TONIC 2001

 Disc one:
  1/  Sukhna                                     (Rovo)                        10.33
  2/  Guiding Star                               (Rovo)                        14.39
  3/  ?NA-X?                                     (Rovo)                        11.49
  4/  Horsess                                    (Rovo)                        9.55
  5/  Vitamine                                   (Rovo)                        8.10

 Disc two:
  1/  Cisko                                      (Rovo)                        13.03
  2/  Sinno                                      (Rovo)                        34.42
  3/  Sunspot                                    (Rovo)                        11.33

          Recorded live at Tonic, New York City on July 20 and 21, 2001
          Recorded by Jim Anderson
          PA Mix by Maekawa Noriya
          Live Crew: Ogawa Masahiko and Kikuchi Noriyuki
          Mix Translation created at Orange Music, Orange, New Jersey
          Mix Translation by Bill Laswell
          Mix engineer: Robert Musso
          Produced by Rovo
          Executive Producer: John Zorn
          Associate Producer: Kazunori Sugiyama
          Mastered by Scott Hull at Classic Sound, New York City
Okabe Yoichi: drums, djambe; Katsui Yuji: violin; Nakanishi Jin: sh-101, Juno 106; Harada Jin: bass, harmonica; Masuko Tatsuki: sh-101, DX-7; Yamamoto Seiichi: guitar; Yoshigaki Yasuhiro: drums, djambe.

          2002 - Tzadik (USA), TZ 7239 (2CD)


Playing at New York City's music club 'Tonic' ROVO offer a quite undefinable mix of music styles here - this is eclectic, ecstatic, virtuoso. The band is consisting of seven experienced musicians from the japanese experimental rock scene and the songs put on this double compact disc are representing a best-of from two concerts showing them in excellent condition. The two drummer/percussionists Yasuhiro Yoshigaki and Yoichi Okabe are the backbone so to say caring for an enormous groove which is mostly jazzy accentuated but also alternating with a djembe forced tribal fundament.

The opener Sukhna for example holds a hypnotic bass and violin appearance which is intensifying a trancy feeling. And they are also integrating furious impressions, speed changes coupled with fiery escalating moments. I don't know what could be more suspense-packed as the jam Guiding Star - a great example for their instrumental interaction. As for the jazzy moments I'm sometimes remembered at Stomu Yamashta. Horses shouldn't be missed - another great example of combining psych, fusion and trance.

The musicians are really acting like a collective by the way - which means nobody is ever distinctly pushed into the foreground. The songs are mostly lacking of solos - okay - if you don't count some Jean-Luc Ponty references when listening to Vitamine. Second disc now starts with spacey ambient soundscapes supported by a melancholic violin until the band grooves once more. Cisko is presented in a clear psych/space environment with distorted wah-wah modulated guitars and twittering synths (which you will find all over by the way) evolving to an ecstatic heavy rocking piece in the vein of Hawkwind.

Now I won't forget to mention the lengthy Sinno, originally composed by guitarist Seiichi Yamamoto for a split CD with Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden. Nearly 35 minutes long, showing a long electronical intro, then slipping into something like a trip hop/nu jazz behaviour and later gliding into the orbit with a spacey flow ... open-end! This eclectic suite is really something special. A tough call ... have to listen once more.

It is said that Bill Laswell is responsible for two special mix translations. Not that I'm surprised that he's aboard because the ROVO sound holds a special trippiness undoubtly - but couldn't find any information which songs are exactly involved here. I shouldn't wonder if any. 'Tonic 2001' is an entertaining album (maybe one or two will exclude the monster track 'Sinno') - recommended to prog music listeners who are searching for new horizons. Don't miss them!

4 out of 5 stars

Sean Trane (courtesy of the Prog Archives website)