Kiku Latte - Stories

(CD 2021, 35:31, Belle Antique - BELLE213482/ AMS)

The tracks:
  1- Prologue(0:44)
  2- Puppets(5:44)
  3- Blanketed In Morning Fog(3:35)
  4- The Maze(3:52)
  5- My Story(2:18)
  6- The Encounter Suite(10:38)
  7- Astral Wind(4:31)
  8- Turquoise Wind(4:13)
  9- Muzaki(3:51)
10- House Of The King(3:17)

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Born in 2006 as Cichla Temensis as an instrumental prog-rock trio they released two EPs in their early years, Another Triangle (2007) and Affine Space (2009), two works driven by bassist Takumi Kokubu's energy and technique. After the 2012 break-up, the same bass player brought this mysterious ensemble back to life as a quintet, with a completely renewed line-up that now includes a keyboardist and a guitarist. After a third EP Fantasia (2019) the band changed their name to Kiku Latte and finally made their full-length debut with Stories as a five piece formation.

On this new effort Kiku Latte the focus is on the wonderful flute work, from soaring to sparkling and cheerful. Most of the tracks are mellow and dreamy but in some compositions the atmosphere is more dynamic and powerful. Puppets (5:43) starts with a tight beat, in a mid-tempo featuring swinging bass and sparkling flute. Then a bit experimental part, followed by fusion sounding work on flute and guitar, inventive drums join. Halfway a spectacular synthesizer solo, then again flute and swinging bass. The Maze (3:52) delivers strong interplay between sparkling flute, drums, bass and piano, again jazz rock and fusion reign. In the second part an awesome jazzy piano solo, backed by a dynamic rhythm-section, finally a fiery guitar solo. The Encounter Suite (10:38) opens with dreamy classical piano and flute, then an accellaration in a jazzrock climate. The interplay is awesome! Lots of sparkling flute, halfway the atmosphere turns to dreamy with flute, followed by subtle shifting moods, and finally tender piano. Muzaki (3.50) delivers cheerful flute and powerful funky bass, and a strong duet between the omnipresent flute and guitar, again I am blown away by the outstanding musicianship. The album concludes with a cover version of House Of The King by the legendary Dutch band Focus. To me it sounds a bit too subdued, too sweet, I miss the propulsive acoustic rhythm guitar and howling electric guitar runs.

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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