Kurayami Monogatari

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Haruka Shimotsuki – Omoi no Concerto November 25, 2012

Filed under: Haruka Shimotsuki — solarblade @ 7:55 am

Track Listing

  1. -HISTORIA-
  2. Tsubasa wo Motanai Shoujo
  3. Kokoro no Kakera
  4. a little more
  5. Kimi to Miru Yume
  6. Harukana Sora e
  7. Hana ga Saku Machi de
  8. Sora to Kaze no Senritsu
  9. Mizu wo Utsusu Mono
  10. Hoshikuzu
  11. Soukoku no Libra
  12. RAINBOW
  13. unnamed place
  14. Tsuki no Uro
  15. Omoi no Concerto

1. -HISTORIA-

Haruka kicks things off with -HISTORIA- and I quite like the fact she opened the album with a slower song!  There’s something quite nostalgic with this song because of the arrangement and Haruka’s vocals being more distant and filled with echo filters.  It’s a really interesting way to open this best album and I quite like the tone of the track!

2. Tsubasa wo Motanai Shoujo

The next track, Tsubasa wo Motanai Shoujo takes more of an acoustic drive for it and I was pretty impressed with this song with it because it also included some electric guitars and keyboard/piano.  It does start to add more instruments before the chorus which is also a smart move.  Pretty good track overall and a smidge better than “-HISTORIA-“.

3. Kokoro no Kakera

Kokoro no Kakera is the slowest track I’ve come along so far on the album and boy does she take it to the simplest level.  I do think it’s pretty to listen to because of the flute arrangement and then the quiet piano melody once Haruka starts to sing.  It’s kind of like a fusion of the previous two tracks to be honest.

4. a little more

At least Haruka seems to turn the energy up for our next track which is pretty upbeat and heavy on the anison side of things, but I don’t mind that when Haruka pulls it off.  Haruka keeps up with the song and even though she doesn’t pull any vocal stunts, she keeps the song at a very strong pace through the entire track.  Definitely an early favorite here!

5. Kimi to Miru Yume

After that boost of energy, we simmer down with Kimi to Miru Yume which is another ballad from Haruka which also shares similarities with “Kokoro no Kakera” so seeing an upbeat track in between is a little strange.  Kimi to Miru Yume does show Haruka’s vocals off in a better light, but the arrangement is a bit jagged in areas and gets loud when it doesn’t need to be.  Not really that memorable to be honest.

6. Harukana Sora e

It seems that Harukana Sora e reaches into Haruka’s folk style and it really does kind of remind me of something off of a VOLKSLIED album which is something I have missed with her music…you know something breezy, wavy, and cute.  This definitely worked as a mid-tempo and while her vocals are pretty high and weak in some areas, the song itself made up for it ^_^. 

7. Hana ga Saku Machi de

Getting past that long track before, Hana ga Saku Machi de is another folkish wonder with flutes playing a role here as well.  This one sounds a bit more cuter than the previous track which is the first thing that stuck out when I listened to the song, plus it’s half the time that “Harukana Sora e” was.  It has a lot of charm and it stuck out on the album.

8. Sora to Kaze no Senritsu

Another lengthy track (not as long as “Harukana Sora e”), Sora to Kaze no Senritsu kind of feels a bit bland when compared to the previous tracks because while it’s upbeat…it kind of sounds like a typical happy anison track but a little more breezy.  In a way it’s nice though, but Haruka doesn’t seem to be into the songas she lets on.  As time goes on, the song does seem to grow on me since the chorus is affectious as hell! Not bad!

9. Mizu wo Utsusu Mono

Funny enough on the album there is only ONE song I have come across since I’ve started reviewing Haruka’s music.  This song was the primary track from her “Hikari no Amaoto” single back in 2010.  Returning to the song, I still feel like it’s a great song and I’m happy it made the album’s cut since it’s one of the better tracks off the album!  Just all kinds of folkish goodness here!

