Kurayami Monogatari

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Annabel – Noctiluca January 19, 2011

Filed under: Annabel — solarblade @ 8:46 am

Track Listing

  1. in c i so
  2. code
  3. Soiree
  4. Kokemosu Niwa
  5. moon phase
  6. insomne Noctiluca

1. in c i so

Opening Annabel’s mini-album, in c i so is kind of just the ethereal introductory track…or at first it was.  You hear someone walking and the sounds of nature, but that stops and leaves the footsteps to continue.  After a little bit, Annabel kind of ad-libs and then it does away while the hollow sound kind of just takes over and some jingling and we’re back outside…it’s weird…

2. code

Our first song code starts out quite simply with acoustic guitar and Annabel singing quite softly.  Though this kind of cybernetic-like background does make the song sound abstract and almost weird…since there’s some kind of melody trying to pull out from it.  After a while a beat finally appears and the song actually glues together and it has a slight dance feel going.  I kind of like this weird song hahaa.

3. Soiree

I didn’t think Annabel could get any quieter in her vocals, but in Soiree, she sounds way quiet to me, but it could also because of the arrangement in the beginning.  Of course things like piano get added and she does get a bit louder and the music gets a little more forceful, but at the peak it returns to the cave-like beginning…it’s hard to explain the sound of it if you noticed.  Once again, strange but yet calming at the same time!

4. Kokemosu Niwa

I’m starting to notice that Annabel’s music is quite unlike other artists out there…almost like RURUTIA’s almost but more odd.  Luckily, she’s got a good voice for stuff like this no matter how empty the music like Kokemosu Niwa’s.  The lack of melody and odd chords gives this strange otherworldly feel that not many people can deal with since it’s abstract and all that.  To me, it was alright, but it could’ve had a little more direction for it IMO.

5. moon phase

Oddly enough that’s where moon phase comes in.  Of the songs I’ve come across so far, moon phase sounds the most upbeat and together with it’s lounge-like atmosphere that sounds really peaceful.  I start to think that the song isn’t in Japanese though, but I really do love the strange mood it puts me in since it’s got a lot of synths and bongos.  Let’s not forget how peaceful Annabel sounds as well…it’s just heavenly.  By the time she enters the second verses, I can tell it’s English she’s speaking and while it’s not that well, it’s still kind of easy to follow.  Pretty awesome song!

6. insomne Noctiluca

Rounding off Annabel’s mini, insomne Noctiluca brings us back down to the experimental side of things starting with some ad-libbing.  Unfortunately, that’s what all it is during the entire 3:20 time of the song is some ethereal things and Annabel ad-libbing…talk about stretching it out a bit…

While it’s deemed as Annabel’s 2nd mini-album…does that mean “natal” was her first?  I don’t know, but Noctiluca ended off 2010 with a rather quiet mini-album.  She’s not like other artists out there and she has her own style that’s her own, but if she keeps it like this, she’ll quickly fall off my radar unless she does things that are similar to moon phase which was the mini’s gem I think.

 

D – VAMPIRE SAGA

Filed under: D — solarblade @ 7:56 am

Track Listing

  1. Muku Naru Bara no Inori
  2. in the name of justice
  3. Underground road
  4. DAY WALKER
  5. Midori no Tsubasa
  6. Tsuki to Umi no Seiyaku
  7. Ai wa Hitsuji no Naka ni
  8. Akaki Hitsuji ni Yoru Bansankai
  9. Taiko no Kiba
  10. Desert Warrior
  11. Quartet ~Mayonaka no Shijuusou~
  12. Black Swan
  13. Der König der Dunkelheit
  14. Silver acorn bullet (CD only)

Type A Disc 2

  1. Bloodberry
  2. what is Going On with The Human
  3. Lapis lazuli ~Kimi wo Omou Hodo Boku wa Hoshiku Naru~
  4. K no Hyousoukyoku
  5. Hibiwareta Zakuroishi
  6. Snow White ~Another gift~

1. Muku Naru Bara no Inori

I love the beginning of the album with a chorale mixed with ASAGI singing in front of them.  I thought it was going to explode, but it starts out with a quiet guitar melody from either Ruiza or HIDE-ZOU, but the song has a pretty interesting flow to it.  I also love that ASAGI goes into his lesser seen falsetto vocals take over for a good portion of the song.  It’s a good opening but I liked “7th Rose’s” better.

