by John Kindred
In the United States, we have our Vais, Gilberts and Satrianis, while in Japan, they have Kyoji Yamamoto. The major difference is that Yamamoto is Japan‘s best keep secret. In the Land of the Rising Sun, Yamamoto is legendary. Having been a member in the Japanese bands BowWow and Vow Wow, he went on to be a producer and solo artist. With a career that spans more than 30 years, it’s a wonder that someone as talented as Yamamoto has remained hidden to the U.S. music markets.
His latest release, Voyager: The Essential Kyoji Yamamoto, finally gives North America a chance to hear this inspiring talent. Voyager: The Essential Kyoji Yamamoto is a compilation CD that features music taken from three of his solo releases; Mind Arc (1998), Requiem (1999) and Time (2005). The CD features 13 songs, and two additional songs can be downloaded from the Internet with the purchase of the album.
Varied degrees of virtuosity combine to create a balanced listening experience. Yamamoto handles blistering and melodic solos with mastery that seems to have been lost over time to newer musical generations. He has a keen sense to deliver phrasing that, when required, fills the void were vocals would be if there was someone singing the songs. His instrumental excursions appear to be a vehicle for thought-out melodic journeys. His musical leanings capture the essence of the known greats like Vai, Satriani, Hendrix and Schenker, yet he has his own unique voice on the instrument. He presents a strong aptitude of skill that manages a slew of techniques and styles with well-honed efficiency.
Voyager provides the listener with great insight into the musical world of Kyoji Yamamoto. He fluidly expresses himself with blistering tracks like “Rapid Fire” and “Warp Zone,” melodic numbers with “The Story of the Little Lost Whale” and “The Northern Lights” and shows his bluesy side with “River of Time.”
Throughout Voyager, he more than proves that the language of music is one that we all understand and hopefully share a passion for.
Voyager: The Essential Kyoji Yamamoto will certainly find you yearning to hear more of Yamamoto recorded works.
Genre: Instrumental Hard Rock
Label: City Boy Records
2. Rapid Fire
3. The Story of a Little White Whale
4. The Northern Lights
5. Warp Zone
7. River of Time
8. Primitive Sea
9. Spanish Pirates
10. Space Anaconda
12. Time (I Have Seen Everything and I Want to Tell You Something)
13. Ave Maria
15. Ave Marie (acoustic)
Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10