Dear progVisions readers, are you in for a special treat? It's really time to introduce one of my favourite Japanese bands. I am talking about the Symphonic Prog Fusion ensemble ptf. Unbelievable that almost all of the progressive rock magazines completely overlooked this fine band. After the now sold out 1st mini album with three tracks the band released the following albums "percept from ..." (2013), "What is Constant" (2015) and "The World[s]" (2018). Now three years later the band treats us with the wonderful album "Genesis of the Stars" (2021). When I am listening to their melodic progressive jazz fusion my thoughts are transported to the heydays of Japanese bands like Outer Limits and Teru's Symphonia. Yes, the violin is playing an important role in the music of ptf. Personally, I think that this band deserves at least the same attention as the Japanese band, Electric Asturias.
Keisuke Takashima - violin, keyboards, bass synth, percussion; Takeya Kito - keyboards; Hiroyuki Ito - bass; Yusuke Seki - drums
The new ptf album "Genesis of the Stars" has only five tracks because the title track is a suite of more than 38 minutes long!
The album opens with a track entitled "Pluto" (10:05) that has a mysterious opening that transcends the listener into deep space. After one and a half minutes into the song, the band goes full throttle with hectic and uptempo violin and keyboard parts on top of a rhythm section that is on fire. But the band alternates this hectic passage with blood-curdling beautiful violin melodies. Is the instrumental music of this band progressive rock or jazz fusion? Well, I think both statements are true but because of the wonderful violin melodies and the impressive keyboard parts, the band needs the support of progVisions. This band will blow you out of your listening chair. The second track "Invasion" (5:00) opens with a breathtaking violin melody played by violinist Keisuke Takashima. There is so much melody in their music. Worth mentioning is also the beautiful piano work of the keyboardist Takeya Kito. What a beautiful track. And this is just the beginning, the band follows with the track "Kaleidoscope" (8:33) which has some jazz fusion influences with some Jean-Luc Ponty like violin pieces. In this track bassist, Hiroyuki Ito is showing his musical skills. And drummer Yusuke Seki, well he is all over the place while Takeya Kito is taking care of the Hammond organ. When you think that the music is going over the top Keisuke Takashima comes with a beautiful melodic violin melody. After all this display of power in terms of instrument control and musical skill, the band slows down in the wonderful track "Latent Pulse" (10:02). Slow violin melodies on top of mysterious sounding keyboard and synth layers. Very slowly the tension of the music is building up to a point where Keisuke Takashima plays one of his beautiful violin melodies and the spacy, electronic and symphonic keyboard sounds of Takeya Kito is replaced by a more jazzy atmosphere on the piano. Later on, the more symphonic keyboard sounds are returning. Symphonic and jazzy atmospheres alternate. "Latent Pulse" is the rest point of this remarkable album.
Then it is time for the Magnus opus of the album, the suite "Genesis of the Stars" (38:26) which is divided into the parts; "The Origin" (4:34), "Overture" (5:09), 'Dawn of the Planet" (4:50), "Floating in the Atmosphere" (3:20), "Disturbance" (4:59), "Dawn of the Planet (reprise)" (3:31), "Contact with Giants" (3:32) and "Inherit the Stars" (8:31). Part One "The Origin" opens with mysterious and spacy synth sounds which flow seamlessly into a beautiful violin melody that is later interspersed with synth parts. Part Two "Overture" opens of course with a classical violin part which is taken over by penetrating synth and organ parts and a tight rhythm section. The strong point of the music of ptf is that those hectic uptempo parts are always alternated with beautiful violin and or keyboards melodies. So the music gets the needed diversity. The tension of the music slowly builds up towards a climax with a breathtaking violin melody. Part Three "Dawn of the Planet" opens with a classic piano and violin melody. The track first develops into a wonderful melodic ballad-like song. Later on, several rhythm changes give the song diversity. Part Four "Floating in the Atmosphere" has a delicate and electronic atmosphere that gives the listener a feeling of floating in space. Part Five "Disturbance" opens with threatening drums and Mellotron choirs. It develops into an uptempo track with Hammond organ and hectic violin parts. This part includes a fantastic and frantic electric violin solo. But it ends with the trademark of the band, the breathtaking beautiful violin melody that gives the listener goosebumps. In Part Six "Dawn of the Planet (reprise)" some wonderful violin melodies are returning supplemented with beautiful piano playing. The ending builds up to a seamless transition into the following Part (Seven) "Contact with Giants". The music stays uptempo and is building up to a wonderful climax with lovely keyboard and violin parts. Drummer Yusuke Seki shows his prog-metal side in this part. The suite and the album come to an end with Part Eight "Inherit the Stars" which has a little bit of a mysterious atmosphere before the beautiful violin melodies are bringing the listener into Prog Heaven. The last two parts of the suite are my personal highlights of the album. Violin player Keisuke Takashima is touching my heart with his beautiful violin melodies. What can I say more?
First of all, I want to thank the band for sending me physical promo copies of their latest two albums, much appreciated. Secondly, I hope that with the information of potential distributors that I have sent to the band, this band will get the attention it deserves. As you can read in the review above, this new ptf album "Genesis to the Stars" is a must-buy for prog fans who like a violin in their Prog. Violin player Keisuke Takashima has touched my heart with his wonderful melodic violin playing that has often a breathtaking quality. Also, keyboardist Takeya Kito is often stealing the show on this remarkable album. Not underestimating the fine rhythm section of the band that is formed by Hiroyuki Ito (bass) and Yusuke Seki (drums). All the members of the band have fine musical skills and are displaying these on this fine album. The band blew me out of my listening chair with this remarkable album. "Genesis to the Stars" is highly recommended by progVisions.