I have no idea how an instrumental quartet from Tokyo wound up sounding so very like what happened to Prog Rock in Italy in the early 70s, where jazz and funk and orchestral music became fused with heavy rock.
If you’re a fan of Italian Prog (don’t all rush at once) then Filmlets will be a nostalgic trip. For the rest it�s a bit of an eye-opener with its scattered rhythms and deftly interwoven instrumentation.
Despite a guitar-based lineup their jazz roots are particularly evident in the early part of the album, as it their distinctly orchestral approach – you can almost hear the missing strings behind the dual guitars, or imagine the guitar parts translated for pizzicato violin on I Walk.
This is the kind of music that required headphones clamped on and the volume turned up high while you lay back and just let it break over you like a tumultuous sea. From more agitated playing on at the start on Contemporary Disease, Filmlets is one long progression with motifs returning from song to song, slowly becoming more momentous and ponderous, before finishing with the rounded and soothing Recollection.
There are 10 tracks in all but in listening several seem to fuse together into massive landscapes of sound. Their press release claims they play with ‘math-rock dexterity’ which I take to mean they’re pretty technically competent. There�s certainly an unusual complexity in their music, a demonstration of how different guitar and drums and bass can sound, once you get your head past the familiar refrains on which rock and roll is built.
Is it too retro? It certainly only moves a little further along the road that bands like Area and Stormy Six were travelling, but the important thing is they are moving and 30 years on they sound quite unique for a modern audience, emotive and uplifting.