10. Hoshikuzu

Haruka opens up Hoshikuzu by herself before the arrangement comes in shortly after…it’s a bit of a weird tease.  Like the opening is loud and orchestral, but the verses come in and everything dissipates leaving Haruka and piano….yeah it’s a bit strange.  As time goes on, it starts to make better sense as that dramatic ballad, but it’s a bit boring to me.

11. Soukoku no Libra

It seems like Soukoku no Libra was going for a grand feel because of the addition of strings and horns and overall it has an epic anison feel which is a pretty cool choice.  There’s a lot of percussion going on, but it doesn’t seem to deter from the experience.  I will say though I enjoyed Haruka’s performance since she’s hitting a lot of different notes and tackling it nicely!  Good song!

12. RAINBOW

With a song titled as such, I was definitely expecting something very cutesy and we did oddly enough, though it’s kind of fitting for some reason because it sounds more like a Winter song because of the arrangement which didn’t help it much.  This song is so generically cute that unfortunately it does stick out on the album but in a bad way!

13. unnamed place

At first, I thought unnamed place was going to be another ballad, but as it turns out it’s kind of a darker piece with a light arrangement but with a touch of mystery about it and I loved it since it sounds like something I would listen to over and over again.  It’s just really pretty and makes such a difference coming after “RAINBOW”…Definitely my favorite song off the album!

14. Tsuki no Uro

It feels like this and “unnamed place” were tied to the same series because both tracks have this dark glow to them and both stand out in similar areas.  This is more of a ballad though, but I wasn’t too phased, it’s not half bad, but the previous track still trumps it.

15. Omoi no Concerto

So like with Haruka’s last best album, she ends it with a new track which acts also as the title track.  Though when I begun it, it sounds almost exactly like “Michibiki no Harmony” which was the same thing for said album.  It’s meant to bring closure but in a happy light which is a bit bland with this one.  Just a bit similar too similar to a bunch of other tracks that it’s just a bit ugh…

Tracks Recommended

  • unnamed place
  • a little more
  • Soukoku no Libra
  • Mizu wo Utsusu Mono
  • Sora to Kaze no Senritsu

Song of Avoidance

  • RAINBOW

As this is the second best album I’ve reviewed from Haruka, I have to say that Omoi no Concerto when compared to her last one, “Michibiki no Harmony” is kind of bland and the choices of songs were a bit less out there.  I think if there was more vareity, this would’ve ended up a lot better than it did.  Maybe her tie-ins are starting to give Haruka less interesting songs…so I hope she’ll get more!

 

Haruka Shimotsuki – smile link June 7, 2011

Filed under: Haruka Shimotsuki — solarblade @ 5:37 am

Track Listing

  1. smile link
  2. Thanks a lot.
  3. smile link -Inst ver.-
  4. Thanks a lot. -Inst ver.-
  5. Frost Moon Cafe+ -CD Shiten-

1. smile link

Oh boy, cutesy Haruka Shimotsuki returns with smile link which by the looks of the single is the next song used in her FROST MOON CAFE series.  To me, her cuter tinged songs are to me less memorable than her serious ones and that’s not surprising since I’m not usually for seiyuu/genki mixtures.  On the other hand, the folkish glow and acoustic based arrangement is lively and full of life and Haruka doesn’t really get too pitchy. 

2. Thanks a lot.

As the single’s B-side and ending theme to the same thing, Thanks a lot. is a bit more of an interesting listen especially since it opens up with flute and accordion.  It doesn’t sound like an ending theme, but it’s smooth and has an odd bounce to it to make it all waltzy and stuff.  Also Haruka doesn’t sound poor but more light and sweet.  A lot easier of a listen than “smile link”.

 

 

Since it’s been about 2 years since her last FROST MOON CAFE single, “break time”, smile link is a bit better than the last since the songs instrumentals stand out for me for some reason.  I do think Thanks a lot. is better than the A-side, but they both aren’t bad so it’s a good thing.  Oh yeah, not listening to that last track since it’s a long play.

