Kurayami Monogatari

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Maki Goto – Ai Kotoba (VOICE) November 4, 2011

Filed under: Maki Goto — solarblade @ 8:08 am

Track Listing

  1. What is LOVE
  2. Get Your Way
  3. YOU
  4. Tsukikage
  5. Ai Kotoba
  6. EYES
  7. Paradise
  8. SCANDALOUS
  9. Houseki
  10. “Nee…”
  11. hanauta
  12. Believe
  13. Ashiato

Collabo-works Track Listing

  1. Queen Bee with BIGGA RAIJI
  2. Lady-Rise
  3. Candy
  4. TEAR DROPS with KG
  5. Mine with KEN THE 390
  6. Fly away
  7. Plastic Lover
  8. with…
  9. Golden LUV
  10. CRAZY IN LOVE feat. MAKI GOTO with FALCO & SHINO
  11. Fly away -house nation remix-
  12. Plastic Lover -club mix-

1. What is LOVE

The opening song on Maki’s album was actually one of the two digital singles released in the era.  Funny things just kick off right from the start with something that’s danceable and electro-ish and it just works for me.  It’s just weird though because Gocchin doesn’t sound like herself taking more of a deeper tone which is a new side to her but it kind of works for me because it makes her sound more sexy to my ears.  I like the song though, it’s got a hard sound and the tune is pretty damn catchy!

2. Get Your Way

After the first song, we get a string of new songs starting with Get Your Way which continues to exude this sexual air this early on the album and I can’t help but liking this song also since it’s sticky and gooey but kind of hot since it shows more of Maki’s vocals a bit better than “What is LOVE”.  Another strong song early on!

3. YOU

As the album’s promotional song, YOU at first seriously came off to me as a rejected Ayu song because the arrangement and musical flow of the songs scream Ayu.  However, I think Maki did justice with this song and since it’s the first soft song after the two synth-based songs.  Actually, YOU really did a great thing for Gocchin because it’s the first to show power from her and it worked to her favor IMO.  I ended up loving this one!

4. Tsukikage

After such a powerful ballad in “YOU”, I found it interesting to follow up with another ballad in Tsukikage.  Of course to my ears, it’s a bit more basic since it’s predominantly piano at its core.  It’s got a pretty arrangement though with light synths and something to make it sound a little more oriental as well.  Though, the chorus is a little disappointing since it lacks power, but it’s still a beautiful ballad and fitting after something like “YOU”.

5. Ai Kotoba

The title track comes up next and it just left me dazed and confused during the entire listen.  At first I was surprised she’d choose another ballad since it was only her and piano at first.  Then she totally threw a 180 at the listener by switching into a hard rock track.  To me, this exactly reminds me of Ayu’s “Because of You” because it’s the same formula, just different arrangements and melodies.  I just found it strange to go back and forth but unlike “Fake” where Maki pulled off the style well, she didn’t do as good here unfortunately, but there’s some things that I do like…like the verses and the area before the final chorus.

6. EYES

So we’re back to pre-released songs starting with one of the two promotional songs from her first mini-album, “ONE”.  EYES was definitely a good choice to add on the album since after those serious songs before it, this brightens the atmosphere up.  I like Maki’s vocals in this song and she really tries to be pretty suave in the song.  Of course the added feel of the song under the disco balls is great!  It isn’t my favorite song of the mini-albums but it’s damn close xD

7. Paradise

Another song rushes in before the string of old tracks follow it.  Paradise has a nice follow-up after “EYES” so the placement is definitely not a problem here.  However, to me this song kind of feels underwhelming as well since it doesn’t seem to really grow and the chorus at first is hard to pinpoint.  I’m kind of just shrugging this song off since it doesn’t impress me one bit.

8. SCANDALOUS

The other digital single released in the era brings back the electro beats and easily accessable dance style that Maki did on “SWEET BLACK”.  To me, this was one of my favorites and so much better than “What is LOVE”.  The beginning was dejavu to my ears because there was a short passage that made me thing “Evacuate the Dancefloor” by Cascada but that was shortlived.  I like the song still and even though there’s songs that surpass it on this album, I’d say it did well for itself.

9. Houseki

The other song from the “ONE” mini-album found itself on here and I have to say it’s my favorite song off the album hands down.  I thought at first it was just going to be a pop song at first because of the lengthy intro to the song.  Thank god it changes from that into this electro bomb that filled my headphones with happiness ^_^.  Loving the arrangement (which was done by Shinichi Osawa BTW).  Yeah, it’s definitely a powerhouse.

