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Rovo and System 7: Phoenix Rising

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.

Track Listing
1) Hinotori
2) Love For the Phoenix
3) Meeting of the Spirits (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
4) Cisco
5) Unbroken
6) Sino Dub
7) Unseen Onsen

Added: October 17th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 5087
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Rovo and System 7: Phoenix Rising
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-10-17 22:27:47
My Score:

System 7 is the techno duo of Steve Hillage (guitar, programming) and Miquette Giraudy (synthesizer) and Rovo, a Japanese psychedelic jam band led by Yuji Katsui (violin, electric violin) and Seiichi Yamamoto (electric guitar). Making them somewhat unique is their rhythm section consisting of two drummers; Yoichi Okabe and Yusuhiro Yoshigaki.

Steve Hillage, founder of the Canterbury classic band Gong, had a string of solo albums in the '70s and early '80s but his output has slowed considerably since then, so I was quite interested to hear this collaboration. I have to say this is a very intriguing concoction with a heavy space rock/techno vibe.

Although the tunes are similar to one another I found myself hitting the repeat button soon after the music stopped. The music almost has an hypnotic effect. Our journey begins with "Hinotori", a track steeped in techno beats and spacey synths. Further in I hear an Ozric Tentacles' vibe. "Love for the Phoenix" carries a subtle eastern theme and a repetitive beat that is hard to stop listening to. The myriad of synth sounds and effects ensures the music never gets boring. For some excellent guitar work try "Meeting of the Spirits" with its heavy percussive sound and "Cisco" featuring trippy lead guitar and more spacey effects.

This album was a nice surprise. Hats off to Hillage and the rest of the band for making new and exciting music that should please old fans and make a few new ones as well. A very entertaining listen.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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