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Ars Nova: Biogenesis Project

The longest forty-five minute album in musical history has arrived. Not the first concept album by Ars Nova, by a longshot (but it is foray numero uno into rock opera territory), Biogenesis Project succeeds by not enlisting too many personalities and by not being overlong葉hough its length can be misleading, thanks to its density. The album is subdivided into three sections roughly fifteen minutes long apiece. Biogenesis also looks to be drummer-violinist Akiko Takahashi's and keyboardist-vocalist Mika's curtain calls: Mika's contributions are purely vocal, and Akiko wears down her sticks on only one track. Akiko and Mika may not be locked out of future works, but the new lineup (as of June 2003) is clearly advertised on the new official site: longtime keyboardist Keiko Kumagai, new bassist Panky (their first non-guesting bass player since Kyoko Kanazawa left), and stand-in drummer Masuhiro Goto, at first on loan from Gerard, but now an official member (Gerard and Arsnova are both managed by Made In Japan Records/Transi owner, and Biogenesis Project conceptualist, Shingo "Numero" Ueno).

Taking more than a cue or two from recent concept operas by Ayreon, and reading like a cross between Species and Event Horizon葉hough not as cheesy as the former, nor as dark as the latter葉he fires of Biogenesis began to burn when Kumagai figured it would be a gas to work with some of her idols. Torchbearers of the Italian scene will be ecstatic: no less than the likes of Claudio Simonetti (Goblin/Daemonia), Gianni Leone (Il Balletto di Bronzo), Lucio Fabbri (PFM), and Alex Brunori (formerly of Leviathan) lend their talents. Also on hand are Gerard bassist Atsushi Hasegawa, Tianonogue keyboardist Takehito Kimura, and Nuovo Immigrato drummer Takeo Shimoda. Add one A. A. Lucassen, with his electric guitar in tow. Voice narrations and vocal bits bubble up by Ueno, Akiko, Mika, and Robert & Barbara Allen由obert co-scripted the translated story with Keiko.

Ars Nova is not an unfamiliar name, so everyone knows what to expect, and plenty: between the Italian icons, Hasegawa's gritty bass and Goto's hammerfist drumming, this may be too much for those who prefer their music to breathe, relax, and simmer. Canterbury this ain't! Lucassen's guitar acts as a sandpaper-like contrast towards the plate-metal electronics that rule the roost on "BIOGENESIS柚eltdown." Leone, Lucci and Simonetti waste no time burning it up, either葉his is one overture better heard than read. Brunori's high warbly notes on "Escape" aren't necessary, and easily overlooked because a lot is happening, otherwise葉he track stops and restarts twice; the second pause gives way to a rollercoaster outro and coda.

The middle third of the album is genuinely Ars Nova, not without surprises. The beastly keyboard leads, reinless prehensile rhythms and pretentious excesses the group made its name on up through Android Domina are well-represented. None of the invited guests, just Keiko and whoever happens to accompany her on whichever track: "Mother Earth" involves Mika, and Masuhiro, who also plays an acoustic guitar solo; Atsushi and Takeo step in on "Metamorphosis"; enter Akiko (vocoder only) on "Humanoid's Breakfast," with Goto & Ueno. By the duo of Keiko and Takahashi (now on drums), "Against The Meteors" (3:25) begins with a very familiar piano motif (hear it and smirk). Sadly, this may be the last we hear of Akiko for a while, if ever.

The fifteen-minute conclusion of Biogenesis won't just rival time-honored epics like "Karn Evil 9," the Big Bang itself will brace for some competition. Vocal verses aren't few nor many, Brunori's performance merely padding out the cacophonic shuffle-deal of no less than nine instrumentalists容ven Ueno adds some subordinate guitar lines! The tempo swings up at 5:20 and doesn't let up until after fourteen minutes; all blaze on 'til setting sun, keyboard solos alternating around Lucassen's and Fabbri's guitar solos like poker players laying down their hands to reveal whose flush will bust the dealer's full house. And amidst the fold of furious oscillators and pitch bend wheels lurks Takehito Kimura and his sublime Latin-tinged piano solo, a pylon on the surface of the electric juggernaut collective.

Had an exclusive meeting of Italian and Japanese symph-prog gods (and the token Dutchman) been seriously suggested some years ago, cynics would have laughed the wishful thinker out of the bar. More than half of the year 2003 remains, but Biogenesis Project has already been pasted into its slot in the Top Five. Splash the pot, and go all in.


1. Introduction~BIOGENESIS邦eltdown (6:00)
2. Escape (8:15)
3. Mother Earth (2:24)
4. Metamorphosis (6:15)
5. Humanoid's Breakfast (3:10)
6. Against The Meteors (3:25)
7. Trust To The Future (14:59)

Total time 44:28

Added: June 26th 2003
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Related Link: The Official Web Site of Ars Nova
Hits: 6966
Language: english

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