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So... you say you like wacky time signatures? Like lots of keyboard runs and some serious musical virtuosity? Like CDs where all the songs clock in at over six minutes? Well, that's good because there's a hot item from Musea Records that should be on your "to buy" list courtesy of four incredibly talented musicians from Japan known as KBB. The name of the album is Lost and Found, and as far as fusion/prog bands go they don't get much more tighter than this.
With the opener "Hatenaki Shoudou", these boys waste NO time in making sure you're aware that you're in for a wild ride - the Gregory Suzuki's keyboard leads and the great melodies of Akihisa Tsuboy's guitars are in full force right from the word go. The rhythm duo of bassist Dani (donations to the Last Name Foundation are being accepted) and drummer Shirou Sugano are a more than formidable tag team that handle the shifting rhythm of the band's frantic fusion without missing a beat. By kicking off the CD with such a strong number, KBB establishes they definitely write and perform a classic rock tune without even breaking a sweat. And then the fun begins...
About halfway through the opener, the sounds of the violin begin to creep into the music and the song shifts gears into a style that is quite reminiscent of The Mahavishnu Orchestra's classic track "Meeting of the Spirits". The violin remains the focal instrument (along with Suzuki's keyboard) for most of the remaining tracks on Lost and Found, and let me tell you that's a good thing because Tsuboy can absolutely SHRED on the violin! I've heard plenty of folks with "good chops" come and go in the fusion/prog arena, but I've NEVER heard a fellow who plays the violin with such speed AND melody - it is truly a joy to sit down and pay full attention to Akihisa and his talent. And praising violin technique is in no way suggesting that he's a slouch on the six-string - one listen to "The Desert of Desires" will tell you that this guy knows his way around a guitar as well. I tell you, it's just not fair the amount of talent some folks have!
Anyways, KBB's instrumental prowess is evident throughout Lost and Found, and for the most part their compositional skills are also very high as well. The track "Nessa no Kioku" is an excellent example of this, as Suzuki and Tsuboy combine to create an incredibly disturbing melody while the rhythm guys keep things grooving with some great bass and drum work. It is with pieces like "Nessa no Kioku" and "Catastrophe" where KBB demands (and warrants) your full attention. However, there are some bits on the album where the music (especially some of the keyboard bits) become a bit clichéd and predictable. The perfect example of this is the 13-minute plus "Antarctica", a song that starts out with an almost Disney-friendly piano lick and never really gets moving at full speed - not a good thing for a track so long. Fortunately, these mundane moments are few and far between on Lost and Found, and the incredibly musicianship displayed more than makes up for the few shortcomings on the album.
In the end, the thing that impressed me the most was the fact that this is the band's FIRST ALBUM! Trust me - when you hear Lost and Found it sounds like these guys have been together for ages. KBB is definitely a band that I will keep an interest in, and I would suggest that any lover of good fusion do the same. If their follow-ups are half as good as the original, they should enjoy a good amount of success in their careers.
Track Listing: 1. Hatenaki Shoudou (6:25) 2. Catastrophe (9:32) 3. Antarctica (13:28) 4. The Desert of Desires (7:38) 5. Another Episode (8:28) 6. Nessa no Kioku (9:41) 7. Divine Design (9:26)
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.