Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

June 26, 2010

Hideaki Nakama ~ Point Of No Return

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Style: progressive, hard rock, instrumental, power metal, Japanese
Label: n/a
Year: 1989
Home: Japan

Members: Hideaki Nakama ~ guitars
Norio Sakai ~ vocals
Satoshi Miyawaki ~ drums
Fumiaki Ogawa ~ keyboards
Hiroshi Kondo ~ bass

Guest: Tatsuya Umehara ~ b. vocals

The Japanese seem to have an undying affection for complicated power metal & six string flights of fancy that would put Hendrix to shame. Just consider the love they have for Mr. Big or even innovators The Ventures, while numerous guitarists, such as Marty Friedman of Megadeth, have moved there ... & seemingly vanished from earth (if you've lived there, as I did for 3 years, you'll know what I mean about its isolating quality). I, on the other hand, just turn to Joe Satriani's Flying In A Blue Dream & call it a day completely satisfied I've gotten my intake of power for the year. Next to Van Halen, he's my choice of 80's power metal instrumentalist. Though Herman Li of Dragonforce gets my attention for the next generation. Yes, you may argue that I'm excluding a lot of great guitarists, which I am, but this should show that I'm not the biggest fan of power metal. But, as I haven't review any Japanese music yet I felt it was time & all I have available is power metal. I used to follow a lot of J-Pop, as it's called, but Hideaki Nakama is one of my few discoveries after the fact. Point Of No Return is the first solo outing by the former lead guitarist of Hurry Scuary, which I think is bad English for Hurry Scary, which is just bad English but typical of what you find in Japan ... a lack of proof-readers though English teachers are in abundance. Much to my liking, Nakama is a Satriani disciple through & through. Heavily overdubbed instrumentals span the range of sounds that can come from a guitar in heavily melodic musical masterb... um, creating. The few songs that feature singing use that stereotypical English language tenor approach common to Japanese musicians that's a bit grating on the ears, let alone sounding too much like disco drag queen Sylvestor. Ironically, the tracks with singing ("In 2040, On The Beach") happen to be some of the strongest as they feature more than just a 4 minute guitar solo. But, even Satriani employs under-thrilling singing so one can't fault the disciple if the imitation is too good. & it really is too good. There's one stand out track on the album, "El Giza", which features acoustic guitars with a classical feeling, keyboards floating in the background & acoustic hand drums. This track is some of the best acoustic flavored rock I've heard in a long time, though it's hardly rock & more akin to Indian inspired jazz great John McLaughlin's work with Shakti & the music of Al Di Meola. Besides this track this very well could be a solo album by Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson or any number of guitar players out there & only a diehard fan might be any wiser. The imitation is so strong that I'm wondering why I would just turn to the original, considering there's nothing particularly individual about the playing. & there's definetly nothing remotely Japanese or Asian sounding about it. The strongest point I can bring up about this release is that if you are a power metal fan then don't forget to look outside America if you don't already. Death metal fans regularly & without hesitance turn to Sweden Norway & Germany choosing to not limit themselves to Florida or Texas. There's no reasons fans of other genres shouldn't either. I happen to know there's some great metal coming out of Hungary. Though, I find the Japanese great at imitation while the Europeans better at interpretation. could Bjork have come out of Asia? & how many Japanese rock bands have really made their mark from their original sound? I know the Japanese can make great & original music, the B'z & Globe come immediately to mind, but so much of it seems imitative ... but then, what am I saying? We all know Christina Aguilera is trying to be Lady Gaga on her new album Bionic so imitation is the name of the game.

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