(18 November 2000) The latest progressive rock project from Japanese
singer Yoko Royama is Theta's Seeds Of A Dream (Musea (France) FGBG 4332.AR,
2000). Nine tracks featuring soaring angelic vocals adorn the stunning compact disc.
The singer received significant notariety on the Vermillion Sands album Water
Blue (Musea (France) FGBG 4293.AR, 1999; Made In Japan Records (Japan) MCD2913,
1987), largely due to the band's similarity to Renaissance and Yoko Royama's vocal
style to their lead singer Annie Haslam. An extremely rare solo album entitled
Sunny Days (Bonsai Records (Japan) BNCD 001) was recorded between the two
In addition to vocalist Yoko Royama who also contributes flute parts,
Theta is comprised of Naoyuki Harada (drums), Yuko Tsuchiya (keyboards) and Kazuhito
Kawakami (bass). The album also incorporates guest appearances by ex-Vermillion
Sands artist Mashahiro Yamada (keyboards) and Junko Minobe (violin), Akihisa Tsuboy
(violin), Eiji Nishigori (guitar), Keisuki Ai (guitar). Vocal parts are sung in
Japanese or English alternatively.
The album opens with a light contemporary ballad-like track featuring
lovely violin and keyboard arrangements entitled "Footprints" sung by Yoko Royama in
English. The full spledour of the band is evident as the song develops. "Afterglow"
is a lovely instrumental featuring Yoko's flute and as the arrangements develop is
a tribute to the virtuosity of the band members.
While some will compare Theta and Vermillion Sands to that Renaissance
featuring Annie Haslam, the harpsichord, flute and basic structure of "Beyond the Wall
of Time" is most reminscent of Renaissance Faire music. Sung in Japanese with
Yoko's vocalise excursions joined by male vocals as well, it is a lovely albeit
short track. A similar style is evident in "Tasogare no nakade" led by its violin
part and Yoko's perfectly complimenting Japanese language vocal. Multi-tracking
in the final choruses adds a lovely texture blending vocals with string
arrangements. Layers of harmonizing vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar in
"Summer Night Dream" also produce a Renaissance Faire sound. A lovely flute
solo is a highlight of the track.
Clearly the highlights of the album are the progressive tracks
"The Toy-Airplane" and "Mourning for a Falling," Instrumental movements perfectly
compliment soaring vocals sung in Japanese. With vocals introduced between major
instrumental parts, the band clearly demonstrates a sound of classic Renaissance.
Keyboard and string solo excursions work well within the overall arrangement
and are especially well played.
The Parisian sound of "IZUMI" from the dark side..."
is a tribute to the band's label (Musea), a lovely epic-length, cabaret-style
track sung in English! We especially enjoyed Yoko's vocal excursions in the
concluding passages of the song. The album concludes with "Muscial Box of
Nostalgia." A potpurri of classic melodies are initially woven together with
Yoko's stunning lead vocal, mixed way up with a noticable reverb nicely
offsetting the violin part and keyboard effects. Most classical in its
arrangement, it is a stunning little ballad.
Theta's Seeds of the Dream is a tremendous project featuring
Yoko Royama's stunning vocals and well-produced instrumental arrangements by the
band members. The album is available from popular progressive rock dealers or
from the label's website. Clearly one of the better progressive albums we've heard
this year, this one is worth a cross-country journey and is a must listen
in all respects!