Kurayami Monogatari

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Akiko Shikata – Laylania July 10, 2012

Filed under: Akiko Shikata — solarblade @ 6:36 am

Track Listing

  1. Laylania
  2. Ta Fatie
  3. Fujouri≧Tanoshii?
  4. Kaze wa Harukana Asu wo Shiru
  5. Makuai~Kaokageuo: Sono Koro Dan’intachi wa Kentouchigaina Houkou wo Daisousakuchuu
  6. La ciel
  7. Toumei Nostalgia

1. Laylania

Starting this short album, Laylania kicks things off with its title track!  It’s cute since it feels like she meshed jazz with her folk style and got this unique mixture.  It’s a playful little fitty from Akiko and I thought it was cute as hell.  Add in that Akiko sounds really pretty in the song and you get a great tune and first track ^_^.

2. Ta Fatie

Things go into weird mode with Ta Fatie which is totally not like “Laylania”.  The song is a bit more mysterious and quieter since Akiko is singing with her breathy tone…it almost kind of sounds like a Cirque du Soleil tune because of how baroque and how much focus is on the accordion (I think that’s what it is).  It’s a really nice sound and the changes in her tone are surprises but good ones at that!

3. Fujouri≧Tanoshii?

To boost things back up to cuteville, Fujouri Tanoshii? is kind of like pico-pop but with this super quirky wonderland kind of style to it and it’s really making me remind myself of something like “EXEC_EP=NOVA/.” just not as random and squeaky.  It’s definitely unique and fits this whole fantasy world so right!

4. Kaze wa Harukana Asu wo Shiru

Moving onto our next track, Kaze wa Harukana Asu wo Shiru kind of goes into this mix of latin and folk which is really surprising for me.  I will say that flute/piccolo instrument is REALLY nice in this song.  Akiko’s vocals are a bit more extreme and advanced in this song and that’s cool that she’s able to show more of her voice here.  After a while, the song does kind of let go of the dance beats to this more ethereal and flowing style and that impressed me a lot.  This is probably my favorite song off the mini-album.

5. Makuai~Kaokageuo: Sono Koro Dan’intachi wa Kentouchigaina Houkou wo Daisousakuchuu

This incredibly long song starts off in a magical way with a sparkly and fairy-tale like melody starting things with strings that get louder and then stops with this kind of odd melody.  It sounds like it follows a mouse and its adventure (that’s what it sounds like to me…stick with me here).  I’m sure there’s a reason for this but there’s no Akiko in the song itself so it’s just a rather nice interldue of sorts (but I’m sure it’s part of the story).

6. La ciel

It does at this point make me think it’s tied alongside her Ar=ciel stuff when I get to La ciel.  The intro to the song reminds me of “Resshi Kouki” with the chanting and all that.  Akiko comes in and the song gets a bit unusual in the arangement.  It’s like someone is doing percussion on metal pipes and throw some traditional Japanese instruments and you get this song.  It’s a really cool sounding tune and quite mystical as well. 

7. Toumei Nostalgia

The final track is a good way to close things up on the mini.  It starts off like it would be best played during the night for some reason.  It doesn’t strike me as something that stands out like the other tracks but it is pleasant and has a bit of a regal glow to it that I appreciate about this.

 

 

While I’m not 100% sure that this is tied to Ar=ciel or not, Laylania is a rather pleasant and fun mini-album to listen to.  Most of the tracks are quite happy tunes with the same amount of fun written through it.  The thing I’m surprised is that there wasn’t an electro-type tune here but I’m content with this release!

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Akiko Shikata – Istoria ~Kalliope~ January 5, 2012

Filed under: Akiko Shikata — solarblade @ 10:19 pm

Track Listing

  1. Thrylos -Deshou-
  2. Istoria
  3. Pieris
  4. Kasasagi -Ta Ennea Pulia-
  5. Seiren -Heroes Argonautes-
  6. Kimi no Namae
  7. Hymen
  8. Eurydice -Monadikè Agape-
  9. Gekijou -Ades-
  10. Owari no Hate
  11. Hoshi no Akari
  12. Tetis
  13. Eiyuu Sou

1. Thrylos -Deshou-

I really loved the first song off the album from Akiko since it really gave off this Sahara kind of vibe mixed in with Akiko’s more broad vocals.  It’s a very loud song and pretty good for an intro so it’s just pretty much an epic way to kick things off.  Very worthy for her ^_^

2. Istoria

I love the fact that she continued to use the frantic and loud arrangement to kickstart the title track off the album before showing more of her folkish side to her music and Istoria is a pleasant song.  Kind of reminds me of Haruka Shimotsuki’s songs.  Great song to listen to actually!

