Kurayami Monogatari

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Aira Mitsuki – Pyramidal October 17, 2017

Filed under: Aira Mitsuki — solarblade @ 7:14 am

pyrimidal

Track Listing

  1. Future in Loop
  2. Pyramidal
  3. Chewing on Love
  4. LIGHTSAVER
  5. DIS&CO
  6. Detective A
  7. Recommunication
  8. Nabwa
  9. Days
  10. I’LL AGAIN..

1. Future in Loop

Kicking the album off is the lead-in track, Future in Loop and hearing Aira jumping back into some more club-like sounds for her album is definitely a new change of pace for her and I kind of dug it!  It’s definitely a song that while doesn’t have a lot of drops, has a cool vibe and such.  I think it sets the album up nicely and makes me excited to hear what else there is to hear!

2. Pyramidal

Moving onto the title track, Pyramidal caught my attention with the harder beats and more experimental sound in comparison to “Future in Loop”.  It sounds a bit destructive, yet composed with Aira’s lispy vocals to give some poppy feels.  There’s just something so lowkey yet gritty about it all.  What an interesting track, this is!  I’m quite enjoying this more than I should~

3. Chewing on Love

After that, I wasn’t expecting the jump back to something a bit more familiar to fans of her D-TOPIA works.  Chewing on Love is so far the poppiest track I’ve come across the album, but it’s nice as I hear some acoustic guitar mixing it up with the low bass hits and then adding this light tropical house sound, giving this electric 80s sound which is great to hear!  Another strong song for the album here!

4. LIGHTSAVER

So we finally get to our first old track and it’s Aira’s first song when she came back from her hiatus (and leaving of D-TOPIA).  As this was a song that was released back in 2015, it was going to be interesting to come back to this.  I do like how it was like a throwback to Aira’s stuff circa “C.O.P.Y” with the grittier synths and Aira’s filtered vocals just feels right!  Though, it’s odd that I think that it does sound safe in comparison to the previous three tracks, but IzeMac had to start somewhere!

5. DIS&CO

I was hoping the next one would be a literal disco track, but DIS&CO is hitting hard.  I really like the edgy arrangement that kind of has the same kick and fire that “Pyramidal” had, but after the intro, it starts going into a club beat and flow and it really makes you wanna lose yourself on the dancefloor.  Simple, but effective track!

6. Detective A

Despite the fact I didn’t review two of the digital A-sides Aira released back in 2016, I’m kind of happy to see both make the cut!  Detective A was the more interesting of the two because unlike most of the tracks, this one felt very anthemic and unique amongst the other EDM tracks we’re offered here.  The introduction is a bit slow, but it grows into an 80s-inspired club bopper!  Pretty strong then and pretty strong now~

7. Recommunication

Back to new tracks, Recommunication continues to bring more experimentation to the table and I’m just impressed by the new clicks, bells, and whistles that it brought along with this dubsteppy kind of riff.  Gone are the more grittier synths for something a little more poppy and glossy and Aira seems to be taking the reins vocally here which is awesome because it feels like I’ve been more into the music than her.  That said, the pre-chorus is amazing and the chorus (while busy) is pretty damn cool!  Definitely my favorite off the album!

8. Nabwa

As the last of the new tracks, Nabwa (odd title aside) is something I wasn’t expecting.  Like “Pyramidal” and “DIS&CO”, Nabwa has more of a darker vibe to it and has a bit more of a grungier kind of club sound that pushes it along.  Aira does seem to sit back a little bit as her contribution is more or less the same throughout (not very much).  It’s OK, but of the previous tracks mentioned, it’s a bit weak.

9. Days

The other digital single released, Days definitely tries to really pop out from the album, but it features a lot of the same sounds that I came across in other songs from this album and while it did come before most songs here, I can’t help but think it has a little too much of the gritty bass synths that are all over “LIGHTSAVER” & “I’LL AGAIN..”.  The quieter parts are nice, but the rest is kind of forgetful.

10. I’LL AGAIN..

The album ends with arguably the first song she actually came back with and like with what I said in “Days” the gritty synths are present, but I’m not quite as harsh as it was her first song back in the limelight.  I also feel like this could’ve made a better opening to the album than “Future in Loop”, but that’s just me.  Still it’s a decent song overall.

Tracks Recommended

  • Recommunication
  • Pyramidal
  • Detective A
  • Chewing on Love
  • LIGHTSAVER

Song of Avoidance

Nabwa

Wow it’s been quite a while since “I’LL BE BACK” (released back in 2013) hasn’t it?  Yeah, a bit bummed that she isn’t working with Terukado anymore, but it means she gets to stretch her works to other people.  Pyramidal is actually surprisingly good and a good step up over both her last album and her previous “???” album as well.  I do think while this is a good album, maybe more producers could help out while I liked IzeMac here, it did feel samey and a bit messy through some songs.  Also, while I’m not surprised that “Animo!” isn’t here (was produced by others), I’m a little surprised that “F.F.C.” didn’t make the cut.  Still, an overall good album and hopefully Aira can release more regularly again.