10. “Nee…”

Which is a little odd that the main song from Gocchin’s 3rd mini-album, “LOVE” comes after all that in “Houseki”.  I must say that since it’s not surrounded by the other ballads from that mini, it works a bit better here and unlike the previous ballads before it, it’s a bit happier in tone which I liked about it more here.  It’s a catchy song after all and she sung her heart out on this one but it isn’t as personal of a song as…

11. hanauta

Which is the third track that found its way onto the album from “ONE”.  Unlike “Nee…”s  romantic overlook, hanauta was a song that became pretty important to Gocchin since it took better life after her mother’s passing which is a pretty sweet thing to do and Maki sounds lovely in this song no doubt.  I do prefer the arrangement in the last song however, but this song has the prettier vocals.  It’s a toss up at this point…

12. Believe

The last new track once again puts me in a position where I get dejavu because it sounds like another Ayu ballad for me!  It’s like a cross between “Tsukikage” and “YOU” which is kind of cool but a little lazy in some parts.  I like how light and delicate Gocchin’s vocals are going through the verses before getting louder during the chorus.  It’s a pretty good song and does pull us out of the ballads before the finale.

13. Ashiato

Which is the main tune from the “Gloria” mini-album hahaha.  I’m not sure if it was really a smart idea for Ashiato to have been the closer when we had “hanauta” which would’ve made so much more sense than this tune which is kind of in its own category.  What I mean is that Ashiato is pop/rock but not in the same veins as the other rock songs which makes it the oddball tune.  I liked it though and is one of the album’s more catchier songs…but still isn’t a good outro to the album.

Collabo-works Disc

1. Queen Bee with BIGGA RAIJI

Then we get into the second disc which is a little disappointing but that’s more for later.  The first 8 tracks are exactly from the “SWEET BLACK” mini-album which is a shock since I wouldn’t have thought she’d add ALL the songs.  Queen Bee is still one of my favorite Gocchin tracks since she joined avex.  I mean of course people still complain that BIGGA RAIJI kind of takes a lot away from the song, but personally I’ve come to fully enjoy him in the song since he gives an attitude to the song that couldn’t have been done better with any other MC.  I love the beat of the song and Maki just sexes the song up to such a good degree and I just MMMMMMMPH.  It’s a damn good song!

2. Lady-Rise

I mean I hate the fact that Lady-Rise is three minutes long, but damn just like “Queen Bee” it’s pretty damn fierce for Maki to pull a sexy song out of the hat prior to her debut mini-album (even though she dabbled in that in her final H!P album).  To me, “Fly away” didn’t do much for me when she began, but her second of the digital singles in that era was hot and full of attitude so of course I’m going to take more notice!

3. Candy

While I have kept tabs on the previous two tracks on my iPod, I totally forgot what most of the other songs sounded like.  Candy was a surprise for me because it’s more along the lines of what I would listen to since it continues this aggressive sexual nature that has kept me interested in the other dance tunes.  I need to keep my eyes on this one since I really liked this tune a bit!

4. TEAR DROPS with KG

The previous three songs were dance tracks for the most part and then TEAR DROPS kinds of slams the brakes down for a piano-based mid-tempo kind of track.  Also it’s a little weird getting into collaborations (no, I mean other artists singing).  To me, I feel like TEAR DROPS would make for a great winter-themed PV for some reason.  KG does an alright job in his parts but Maki sounds a bit more cleaner (at least to me). 

5. Mine with KEN THE 390

At least the other actual collaboration sounds rather upbeat and pulls us back into the dance-like atmosphere with a pulsating beat.  To me, I was surprised that it was a new version of “Hear me” but replaced all-around but kept a little bit in the way of lyrics.  KEN THE 390 is just all kinds of awesome in the song and brings fire to the already tight song!  I mean this collaboration could have not been any better IMO.

