Rovo-a Japanese progressive rock/jam band; System 7-the dance/techno music project of legendary Gong guitarist Steve Hillage. Together, Rovo and System 7 have created Phoenix Rising, a wonderful little instrumental album that combines elements of both bands and ultimately becomes just a catchy, groove laden, psychedelic, jammy, ambient, spacey excursion that will have you tapping your toes, closing your eyes, and marveling at all the spellbinding musicianship and trippy arrangements. The cast of musicians include Hillage (guitar, programming), Miquette Giraudy (synths), Yuji Katsui (electric violin), Siichu Yamamoto (guitar), Yasuhiro Yoshigaki (drums), Yoichi Okabe (drums, percussion), Jin Harada (bass), and Masuko Tatsuki (keyboards). Imagine a groovier, more danceable Ozric Tentacles, and you have an idea of what to expect here.
Phoenix Rising kicks off with the absolutely engaging "Hinotori", a pulse pounding track littered with gargantuan acoustic & programmed drums (Yoshigaki and Okabe are MONSTER players!), layers of bleeping synths, and searing guitar lines courtesy of Hillage and Yamamoto, with Katsui's violin soaring over the top. "Love For the Phoenix" is more of an ambient/techno piece, highlighted by Giraudy's space age synths, intoxicating beats, and the sizzling violin of Katsui. Fusion fans will crap their pants upon hearing the cover of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Meeting of the Spirits", as blazing guitar & violin lines intersect and weave around the nimble drum work for one of the best covers I've heard in some time. "Cisco" is classic sounding space/Krautrock, again highlighted by soaring electric violin and alluring rhythms, while "Unbroken" mixes techno/electronica arrangements with scorching jazz-fusion styled guitar & violin outbursts, sounding like a cross between Mahavishnu and Return to Forever. Melodic dance melodies meet up with programmed techno rhythms on the bouncy "Sino Dub", while gorgeous, cascading synth washes just sweep you away on the lush ambient piece "Unseen Onsen".
It's almost hard to put into words just how enjoyable this album is, and when it comes to these types of space rock/ambient/techno type recordings it's normally a tough sell on me. However, Phoenix Rising is quite fun, plenty intoxicating, and contains more than enough tasty & impressive playing and grooves to keep me coming back for more.
2) Love For the Phoenix
3) Meeting of the Spirits (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
6) Sino Dub
7) Unseen Onsen