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Quaser - Phase Transition

Quaser - Phase TransitionIf you happen to be a forty-something, the name Quaser will probably seem familiar.  And so it should because Quaser was at the forefront of the Japanese progressive movement in the 70’s.  Quaser all but disappeared from the scene in the early 80’s due to the decrease in popularity of prog among the masses, but in 1993, founder member Takuya ‘Whogets’ Morita commenced writing again for a solo project that soon became the revival of Quaser, or to put it another way, the third phase of the band.

And that’s where Phase Transition (the not-yet-released third album since the bands revival) comes in.  In a number of ways it could be a music biography of the band’s various phases not to mention their survival after the Kobe earthquake of the early 90’s but it is basically a description of the musical attributes of the band; each musician’s ‘sound’ will ‘fuse’ together and the ‘phase’ of the band will move on, so we are told.

The epic Promised Land suite (parts 1, 2 and 3) is the brilliant opening piece consisting of a fusion of modern and classic prog with lighter semi-acoustic sections, the more ‘bombastic and majestic prog with Hammond and synth sounds and a touch of prog metal in places.  Part 4 of the suit closes the album.  Keyboard maestro and composer Takuya Morita’s influences include Keith Emerson but whilst some keyboard phrases and styles could be likened to that of Emerson, the composition is uniquely Quaser.  The music is very European and the vocals are full of feeling.  The fact that the vocals are in Japanese is not of great importance though I wish an English translation of the lyrics was available.

By comparison to Promised Land, track 2, Chang, is more laid back and jazzy in places with an underlying heaviness.  Chang is followed by Tarotmaster, which is guitar led courtesy of Masami Katsuura (or is it Ritchie Blackmore?) showing his virtuosity.  When piano is introduced the main theme changes into something that sounds familiar (Flower Kings?  Focus? I can’t put my finger on it) and this theme appears periodically throughout this instrumental track.

Helianthus is a relatively short song with great arrangements and a certain majestic air (for want of using the term too often in this review).  Wait For Nothing is the jazziest track on this album allowing Hiroaki Fujii (bass) and Kazuo Katayama (drums) to show us what they can do.

Penultimate track Brigade of Hope maintains the majestic feel and introduces a ‘darker’ side touching on ELP and IQ before temporarily (a few seconds) ‘phasing’ in a delicate keys section before returning to a heavier phase.  The lighter and heavier aspects continue until near the end where the track moves towards a more traditional ‘rock’ sound with a prog keyboard wash, finishing with a bit of prog metal for good measure.

The album closes with Promised Land Part 4.  The slow subdued start soon picks up the pace reflecting on themes from parts 1, 2 and 3 as closing sections of suites often do.  Could that be a Mellotron or Mellotron sound I hear just before the end?

At the time of writing this review, a release date had yet to be set for Phase Transition but we’ll let you know as soon as we know.  This is one that you won’t want to miss!

Jem Jedrzejewski

Quaser Official WebSite

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