3. Pieris

Moving from a dramatic tune, to cute, to something more atmospheric is a little strange for the flow of the album but Pieris is kind of quite something even though it might not be as strong of a song as the previous two songs to be honest.  Needed to be a little more faster to have left a stronger impact on me to be honest.

4. Kasasagi -Ta Ennea Pulia-

As the album’s longest track, Kasasagi kind of just pulls to be that usual Akiko-styled tune which is alright since it’s more of her unique style of singing plus a whole lot of strings and other knick-knacks to fill in the spaces of the tune.  It’s nice and the softer parts are kind of more memorable than all of the strings present to be honest.  Alright, but needs more, just like the last track.

5. Seiren -Heroes Argonautes-

At least Akiko has her epic track with Seiren.  While I loved the epicness in “Thrylos”, it didn’t match up to the more serious and hard driven Seiren which has such a dark and foreboding intro before all of sudden getting into this electro side of the song and everyone knows I love Akiko’s electro-based tunes.  Reminds me of “Resshi Kouki ~Raikoku no Tenshi~”.  Just like said song, it does kind of goes in between a slower and quieter side and the more edgy and danceable side…kind of two-faced but still a cool song!

6. Kimi no Namae

It’s kind of weird to see that we go from the best song on the album so far to the worst in one fall swoop.  Musically, it’s not that bad but kind of unmemorable but it’s forther down the drain when the entire time, Akiko is doing nothing but (roughly ad-libbing or maybe saying ONE word) the entire near 4 minute length of the song which is a big bother for me.  What’s the point of this song exactly?

7. Hymen

I instantly thought of Pirates of the Caribbean when I listened to this track.  Well until the woodwinds joined in but without them, it sounds like some kind of upbeat sea shanty and I love that.  The most interesting thing about the song is that Akiko is singing in a much deeper tone than normal which is pretty awesome and different for her.  Yeah, this song might be on top of the favorites.

8. Eurydice -Monadikè Agape-

Eurydice for me sounds pleasant and rather cute which is rare for me to enjoy one of Akiko’s cuter songs.  Though what caught me in is that its a pretty grandiose and fantasy-like kind of song so it’s a mixture of that plus her vocals that really caught my attention.  Pretty good song here.

9. Gekijou -Ades-

Getting into something a little more edgy is Gekijou which adds in electric guitar which we haven’t heard yet on the album.  I actually think the song is unusual even for Akiko because of how much is going on and how dark and gritty it comes when compared to most of the other songs.  There’s a lot of odd moments in the song from the additional synth beats and weird vocal manipulations (plus Akiko’s deep tones).  It’s abstract but really different and I liked this kind of experimentation from her.

10. Owari no Hate

Though I never would have expected Akiko to pull off such a “normal” sounding song like Owari no Hate.  It seems that Akiko is trying to sing normally like a regular ole J-pop/J-rock artist and while her vocals are kind of weak here, it gets boosted once backup vocals are added in.  Not sure what to really think about it since it’s such a unique kind of tune but it’s pretty good but not her best.

11. Hoshi no Akari

The weirdness just doesn’t really stop however it isn’t Akiko that’s odd here but it’s the fact that Hoshi no Akari is a 5 minute instrumental.  I mean the song is pretty and the movements between parts is really nice and all, but no Akiko is kind of making this song a bit too dry and kind of useless here.

12. Tetis

The closest thing to a ballad on here is from Tetis and I’m kind of unimpressed by this song since it kind of comes off as too boring and kind of takes a while to get the song to places it needs to be…and by then it still needs a little more to get across. 

13. Eiyuu Sou

The final track on the album starts off pleasantly with waves crashing before Akiko starts to sing.  Of course I love the building of the song and Akiko’s unique vocals pop up again and it really makes the album really end with a strong note like how it began.  Totally makes up for the odd stuff going on in the last few songs.