6. Fly away

I remember this being first released SOOOO long ago.  At that time, I was just not that impressed with it though I will give credit nowadays because the beat is quite fierce and Maki sounds quite nice with the clapping rhythm.  I still find the chorus to be a little bit of a downer when compared to the hot verses.  Still, since then the song has seriously grown on me and man, if it wasn’t for “Queen Bee”, “Lady-Ride”, or the next song I probably would have paid SO much more attention to this song…

7. Plastic Lover

I still think that this song and “Queen Bee” seriously is the best songs that the mini-album had to offer.  I mean of course this track was sliced from a longer version (which is fortunately on here as well), Plastic Lover is just an amazing club-banger for me.  It’s got the right amount of beats and the synths flow so smoothly…and then add the glorious high note Gocchin hits and you get this awesome song! 

8. with…

Since with… was originally what closed the SWEET BLACK mini, I felt that this song probably would’ve fit moreso on “Ai Kotoba” since it kind of just felt weird since besides “TEAR DROPS” it didn’t fit the mold of the other songs since it was more of an R&B kind of song.  It’s a sweet song though and Maki’s vocals are light and fluffy which works for the setting.  I still think all-around this and the song mentioned should not be hear amongst all the dance tracks.

9. Golden LUV

The other four tracks on the second disc are kind of bonuses since two are where Gocchin was the featured artist and two are just simply remixes of “SWEET BLACK” songs.  I loved that her ravex song got to see light again (third time reviewed BTW).  It’s been a while since I’ve listened to the song and I found that it fits with the other dance tracks awesomely.  I thought it would’ve worked if it was after “EYES” or something TBH.  It’s just lively and I loved the beats and mood of the song, it’s just disco and wacky all rolled in one here ^_^

10. CRAZY IN LOVE feat. MAKI GOTO with FALCO & SHINO

Funny enough, the other original song was the only one I have never heard prior to this album release and I’m not even sure where it even came from.  CRAZY IN LOVE (a song that’s actually DJ MAYUMI’s) this sounds a lot like what American sounded like at the time since it reminds me of a certain Keri Wilson song.  I wonder if there’s a relation since it’s Maki and two MCs….Odd…The song overall is alright, but I’m not a big fan of this one.

11. Fly away -house nation remix-

Like I said the other two tracks are lengthy remixes of “SWEET BLACK” songs even though they were already well-known by that time.  If memory serves me correctly, I think we had the Fly away remix before the original mix was released which is a surprising move.  I have to say that even though I’m not a fan of long intro club remixes, the main feel of the song once Gocchin starts to sing is pretty awesome.  I get a dreamscape kind of feel for it and at the same time, I can move my hips to the track.  It turned the dark dance track into a bright and floaty mix and I must say I’m impressed.

12. Plastic Lover -club mix-

Onto the first version of Plastic Lover released, It’s a little shorter than the remix of “Fly away” funny enough but I must say that the core of the mix of Plastic Lover stayed the same which awesome.  It does sound a little different if the headphones are on which is pretty awesome.  I mean in literal sense, it just adds more punch which is awesome since I love the song already. 

Tracks Recommended

  • Houseki
  • What is LOVE
  • YOU
  • Ashiato
  • hanauta
  • Plastic Lover
  • Queen Bee with BIGGA RAIJI
  • Lady-Rise
  • Fly away
  • Fly away -house nation remix-

Song of Avoidance

  • Paradise
  • CRAZY IN LOVE feat. MAKI GOTO with FALCO & SHINO

As it’s Maki’s only album under avex and the last thing she’s going to release before going into hiatus, Ai Kotoba (VOICE) is definitely going to be somewhere on my top 10 albums of the year.  There’s just something great she pulled here and while I doubted her during her mini-albums, she came together for the album and she pulled it off quite well.  A lot of variation here to be found! 

The second disc could’ve been handled better IMO.  I mean I wish she didn’t bring the ENTIRE SWEET BLACK mini onto the disc because everyone knows it pwns most of the songs on Ai Kotoba for sure.  I would’ve been with a few from it and pick and choose through the remaining songs from the mini-albums AND WHY IS THERE NO “Non stop Love Yoroshiku!!” since it is a “collaboration” with DJ OZMA (yes I know it’s not credited as DJ OZMA but it’s the same dude under it).  I don’t know I just wish the second disc was handled differently!

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One Response to “Maki Goto – Ai Kotoba (VOICE)”

  1. beforjess Says:

    I enjoyed reading your review!
    Like you, I was also very impressed with this album. Although, for me, since I never got her SWEET BLACK album, the entire second disc made it like getting 2 albums in one, so I didn’t mind that it was pretty much repeats. I also agree that Non-stop Love Yoroshiku should have been on here, though… Just one more thing I gotta get!


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