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Thread: FEATURED ALBUM: Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    FEATURED ALBUM: Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis

    Celebrating it's 15th birthday, Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis is considered by some to be among Kenso's best releases. How do you think it compares to the rest of their catalog and does it hold up 15 years later?



    Review from ProgArchives
    It took me a long-time to hunt down this highly-rated album and I was finally rewarded by finding it sitting in a discount bin in my favorite Montreal progressive rock store. It slipped into my hands faster than a chameleon's sticky tongue and I can now crow about my patience. Kenso is quite a band, often given comparisons with stalwarts like Brand X but I see them as a much heavier jazz-rock outfit that has few similarities with anyone out there. Led by the mercurial guitarist Yoshihisa Shimizu (who allegedly is a dentist during the day), the overall impression is one of complex insanity, delirious instrumental exuberance and unparalleled technical flash. Two keyboardists, both synthesizer specialists, one on organ and the other on piano, make for quite a keyboard intense frenzy. Bassist Shunji Saegusa is a monster, who bleeds laser quick blasts for a living, providing the acceleration for drummer Masayuki Muriashi to beat his kit into a pulp.

    Perhaps fission is a better description than fusion, like the opener "Fist of Fury" as the material is scintillating, rapid- fire and explosive, to say the very least, with occasional ethnic/ambient pauses like on "The Split Gate", a 7 minute jewel of a track that has all the goods including a blistering guitar rampage. The infusion of Japanese sounds makes this a unique discovery adding originality to a style that shreds like an Osaka chef gone berserk. On a piece like "Rebellion", Shimizu alters his guitar tone once again, a true master of various effects, doing some lovely Andy Summers-like slashes on rhythm while searing like Adrian Belew on the lead. Very breezy, yet smoldering from all the previous molten lava spewing, the master cannot help drilling and grating like a mad dentist (which he may be). Combining experimental sounds with acoustic guitar and odd female voice effects on "The Stairs of Dreaming" serve only as a prelude setting for the impressive and oddly symphonic "Echoes from Romano" which, when it gets uncorked, packs quite the wallop with a bass guitar leading the charge and evolving into a funky chariot ride. The various organ solos are a turbo-charged fury that would make Jon Lord proud. Dense, cinematographic and contemporary, this is Kenso at its most prog.

    Follows a suite of shorter pieces, mostly within the 2-3 minute range that run the gamut of synthesized indigenous turbulence, an accordion-fueled field trip that adds vibes (probably the V-drums) and burping bass. Then, to show off more guitar-god influences, toss in some reverb-laden Jimi Hendrix caresses that sputter like phosphorus, gradually foaming like some experiment gone haywire. If that is not enough to convince, Shimizu then nods at late- period Jimmy Page on the heroic 4 minute "Isolated Jiro", incorporating some amazing dissonance and oblique phrasings that have a hint of Kashmirian mountains. Exhilarating!

    Alternating soft synthesizer/piano soundscapes and harsh athletic bluster is what finishes off this amazing album, going from one extreme to another. "A Grim Diary" is just that, a persistent bass line and syncopated drum rhythm sets the stage, for a fiery run on the fret board, Shimizu showing off a mastery that is certainly deserving of major acclaim. Technically fast and furious, his notes have purpose as well, swerving, soaring, diving and crashing like a nimble Zero fighter from WW2. When the insane flamenco vocals enter the fray, you get completely lost in the eye of the hurricane that has engulfed you.

    I am truly giddy after listening to this flurry of stormy delirium. Fusion/fission of the highest order and a must for any respectable progger. If you need one Kenso album, this may be it. My patience has been rewarded.

    4.5 Cunning Nipponese madrigals - tszirmay


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  2. #2
    NEARfest Officer Emeritus Nearfest2's Avatar
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    Fantastic album.
    Chad

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    I love Kenso!!! One of the best things I have discovered here on PE.

    This is my absolute favorite album by them.

    Gonna go listen to it now.
    Prog's Not Dead

  4. #4
    Just re-read the review I wrote 15 years ago. Back than I thought it was one of the strongest albums from Kenso.
    It's a kind of concept-album, influenced by writer Junichiro Tanizaki and based on a strange mental illness, which causes quickly changing moods.
    That might be the reason the album contains so many different styles and the moods change so suddenly.
    I guess people who love the old Kenso, which was more symphonic, might have some trouble with the last couple of CD's the band released, but I love it when musicians dare to grow.

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    Probably my favorite from them.

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    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Can't believe it's already 15 years since its release!

    Hands-down, one of their best albums—and it's not like they don't have a row of superb records! Plus, I love saying the title aloud.

