Title - 'SHIP'
Artist - Yuka & Chronoship
For those not in the know, rather like myself, in all truth, Yuka & Chronoship were founded in 2009 as a Japanese Neo-Prog quartet by a female keyboardist / vocalist / composer Yuka Funakoshi, already active as a solo artist for over a decade.
Supported with three session musicians - Shun Taguchi (bass), Takashi Miyazawa (guitar), and Ikko Tanaka (drums, percussion), her gracious ship got launched in the vein of late-70s progressive rock, releasing their debut voyage Water Reincarnation via Musea Records in 2011.
That was followed by the equally well-received sophomore album Dino Rocket Oxygen (2013), The 3rd Planetary Chronicles (2015), and now here in 2018 we are lucky enough to get a fourth offering.
Released May 11th, 2018, via Cherry Red Records (UK), SHIP is as stirring, thought-provoking and as vibrantly warranted as any previous recording from them.
1. 'Argo - Tears of the Figurehead'
2. 'Argo - the Ship Argos'
3. 'Argo - Landing'
4. 'Argo - Golden Fleece'
5. 'Argo - a Dragon That Never Sleeps'
6. 'Argo - Islands in the Stream'
7. 'Argo - Return'
8. 'The Air Ship of Jean Giraud'
9. 'Visible Light'
10. 'Old Ship on the Grass'
11. 'Did You Find a Star?'
Yuka Funakoshi is a lady keyboard virtuoso who can handle a wide variety of ivories with talent and aplomb, never overtly flashy but very expressive and unafraid to show it.
Her piano playing, especially here on The ARGO Suite opus in particular, is quietly exquisite, choosing elegant sequences and making the technical look easy in the process. With guest vocals from Curved Air's very own Sonja Kristina, the first chapter in the opus, 'Tears Of The Figurehead' is as mesmerizing to hear as I would imagine it was to record that day in the studio.
Chronoship, the three aforementioned seasoned musicians that keep her stoked, are, for my money, probably the finest trio in Japan. Led by sensational guitarist Takashi Miyazawa, who positively catches fire when asked to do so, he is aided and abetted by slick bassist Shun Taguchi and tectonic drummer Ikko Tanaka.
'The Ship Argos' steps up their musical pace, and allows the drums of Tanaka to take centerstage, whilst 'Landing' gives time to the guitar work of Miyazawa and some incredible organ work. 'Golden Fleece' is a mid-tempo, organ led work of art, whereas the free flowing giant 'A Dragon That Never Sleeps' is a frenetic masterpiece all of its own.
The soaring, climbing wonderment that is 'Islands In The Stream' (and which has nothing to do with the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton song, trust me) is then backed seamlessly by the last of the opus, the psych trip of 'Return.' The bouncy, chirpy even 'The Airship Of jean Giraud is next and that's followed by the beautiful 'Visible Light.'
Sung by Yuka herself, she also takes vocal centerstage for the Celtic-inspired 'Old Ship In The Grass,' before this incredible new album is rounded out by the Hiroyuki Izuta-sung 'Did You Find A Star?'
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