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Asturias: In Search of the Soul Trees

This one did not sink in immediately with me so I kept on listening to see if my initial impressions would change like all reviewers should do. I am happy to report that this is a very good instrumental progressive rock cd that I just did not get the first time around. I cannot really put my finger as to what I was missing the first couple of listens. Asturias were formed in 1987 by Japanese guitarist Yoh Ohyama and this is their fourth release. They do have two more releases under the name Acoustic Asturias of which some of the members play on this album but they are now back to the original name. The wealth of instruments you will find here is quite intriguing, for example, Ohyama plays acoustic guitar, Spanish guitar, electric guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboards, glockenspiel, harp, cello, percussion and synthesizer programming. There are twelve other musicians adding their expertise so you can expect an album full of diverse rich sounds.

There are a variety of sounds from light airy acoustic touches to electric guitar reminding me of Mike Oldfield. The music does have a 70s Oldfield feel which does not present a problem as there are enough differences to make this worthy in its own right. The music has a certain lushness and elegance provided by the many keyboards and string instruments. Some of the songs have excellent melodies, in particular the piano and violin parts can be quite moving. The music takes on different moods and textures. The acoustic instrumentation brings a certain warmth to the atmosphere which is in contrast to the digital and electronic soundscapes the keyboards provide, including the Mellotron.

The album consists of Part One (23 minutes) and Part Two (27 minutes). The songs often join together seamlessly creating a nice flow to the album. I can hear elements of folk, jazz, new age, and symphonic rock all tastefully blended together to make an absorbing work.

The album's first song "Spirits" opens with delicate acoustic guitar and piano flourishes, before the pace is slowed with some tasteful violin. Excellent electric guitar and recorders add an Oldfian touch to the music. Crisp acoustic rhythm guitar adds the melody to "Reincarnation" again featuring a superb electric lead. I really like how the music changes pace and is able to stop on a dime so as to add softer textures of keyboards and synths. Another highlight for me is "Woods" featuring a tasteful combination of violin and electric guitar which really add some defining moments to this disc. "Storm" is probably the hardest song here highlighted by excellent bass work throughout. Although short, the musicians really show their stuff making this a real prog rock workout. You will find plenty of other highlights as I only touched on a few. Although I prefer some songs over others there really are no weak songs in the bunch.

If you are fan of Mike Oldfield and enjoy well executed instrumental music with a variety of influences and styles I urge you to seek this out, you will not be disappointed.

Track Listing:
Part 1 (23:14)
1. Spirits
2. Revelation
3. Reincarnation
4. Fountain
5. Woods
Part 2 (27:15)
6. Pilgrimage
7. Paradise
8. Storm
9. Soul Trees
10. Dawn

Added: January 31st 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 3735
Language: english

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