Currently, one of the best Japanese acts is without doubt Yuka & Chronoship. They have already visited Europe several times to do some concerts. However, they never performed in the Netherlands. I guess they're rather unknown amongst the lovers of progressive rock in our country. That's just a pity because the music they've recorded on their two previously released albums Water Reincarnation (2011) and Dino Rocket Oxygen (2013, see review) is really worth listening to. Recently they released a third studio album called The 3rd Planetary Chronicles.
For those who are unfamiliar with the band I can say that they formed in 2009 by Yuka Funakoshi (vocals, piano, keyboards). She asked the three session musicians Shun Taguchi (bass, vocals), Takashi Miyazawa (guitars) and Ikko Tanaka (drums), to accompany her on a musical journey. This line-up is still active today, so they're responsible for all the albums the band recorded to date. The 3rd Planetary Chronicles is a concept album dealing with our planet Earth, the third planet from the sun. According to the band it's a grandiose concept album containing the scientific and technological revolutions of the human history. Right from the beginning the music takes you by the hand and leads you from the early days of our planet through all the developments that made it how it is today. From the birth of our planet to the rise of mankind and how we moved from the Stone Age until the present time. You'll learn about Galileo's theory, about the Age of Steam and about the Wright brothers and their world's first airplane. They wonder what the world would look like without TV, radio, internet and mobile phones and they discuss Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, and so on.
All this has been translated into beautiful compositions on which the band perfectly blends actual progressive rock with the prog rock sound of the seventies, the neo-prog of the eighties and even classical music. Mentioning any bands to which the music might refer to is certainly not an easy job to do. However, I guess when you name acts like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Sunchild, Karfagen and Yes you get an indication of what you could expect music wise.
This almost one-hour album doesn't contain any weak tracks. The instrumentalists Funakoshi and Miyazawa make sure that the listeners have enough to enjoy throughout the album. Never a dull moment! Yuka's playing on the piano, the Mellotron, the organ and many synthesizers is of a very high level and can easily compete with the playing of keyboard wizards such as Rick Wakeman or the late Keith Emerson. Takashi's guitar solos and his playing on the acoustic guitar made me think many times of Ritchie Blackmore or Steve Hackett.
Undoubtedly, Yuka & Chronoship's third studio album The 3rd Planetary Chronicles is by far their best progressive rock album they recorded to date. The craftsmanship of the musicians is shown throughout the album which is filled with only high-levelled compositions. Therefore I regard the album to be one of the best of 2015 in the prog genre. As far as I'm concerned it deserves the highest possible rating of five stars. Well-deserved indeed!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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