The extra-terrestrial keyboard talents of Toshio Egawa are once again front and center on this latest release from Japanese prog powerhouse Gerard. Taking the ELP formula of grandiose and complex keyboard led rock, and adding lots of symphonic arrangements with a hard rock or metal attitude, this prog power-trio has consistantly been at the forefront of the progressive rock scene in Japan the last few years.
A band can do no better than kick off a CD with likes of the explosive title track "Sighs of the Water", which features bombastic interplay between Egawa's synths and Atsushi Hasegawa's urgent bass lines. Drummer Masuhiro Goto complements the two with his maniacal drum fills, as the trio rages through one of the most impressive openings to an album I have heard in a while. "From the Deep" is a more melodic piece that highlights Egawa's extended synth solo, and fans of Nathan Mahl's Guy LeBlanc style would be wise to check out this momentous keyboard extravaganza. Unfortunately, Gerard likes to throw in some vocals every now and then, which generally are the low points of their albums. On this track, as well as a few others, there are brief vocals which are pretty bad, but thankfully don't last long. The hard rocking "Pain in the Bubble" let's Hasegawa show off some sinewy and meaty bass licks, while Egawa layers all sorts of keyboard textures in virtuoso fashion. "Keep a Memory Green" is a more atmospheric piece that has a neat church organ section, but is tainted by more bad vocals. The gymnastic "Cry for the Moon" has an almost metal feel to it, with Egawa layering some great Hammond organ sounds, but the vocals are just awful. The wonderful "Aqua Dream Part One: Aqua Dream" and "Aqua Dream Part Two: Spring Tide" are both a real treat, highly symphonic, with lush keyboards, Chris Squire inspired bass lines, and intricate arrangements. Egawa really shows his MVP status on these two tracks (a combined 15 minutes), as there are so many keyboard layers emanating from his KORG synthesizer (Moog, Mellotron,Hammond, etc.) that the listener can barely keep up.
Why Gerard can't stick to being a pure intrumental trio is beyond me, as that is surely what they do best. While the vocals here are bad, like I mentioned they are brief, and don't ruin this fine CD. Fans of great keyboard playing will have much to cherish here.