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VIXX – Lalala ~Ai wo Arigatou~

Filed under: VIXX — solarblade @ 4:52 am

lalala

Track Listing

  1. Lalala ~Ai wo Arigatou~
  2. Celebration!!
  3. Crush My Mind
  4. How ’bout you
  5. Saboten

1. Lalala ~Ai wo Arigatou~

As the leading track of the mini, Lalala is definitely a style VIXX doesn’t really cater to very much and that’s the bright piano-laced songs.  Definitely makes me think of “G.R.8.U” in the sound and the fact that it just sounds so positive is a bit unusual for me as a fan.  Though I’m liking that I hear N, Hyuk, and Hongbin quite a bit and there’s points where Ken & Leo are popping up to you.  Was surprised the chorus is in unison and Ravi’s rap section is kind of covered by the other members too.  Odd song for them.

2. Celebration!!

Next up is Celebration!! and it definitely fits the bill as the upbeat party song with funk vibes and brass and slapbass in the arrangement.  I really like the fun vibes here and funny enough it does give me similar vibes to “Mukae ni Ikou” in the exciting and fun vibes I get.  I do find myself kind of enjoying the song and gives the group some color!

3. Crush My Mind

Of the 5 songs of the mini-album, Crush My Mind is the one that caters to the fans that are used to VIXX’s darker concepts back in Korea.  The song itself isn’t too bad, but I do think it’s somewhat cluttered in the chorus section as it just buzzes by a lot.  I do like the slick feel and Ravi sounds cool whenever he’s up but it doesn’t quite stand up to other songs in their discography.

4. How ’bout you

Cooling things down for the rest of the mini-album, How ’bout you is laidback and smoother for the group and I kind of enjoy the R&B vibes I’m getting here as it showcases the singers’ voices in a more chiller setting (except Ravi, who gave a pretty good rap).  It’s OK for the most part, maybe a little under the interest, but it’s a decent mid-tempo track for them.

5. Saboten

As the final track, I wasn’t expecting acoustic guitar to open the track and be a good portion of the melody here.  Actually the track entirely is quite relaxing and makes me think of sunsets on the beach.  I really liked the soothing sound and hey even Ravi sings in this track (albeit a little rough because he’s in a deeper range than the other members).  Still, I quite liked this and they should do more of this in the future!

 

 

I wasn’t expecting VIXX to release a mini-album (and to not include “Hana-Kaze” at that).  Though since the group was still going strong with the whole “Ker” and “Shangri-La” era in Korea, I was hoping for some strong songs here, but it came off as more of middle of the road with Lalala.  None of the songs (bar Celebration!! & Saboten) really have a long-lasting feel to them so it feels somewhat throwaway.  I suppose it was a release, but I mean…it could’ve been worse.

 

AAA – LIFE October 8, 2017

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 6:56 am

life

Track Listing

  1. LIFE
  2. LIFE (Instrumental)

1. LIFE

I like that the song opens up with marching drums (and jingle bells?).  OK?  Anyways it does seem like the song is a bit brighter and happier in moods which works after their last single.  It does seem like everyone in the group is managing to keep up vocally (even Hidaka who is singing and not rapping).  It does remind me of earlier AAA songs once again stuff like “Friday Party” and “Kirei na Sora”.  It’s just poppy and very breezy!

 

 

Ugh, we’re back to one song singles are we now?  Anyways, after “No Way Back” I feel like LIFE is a bit more of that, but I’m not quite sure why it was by itself with no B-side, just feels like it needs one there.  Not bad, the group is doing well enough and Misako found herself back in the main singers as well.

 

TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE – water lily ~Suiren~

Filed under: TOKYO GIRLS' STYLE — solarblade @ 6:20 am

waterlily

Track Listing

  1. water lily ~Suiren~
  2. illusion
  3. water lily ~Suiren~ (PARKGOLF Remix)
  4. water lily ~Suiren~ (Instrumental)
  5. illusion (Instrumental)

1. water lily ~Suiren~

Opening the single, we get a very different side to TGS with water lily which is more relaxed a totally different setting from the norm that everyone had gotten used to.  It definitely is laidback and taking upon a more tropical house setting is something new yet familiar to the quartet.  It’s refreshing overall and the members are sounding better in harmonies (or it could just be studio magic).  Still, not so bad of a song!

2. illusion

The B-side though is not exactly new material, it’s more of a original version to the illusion found on their last album, “REFLECTION”.  Not sure why they waited so long to put this on a single considering it’s been quite a while.  As mentioned in the album remix of it, it’s a Mei solo but unlike the arrangement, this goes back to the funk/disco vibes (when the group was still 5 strong).  It’s nice to hear a song like this again, but I was alarmed about the amount of auto-tune used on Mei’s voice.  It’s a bit distracting and doesn’t really work with the arrangement.  I suppose the single needed something, but eh…it’s kind of disappointing.

3. water lily ~Suiren~ (PARKGOLF Remix)

Of course it’s remix time and it’s of the leading track here.  The PARKGOLF remix feels a bit more organic sounding having a bit more piano and this reggae-ish mood as the main style.  Not quite sure if I was liking the auto-tune placed in this song either as it makes the group sound more squirrelly sounding.  I think I like musically more than the original, but the vocal melody needs to be fixed up some.

 

 

As the group’s 4th single since their album, I feel like water lily is kind of the middle-of-the-road single (considering this before they had announced two best mini-albums).  I feel like nothing totally stood out here, but it’s not horrid enough to be shelved.  Both the main song and remix have good points and bad points, but it’s different from their usual shtick.  illusion on the other hand was just thrown on here for no good reason IMO, but likewise it’s fine if you’re into the older TGS sound.  Interesting to see what’s in store from the “PERIOD. BEST” albums.