This story technically starts like a month or more ago. Being of an inclination towards progressive rock bands, I realized one day that all the singers appeared to be men. I don't have any issue with male singers obviously, but decided it would be nice to have some more variety in the voices I hear all day, so after a quick Google search I came across Renaissance, with the singer Annie Haslam.
And they were good. Very good, in fact, good enough that I will now link some of their stuff here because it is also relevant to the band this post is actually about:
But eventually, as is the case with basically all bands and musicians, unless they happen to be Rick Wakeman's solo career, I ran out of their albums to listen to so had to move on to another band. I decided to choose the same path by which I'd found Renaissance but was feeling in a Pink Floyd mood so rather than searching for progressive rock I instead chose psychedelic rock. I then came across a list of recommendations of not entirely psychedelic rock bands but just rock bands in general, all with women as the singers, and came across this band:
This was the first song to show up when I googled the band, and I personally really like it, even if the English is maybe a little messy. I thought the singer, and also flute player, whose name is Youko Rouyama, or Yoko Royama depending on who's writing, had a very nice voice too, but what got me somewhat interested about the goings-on with the band is immediately seeing upon a google search for them that they only had 2 albums to their name and that Google only seemed to know one member, Masumi Sakaue, who I believe was the harp player given the videos associated with her:
I'm given to believe the channel this was posted to is actually run by her so that's quite nice in its own way.
But what was interesting to find was that when trying to google their history I only came across the page explaining said history in the citations of the Wikipedia article on the book Vermilion Sands, rather than the band. The first thing of note in said history, was that the band started as a cover band, and the first band that the history mentions as a point of inspiration for them to cover, is Renaissance. And I think you can somewhat hear the similarities in vocal style between the two bands, even when Yoko's singing in Japanese:
I ended up listening to both their albums in one day, and they're both very good in my opinion. It was some way through the second album that the whole affair made me feel very sad, because the vocals change. They change quite a bit, seeing as the singer, as far as I can hear, for the later songs in the album, is not Yoko Royama but Hatsune Miku:
Which of course took me off-guard, but what I had read about the band and what I was hearing, after a few minutes, sunk in in a rather dreadful manner, because I had already read that Yoko had died in 2004, of cancer, so then came to realize that there was a rather upsetting motive for her replacement. The album came out in 2013, as a tribute to her, and the effect of her voice suddenly being replaced in the middle of an album like that really made me feel quite bad for her and all the people involved, as if I could feel her hanging over the project like a ghost.
I don't know why the replacement was Hatsune Miku nor am I in the mood to enquire but I'm guessing the band had started recording before she died and then either couldn't find or didn't want to find a replacement singer, and still had the lyrics that she'd written to work from so in either case eventually decided to finish the album in the interesting way that it's finished now.
The whole story really makes me both wish the best for the members who are still around and also somewhat reflect on the nature of art. It seems to me that all these guys were all pretty talented, and they have what I'd say is quite a powerful story behind them, but I hadn't, and haven't, heard anyone, outside of the writer behind that list I found them on, and the people that I've told about them, talk about them in any capacity in my life.
They, as far as I can tell, simply sat down and made music, and it seems that even if they'd been sure no-one would've ever heard them apart from themselves, which was almost the case, they'd have made it anyway, which I think, even if it's not technically motivational, is inspiring.
So finally, though I know they won't see it, and it's likely that very few people will read this, if any, respect to all the members of Vermilion Sands, living and dead, and rest in peace to Yoko.