 

Haruka Shimotsuki – Hoshizora Ensemble February 28, 2011

Filed under: Haruka Shimotsuki — solarblade @ 4:00 am

Track Listing

  1. Kazahane
  2. Graffiti
  3. Kii te wa Seikenai Uta
  4. Midori no Mori no Denshou Uta
  5. Kaleidoscope
  6. REW
  7. Kimi wa Sora, Boku wa Tori
  8. Saigo no Michishirube
  9. life
  10. Shiroi Chizu
  11. Sai’ai
  12. Kimi to no Tabiji
  13. Hoshizora Ensemble

1. Kazahane

Opening the album is the first single of the era, Kazahane.  I swear I still find it surprising she would include this song more or less both this and “life” seeing as this was released in February of 2008 and it’s March of 2011…Whatever, Kazahane sounds really nice still for the short time I’ve listened to the song and I like the slight danceish feel that’s mixed with folk elements.  I did also find myself enjoying Haruka’s vocals still since they’re light and the properties fit well.  Good opening track.

2. Graffiti

Seeing as all the songs on the album have tie-ins to different things, it makes me think this was more of a glorified best-of.  Anyway the first song that’s new (to me at least), Graffiti is a nice twist after “Kazahane” seeing as it’s more of a pop/rock kind of song than before.  It reminds me of uhmmm…K-ON for some reason, but I’m not sure why, but I like this style for Haruka even though her vocals aren’t powerful for this genre.  Cute song though.

3. Kii te wa Seikenai Uta

I’m so overjoyed to see that the B-side from “Saigo no Michishirube” actually made the cut to the album since it was one of my favorites back in 2010.  I still love the creepy and mysterious opening of the song for sure and it continues to show throughout.  While the fact that it comes after “Graffiti” is a bit strange, Kii te wa Seikenai Uta seems to be otherworldly even to be on the album period.  Haruka’s more serious tone and the whispery style is just so off the wall.  It might not fit on the album, but it’s just so amazing of a song.

4. Midori no Mori no Denshou Uta

Like I said, after the last track, we return into Haruka’s safe place with Midori no Mori no Denshou Uta which harkens to the folkish songs she has.  Of course it’s light and has a cute flute melody that plays whenever Haruka isn’t singing.  It’s nice to be honest, but it’s like if you heard her music before this won’t really stand out for you…but still nice.

5. Kaleidoscope

Are we energizing the album up again?  Kaleidoscope seems to go that way since there’s riffs and beats that give the song life.  However, it’s one of her “cuter” songs on the album and I’m not too fond with them because Haruka’s vocals get pitchy and sometimes the arrangement feels poor (like the chorus here).  Sorry, just isn’t the song I like.

6. REW

I don’t know If I really enjoy the back and forth between upbeat songs and ballads to be honest since it kind of breaks pace.  REW is of course another ballad, but somehow doesn’t try to be folkish…just a normal poppy ballad.  While Haruka’s vocals aren’t too amazing here, just gives a good performance with just acoustic guitar, piano, and strings.  Simple track, but sweet to listen to.

7. Kimi wa Sora, Boku wa Tori

Why does this song sound so odd and subdued at the start???  I kind of thought this song was different for the album since it wavers between being upbeat and just something else.  The weird synth and empty verses are a bit strange, but the chorus sounds nice and breezy to listen to.  Still…the verses didn’t need to be so empty >.<

8. Saigo no Michishirube

As the album’s 3rd A-side of the era, Saigo no Michishirube to me has always stood out to me as well because it was more of an interesting mid-tempo kind of song.  It really caught my attention since her vocals were higher pitched, but she actually sounded quite nice to the ears and the arrangement wasn’t poor either.  I think it was the era’s best A-side…I think.

9. life

The next two tracks I could’ve lived without since they’re both B-sides.  First one coming off of “Kazahane”, life just felt too long for me since it’s a near 6 minute ballad.  As much as I loved that it carried the oriental kind of feeling from it’s A-side, life just didn’t use it for its potential nor Haruka was sounding that good here. 

10. Shiroi Chizu

Yeah, while I’d say I disliked it when it was released back in 2009, Shiroi Chizu actually stood out on the album because of the accordion that was placed in the song…and somehow sounded much more better after hearing “life” before it.  It still feels like it’s too long…but it’s only a little over 4 minutes in length…hmmm. 