Tracks Recommended

  • Hymen
  • Seiren -Heroes Argonautes-
  • Istoria
  • Thrylos -Deshou-
  • Eurydice -Monadikè Agape-

Song of Avoidance

  • Kimi no Namae

As this is my first Akiko album reviewed, I must say Istoria ~Kalliope~ is quite impressive.  Despite that two of the songs were pretty much unneeded (though Hoshi no Akari could’ve been better if it wasn’t that long >.>).  The other songs show a lot of variety which is great for an album and she has the vocals to give it even more variety because she showed a lot of different vocal tones and styles as well.  What a good way to end of 2011 right?

 

Akiko Shikata – Utsusemi August 25, 2011

Filed under: Akiko Shikata — solarblade @ 7:59 am

Track Listing

  1. Utsusemi
  2. LOST CHILDREN
  3. Utsusemi (off vocal)
  4. LOST CHILDREN (off vocal)

1. Utsusemi

I don’t think there has been any Akiko song that has disappointed me yet (then again she’s more like a more experimental KOKIA).  Utsusemi starts off with a chorus of her vocals and it sounds amazing and it’s lead into this mix of dance, anison, a maybe a smidge of folk tossed in for the lulz.  It’s pretty interesting to listen to and Akiko in her high vocals and low vocals are just mesmerizing.  Pretty song and probably her best A-side since going major.

2. LOST CHILDREN

I do remember that some of Akiko’s B-sides have been the stranger songs on the singles and LOST CHILDREN actually is too weird, but it’s a lot more expressive and flowing than “Utsusemi”.  The beginning was loud and fast-paced with an almost dance feel but slows down to more of a mid-tempo track and then returns back.  It’s does this quite a bit so the moving is more interesting here as well.  However, I found the vocals from the A-side was a lot stronger.  Prettty good B-side though I will say.

 

 

Does “Byakumu no Mayu” count as a single?  Whatever, Utsusemi is a pretty strong single like the other singles that she’s released so far in the era.  I have to say the leading teack was the stronger song with a good flow and excellent vocals.  LOST CHILDREN was pretty good as well but a little under Utsusemi…I’m totally getting excited whenever she releases her first album on a major label ^_^

 

Akiko Shikata – Byakumu no Mayu ~Ricordando il passato~ June 10, 2011

Filed under: Akiko Shikata — solarblade @ 6:25 am

Track Listing

  1. Pitalacta ~Yozuki no Mai~
  2. Pantalea
  3. Gensourin
  4. Ta ga Tame no Sekai
  5. Byakumu no Mayu ~Ricordando il passato~

1. Pitalacta ~Yozuki no Mai~

Starting this single off, is Pitalacta and it’s a smooth track featuring the sounds of nature and a vast amount of interesting tribal ideas.  I love it since it’s so interesting and mystical to listen to.  Of course I have to look at Akiko’s vocal performance and in the beginning she was light and operatic, but becomes something else once the main arrangement comes in.  She gets into her strong operatic mode with a smidge of that shima-uta style enka singers utilize and it’s just an interesting mix with the blazing music.  Not sure how to otherwise describe the song, but it’s pretty damn good to listen to.

2. Pantalea

I’m sensing a little theme going on in the song since the flutes appear here as well, but the music is a little more joyous.  Akiko’s vocals seem to be on a higher pitch than before and I left the oriental vibes and shimasen being an important part of the song.  It’s fun and lighthearted and folkish in a way.  I loved it!

3. Gensourin

Unlike the upbeat nature of our last two tracks, Gensourin has a more streamlined feel by being a bit more sullen and depressing of a song.  There’s not a lot to the song in it’s arrangement other than this kind of ethereal sound.  Akiko’s vocals are still in the higher pitch but there’s also this much deeper presence in the song…and I’m sure it’s her as well.  It’s a beautiful mixture to be honest but the song isn’t as radical like the previous two so it’s a bit weird on the single.

4. Ta ga Tame no Sekai

See what I mean?  Our next track speeds things up again with a frantic opening and then empties out to this light and sort of gothic kind of folk track.  I love Akiko’s faster-paced vocals since it’s energetic and makes the song come to life in various points.  I think of the five songs, this is my favorite.

5. Byakumu no Mayu ~Ricordando il passato~

Ending the single with the title track…(strange…A-side at the end of a single?).  Byakumu no Mayu is a pretty effervescent kind of song that does remind me slightly of “Gensourin” a little bit.  I do think that her opera vocals stand out a lot more than before and it’s a heavenly track to listen to. 