2. in the name of justice

Being the 2nd A-side and final single released in the era, in the name of justice still disappoints me on the album.  I like that they made the song more powerful, but it sounded so messy and all over the place.  When ASAGI was singing the song isn’t that bad and is the best part of the song, but the growling kind just ruined the experience for me.  Luckily I guess since the single’s release, the song is slightly gotten better, but the growling is still the worst part of the song IMO.

3. Underground road

I wonder if D is basically making VAMPIRE SAGA a much harder album unlike the last few.  With Underground road, the mood is very dark and edgy and while I love ASAGI’s more sly vocals found here, the bridge is still kind of weird since it’s like growling and something else that I just can’t stand.  For being one of the more shorter songs off the album, it wasn’t so bad.

4. DAY WALKER

Why am I loving the openings for each song so far?  Ok, also what is up with ASAGI overusing the growl now?  I’m starting to get really tired of hearing this style because it’s like terrible and just not good.  Besides that, the songs lighter sound is actually a nice change from the previous songs.  I think I’m gonna have to have time to get used to the GRAWWWR of the song, but it’s good.

5. Midori no Tsubasa

At least we’re getting into some light stuff now with Midori no Tsubasa.  Besides the opening, this is the first song to feature no growling in the sense and I was happy with that and add that this song was light and more melodically together made me happy as well.  Even Ruiza’s solo was just epic and made the song so much more better.  It’s along the lines of “Day By Day” from their last album, but I enjoyed this one a lot.

6. Tsuki to Umi no Seiyaku

Well, I guess taking the lighter route only lasted one song since Tsuki to Umi no Seiyaku basically put us back to the band’s more hard sound, but I thought ASAGI and the rest of the band did a much better job keeping themselves together.   This reminded me on how awesome some of their previous songs were without any problems…it’s like a much harder version of “BIRTH” and I missed that.

7. Ai wa Hitsuji no Naka ni

Taking more of a mid-tempo sound for Ai wa Hitsuji no Naka ni, I actually enjoyed this song as well.  I love the opening, but the verses actually pull me in this time with the strings and ASAGI by himself.  It was an interesting choice.  Let’s say it’s one of the best songs from the album heh.

8. Akaki Hitsuji ni Yoru Bansankai

I will admit that I actually loved this A-side.  I love the dramatics from ASAGI this time around and it’s kind of more along the lines of what D considers fun.  It’s still one of the harder hitting songs from the album, but I thought what they did here was pretty awesome and is what D is IMHO.  Powerful and strong and a little giddy, but I loved it.

9. Taiko no Kiba

Taiko no Kiba is the shortest song on the album being a little over two minutes, but those two minutes are basically for HIROKI who’s the epic drummer of the band.  It’s a solo song for him!  I mean I’m all for it not doubt, but what’s the point of a drum solo track if we can’t see HIROKI’s playing…whatever.  Anyways there’s a slight undertone of a sound that isn’t him, but otherwise pure drums all the way.

11. Desert Warrior

Our next song is also quite short, it’s only three seconds longer than “Taiko no Kiba”, but it also seems like that there’s a lot more going on in the song.  I love the Arabian motif going on and while I hate the chanting/growl thing going on for most of the song ASAGI did most of what he could in this short tune.  It’s experimental, but it could’ve also been handled better and lengthened more IMO.