11. Sai’ai

Sai’ai’s opening with the growling guitars and heavy sound was totally a mindfuck XD.  I love how it just stops and continues with only Haruka, piano, and drums…it’s like why would you even do that to a song?  It’s a bit strange though the chorus brings back the heavy guitars and loud drums.  It’s kind of a weird thing to hear…would’ve liked it more without the guitars IMO.

12. Kimi to no Tabiji

As the era’s 2nd A-side, Kimi to no Tabiji once again takes me to a different place since it’s like upbeat, but doesn’t overlay it like other songs of hers.  It’s cute and peppy and I feel like I can listen to this track over and over.  One of the few pop songs that I can love ^_^

13. Hoshizora Ensemble

As the album’s only truly new song, the title track closes the album quite graciously.  While Haruka’s vocals are a bit more stable here, there’s much better mid-tempo songs found on the album and this one doesn’t exactly stand out to me for the time being so I’m just going to pass this up.  I did like the arrangement though I will say that.

Tracks Recommended

  • Kii te wa Seikenai Uta
  • Kazahane
  • Saigo no Michishirube
  • REW
  • Kimi to no Tabiji

Song of Avoidance

  • Kaleidoscope

To me, Haruka really went mainstream with this album.  It is classified as her 4th studio album, but I feel that with the fact that this is the first album to really include A-sides and B-sides and it was interesting and not like “Griotte no Nemuri Hime” (which was a story album sort of), Hoshizora Ensemble was alright.  However, I wonder why she omitted “break time”…so weird.  Otherwise the singles’ tracks overtook the “new” songs quite easily.  Wonder what’s next…

 

Haruka Shimotsuki – Kazahane February 26, 2011

Filed under: Haruka Shimotsuki — solarblade @ 2:23 am

Track Listing

  1. Kazahane
  2. life
  3. Kazahane (off vocal)
  4. life (off vocal)

1. Kazahane

As the A-side, Kazahane sounds really pretty with the opening it had with the flutes and such.  As Haruka comes into the song, I feel like I’m taken to an interesting place since it sounds so oriental and mysterious.  I even like the low-lying synths as well giving it even more color already.  I actually enjoy this track right now.

2. life

Being almost as oriental as “Kazahane”, life sounds quite relaxing on the flip side of the coin.  As it is the single’s ballad-type, life feels a little tiresome and boring after a while, but I will say that I like Haruka’s vocals just a tiny a bit more here. 

I can’t believe I passed this up.  Being the first single of the “Hoshizora Ensemble” era…even released before “break time” (which isn’t on the album…ho hum), Kazahane is an interesting single in the least and I liked the anime-ish tones Kazahane has.  life was a little underwhelming, but I can see this on the album now xD

 

Haruka Shimotsuki – Hikari no Amaoto ~SACRED DOORS element maxi side Undine~ August 18, 2010

Filed under: Haruka Shimotsuki — solarblade @ 3:01 am

Track Listing

  1. Hikari no Amaoto (instrumental)
  2. Mizu wo Utsusu Mono
  3. Nagareru Kago no Naka
  4. Mizu wo Utsusu Mono (off vocal)
  5. Nagareru Kago no Naka (off vocal)

1. Hikari no Amaoto (instrumental)

I never understand why singles have intro songs on them and I probably never will.  Hikari no Amaoto opens up this single like I would’ve thought so.  There’s synths, piano, and some other interesting choices of sound playing while the background has a rainstorm going.  After that, the rain stops and is replaced by harp, flute, and strings.  That transition was really nice and the melody of the flute sounds super nice.  Very nice intro.

2. Mizu wo Utsusu Mono

Going into the two important songs of the single, Mizu wo Utsusu Mono is definitely what I was expecting from Haruka since she’s like one of the perfect voices for folk-like music.  Of course I’m liking the arrangement since it flows nicely, fits Haruka’s style very well and her vocals aren’t as tight as they are sometimes in her stuff.  It does remind me of the stuff she’s done on the VOLKSLIED albums so that’s a plus.

