Review: Mar Project – Stepping Stone

Mar Project is the musical outlet for vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Hiroshi Kono, Japanese-born but now living in New York. Clearly the American influences appear to have rubbed off on Kono as the music within his second full-length album covers a wide area of alternative rock and pop music.

Mar Project Album Cover

Kono has an intriguing vocal style; breathy with seemingly French-accented tones which could fit in with easy listening as well as the baroque pop he seems more comfortable with. Certainly the likes of ‘Vanishing In The Light’ sees him swoon his way effortlessly through some theatrical arrangements. Many of the songs here feature classical guitar as the main instrument with electronic backing; best exemplified on the hooky title track. Kono does like to take risks though and it works well on the half-grunge of ‘Again’, the sensuous, dancefloor-friendly ‘Plastic Love’ is very good indeed and first single ‘Run’ cleverly uses Bond-style string effects. On the debit side, ‘The 21st Century Blues’ is a camp step too far whilst but ‘The Four Seasons’ sees his gushing style employed in a more restrained setting that is far more suitable. Overall, ‘Stepping Stone’ can be quite a confusing album to listen to because of its odd assortment of styles and instrumentation but there’s a nice flow to the record and Kono’s gift for unusual melody cannot be denied.

Web Sites:
Mar Creation Label Site
Mar Project MySpace

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