Album review: “Butterfly Effect” by Maon Kurosaki

Maon Kurosaki is a female Japanese singer-songwriter from Tokyo signed to Geneon Universal Entertainment. Butterfly Effect is her first album.

Release date: November 30, 2011

Track List:
1. Ichihiki no Chou ga Habataku Shunkan
2. VANISHING POINT
3. Magic∞world
4. Emergence!
5. LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER
6. SCARS
7. Glanz -Chinmoku no Yuki-
8. Lisianthus.
9. Baby☆maybe
10. ANSWER
11. screaming! shouting loudly!
12. Memories Last
13. hear..

Regular: Moira
Italics: Austin

1. Ichihiki no Chou ga Habataku Shunkan
The first thing that came to mind was that it sounded like a background theme for a game like Final Fantasy, a song that suits roaming an endless forest. It’s light, whispy and nature-based, which seems so fitting because the album is called ‘Butterfly Effect’. It reminds me of when I was playing Final Fantasy XIII in the Sunleth Waterscape, the song was called ‘The Promise’. There is quite a lot in common between the two in my opinion, such as the fresh and carefree melody. You can hear simple xylophone and piano melodies, and a basic beat comes in just under the halfway point. All of this comes together to form a simple yet fine tune as an introduction to the rest of the album.

2. VANISHING POINT
I love how upbeat it is right from the get-go. I agree. It begins with electric guitars, and the drums soon kick in to create a hard rock track, which is the style that Maon is well known for. Her vocals are great, well, more than just great! It just seems to blend into the instruments and it all just ties in with each other well. I found her sounding especially good in the chorus… Oh, and I love the parts right before the chorus, where the music would suddenly stop and it would just star her voice. I, on the other hand, loved it when her voice was accompanied with the full set of instruments, since it sounded so complete to me like that. The bridge was a nice (but short) change with the whole ethnic violin thingo going on there. Overall, the piece is good…. Hey, it’s awesome, okay!? Fine, I know it’s awesomely good!

3. Magic∞world
Already me likey the start of the song with all the techno that goes along with it. The third track of the album is the first ending theme to ‘To Aru Majutsu no Index II’, and it’s a synthy/rock-ish & upbeat song. The song has a lot of techno beats in it, but it also has some traces of guitars and drums, although I’ve never had a great ear at listening to things. ‘Magic∞world’ sounds like typical anison, and I think Maon did a great job with this song because it’s catchy and in a style that most of us are familiar with hearing. Yup, this song totally sounds like something she would sing, and I’m pretty sure that the two of us absolutely love this song. Yeah, I like this one. As this is her first A-side for this album, she pulled it off really well.

4. Emergence!
At first I thought it would be something like a ballad for some reason, but I was immediately proven wrong. While retaining the synthy and upbeat vibe of the previous song, ‘Emergence!’ is definitely even more synthy, and less rock-influenced. I love the feeling that this song leaves in me, it’s gives off an energetic and cheerful vibe to it which works quite well. Because I can hear some similarities with this and ‘Magic∞world’, I half-expected this to have a tie-in as well, although that’s not the case. I actually don’t know what instruments are in this piece other than the synthy beats, if that’s even counted as an instrument. It is difficult to be able to tell what instruments are being used, but all I can say is that the arrangement is very dynamic and lively. To me, this song doesn’t really stand out as opposed to ‘VANISHING POINT’, and her vocals don’t really do much to make it shine. Not bad, but not that great either.

5. LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER
First thoughts on this would be that this is probably the most synthy-est song I’ve ever listened to. We stray further away from Maon’s usual rock style, and get even more… futuristic? Right, what he said. The first verse is somewhat odd, because the synths are fast, while the beat is very slow. This changes from the first chorus and onwards, where the synths and beats are more balanced in terms of tempo. It seems like it’s a song that would suit a midnight club dance thingo, but like, a futuristic one with floating lights and whatnot.. The song as a whole is electro with dubstep influences. I uhhh, really don’t know what to think of this song. It’s a whole bunch of techno beats that are alright when with the vocals, but I thought that this song was just, yeah… I still think it’s a step up from ‘Emergence!’, though…

6. SCARS
I just automatically loved how dark and evil sounding this was! Surprisingly following such a synthy song, ‘SCARS’ goes back to her original rock sound, with the addition of it being of a harsh and callous nature. This song seems a lot more intense and haunting than her usual rock pieces, but it really works well for some reason, although I might be just crazy. I think the only thing that makes sense about this being after ‘LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER’ is the fact that they both have slow beats. You’re in for feelings of unease and dread with this song… The song starts off with a few moments of piano, which then suddenly stops, and a barrage of powerful and dark waves of (distorted!) electric guitars. Constant waves of darkness continue to envelop you and you become immersed in it, well that’s the feeling I was getting… I really loved how dark this song was, so it was good… Just good? It was more than just good, it was fantastic!