Akiko’s 3rd single is a bit weird since the A-side is the last track, but I felt altogether, this was a nice release.  All the tracks felt different and gave us a great combination of slow songs and sweet vocals from Akiko.  I will say that Byakumu no Mayu might not be her best A-side, but it’s worth listening to for the other songs on here.

 

Akiko Shikata – Utau Oka ~Ar=Ciel Ar=Dor~ October 7, 2010

Filed under: Akiko Shikata — solarblade @ 4:43 am

Track Listing

  1. Utau Oka ~Ar=Ciel Ar=Dor~
  2. Resshi Kouki ~Raikoku no Tenshi~
  3. Shelanoir no Mori
  4. Infelious Rhaplanca. Ten no Inori ~Rhaplanca~/Chi no Aganai ~Maoh~
  5. Afezeria HARVESTASYA.
  6. Ec Tisia ~Tarifa~

1. Utau Oka ~Ar=Ciel Ar=Dor~

I always wonder what’s it like to review something Akiko does that isn’t exactly a part of her official discography and with Utau Oka, I see that I miss quite a bit.  While this mini-album is kind of confusing to listen to because it’s in the whole style or the Ar tonelico series so I can never determine if Akiko is singing in JPN or in Hymmnos…Then again I feel the same way with some of KOKIA’s works as well so it’s not much of a surprise, but I love Akiko’s vocals since they radiate in the song and even with the BKGD vocals, it’s pretty strong!  Very moving piece and opens things pretty beautifully.

2. Resshi Kouki ~Raikoku no Tenshi~

When we get into the 2nd song, I’m kind of like in awe at how pretty Resshi Kouki sounds all around.  I know I’ve heard that the multiple harmonizations are all her and IMO, it’s a nifty way to do songs for sure.  After the rather long opening, the style of the song changes into a more electronic style with dance beats and Akiko’s airy vocals providing the vocals and it’s pretty ^_^.  Unfortunately that stays for a bit before it gets very dramatic and powerful.  It’s angsty and I like the way it just went through it all before quickly calming itself down and returning to the electronica style.  It’s pretty nifty of a song and I like it ALOT!

3. Shelanoir no Mori

Compared to that last song, Shelanoir no Mori really calms things down for a bit and I quite like it.  It’s quite the light and eccentric little tune and since Akiko’s vocals are higher and more squeakier it’s a bit of a different sound, but it’s not bad really, just hard to get used to.  At least it isn’t the chaos that was “EXEC_EP=NOVA/.”  That was just a little too bizarre for me.  Still it’s calm, light and puts the mood down after such an explosion with “Resshi Kouki”.

4. Infelious Rhaplanca. Ten no Inori ~Rhaplanca~/Chi no Aganai ~Maoh~

Yup, the one with the longest title is also the longest song off the mini-album.  Infelious Rhaplanca. begins with a very strong opening from Akiko (who I didn’t know could go so low) but still wow nonetheless.  Then the this rather child-like arrangement comes in as well with Akiko in her higher and airy sound and it sounds so mysterious to listen to.  It seems like there’s different passages as well since the melody changes quite a bit which is cool to hear as well.  After the quietness, I’m guessing Chi no Aganai comes in as the more upbeat and folkish sounding part and this was one of the better parts of the songs since there’s flutes and strings and the like.  I was definitely impressed by this song, even though I have no clue what she’s saying…Hymmnos I guess…

5. Afezeria HARVESTASYA.

I wonder if this song has anything to do with “Utau Oka ~EXEC_HARVESTASYA/.~ from Akiko’s 2nd major album, “RAKA”.  I really don’t know but whatever this song is interesting nonetheless.  It starts up with some winding up an orgel and Akiko singing a little bit before bagpipes enter the song.  Wait, BAGPIPES?!?…I don’t know why, but this little Irish-y tune kind of knocked me off my seat since it’s so off the wall.  After the song does go into dramatic mode and the chorus of Akiko’s take over and the comes quiet again.  It’s different (I’ve said that tons of times huh?).  Interesting song and it moves all over the place, but it’s good.

