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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Yuka & Chronoship - The 3rd Planetary Chronicles

Launched seven years ago from the Land of the Rising Sun, Yuka & Chronoship are a quartet featuring keyboardist and vocalist Yuka Funakoshi who is the driving force behind the band which considers; Shun Taguchi on Bass, Takashi Miyazawa on Guitar, and Ikko Tanaka on Drums and Percussion. The band have released three albums so far from 2011 to 2015 in which their new album released on UK label, Cherry Red Records in the fall of last year entitled, The 3rd Planetary Chronicles.

This was an album that just not only put me on the edge of my seat, but it completely took me by surprise and blew me away from start to finish. Throughout the entire album, it is magical, visionary, and ingenious. Almost like an alternate score for Hayao Miyazaki’s 1984 classic, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Yuka is in the realms of composer Leopold Stokowski when she conducts and arranges the compositions, knowing where the band will go into with harmonizing melodies.

The evidential ambient structure, are shown with the atmospheric and calming piano warmth to On the Radio. It starts off with radio static as Yuka’s piano is heard in the background during the dystopian society that is shows on what the future shows what it was once fine, now it is not. Takashi Miyazawa’s guitar playing, is eye-brow lifts, jaw dropped, and blaring on what he gives to the listener.

It’s shown on pieces like the symphonic adventure of E = C#m. Here, Takahi channels both Steve Howe and Franco Mussida where the two combinations meet and blend between the Yes Fragile-era and Premiata Forneria Marconi’s Photos of Ghosts while channeling the birth of the blue planet with Birth of the Earth (Magma Ocean). He then delves into the styles of David Gilmour with a tribute to the Wright brothers on Wright Flyer 1903.

Here, Shun Taguchi gives some talent of the ascending bass lines he shows to the forefront as Ikko himself, lets his drums go into a relaxing mode before the Moog workout with a Wakeman-sque touch. Yuka is no fluke when it comes to the conducting and orchestral side of the beginnings of planet earth. She goes through various motions whether it’s Progressive Rock, Post-Prog, and Classical boundaries.

Here on Stone Age, you have a pastoral-orchestrated beat with dramatic percussion work, synths between Moog and Flute. It’s a flying rhythm showing the creation of the dawn of man as if James Horner was in awe and imagine working with the group to create ideas for James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi film, Avatar. The lyrics in the booklet for Age of Steam, is uplifting and spiritual and Yuka sings beautifully through the Acoustic Guitar, Flute touches and Mellotron wonders that makes it staggering and stunning.

The Landmarq influences are in there followed by the Arena Rock late ‘70s reminiscent of Kansas. Finale, Birth of the Earth – Embryonic Planet, begins with a quiet haunting piano introduction before kicking into high gear with a volcanic rhythm section, waltz-bluey part with a progressive punch. The lead and rhythm sections that Takashi gives driving beats with hypnotic results.

I have listened to The 3rd Planetary Chronicles about 10 times now. I was blown away again, and again, and again. Yuka & Chronoship are the real thing when it comes beautiful Progressive Rock sounds and Yuka herself is a master. So if you love the late ‘70s Prog and bands and artists such as Landmarq, Steven Wilson, Yes, Gentle Giant, and Kansas, then delve into the world of Yuka & Chronoship.

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