Fantasmagoria is a Japanese instrumental prog-fusion band led by classically-trained violinist Miki Fujimoto. Their second (first studio) album “Day and Night”, was released in March 2009. There’s a 5 year gap in between releases. Since their “live” album was listed as a demo, you don’t really have to count it unless you’ve heard it like I have. Songs that were brought over from that "live" demo are "Crusader", "Blue Rice" and "Epic", which from memeory has a slight improvement in delivery. It should be noted that after their “live” album, the band was invited to play at BajaProg in 2005. which exposed them to a much larger audience base.
The main instrument is the violin, in fact the band lists as a subtitle ‘Violin Progressive’. As stated, the band is rooted in the progressive rock and fusion genres with the emphasis on “rock”. They have a similar sound to countrymen KBB and Naikaku yet an original interpretation. Other similar bands are Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson.
The songs range between 4-7 minutes and never outstay their welcome. Miki’s violin playing is amazing and beautiful at the same time. The first three tracks are quite melodic but the fourth track, “MNK” grabs you with it’s heavier element. While this track shows the band’s Mahavishnu Orchestra influence, the delivery is akin to bands like Spaced Out, Planet X or Liquid Tension Experiment.
One of the heaviest on the album is called “Anticlimax” which begins with a Black Sabbath style riff which shifts into something King Crimson would do improv-wise during the Wetton-era. The rest of the album keeps the listener’s attention especially one not accustomed to the jazzy side of music. Once the album is over, I found myself compelled to hit the repeat button. One minor thing is the production is “rough” in parts especially when the songs segue into another. Other than that it’s a flawless product.
In conclusion, Fantasmagoria has produced a great set of songs on “Days And Night” and secures themselves within the amazing history of Japanese progressive based music. If you love violin playing in the forefront then I would highly recommend that you pick up this album immediately. This is one of the better releases of 2009. Let's just hope they don't wait another five years for new product. I have a feeling this will be their "breakout" album.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on November 15th, 2009