Well inbreeded in that very peculiar and prolific Japanese instrumental prog/jazz school, Flat 122 is a swell name to add to that long collection of bands you surely like if you’re familiar and into this musical style.
Sometimes it is really amazing the sheer quantity of great instrumental bands coming out of Japan, and as it is unbelievably usual in Japanese fusion, the performance here is stellar. All players are virtuoso musicians that really deliver. Yet, contrary to many bands within this genre, the music here, besides very technical and intricate, sounds oddly introspective and personal.
While in musical terms the sound is completely different from that of Asturias, I find that Flat 122 can bring the sensibility, intimacy and purity of that band into their jazz-rio-prog fusion. Also, if other Japanese bands such as Side Steps, Baraka and Djamra can be pointed out as references in order to better frame Flat 122, it is also true that some Western influences like Pat Metheny (more evident), Miriodor, Deus Ex Machina and even King Crimson (in a sparse and very subtle way) can be found throughout the whole listening experience of this album. Truth be said, labeling this musicality as pure jazz-rock would be insufficient, as the band crosses the fields of prog and rock-in-opposition in their way for finding their own personal identity. To do this they use a vast array of techniques. The result is wide but curiously tight and focused.
Many times keeping things on a somehow calm and many times melodic (strangely melodic for such a complex fusion musicality), the band throws many happier moments to the mix, like in the end of Clouds or in Panorama2. When they do that, the intricacy of Gentle Giant surfaces and enriches the overall sound.
This album is mainly instrumental. Yet there are vocal parts sparsely input into the music. In two of those tracks (Sterra Lee Jones and the following Improvisation), also adds an accordion, which suddenly makes Flat 122 sound like Quikion in a more jazzier registry. Pure fun!
For fusion lovers, especially those who have been discovering the immense world of Japanese prog/fusion, this is one of those albums that grasps the condition of obligatory. A very good discovery indeed for the most adventurous listeners. An unusual mix of melodic and introspective jazz with sudden accelerations of good mood and even explosions of free jazz.