  7. #7
    Just gave this a fresh listen. There's not a nanosecond of music on this album I don't like, but for the most part none of the songs particularly grab me as "songs." Except for the second track, most seem to introduce ideas in random ways and very rarely do I hear any kind of development of the first idea, in fact often it seems to get abandoned altogether. It all just seems very random and arbitrary to me. It's a fun ride, but little of it sticks.

    This is true of Kenso generally for me, but I think this and Yume No Oka are the worst in this regard. Utsuroi Yuku Mono seems tighter compositionally, and Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo even more so. They are the albums I spin most from Kenso, along with Kenso II. I certainly respect the players, and I do enjoy Fabulis Mirabilibus for what it is. But it's not a top favorite Kenso album for me, and Kenso is not a top group for me.

    Bill

  8. #8
    I make it a point of sitting down and taking time with this album every once in a while. I haven’t broken the ice with it yet, but I get the feeling I will one day. I have the inkling this album is one of those like Megalázottak és megszomorítottak, where it just takes patience and careful attention and you’ll be rewarded in the end. I’m not there yet with this album, but I suspect one day I will be. I mean, I love Esoptron—an album everyone else seems to hate—so why not this one? Fear not, fans of this disc, I will not give up! No album with this much diversity and depth should just be abandoned! One day, I’ll make the connection.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I love Esoptron—an album everyone else seems to hate—so why not this one?
    Esoptron is far more "straight ahead" than Fabulis Mirabilibus, and frankly most of Kenso's work. I avoided it for years, then finally found a copy to cheap to pass up on. I now like it a lot, a hell of a lot more than I thought I would have. But it's not a normal Kenso album. They dial back the diversity, and many of the more "Proggy" elements. But it's a damn fine instrumental rock album, with some Proggy touches. Once I tried it, I found it far easier to connect with this album than much of Kenso's work, but it doesn't deliver some of the spectacular moments that other Kenso albums deliver. So even though I like it, it feels a bit "second rate" for a Kenso album. That isn't really fair, but it's sort of how I feel when I spin it.

    But I can easily see connecting with Esoptron more easily than Fabulis Mirabilibus. It's a more immediate album, even if it lacks some of the bells and whistles Kenso normally delivers. Maybe that isn't such a bad thing, I probably need to give Esoptron a fresh spin.

    Bill
    Last edited by Sputnik; 09-25-2017 at 08:42 PM.

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    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I mean, I love Esoptron—an album everyone else seems to hate
    Not me. I've loved Esoptron since I first got it.

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    Just gave this a fresh listen. There's not a nanosecond of music on this album I don't like, but for the most part none of the songs particularly grab me as "songs." Except for the second track, most seem to introduce ideas in random ways and very rarely do I hear any kind of development of the first idea, in fact often it seems to get abandoned altogether. It all just seems very random and arbitrary to me. It's a fun ride, but little of it sticks.

    This is true of Kenso generally for me, but I think this and Yume No Oka are the worst in this regard. Utsuroi Yuku Mono seems tighter compositionally, and Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo even more so. They are the albums I spin most from Kenso, along with Kenso II. I certainly respect the players, and I do enjoy Fabulis Mirabilibus for what it is. But it's not a top favorite Kenso album for me, and Kenso is not a top group for me.

    Bill
    Perfectly mirrors my thoughts.
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  12. #12
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    Love Kenso too, but, by no special reason, I don't own this one and "Yume No Oka" is my favorite!.

    Good Call!!

    ps: the second video/music is really good!

    Thanks!!.

  13. #13
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    I would love to have a translation of the liner notes and tour documentary on the NEARfest DVD.
    Chad

  14. #14
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    Just gave this a fresh listen. There's not a nanosecond of music on this album I don't like, but for the most part none of the songs particularly grab me as "songs." Except for the second track, most seem to introduce ideas in random ways and very rarely do I hear any kind of development of the first idea, in fact often it seems to get abandoned altogether. It all just seems very random and arbitrary to me. It's a fun ride, but little of it sticks.

    This is true of Kenso generally for me, but I think this and Yume No Oka are the worst in this regard. Utsuroi Yuku Mono seems tighter compositionally, and Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo even more so. They are the albums I spin most from Kenso, along with Kenso II. I certainly respect the players, and I do enjoy Fabulis Mirabilibus for what it is. But it's not a top favorite Kenso album for me, and Kenso is not a top group for me.

    Bill
    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    Perfectly mirrors my thoughts.
    That makes three of us!
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  15. #15
    So over the past couple of nights I re-spun Esoptron and Yume No Oka.

