Show-Yen

Show-Yen

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For its debut album, the Japanese power-progressive trio Show-Yen has decided to give the "concept album" a new twist. This eponymous CD is presented as a "free concept" concept: Told that there is a concept underpinning the 15 instrumental tracks but that it is not voiced out, the listener is invited to dream up his or her own story. Is that pushing it too far or what? This album could have done without the trite no-concept concept. Luckily, it doesn't interfere with the music, a pleasant blend of hard rock and prog rock influences arranged around King Crimson's towering presence. Tracks like "Reallusion" and "Lucifer's Child" come this close to having been ripped off KC's Red album. Elsewhere, the music borrows from Rush, Deep Purple, and a touch of Steve Vai ("Move Up"), among others. The recipe is not very original, but what gives Show-Yen its own flavor is the way the group slips in acoustic interludes where you least expect them. The album also has a nice flow, unfolding at a steady pace (tunes are kept short, mostly under five minutes) that keeps you hooked. Guitarist Yasuhiro Nishio knows how to rock; he may lack a personal signature but he is more than technically proficient, while the rhythm section of Hiroaki Fujii and Masanobu Tonomura remains tight and driving throughout. Highlights include the complex "Reallusion," the fast-paced rocker "Move Up," and the midtempo "Fu-ga," the melody and guitar solo of which hint at Frank Zappa's "What's New in Baltimore."

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