6. Ec Tisia ~Tarifa~

Ending the mini-album Ec Tisia begins with Akiko ad-libbing by herself and the background vocals.  It seems that it’s going to be one of the simplest songs since there’s really only acoustic guitar providing music under low-lying drums come in at the end and it’s great to hear male vocals backing Akiko up as well.  Still I was surprised that arrangement-wise it was simple, but vocally it was very complex and actually amazing!

While this isn’t really considered Akiko’s official release since it’s an Ar tonelico release, it’s really good and makes me wonder if Akiko could bring this complexity of her arrangements here to her official releases.  My only problem for people to this mini is that unless you don’t know what Hymmnos is, then you’ll have 0 ideas of what she’s saying…then again I still need to work on that too since I have the same amount.  Seeing though as it made #7 on the Daily Oricon charts…I’m surprised but this is definitely a good release *RECOMMENDED*

 

Akiko Shikata – Inori no Kanata April 28, 2010

Filed under: Akiko Shikata — solarblade @ 4:16 am

Track Listing

  1. TETHE’ALLA ~Tsui no Kodomotachi~
  2. Inori no Kanata
  3. Akakakushi
  4. Inori no Kanata -instrumental-

1. TETHE’ALLA ~Tsui no Kodomotachi~

Opening this single up, Tsui no Kodomotachi is quite the strange song, especially since I’m not used to Akiko’s vocals yet.  It does sound like Kalafina tripled its members and are singing together.  While the language to my ears are very foreign right now and hard to tell because the harmonizations are kind of meshing too crazily.  Not sure what language it’s actually in…I wanna say Japanese but it’s difficult to tell with Akiko’s singing…still good opening!

2. Inori no Kanata

As the primary A-side of the single, Inori no Kanata opens up in a diff language for sure before opening into its grandiose setting.  Akiko’s vocals by herself are pretty high and almost into whistle land here.  At least through these parts she’s singing in JPN which is good to hear.  The song is very pretty and is a mix between folk and fairytale and I like that about this song.  Just like her previous single, Inori no Kanata has different passages within, but still makes it fluid enough to star together.  Good A-side.

3. Akakakushi

Compared to the other two songs on the single, Akakakushi has a more evil and dark tone to it.  I mean Akiko’s thin and sweet vocals at the start didn’t exactly really make it stand out that way, but once the driving beat pops in, you get what I mean pretty quickly.  While I’m pretty sure this is purposefully done, Akiko kind of swerves her notes a little too much into song and it kind of becomes the distraction in the song.  Not better than “VII” but it’s alright for now.

 

 

Akiko’s 2nd single Inori no Kanata might not have the lasting power that “Katayoku no Tori” did, but it’s a solid release overall.  I liked the A-side and Tsui no Kodomotachi, but Akakakushi was a little too weird for me.  Maybe the 3rd single will fix things up.

 

Akiko Shikata – Katayoku no Tori March 5, 2010

Filed under: Akiko Shikata — solarblade @ 8:56 am

Track Listing

  1. Katayoku no Tori
  2. VII
  3. Katayoku no Tori (Instrumental)
  4. VII (Instrumental)

1. Katayoku no Tori

I didn’t expect Katayoku no Tori to just open so instantly like it did in this kind of strange march-like style.  After the opening and Akiko’s entrance the song becomes kind of this folkish-anime-like tune.  To be honest, I’m not sure of Akiko’s vocals because part of the time it seems like she’s overexpressing some of her notes ala the shima-uta style.  The song though has some strange little knick-knacks going on in it that makes the song so abstract.  It’s different from what I usually listen to and I like this epic kind of sound especially how everything came together for the loud ending that lays into a fade away.  Intereting song.

2. VII

While it’s kind of interesting that VII starts off like this strange Kanon Wakeshima-like sound with the cello and orgel, I found it quite unusual.  Akiko’s vocals at the start off higher and almost surreal and uber strange.  The song stops for this little quip in Italian which is nice because she’s one of the few J-pop artists who sings in Italian so it’s nice we get a little taste of it.  Then she stops the song again and says a different Italian word and the song picks up in beats and speed that seems like a lighter version of “Katayoku no Tori”.  Let’s say it just gets better and better as time goes and I liked it in the end.

 

 

Akiko’s debut single under a new label was a great way to kick things off.  While some people will just pass it off as a messy song, Katayoku no Tori was a pretty cool song and different from usual anime openings with its grandoise arrangement.  VII however fixed that small issue up and to me was the better song.  Can’t wait to see what’s in store from her!