 7:56
04 Kokoro 9:10
Parallel World
05 Amanezcan 2:24
06 Origin 9:00
07 Zen 3:48
08 Reality 7:31
09 New Lights 4:19
10 In The Year 2000 3:09

Far East Family Band - Parallel World   (ogg 142mb)

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Tenkujin was the final album for Far East Family Band. After the Klaus Schulze style of electronic experimentations of Parallel World, the band decided to go back to the earlier sound, concentrating, once again, on ballads. A lot of reasons for that was Kitaro left, embarking on his soon to be famous solo career. Akira Ito also left, also to embark on a solo career, but he ended up not being very well known in New Age circles. This is a trimmed down Far East Family Band with guitarist/vocalist Fumio Miyashita, guitarist Hirohito Fukushima, and bassist Akira Fukukusa. For a new drummer, they brought in Yujin Harada.

Yujin Harada was in a band called Samurai back in the late '60s and early '70s. Not to be confused with the UK band with the same name that featured future Greenslade guy Dave Lawson. This Samurai was a Japanese band that resided in London, with Tetsu Yamauchi (later of Free and Rod Stewart's Faces), as well as a few British musicians they recruited while staying in London (including Graham Smith on harmonica, he was later the violinist for String Driven Thing, and Van der Graaf Generator during their final days). This Samurai released an album in 1970 called Green Tea which is basically late '60s psych, with some prog leanings and the occasional Japanese influences.

Let's get back to Tenkujin. This album had an American release on the small and short-lived California-based All Ears label, hoping to break them in the American market. Without Kitaro and Akira Ito anymore, all synth duties were left to Fumio Miyashita. The album opens up with a synth experiment called "Descension" before seguing in to the wonderful title track. This piece has vocals in Japanese, with great guitar and spacy synthesizers. "Timeless Phase" is a Pink Floyd-like ballad with more than a passing resemblance to The Dark Side of the Moon. Without Kitaro or Ito, Miyashta was able to handle all the electronics without a problem (by this point, most of the keyboards he was using were Japanese made, rather than Moogs, etc). No side length epics. You can hear it in the music, that this is the end of the road for the band. The ideas that brought them together are summed up eloquently. .

Far East Family Band - Tenkujin (flac 209mb)

01 Descension 2:05
02 Tenkujin 5:10
03 Timeless Phase 4:43
04 Sakebi 2:10
05 Nagare 7:36
06 From Far East 8:42
07 Ascension 4:13

Far East Family Band - Tenkujin  (ogg   77mb)

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apf said...

Thank you!

Request said...

Excellent! Thanks.