11. Quartet ~Mayonaka no Shijuusou~

I was wondering where I heard the guitar riff for Quartet before, it sounds rather familiar to my ears, but I can’t seem to remember where it’s from.  Anyway, I like how Quartet sounds a whole lot different from the other hard tracks on the album and ASAGI keeps his vocals in control throughout…that’s not too much to ask for luckily.  I find the bongos a weird insertion in a song like this, but it’s still odd.  I’m starting to believe that someone else growls besides ASAGI though…ick.  Still, one of the stronger tracks here.

12. Black Swan

Ironic, there’s a movie out titled that as well <.<…..So the growling shit opens the song and it seems this song is more tied with songs like “in the name of justice” and “DAY WALKER” but there’s a whole lot more of this going on which sucks since it’s like really…”Toki no Koe” pt.2?  Sorry, but Black Swan might scare people off, it just kind of made me roll my eyes.

13. Der König der Dunkelheit

As the album’s promotional song and closing for the CD+DVD release of the album, Der König der Dunkelheit is quite a dark song for this album.  I actually enjoyed this song a whole lot for it’s dark demeanor and powerful vocals from ASAGI, I’m happy they chose the song to promote the album since the PV was quite surprisingly fitting for the whole vampiric theme going. 

14. Silver acorn bullet

~Hello and welcome!~ says ASAGI at this CD only cut closing the album.  Silver acorn bullet is a weird final addition to the album since it sounds like some of the other songs that were on the album, mostly taking some points from “Underground road”.  I actually think they could’ve left this song off the album or at least not have made it a “one-edition” kind of song.

Type A Disc 2

1. Bloodberry

So with the album being rereleased in March, the second disc that comes with the version has all B-sides.  First up is Bloodberry from “Tightrope” and I barely remember it from when I reviewed the single sadly.  Anyways, I actually liked ASAGI’s vocals here and the mid-tempo start since it wasn’t like the other songs, but it does jolt the energy quite a bit when the band comes in.  I guess, I really did enjoy the song’s energy and powerful sound.

2. what is Going On with The Human

Being it’s the first of two B-sides from “Snow White” (which I haven’t reviewed yet) what is Going On with The Human sounds like one of the stronger and creepier songs that D’s put out since going major.  To me it sounds kind of like the typical hard track D would of course release, but it’s still good and strong enough as a B-side.

3. Lapis lazuli ~Kimi wo Omou Hodo Boku wa Hoshiku Naru~

The crazy long-titled B-side from “Tightrope” comes next and Lapis lazuli really doesn’t sway me in any direction listening to it once again.  Like I said in the single review, I loved the fact there was piano present for the song, but after the band joins in, it kind of becomes very forgettable…they should’ve chose “Shikou no Bi no Houkai” instead IMHO over this track.

4. K no Hyousoukyoku

The next two tracks on the second disc are from “Akaki Hitsuji ni Yoru Bansankai” and I really was hoping not to listen to this track again.  At first it sounded good enough since it was piano-based, but then ASAGI used his growling to get through the song and it really took me out since those were the verses.  Kind of like “in the name of justice”, it’s like crap vocals and awesome vocals in the other parts.  I would’ve enjoyed it if it wasn’t for the growling.

5. Hibiwareta Zakuroishi

Something that was missing in the main disc of VAMPIRE SAGA was an actual ballad from the band and while Hibiwareta Zakuroishi was a B-side, I’m happy they chose to at least place it on one of the editions of the album.  ASAGI sounds pretty with the light music that’s playing behind him and shows the band that they can cater to the idea of a slower and quieter style.

6. Snow White ~Another gift~

I have heard Snow White the original take and that was a pretty nice ballad from them, but adding the alternate version on this album was just a bit strange.  Unlike the flowing of the original, this one feels lighter and upbeat and overall strange for this album almost.  I mean I thought it was nice, but on VAMPIRE SAGA, it just makes zero sense.

