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Kalo: Spiral Dream

Symphonic art rock is alive and well and living in Japan, and Kalo's Spiral Dream is its new poster child. The sound on this album varies from light symphonic fusion through '70s style progressive rock to richly textured classically oriented music. Think Camel crossed with Vangelis, played before a backdrop of harps and harpsichord, pianos and guitars, and 'Trons and synths.

The music is mostly instrumental, with vocals applied to just 3 tracks by the sweet "girlish" singing of Miori Naritomi. Very melodic, sung in Japanese, with the voice providing focus and flow and used as an instrument rather than dominating in the fashion of 'songs'. Several tracks include long, simple passages of wailing Latimer-esque guitar solos played to the accompaniment of Mellotron chorals. Very elegant.

Kalo is a project of Masahiro Uemura, who handles keyboards and guitars. It is a collection of 12 short tracks running between 3- and 6-minutes, although there is enough thematic connection among the tracks that it hangs together as a consolidated body of work. Most track titles have English names, although the 3 vocal tracks are sung purely in Japanese. The liner notes contain the lyrics of those 3 songs, so you can follow along – if you can understand the language and read the Kanji text.

The music on the first few tracks is stronger and fairly rock-oriented, and a standout favorite is opening track "Dharani". That guitar and Mellotron sound is simply wonderful. As you get further into the album the music becomes progressively more laid back and symphonic, until it finally ends sounding new-agey and ethereal. The more ballsy "Dharani" is excellent, the rest is very good.

Track Listing

  1. Dharani 4:01
  2. A Voice in Blue 5:56
  3. Forest Fairies 4:48
  4. Sunset 3:41
  5. Eternity 3:29
  6. Land of Spirits 5:58
  7. Rerakamuy 5:15
  8. Into Existence 3:39
  9. To the Memory of a Person 4:15
  10. Sensitive Air 4:23
  11. Gleam 6:22
  12. Spiral Dream 6:02

Added: March 27th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Kalo's Home Page
Hits: 5015
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Kalo: Spiral Dream
Posted by Elias Granillo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-26 23:57:43
My Score:

Miori Naritomi's soaring vocal on "Rerakamuy" confirms her honey-sweet pipes should have shouldered more of this Dream's musical load, because guitarist-keyboardist Masahiro Uemara has gotten closer to forging a "new-age rock" subgenre than anyone before him. Not that that is such a bad thing, but this album's just as standardized for Windham Hill's catalog as it is for Musea's. Bassist Yan is undermixed and drummer Koro (Masahiro's brother) sounds like he's playing an Octapad; Masahiro must have lost a keyboardist, as he [endeavors to] fulfill that role as completely as possible in addition to his guitar duties. A full third of Spiral Dream is an overwhelmingly sedate affair, while the remaining two-thirds are peppered with mundane ideas and an excess of Korg presets. Overturn enough stones and you'll find some gems in the rough, like the sumptuous "Sensitive Air," the aforementioned "Rerakamuy" and the faux-analog sequencing of "Into Existence." Uemura's competent enough when it comes to laying down expressive synth solos, I'll give him that—he's just obviously a guitarist, first ("Gleam"). We'll see where Kalo heads next; the problem with "new age rock" or "symphonic new age" is that one can get more out of a Kitaro CD or one of Motoi Sakuraba's excellent soundtracks—not to mention the synth sounds will be worlds better. The songs with vocals sound fine enough, but again, it's all been done—and better—by the likes of Pageant, Providence, and Wappa Gappa. Fingers crossed…

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