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4.40 | 32 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2001

Filed under Avant-garde Metal


1. Corpsecry - Angelfall (6:42)
2. Scarlet Dream (5:11)
3. Nietzschean Conspiracy (5:24)
4. A Sunset Song (6:49)
5. Impromptu (Allegro Maestoso) (1:24)
6. Dreamsphere (Return to the Chaos) (6:51)
7. Ecstatic Transformation (5:35)
8. Slaughtergarden Suite: I. At Dawn / II. The Dead Are Born / III. Destiny / IV. Slaughtergarden / V. Aftermath (10:57)
9. Bring Back the Dead (6:40)
10. Requiem - Nostalgia (7:58)

Total Time: 63:35


- Shinichi Ishikawa / Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Takamine acoustic guitar, Yamaha RX5
- Satoshi Fujinami / drums, tambourine, triangle, bongo, handclap, suspended cymbal, bar chimes, vibraslap
- Mirai Kawashima / Fender Rhodes, Hammond, Minimoog, Yamaha acoustic piano, Hohner Clavinet, Yamaha string machine, Roland Vocoder Plus, other keyboards, sampling, programming, modulator, effects, Speak & Spell, recorder, melodeon, bass, vocal, etc.

Guest Musicians:
Female chorus on track 2 and 7: Chie K.
Chorus on track 10: Yukito O., Hibiki K.

About this release

Released on Century Media in 2001.

The Japanese release has a bonus track, Born Condemned Criminal, indicated by * in track listing.
A double LP release of this album was scheduled for 2002 from Metal Fortress entertainment, which was also supposed to have the bonus track, but thus far it has never materialized.

Thanks to Prog Geo, Wilytank, UMUR, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Imaginary Sonicscape" is the 5th full-length studio album by Japanese progressive/experimental metal act Sigh. The album was released through Century Media Records in July 2001. It´s Sigh´s first release on the label after they left Cacophonous Records, as a consequence of what the band felt was bad promotion for "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams (1999)". The three-piece lineup who recorded the predecessor is intact on "Imaginary Sonicscape".

Although Sigh originally started out as a black metal act, they soon began to experiment with their sound and the last couple of preceding releases have been increasingly progressive/experimental. "Imaginary Sonicscape" tops them all though as Sigh take their adventurous songwriting approach to new creative heights. The basis in the music is fairly traditional heavy metal riffs/leads/harmonies and rhythms, and Mirai Kawashima´s snarling raspy vocals in front. The latter is the only feature on the album, which links the music on "Imaginary Sonicscape" to the band´s black metal past, because nothing else on the album is extreme metal related in any way.

While the heavy metal elements in the music are relatively traditional in nature, the band make sure that everything else on the album is challenging to the listener. There is omnipresent use of vintage keyboards/synths/organs and additional features like ghostly choirs, percussion, the odd programmed/electronic section, saxophone, and atmospheres which range from eerie darkness to almost sunshine psychadelic happiness ("A Sunset Song" is an example of the latter mood). The use of classical music themes and orchestral sections are also quite dominant in the soundscape. It´s not an easy listen and most listener´s will probably need more than one listen to decide what they think of the album. The tracks and the album in general take many left-turns along the way, and the listener is kept on his/her toes throughout the 63:35 minutes long playing time.

The musicianship is strong and while everything is performed with great skill and precision, Sigh generally perform their music with a great organic touch, which is further enhanced by the organic sounding production. The songwriting is on a very high level, and it´s obvious Kawashima has some classical music education/training, because the keyboard arrangements and the keyboard performances in general are seldom heard this sophisticated in heavy metal music.

"Imaginary Sonicscape" is for the open-minded heavy metal listener, and there is no guarantee this is something a lot of people will enjoy. It´s probably very much an aquired taste, even for fans of the band. Expect the unexpected and you won´t be dissapointed. Personally I think the experiments sometime make the album a bit incoherrent, and some tracks feel like they lack direction, like the band just added sections/elements they felt were interesting to add without thinking about the big picture. Knowing the musical genius of Kawashima I´m sure that´s not true though, and I´m sure the output is exactly what Sigh had in mind. My personal feelings aside this is still a high quality release and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
siLLy puPPy
Having shed most of their black metal roots with the exception of the vocals, this is in fact a smorgasbord of musical genres and ideas happily playing together and taking turns in their parade from one sonicscape to another. The first song “Corpsecry - Angelfall” is a perfect example. Yes, the vocals are of a black metal style, but the guitar riff sounds more Iron Maiden inspired to me with lots of electronic embellishments.

