Acoustic Asturias

Bird Eyes View

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Acoustic Asturias are -- behold -- an acoustic version of Yoh Ohyama's late-'80s/early-'90s group, Asturias. Ready for a comeback in 2005 after a decade of silence, Ohyama put together an all-acoustic version of his instrumental progressive project and set out to record this short effort. Asturias' previous albums have often been criticized for their heavily programmed arrangements and rather artificial feel. Bird Eyes View sets the record straight as to the gracefulness of Ohyama's writing. The instrumentation comes much closer to a small chamber ensemble than anything associated with the prog rock scene: acoustic guitar and glockenspiel (Ohyama), piano (Yoshihiro Kawagoe), violin (Misa Kitatsuji), clarinet and recorder (Kaori Tsutsu). Violin and clarinet share the lead parts, while piano and guitar stick mostly to accompanying roles. The arrangements are thus quite conventional, but the melodies are pretty and interpreted with a lot of feeling. The short set consists of five pieces, three of which appear on previous Asturias releases. "Adolescencia" and "Distance" (both from the 1993 CD Cryptogam Illusion) get very nice treatments, especially from Kitatsuji, and "Ryu-Hyo" has a strong medieval feel, but the highlight is the new piece "Bird Eyes View," featuring guest Kanako Ito singing multi-tracked wordless vocals. Bird Eyes View breaks no new ground and might be perceived by a few as too smooth, too pretty, or too bourgeois. But Ohyama has surely managed to reinvent his band and this incarnation has the potential to reach a wider audience.

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