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Ars Nova is a female Japanese trio playing keyboard-driven progressive rock, and just in case that doesn't make them stand out enough, their fifth album 'Android Domina' presents a deliberately provocative sexual front in its sexy album art and orgasm opening before fizzling out to return to their customary and distinctly un-sexy Emerson, Lake and Palmer inspired instrumental prog. The compositions here are as varied as can be under the limitations imposed by the trio, which ends up meaning not too varied at all, but more experienced prog connoisseurs will detect a noticeable shift from ELP tribute to Rick Wakeman inspired grandeur in songs like 'Horla Rising.'
These songs are very changeable and display the talents of Keiko Kumagai and Mika Nakajima's various synthesisers and organs, not so much Akiko Takahashi's drums it has to be said, but the constant and often illogical motion of the songs keeps them from being truly enjoyable to anyone outside of prog. This isn't necessarily a problem, as I'm assuming the band knows it's playing to a select audience by now, but the slight changes seemingly engineered to attract a larger crowd - the aforementioned album art and the presence of vocals in a couple of songs - contradict the band's agenda here, which seems to be to show off and improvise in whichever way they desire. That said, there's enough diversity to be able to recall certain songs, but more for the specific movements contained therein that could easily be cut and pasted into any other, demonstrated by the sudden shift into a Medieval style harpsichord ballad with singing in the middle of the first track, then a jump to a church organ.
There are no singles or easy ways in here, and anyone who isn't instantly grabbed could indeed end up appreciating the album, though anyone sickened by this type of thing (ELP in particular) isn't going to have their horizons expanded here, especially in the final song. 'All Hallow's Eve' is quite enjoyable in its cheesiness later on, but overall this is a slightly contradictory and almost impenetrable album that didn't impress me as much as some of their earlier material might.
1. Android Domina
2. All Hallow's Eve
3. Horla Rising
6. Bizarro Ballo in Maschera
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Android Domina, Pt. 1: Transformer/Android Domina, Pt. 2: ...
2 All Hallow's Eve
3 Horla Rising
4 Mother [*]
6 Bizzarro Ballo in Maschera