3. Nagareru Kago no Naka

Then of course the last song of the single is more of a folkish ballad which doesn’t surprise me either.  I do love the amount of strings present for the song since they push out the sadness of the song.  I’ll be honest, but she’s got better ballads, but I do like the flow of the song since it’s slow and a little waltz-y in places.  I even hear marimba in there too…strange but cool beans.

 

 

Now I don’t know what exactly is the deal with Haruka and SACRED DOORS, but I do know this isn’t the first time she had a tie-in to this series (not a surprise).  It’s pretty a pretty normal release for her since it’s just mostly her normal style here.  Hikari no Amaoto though is a pretty introduction though, that I’ll admit.

 

Haruka Shimotsuki – Michibiki no Harmony April 14, 2010

Filed under: Haruka Shimotsuki — solarblade @ 10:01 pm

Track Listing

  1. Kaze no Ri
  2. Ruri no Tori
  3. Everywhere With You
  4. Omoi no Kanata
  5. Hajimari no story
  6. Snowdrop
  7. Blade of Tears
  8. Hoshi no Yume ~Gathering the stars of love~
  9. Rakuen no Kagi
  10. COSMOLAGOON
  11. Tabidachi no Uta
  12. Eien
  13. so happy days
  14. Nemuri no Hate no Aoi Hana
  15. Michibiki no Harmony

1. Kaze no Ri

Starting this rather lengthy best-of songs Haruka has done various various games, Kaze no Ri starts off with an accordion opening and then becomes this rather interesting pop song with splotches of electronic tendencies to make it more out of world.  I actually thought the slower parts were nicer compared to the loud chorus where things got somewhat more serious.  It’s an alright opening song.

2. Ruri no Tori

I’m not sure what’s with the heartbeat thumping opening the song up nor the fact that there’s an actual saxophone present as well, but I was definitely more impressed with this song moreso than the first track because Haruka’s vocals are a bit more steady and the song is a bit more together as well.  I liked this night-time sounding track.

3. Everywhere With You

After two somewhat serious songs, we run into our first peppy track and with a title like that I kind of had a feeling that song would be happier and somewhat fun to listen to because Everywhere With You is kind of catchy in a way.  It’s what I’ve somewhat expected from Haruka so I’m pretty content with this song.

4. Omoi no Kanata

A lone violin opens up Omoi no Kanata and gets into this electronica-ish waltz kind of song.  I don’t know how else to really explain it becuase it’s so different and at the same time fresh to listen to.  I didn’t think that feeling should’ve stayed because it felt unnecessary to forcefully push the song along and with how slow Haruka was singing it, it just didn’t connect with me.

5. Hajimari no story

Picking up after the last song, we see Haruka at a higher register, but at the price of the song being immensely cute and folkish.  I’m all for Haruka’s folk songs, but this one felt a little light and a little less inspired like previous folk songs she’s done and more well-known for.  I just think this song is just lifeless to me.

6. Snowdrop

After some lower level songs, I thought it was nice to actually get a true ballad from Haruka.  I thought the acoustic arrangement suited her quite nicely and she can sing pretty heavenly whenever she wants to.  The chorus does add drums and some background vocals, but otherwise, Snowdrop is an early favorite of mine on the album.  Pretty nifty tune.

7. Blade of Tears

That is until this little devilish tune comes up.  Unlike the previous songs, this was actually hard hitting and quite strong arrangement-wise.  While Haruka is more stronger as a balladeer, she held her own with this rock song, but I felt it could’ve been vocally more stronger.  Still pretty good though and does cover the epic side of herself.

8. Hoshi no Yume ~Gathering the stars of love~

After such an energetic song, Hoshi no Yume surprises me because it’s another ballad and while I know it’s a best-of album, the flow for me was kind of ruined between these last few songs.  I thought of this song a lot more as a stronger ballad rather than “Snowdrop”.  I think the point of it was to be happy in this song and it shows brightly with that chorus of hers.  Best ballad so far.

