Personnel: Stomu Yamashta (keyboards, drums, percussion); Gary Boyle (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Hisako Yamashta (violin); Brian Gascoigne (keyboards, synthesizer, vibraphone); Hugh Hopper (bass guitar).
Liner Note Author: Jon Wright.
Recording information: Advision Studios, London, England (08/1973).
Arranger: Stomu Yamashta.
For his 1973 debut album, the Far East's answer to Ginger Baker teamed with his violinist wife Hisako, ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper, school friend keyboardist Brian Gasgoigne, and ex-Brian Auger Trinity's/contemporary Isotope guitarist Gary Boyle. Their debut album, Freedom Is Frightening is a panorama of extremes that gust across myriad genres. The title track is a master class in atmosphere and tension building, slowly expanding from the early long, sparse, foreboding electronica into progressive pyrotechnics. "Wind Words" is serenity itself, but both "Rolling Nuns" and "Pine on the Horizon" are free-form jazz fusions, rolling in and out of funk, with the latter featuring scorching, Stax-styled horns courtesy of Sammi Abu. The album's intricate arrangements, stellar musicianship (particularly Boyle's lightening guitar on "Nuns," Hisako's emotive violin on "Wind," her husband's fireworks on "Freedom," and Hopper and Gascoigne's contributions throughout), astounded progressive and fusion fans alike, and still sound sensational today. ~ Dave Thompson