Yuka & Chronoship – Ship (King Records/Cherry Red Records, 2018)
Ship is the fourth album by Yuka & Chronoship, one of the finest bands in the current Japanese progressive rock scene. The album revolves around the ship theme and opens with a 7-track composition titled The Argo Suite, inspired by Greek mythology.
The album starts with “Argo – Tears of Figurehead,” a charming short song featuring Yuka Funakoshi on piano and harmony vocals and the lead vocals of Sonja Kristina, the iconic singer of pioneering progressive rock band Curved Air along with sound effects of a wooden ship sailing.
Track 2, “Argo – Ship Argos” is a high energy instrumental with powerful synths and a lot of hard rock guitar, probably too much. Yuka adds moments of calm before the hard rocking returns.
“Argo – Landing” continues with the overpowering guitar in a duel with Yuka’s electric organ. Thankfully, Takashi Miyazawa drops the hard and heavy riffs and provides a skilled solo, showcasing his talent.
Track 4 “Argo – Golden Fleece” begins with a retro feel, featuring progressive blues rock with ELP-inspired electric organ. It builds very nicely into an epic symphonic rock conclusion with outstanding keyboard and guitar interaction.
“Argo – A Dragon that Never Sleeps” begins with a potent bass and keyboard introduction, where the band crisscrosses between progressive rock and jazz-rock fusion. This is another satisfying epic that grows in intensity.
“Track 6 Argo – Islands in the Stream” features some of Yuka’s finest keyboard work and Takashi Miyazawa’s guitar is truly impressive. It’s followed by, “Argo – Return,” the magnificent conclusion to the suite with more epic keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.
On “Air Ship of Jean Giraud,” we hear the familiar rich keyboard layers and vocal harmonies of Yuka along with masterful guitar playing by Takashi Miyazawa.
Track 9, “Visible Light” features lead vocals by Yuka, accompanied by rich symphonic keyboards and looped guitars that transition into a fabulous interchange between the synths and guitar.
“Old Ship on the Grass” is a happy sing along song that features acoustic folk guitar, electric organ, wordless vocals and a very catchy beat.
The final track is the symphonic rock treat “Did You Find a Star?” It was originally going to feature vocals by John Wetton, but unfortunately he passed away. The band invited Hiroyuki Izuta to provide the vocals. Yuka performs mesmerizing piano and keyboard work and Takashi Miyazawa adds more of his exceptional guitar lines.
The line-up on Ship includes Yuka Funakoshi on vocals, keyboards and piano; Takashi Miyazawa on guitars; Shun Taguchi on bass and chorus; and Ikko Tanaka on drums. Guests: Sonja Kristina and Hiroyuki Izuda on vocals.