Ryo Okumoto

Coming Through

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For this solo album, Spock's Beard's Ryo Okumoto benefited from the full support of his record company. A cast of guest musicians -- including all Spock's Beard members, singers Glenn Hughes and Bobby Kimball, and Toto's guitarist Steve Lukather -- support the keyboardist, not to forget drummer Simon Phillips, who also produced the album. Add to that a lush packaging and an extra CD-ROM with 30 minutes worth of "making of" videos (although uncreative) and autobiographical slide shows (more interesting). Despite all that, Okumoto has delivered a very average record. It lacks a bit of excitement or a signature sound, falling into the generic hard rock/prog rock feel of Magna Carta's late-'90s productions. The best moments come when the keyboardist takes a few sidesteps from Spock's Beard's prog rock to explore jazzier domains -- in "Godzilla vs. King Chidarah," for example. The album's magnum opus is the 19-minute epic "Close Enough," a solid enough roller coaster with plenty of gritty organ fireworks. The heartfelt title ballad, co-written and sung by Neil Morse also provides a highlight, along with the aforementioned "Godzilla." In comparison to these three cuts, "The Farther He Goes, the Farther He Falls," "Slipping Down," and "Highway Roller" are bland stadium rock anthems (think of GTR: packed with promises but defused by commercial pretensions). The latter track features Okumoto's young son on drums, a sympathetic debut. For a keyboardist's album, Coming Through shows surprising restraint in spotlight-grabbing solos, which is a good thing, but it doesn't amount to much more than a mildly entertaining side project.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
blue highlight denotes track pick