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Ryo Okumoto - "Coming Through"
InsideOut / SPV 2002

Huh, we waited on Ryo's second release for 22 years, since "Makin' Rock" from 1980. Ryo once again displays his music talents. In his past musical involvements this guy worked with some of the greatest names in music history as Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin or Eric "Slowhand" Clapton are. I wasn't counting days, but I'm not sure if more than just one month passed since the latest Spock's Beard release, where Ryo originally takes his place on keyboards.

This doesn't seem much as Ryo's solo project. Ryo was accompanied by all members of Spock's Beard. Also Neal Morse was there, who helped Ryo with writing song arrangements and lyrics and did vocals on the cover song. Next interesting person to find on Ryo's project is Glenn Hughes. "Highway Roller" was written in co-operation between Ryo and Neal. The sound in that song is facing mid-seventies Hammond lines, a great Hard Rock piece led by Glenn's unbeatable voice of rock (just enjoy his screams and vocal improvising). Eleven years old Ryo's son Sage follows his father's footsteps, but not as a keyboarder. He played drums for his dad on "Highway Roller". Other "living creatures", who also appeared on "Coming Through", are boys from Toto: Bobby Kimball (vocals), Simon Phillips (drums) and Steve Lukather (guitars).

Album is diverse with various touches of different music styles that influenced Ryo over the years. Due to the fact that Ryo got the whole Spock's Beard battalion under his flag and that Nick D'Virgillio and Neal Morse helped him with writing and composing on several songs, you will recognize Spock's Beard influence in most songs. Ryo found a lot of free space to express his musical perceptions and to take a deep breath within. So what he offers is a fusion of different styles. For Ryo there is no time and space. A direct proof of that is brilliantly done "Slipping Down" with a trumpet and a saxophone bringing even more diversity into the song, and first class progressive beauty called "Close Enough".

The opener "Godzilla vs. King Ghidarah" made a straight impression on me. What the hell? Well surprise, surprise. Is this Tony Levin on fretless bass? A jazzy game between Ryo, Dave Carpenter (bass) and S. Phillips. Very impressive and dynamic rhythm section. Constant time changes inside rhythm lines. That dynamics will pull you in especially in groovy bass line during "Free Fall", another jazzy piece where freedom of musical expression finds its place again. Don't be afraid. It is not to complex for listening. Songs won't let you to get lost outside their tunes. With no doubt about it, it's a relaxing progressive rock album. Ryo also likes to experiment in meaning of choosing psychedelic music lines. Here I have in my mind a progressive piece "Close Enough" and the last song "The Imperial" (only Ryo appears on the last song by tremendous use of diverse keyboard elements) that gives you a feeling as if you would travel among the stars, where world has no time and no space. A perfect song to close the record with.

This music will surely make all fans of Spock's Beard very happy. And of course the rest of you, who constantly search for music that just can't be trapped inside any musical style frames.

Author:   Aleš

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