    With Esoptron, I was a little disappointed. It wasn't as good as I remembered it. I also noticed a lot of spots where they fall into the same pattern of arbitrariness in the compositions as they do on Fabulis Mirabilibus. Not quite to that extent, but still noticeable.

    Tonight it was Yume No Oka's turn. Wow, was I ever wrong about this album. I sort of lumped it in with Fabulis Mirabilibus, but it isn't really similar. Yume has songs that are totally distinguishable from each other, each based on an idea or motif that gets explored. Sure, there are some offshoots, but I get a much stronger sense of the compositions on this album. I'm not sure if I had mis-remembered or if I am confusing Yume with another album. But my feelings about it are quite different after this spin. This may rank up with my favorite albums by the band.

    Bill

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    Tonight it was Yume No Oka's turn. Wow, was I ever wrong about this album. I sort of lumped it in with Fabulis Mirabilibus, but it isn't really similar. Yume has songs that are totally distinguishable from each other, each based on an idea or motif that gets explored. Sure, there are some offshoots, but I get a much stronger sense of the compositions on this album. I'm not sure if I had mis-remembered or if I am confusing Yume with another album. But my feelings about it are quite different after this spin. This may rank up with my favorite albums by the band.

    Bill
    Right on! I'm really glad to hear it.

    I think the overall cohesiveness with each song (for the most part) is why I was able to come to grips with Yume No Oka more than some of the subsequent discs. It probably is my favorite by Kenso overall, at least definitely in the top tier.

  17. #17
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    I've always *liked* Kenso from the first album I bought back in 1989 but I have no idea why I dont *love* them. Everything about them reflects everything I love about progressive Rock music; instrumental, Keys and Guitar led, mix both Symph Rock and Jazz Rock styles of Prog effortlessly... etc. But I have never had my jaw hit the floor upon listening to any of their albums (of which I have every one) like I have experienced with other bands from Japan like Asturias and KBB. I think I need to listen to Kenso more.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Right on! I'm really glad to hear it.

    I think the overall cohesiveness with each song (for the most part) is why I was able to come to grips with Yume No Oka more than some of the subsequent discs. It probably is my favorite by Kenso overall, at least definitely in the top tier.
    Yes, totally, I can see why. I think I'm going hit this one hard for a while, along with the Anglagard album I'm revisiting. I really was impressed with what I heard last night on this one!

    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    I've always *liked* Kenso from the first album I bought back in 1989 but I have no idea why I dont *love* them. Everything about them reflects everything I love about progressive Rock music; instrumental, Keys and Guitar led, mix both Symph Rock and Jazz Rock styles of Prog effortlessly... etc. But I have never had my jaw hit the floor upon listening to any of their albums (of which I have every one) like I have experienced with other bands from Japan like Asturias and KBB. I think I need to listen to Kenso more.
    I hear you. I'd suggest going back to Kenso II. That's one that always leaves a smile on my face. And I'd also encourage a fresh spin of Yume No Oka, as that obviously got my attention as well.

    I'd also suggest Utsuroi Yuku Mono, but leave off those vocal pieces at the end, which definitely grate on my nerves. That leaves one shorter vocal piece, which I like much better, and makes the album flow much better, imo. I also really dig Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo. That one grabbed me from the start, which is rare with Kenso. The last piece does feature vocals, which I know is not your thing, but I like it a lot and I don't think the vocals intrude that much.

    Good luck,

    Bill

  19. #19
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    Yume No Oka and Kenso II are their strongest and most cohesive to my ear
    s anyway.
    Last edited by nosebone; 09-29-2017 at 09:25 PM.
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

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    I think my view of Fabulis Mirabilibus de Bombycosi Scriptis is always coloured by the fact that it came after Esoptron, which, to me, was an incredibly disappointing regression to their early hard rock sound (yes, I'm sure one day I may even like it, but after just 18 years the wound is still too raw). Bombycosi is a partial continuation of that, but I find there is more variety, especially with the keyboard players' tracks, and the compositions are generally better. Yes, some compositions don't seem to go very far, but then I just take that as the band going leaning back towards fusion. And the more experimental, often short pieces have been part of Kenso's style from the start, there's just three of them this time. Actually, it's often those tracks that best stick to my mind on Kenso's albums.

    All this makes FmdBS (aren't we suppose to turn album names longer than two words into acronyms? ), IMO, one of the best of Kenso's post-YnO albums, though perhaps that is unwarranted. I agree that Utsuroi yuku mono tightened the compostional reins and cast back to their more traditional sound, to a degree, but only with Uchinaru koe ni kaiki seyo did the approach produce a more cohesive and stronger overall album. I like them all, just the same.

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