Tracks Recommended

  • Ai wa Hitsuji no Naka ni
  • Midori no Tsubasa
  • Der König der Dunkelheit
  • Akaki Hitsuji ni Yoru Bansankai
  • Tsuki to Umi no Seiyaku

Song of Avoidance

  • Black Swan

VAMPIRE SAGA to me shows D going even further down after “7th Rose”.  It could be the overly grating amount of the growling ASAGI has been getting used to using.  Also, they’ve slightly gotten messier with their music as of late.  Still there’s hope for them mostly in the tracks I recommended…but I liked their first two majors better still.  As for the second disc (which will be released with VAMPIRE SAGA in March) it was an interesting selection of B-sides and even though they weren’t the smartest choices, it fit the mood of the rest of the album (except Snow White ~Another gift~).

 

SuG – Crazy Bunny Coaster

Filed under: SuG — solarblade @ 5:07 am

Track Listing

  1. Crazy Bunny Coaster
  2. NO OUT NO LIFE
  3. ID fudge factor (Regular only)

1. Crazy Bunny Coaster

I’m still kind of wrapping my head around this band since they’re so different from other Oshare-kei bands out there.  Crazy Bunny Coaster really makes me wonder what the hell I was smoking before playing this song.  Unlike their previous single, this one has a very poppish flow going, but Takeru just turned the song into something lighthearted and fun.  Add in the fun arrangement from the rest of the band and it kind of turned into something memorable…at little out of left field, but funny and catchy.

2. NO OUT NO LIFE

Adding more to the wtf-ness of the single, NO OUT NO LIFE has more of a knack to being strangely addicting and yet wrong at the same time.  The music for me screams H!P for some reason, but with Takeru singing along the giddy music kind of got the same reaction from me as I did with “Crazy Bunny Coaster”. 

3. ID fudge factor

Though the regular edition did have some sort of serious drive going with ID fudge factor.  If the synthy beginning didn’t tell you enough, the large amounts of sound and groove should tell you enough that it’s got a bang.  The disc scratching does get to be a little annoying, but it does suit the songs hard riffs and dark vocals.  It’s a bit out of place on the single but whatever. XD

SuG’s 3rd and final single for the “Thrill Ride Pirates” era was way out of left field for me.  I didn’t think they’d pull off such a strange cutesy tune for the A-side as well as with NO OUT NO LIFE, but it oddly works for them since it brings in much new air to them I think.  We still got our SuG rock with ID fudge factor, but I think the previous two were the stars here.

 

Maaya Sakamoto – You can’t catch me

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 4:37 am

Track Listing

  1. eternal return
  2. Himitsu
  3. DOWN TOWN
  4. Utsukushii Hito
  5. Kimi no Sei
  6. Zero to Ichi
  7. Mizuumi
  8. stand up, girls!
  9. Mirai Chizu
  10. Moonlight (Mata wa “Kimi ga Nemuru Tame no Ongaku”)
  11. Tegami
  12. Topia

Bonus CD Tracklist

  1. everywhere -opening-
  2. Gift
  3. Hemisphere
  4. 0331 Medley feat. Yoko Kanno
  5. I.D.
  6. Magic Number feat. Syoko Suzuki
  7. everywhere -piano & vocal-

1. eternal return

Opening on a good now with the first song, eternal return definitely carries the “Kazeyomi” flow just right with it’s upbeat and breezy nature.  Add in that Maaya sounds just as good as she was before adds to the song.  I will say that this kind of makes me worried that the album will just be her last album again.  Who knows maybe it’s a poor start, but it’s a very good song otherwise.

2. Himitsu

Well, I just swallowed my pride for a bit.  Himitsu actually starts off with an interesting synth melody before the rest of the song enters.  I thought it was kind of different for her since it sounds a tad darker and the colors of the instruments and Maaya’s vocals made it 10 times more better.  It’s almost out of the world on how it was presented.  I kind of enjoyed it more than “eternal return”.

3. DOWN TOWN

Thank god she included this song over the secondary A-side.  I thought adding DOWN TOWN would add a little spice to the album and it’s a good thing too because it actually does so.  While it is a cover of SUGAR BABE’s track, Maaya made it so much more better and jazzier and catchy in the most awesome of ways.  It’s still quite the cute song of recent days, but I thought it suited her fine.  Such a good A-side!

