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Samurai Of Prog, The: Toki No Kaze

I first started my foray into the music of The Samurai Of Prog with their Imperial Hotel disc released in 2014. There has been a steady release of material from the band culminating with their seventh album titled Toki No Kaze. As with all their albums the core of the project remains intact with founding members Marco Bernard (bass), Steve Unruh (flute, violin, classical guitar, kalimba, lead and backing vocals) and Kimmo Pörsti (drums and percussion). Of course the trio has always sought after first class musicians to play on their albums and the new disc is no exception. The album contains twelve tracks with eleven different song writers which further adds to the project’s incredible bursts of creativity and diversity.

As usual, the artwork by Ed Unitsky is stunning and the booklet looks great. The underlying theme of the album is an examination of famed Japanese anime/Manga artist/producer Miyazaki Hayao. Each track is associated with one of Miyazaki’s films and a plot synopsis is included for each. For those interested in any of his projects a wealth of information is provided.

When you put on a Samurai Of Prog disc you can be assured of top quality symphonic progressive rock and that’s exactly what the band has in store. The first track “A Tear In The Sunset” begins with a lovely piano motif before Unruh’s lush violin makes an appearance. Soon after a darker mood unfolds as French horn and organ heighten the senses. It’s all quite cinematic and dramatic with tempo changes and varying moods. Some ripping guitar adds a heavier element followed by calming moments of moodiness. The French horn and trumpet sounds are further developed as the song travels down a very tasty path. The next track “Fair Play” features only piano, flute and violin, yet the results are splendid. Indeed, the melody is really quite exquisite. Majestic change ups and classy instrumentation highlight “Zero” with its sweeping use of keyboards, thematic shifts from calm to heavy and more gorgeous melodies. For those who like saxophone just listen to “The Never Ending Line” where Marek Arnold does a fantastic job. “Au Contraire” has the band merging tricky rhythms with keyboards and Unruh’s dynamic flute embellishments. A shifting soundscape of varying patterns and colours, this can be heard throughout Toki No Kaze. The varied approach continues with “Reality” featuring the vocals and piano of Yuko Tomiyama. It’s a gentle song that slowly builds upon tasty piano work and a lavish string arrangement. Tomiyama’s voice adds a distinctive pop element. On the ethereal “The Bicycle Ride” the keyboards of Antony Kalugin and the acoustic and electric guitar of Marcella Arganese are both highlighted. The pace is gentle and the mood serene and towards the end more spacey elements and textures are added for cool affect. Not surprisingly, each song is a treat and there is no filler to be found.

Tasteful performances all around, Toki No Kaze is a beautiful piece of music that manages to take us back to the past while still making an important contribution to contemporary progressive music. Wonderful stuff indeed.

Track Listing:
1. A Tear In The Sunset (8:07)
2. Fair Play (2:34)
3. Zero (7:40)
4. The Never-Ending Line (4:55)
5. Au Contraire (5:07)
6. Reality (9:24)
7. The Bicycle Ride (4:36)
8. Castle Blue Dream (7:38)
9. The Spirits Around Us (5:59)
10. Nausicaa E I Custodi Della Vita (5:48)
11. Think Green (6:30)
12. La Magia È La Realtà (6:20)

Added: July 18th 2019
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's official Site
Hits: 1466
Language: english

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