Baraka is a Japanese progressive rock band established in 1997 when three musicians decided to make music together. Issei Takami (guitars and vocals), Shin Ichikawa (bass and vocals) and drummer Max Hiraishi already made eight albums. Now here is their ninth album Inner Resonance, the third one released on the well-known French Musea-label. On the accompanying information they call their music ‘edge rock’ which should be a combination of progressive rock, jazz, funk and blues in order to create a thrilling and aggressive performance.
For the music, Baraka has the ability to be a power trio which indeed in the beginning of the album seems to be the case. Palm Trees Of The Maldives has a strong fusion feel in which Takami lays down some guitar layers with the SynthAx-guitar synthesizer I think, playing some fine solos over them. Inner Resonance is completely instrumental; it seems that the Baraka VII-album was instrumental as well. For me, this is the first Baraka-album I ever listened to, so I can’t say anything about the other eight, nor can I compare it to the albums with singing on it. I think some singing would have been welcome on this album too. The fusion continues with some noodling in Frank Zappa-style. Don’t compare this to other Japanese fusion trios like Fragile, because Baraka’s style differs a lot. Songs like Plunge From The Darkness, Seam Of The Globe and Gate To Principle have a strong seventies progressive rock feel, sometimes a bit in the vein of King Crimson, but without reaching the same quality level. Atlantic is a sort of ballad with smooth guitar melodies and with layers of the (guitar) synths underneath as well. However, some pieces on this album are just soundscapes in which they seemed to be influenced by Robert Fripp. Yggdrasil and The Chair Made Of Guns belong to this category. The last song, The Definition, is my personal favourite. It’s recorded only with guitars, bass and drums, just the power trio I was hoping for when I listened to the first song. Here we have a nice pounding bass, adventurous drumming and fine guitar playing with some additional effects in between. I wished they had recorded more songs like this one. The promised funk and blues influences of their ‘edge rock’ must have been minimal, because I didn’t hear them at all.
Inner Resonance sure has its pros. The power trio only works in a few songs; during the rest of the album they’re too busy experimenting with all kind of sounds. Perhaps they’ve bought a new synthesizer and played a bit too much with it... Hopefully, on their next album there will be a better balance between power rock and experimental stuff. A bit more aggression would have made a huge difference for this album as well.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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