The six-year gap between Wappa Gappa's second and third albums melts upon first listen of Gappa. The band is in excellent shape, very well rehearsed, and full of excitement. Tamami Yamamoto's confident voice is what immediately draws attention -- female lead singers are still a rare feature in progressive rock. Lyrics are sung in Japanese (the booklet includes English translations), which gives the melodies a smooth, sinuous feel. The songs fall mostly into the symphonic progressive rock category, with a tendency toward neo-prog in the slower numbers, especially in "Ranja" where keyboards get a little too lush. The album kicks off with the impressive "Souk," a complex song with many "vintage prog" features and a gritty edge in the form of Yasuhiro Tachibana's freak guitar work in the background, nudging things toward the acid realm. Through most of the album, Tachibana plays the part of the disrupter, unexpectedly stepping out of the tonality in a solo or adding a noisy texture here and there. These interventions prevent the music from growing stale. "Souk" and "Kirmes" are the two highlights of the set and also the less conventional pieces. "Kirmes" adds a festive color to the palette and includes plenty of quirky keyboard parts. In comparison, "Ranja" and "The Golden Apples of the Sun" lack panache in the writing and the arrangements. But the album picks up some momentum again in its last third, especially in the beautiful "Etranger," a complex, mood-switching piece featuring Yamamoto's most gripping melody of the set. Fans of female-led progressive rock (Renaissance, Quidam) and Japanese prog rock (Gerard, in particular) will find Gappa to be a very satisfying listen.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture