The latest album from progressive fusion ensemble KBB once again reveals proof that musicians from the Land of the Rising Sun have the skills to compete with the big boys in Europe and the United States when it comes to this style of music. Taking their influences from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jean Luc Ponty, and the Dixie Dregs, KBB craft dark, smoldering instrumentals laced with wicked violin shrieks, muscular guitar solos, and blistering keyboard work, all over an amazingly intricate rhythmic framework. Four Corner's Sky easily surpasses the bands previous CD, Lost and Found, as far as melodies and sheer reckless abandon go, and the interplay amongst the instruments is at times breathtaking.
The opening cut "Discontinuous Spiral" is a swarming amalgam of progressive sounds, quite tuneful and symphonic, with Akihisa Tsuboy's violin leading the charge. One cannot begin to anticipate the blow that they are about to receive however on the second track, oddly titled "Kraken's Brain is Blasting", perhaps the most rampaging and ominous sounds I have heard in an instrumental fusion song all year. Huge shards of metallic, Fripp-influenced guitar leads from Dani dance around distorted violin passages, while bombastic ELP-styled keyboards from Toshimitsu Takahashi shatter the mix. It's an amazing cut, and quite daring at that. "Horobi no Kawa" slows things down a bit, with some sumptuous violin, melodic lead bass, and acrobatic drum fills from Shirou Sugano. Here the band goes for a more melodic touch, very similar to classic period Jean Luc Ponty, and it works as a nice contrast to the more menacing sounds contained in the first two songs.
Symphonic jazz tones abound on "Backside Edge", complete with 70's styled Fender Rhodes, busy walking bass lines, and wispy violin, while "Slave Nature" is another raucus aural assault that will pummel you into submission. Featuring aggressive organ, jazzy electric piano, and a distorted electric guitar solo from Tsuboy, this tune throws hard rock, jazz, fusion, and prog at you all at the same time. "I Am Not Here" is a moody, almost RIO-styled piece, with lots of avant-jazz leanings (check out the menacing, distorted violin), and "Shironiji" ends the CD on a majestic symphonic tone, highlighted by gorgeous piano, melodic guitar solos and searing violin.
A great band, and a fantastic CD. Let's hope they continue to make such wonderful ear candy for years to come. Highly recommended!