Unpredictable yet accessible is the name of the game here. You never know what the next track will bring you. Will it be a loungy jazz track completely synthesized with psychedelic sound effects and a nice keyboard solo? Or will it be a depressing doomy metal country song with a disco break? Very Mr Bungle inspired but sounding nothing like them.

The epitomy of the avant-garde can be heard on the closing title “Requiem – Nostalgia.” It is a mishmash of electronic vocals, black metal growling and clean operatic vocals! Very cool stuff that belies any labeling. A big fat album of extreme eclecticism that ends with a classical Chopin piano piece accompanied by stereophonic giggling babies! Welcome to the wonderful world of SIGH!
Ever wondered what would happen if you locked a black metal band in a room with Mr Bungle for six months? Well, Sigh's Imaginary Sonicscape offers a close approximation to what might result. Aside from the occasionally operatic clean background vocals, the vocal performance here from main man Mirai Kawashima consists entirely of black metal screechings, but taken into contexts you'd never expect a black metal band to explore. As well as more typical blackened territory, we also visit some straight-ahead heavy rock and roll (black and roll?), a bit of jazz fusion, and the occasional outright comedic section. The influence of such bands as Mr Bungle or Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, who forged a path in presenting a comedic and eclectic approach to serious musical experimentation, is more than apparent and the end result is a real grower.
Conor Fynes
'Imaginary Sonicscape' - Sigh (9/10)

A great thing about heavy metal is that it has reached virtually every corner of the world, and the more recent generation of metal has seen many of its brightest shining stars coming from places one might not first expect. From Japan comes Sigh, a band that is a current frontrunner in black metal of the 'weird' variety. A band that has wandered through a different style with seemingly each new album they release nowadays, Sigh finds a unique and quirky sound on 'Imaginary Sonicscape', staying true to any avant-garde label while being infectiously catchy and fun. These certainly aren't tags one would normally think of when speaking of black metal, but Sigh makes it work. Although the band's experiments here are not all successful, I can't help but love what the band has done here.

Recently, I've been finding quite a few black metal bands that are incorporating ample amounts of psychedelic rock into their sound. Sigh is no exception to this, and they make the combination sound very convincing. Although Sigh's sound is certainly rooted in black metal, many of the songs here use upbeat hooks and melodies to give the music a sense that it is more parts 'fun' than 'funeral', and on some tracks (most notably the ridiculously enjoyable rocker 'Bring Back The Dead'), you shouldn't be surprised if you're rasping along to the chorus. Although pop music is in audible effect here however, there is good reason to call Sigh an avant-garde metal band, although the weirdness is not always in full swing.

Sigh takes what have otherwise been largely (although not fully) a straightforward melodic black metal album and adds strange electronic effects overtop some parts, to give a quirkier feel. While it is only to the benefit and credit of the band that they are taking risks, many of the electronic layers they use sound shrill and even a little distracting from the main attraction, which is the wonderful songwriting and delivery. The band takes some big leaps with composition as well; although 'Imaginary Sonicscape' is no stranger to the concept of the melodic hook, there are moments here which define any category that Sigh may have been placed in before. The highlight of the album 'Requiem - Nostalgia' even plunges into something that sounds like an Ennio Morricone soundtrack to some Spaghetti Western film. As a rule, it is the compositional experiments that the band takes that are always more successful than the weaker layering experiments. That is the only flaw that seeks to demerit this masterpiece luckily however, and while 'Imaginary Sonicscape's more adventurous segments may take a little while to get used to despite the instantly endearing nature of the rest of it, Sigh has made a masterpiece here that defies tradition.

Members reviews

I'm not a huge black metal fan. At this point in my life, I've listened to around 10 black metal albums, and that's including stuff like Alcest. But oh my goodness, this album... I've already listened to it 10 times itself. Each song is both "catchy" (in black metal terms) and yet also ridiculously dense and eclectic. From electronic to 70's prog to various types of world music, all this manages to proceed forth in the music. But what really makes the variety so effective is how natural it feels. There are no obvious transitions between types of music; they simply spring forth (sometimes almost imperceptible beneath a wall of dissonance) and fade away just as casually. And through all this, this album is a blast to listen to. Despite dark, beautiful, moving lyrics, this black metal has moments of pure ecstasy that shine through. It all feels so natural: the anger, the peacefulness, the seriousness, the light-heartedness. This album is a masterpiece.

Rating: 10/10

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