9. Rakuen no Kagi

Starting with a rather nice sounding chorale before entering another folk tune from Haruka, but this one actually comes close to be the opposite to “Koikaze Tayori”.  It’s just as bouncy as said, but there’s a bit more of a serious flair going here.  I like that Haruka mostly accels in the genre and this song turned out pretty well.  The spoken part was weird, but nothing to take away from the song.

10. COSMOLAGOON

I really didn’t know what I was going to get with COSMOLAGOON but by the synthy arrangement and pop/rock standards, this turned out better than I would’ve thought. I didn’t like the chorus where she basically stayed on one note the entire time, so that felt a little mundane, but the verses were fun and surprisingly catchy too.

11. Tabidachi no Uta

Going back to folk music, Tabidachi no Uta seems more of like folk ballad which is pretty good because it has the great feeling of longing written through it.  Problem was that the song seemed to drag the longer it was left playing through and almost makeing me fall asleep.

12. Eien

Even more of a ballad, Eien starts off with piano chords and this twinkly background melody.  To me it’s another “Snowdrop” with the whole minimalistic feel and quietness that follows soon after.  This is definitely a song to represent winter and I thought Haruka pulled it off quite smoothly and a whole lot better than I thought she would.  It’s cute, innocent, and pretty.

13. so happy days

I guess it so happy days was a good track to lead from but with the opening, I thought it was going to be another ballad, but they tricked me and made this tune upbeat and a bit more poppish than other songs.  Sadly, Haruka’s vocals were pretty meh here and sounded either like she was being nasal or just really flat, but it was a turn off for me.

14. Nemuri no Hate no Aoi Hana

As we near the end of the album, Nemuri no Hate no Aoi Hana pulls us back once again into the rather lighter side of folk music, but not really shoving the genre down our throats.  It’s nice and chorale really sounds like a higher pitched Kalafina grouping which has happened quite a few times in the song.  It’s alright, but it seems leveled in the middle so it doesn’t really turn over any new leaves for Haruka.

15. Michibiki no Harmony

Being the title track and being the longest the album had to offer, Michibiki no Harmony really does feel right as a song to close the album up because it’s upbeat, but like feels like a celebration as well.  I also like the drum rolls in the verses to give it that somewhat regal feel, but otherwise this for me was a good closing song.

Tracks Recommended

  • Hoshi no Yume ~Gathering the stars of love~
  • Blade of Tears
  • Snowdrop
  • Eien
  • COSMOLAGOON

Song of Avoidance

  • Omoi no Kanata

As it is the second best-of album full of various endings and opening to video games and such, I didn’t get a lot of actual good songs here.  It might just be the fact that most of these games I’ve never heard of before but at least there were a few good songs.  Definitely more interested in the main stuff she releases.

 

Haruka Shimotsuki – Saigo no Michishirube February 18, 2010

Filed under: Haruka Shimotsuki — solarblade @ 6:48 pm

Track Listing

  1. Saigo no Michishirube
  2. Kii te wa Seikenai Uta
  3. Saigo no Michishirube (off vocal)
  4. Kii te wa Seikenai Uta (off vocal)

1. Saigo no Michishirube

Ahh, I love the way Saigo no Michishirube opens up with a pretty violin opening before Haruka comes in with her soothing vocals that mesh well with the mid-tempo pop sound.  It seems like it could’ve been a potential Kalafina song because of the flow of everything going around.  It’s definitely kind of like “Negai no Shirushi” in a way, but I ended up liking this song a lot.

2. Kii te wa Seikenai Uta

Though what surprised me was the B-side which has a pretty eerie and yet awesome opening.  I love the synths that were included with the choir going on in the background.  It’s like how to bring Brett back into liking me and she pulls something so cool like this.  It’s a bone-chilling tune and I loved every minute, way to go!

 

 

Even though she snuch “Negai no Shirushi” less than a month before this, I actually ended up loving this single a lot.  I liked the fact that Saigo no Michishirube is relaxing and quite enjoyable to just listen to while you’re reading while Kii te wa Seikenai Uta was like synth love.  If this is giving a clue for an album than yes please!