Country: Japan, 1988-… present
Satoshi Hirata – electric guitar
Sena Tei – violin
Yoshihiro Kawagoe – keyboards
Kiyotaka Tanabe – drums
Yoh Ohyama – bass
ASTURIAS SHORT HISTORY
In 2003 Yoh Ohyama reformed Asturias as an acoustic quartet. 10 years had passed since Asturias, originally a solo project of Yoh Ohyama (Electric Asturias), released its third album, Cryptogram Illusion, and went on extended hiatus.
Asturias leader Yoh Ohyama was born in Tokyo in 1962. His father is a painter who produced the cover art for Asturias albums. Yoh’s first encounter with progressive rock dates back to 1976 when he heard Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. After performing in an amateur band he found a position at a recording studio run by members of Shingetsu, which gave him an opportunity to acquire skills in professional music production. He eventually left the studio and has since built a long-standing career as independent composer, arranger, producer, and recording engineer.
Asturias became an official project in 1987, with album releases of Circle in the Forest (1988), Brilliant Streams (1990), and Cryptogram Illusion (1993) through King Records, one of Japan’s major labels. On these three albums Yoh performed on a number of instruments himself on most of the tracks, in the style of a solo project with guests, which included prominent musicians in prog circles such as Akira Hanamoto and Haruhiko Tsuda from Shingetsu, on keyboards and guitars respectively, and Yoko Ueno from Zabadak. All three albums are highly acclaimed as Japan’s answer to Mike Oldfield. This incarnation presented three live shows in a special formation with the two members from Shingetsu, along with a pianist and a drummer, while Yoh played the bass. However, in spite of high artistic claim, the albums fell short on sales (at least to the extent expected by a major label) and, due to the declining interest in progressive rock from label management; band activity was curtailed prior to planning its fourth release.
Nonetheless, Acoustic Asturias was reformed in 2003 as a permanent band for recording and live performance, with Yoshihiro Kawagoe on grand piano, Misa Kitatsuji on violin, Kaori Tsutsui on clarinet, and Yoh Ohyama on nylon string guitar. Musicians were selected from the classical music arena this time, in contrast to the rock musicians of the past. The music of new Asturias is an exquisite blend of classical elegance and the dynamic/dramatic development which characterized the original Asturias, topped off with superb all-around musicianship. The band released a mini-album in 2004 with new material, as well as reworking of classic Asturias repertoire. Although a short production, the album is an eloquent showcase of the high potential of the new Asturias. The album has been selling well and even topped the CD sales chart at Music Term, Japan’s premier online progressive music shop (http://www.musicterm.jp/), for four weeks. Press coverage has been favorable as well, and live shows in 2004 proved that the band has become one of the most popular progressive rock acts in the Tokyo area on par with KBB and Bondage Fruit. Asturias played at BajaProg2005 among with Artie Mestieri, Carl Palmer Band and Ken Hensley Band. Asturias got fantastic reaction from the audience.
The band is now at its most active state to date with reformation, CD release, and multiple live shows in Japan
Over the more than two decades of its existence, its founder, Yoh Ohyama, has developed Asturias into three different directions. One of these projects is clearly influenced by Mike Oldfield’s music, which shows above all in the studio works, where Ohyama shines as a multi-instrumentalist. A second way shows an electric version of Asturias performing fusion / jazz–rock music, with a sound perhaps comparable to KBB. On the third way, Ohyama’s acoustic chamber rock ensemble plays neoclassical progressive music. Still, whichever version of Asturias we are talking about, their instrumental music is always of the highest order.
Circle in the Forest – 1988
Brilliant Streams – 1990
Cryptogram Illusion – 1993
Bird Eyes View – 2004
Marching Grass on the Hill – 2006
In Search of the Soul Trees – 2008
Legend of Gold Wind – 2011
Fractals – 2011
Record Label POSEIDON – Musea Records