4. Utsukushii Hito

As the lone digital single release for the era, Utsukushii Hito continues this line of surprises on the album.  This time around, it feels like a traditional kind of ballad with little bit’s of flute and JPN-like instruments to make it a bit more ethnic.  I’m surprised she didn’t release this physically because it’s one of the album’s more powerful songs!

5. Kimi no Sei

After three songs of pure experimentation, Kimi no Sei bring us back to what Maaya is pretty much known for and it’s the more anime-like pop songs with strings and acoustic guitars.  I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, but it’s among the typical Maaya songs out there, so it might favor for the people that loved her since her debut. 

6. Zero to Ichi

Slowing things down again for our next song, Zero to Ichi is quite a pleasant listen to the ears for sure.  Being the second ballad on the album, it’s the most simplest so far and it does a better job at showing off Maaya’s vocals despite hearing places where she’s shaky, but she keeps it at a comfortable level.  It might be the strongest, but it’s nice and simple.

7. Mizuumi

Oh hey, another kind of experimental song on the album.  Mizuumi begins with this kind of beeping melody that stays throughout the song while Maaya sings along with that and some piano and light percussion.  That being said, it’s another ballad.  To me it has less oomph than “Zero to Ichi” and “Utsukushii Hito” did and it kind of passes over my head after a while.  I mean it gets stronger, but then it feels plain and boring.

8. stand up, girls!

Ahhh, we’re getting out of the ballad zone for some interesting songs.  stand up, girls! to me sounds like it would sound great if it was released in the 50’s since it has the doo-bee-wop kind of thing going on and it’s just simple and if I’m correct, she sample various oldies songs for this one so it has a lot of things going for it and it’s just so damn goody.  It could be the most catchiest thing from her on this album!  LOVE IT!

9. Mirai Chizu

Of course synths are always welcome to songs and Mirai Chizu opens up strongly with em, but it also seems it’s like it’s there to spice up the song since it’s like a lot of “Kazeyomi”.  I mean I like the atmosphere no doubt, but it just sounds more of the same we’ve come to known from Maaya, but the synths are a nice touch though.

10. Moonlight (Mata wa “Kimi ga Nemuru Tame no Ongaku”)

To me, this song is kind of like the wintery song for me.  Moonlight has that kind of sleepy kind of mood going on and it’s god some pretty quiet vocals that still sound great in this kind of arrangement.  It just hits the soft spot in such a nice way and the solos with those woodwinds were adorable too.  Iono, it’s got a sense of retro, but in a strong way.  I liked it a lot.

11. Tegami

Being the shortest song off the album being a bit over 2 minutes, Tegami is more or less an acoustic track from Maaya.  I thought Maaya’s vocals fit more of the softer role in her songs and it showed quite strongly with “Moonlight” and now this song.  Sadly, it’s still short and while it does grow more instruments as time goes by…it makes me want more from this.

12. Topia

I think keeping up with the night time feel as we close the album, Topia actually gave me more of a night feel than “Moonlight” did.  It’s pleasant, very pretty with the strings arrangement and of course Maaya sounds lovely singing the song.  It closes the album on a good note IMO.

Tracks Recommended

  • stand up, girls!
  • DOWN TOWN
  • Utsukushii Hito
  • Himitsu
  • Moonlight (Mata wa “Kimi ga Nemuru Tame no Ongaku”)

Song of Avoidance

  • Mizuumi

Ok, so I know I didn’t review the second disc, but it’s essentially live cuts of songs with some being collaborations of course, but still.  I thought “Kazeyomi” was a pleasant album from Maaya, but You can’t catch me actually turned out a whole lot better that I thought it would.  The different styles on the album made it a strong album and she can fit any of them with ease.  There are a few songs that kind of reminded us of her older days, but this is a good album!