STOMU YAMASHITA — Stomu Yamash'ta's East Wind : Freedom Is Frightening (review)

STOMU YAMASHITA — Stomu Yamash'ta's East Wind : Freedom Is Frightening album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
Stomu’s East Wind was formed off the success of his touring theatre shows but the group delivers something more than a ‘side project.’ The compositions on ‘Freedom is Frightening’ do have a theatrical feel and are quite dramatic at times but I enjoy that. In some ways, the music reflects longer moments from his earlier soundtrack to ‘Man from the East,’ making good use of builds and dynamics, especially on the title track, where the swirling and droning eventually gives way to soloing from Boyle, and actually, Stomu plays with a fair amount of restraint. It works for the song, but I still would have liked some more aggression from him in the closing minutes.

The album is actually a fairly high-energy outing for the most part, evidenced by the repetitive but spiky ‘Rolling Nuns’ which is like the downhill slope after the build up on the title track. Once more Boyle is all over the piece and again he’s assisted by Gascoigne’s fuzzy synth, which brings just enough menace to the piece. Stomu plays harder, driving the song from the drum stool and it doesn’t really let up until everything stops for a reverb heavy vocal outro. Some of the nice percussive touches here are continued in the more mid-tempo centrepiece, ‘Pine on the Horizon’ which almost brings Gentle Giant or Mahavishnu Orchestra to mind at times, or at least, a more sedate version of either band. Not just due to violin and guitar interplay but in the composition, it’s probably the most varied song structurally, bringing in a range of rhythms and moods to its eleven-plus minutes. It really gets rocking toward the end as Boyle cuts loose again, where a horn section makes a surprise appearance, and while not awkward, seems to be a little bit tacked on, as if the brass could have been incorporated further.

Bringing down the curtain is ‘Wind Words’ where Stomu’s wife Hisako takes the lead, her violin soaring over Gascoigne’s vibes and the acoustic guitar. It’s a haunting piece and a fantastic way to end a mostly charging album.

Stomu fans will want to get this one, it’s one of his best, in a varied discography, and those who enjoyed ‘Go’ may want to do so too. Just keep in mind the space-feel is not present here, it’s classic fusion with a flair for the theatrical, though fans of Isotope may want to check this one out for Boyle alone.
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