7. Glanz -Chinmoku no Yuki-
So here’s a song that’s kinda in the mix here. It seems to start off as a ballad of some sort, then the entire mood dramatically changes in an instant. After a tame sort of introduction, we get a song similar to ‘SCARS’ in terms of instrumentation and overall atmosphere. I really liked the chorus in this song, OH, and the parts where Maon would drag out her voice… Oh, so do I! For me, she sounded particularly strong in the chorus when she, ahem, held the note at the end of each line. Right, anyway, the chorus is really the star in the song, Maon being able to hit notes like that and extend them is pretty great, and when accompanied with a chorus beat and volume like that, I’m not sure what could go wrong with this song.

8. Lisianthus.
I don’t like…. I mean, it’s kinda okay, but nothing special… We get a change of atmosphere with ‘Lisianthus.’, which we really needed after two songs of… pure goodness…. No, it’s just that the previous two were… so dark and evil sounding… Yes, with majorly distorted guitars and all. This song has a pretty basic arrangement, mostly with constant beats and strings here and there… There was, however, a guitar solo after the second chorus… which really set the mood for the part with just the vocals, Oh, actually, you could hear acoustic guitar and strings in the part you’re talking about… Oh yeah, I can hear it now the second time around, but I think that that was the only part of the song that I enjoyed, the rest was just, okay… I guess this song just lacks certain things, and doesn’t have that edge that most of her other songs have.

9. Baby☆maybe
‘Window shopping and trying on clothes!’ is the message I’m getting here. Although I did enjoy it. Oh, wow, this song is taking on a different route — more of a girly, pop-ish kind of thing, so way different to what us fans are normally used to. It is a nice change though, the vocals match the instruments that were playing and together they just blend into a cutesy song. I’ve definitely heard cuter, but this is already quite cute for someone like Maon. If I had to compare this song to another from her second album, ‘VERTICAL HORIZON’, it would be ‘Dresser girl…’, since both songs have a similar feel to them. I agree….. Maon made another song with a whole bunch of synthy-ness and it works really well in this song. It’s not an overload of synths, like ‘LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER’ was, but yeah, this is fairly synthy. One word to sum it up: cutesy.

10. ANSWER
She wants an ‘answer’…. And to get that she makes a pretty good song. A song with a good beat and cool sounding vocals, I’m pretty sure she could get any ‘answer’ she wants with a song like this. (how many times are you going to say ‘answer’?!) As the B-side to the ‘Magic∞world’ single, ‘ANSWER’ is definitely like its A-side when it comes to… well, almost everything… The start of the song was kinda weird in my opinion, but soon after, it starts to heat up. The beat starts to dance and the vocals just make everything seem much more powerful. The verses were my favourite parts! On the other hand, I preferred the chorus, since that’s where all the energy comes together and reaches the peak. There’s a part that I found really interesting, after the piano solo, and it had those ghostly and distorted voices. I’m sure that the two of us can agree that is a smashing song right here.

11. screaming! shouting loudly!
This song was definitely a treat for me because of the rock genre. And me too! It’s definitely not like ‘SCARS’ or ‘Glanz -Chinmoku no Yuki-’, but more of in the stylings of ‘VANISHING POINT’. Fast paced techno beats introduce the song and not long after, the drums and electric guitars clash together to form a striking rift. There’s this very obvious and very constant kick drum in the chorus, which I remember annoyed me ever-so-slightly when I first listened to this song, but I did get used to it after a few more listens. I really liked that addition to the song, it felt like it gave it a very powerful and steady beat. I’m sure most people would love this song because it’s what we’re used to from Maon. In my opinion, it’s a pretty good song.

12. Memories Last
The title seems fitting for a song like this. The album’s second A-side is the second ending to ‘To Aru Majutsu no Index II’, and once again, sounds like typical anison. Compared to ‘Magic∞world’, this song is significantly lighter and not as hard-hitting. This song has an uplifting sort of feeling, it really picks you up and gets you in a cheery mood. It feels like a song that would suit a time where you and your friends are out on a trip or something. It really gets you thinking about the happy parts in life. ‘Memories Last’ reminds me of ‘Reimei’ from ‘VERTICAL HORIZON’, as they’re of a similar style of music. While this is a good song, I have to admit that I like the latter better still. I really liked this song, I loved how cheerful the vibe was and also how upbeat the song was. Yeah, I like this song too, and what would have made it even better was if the arrangement was a bit stronger.

13. hear..
A slow paced ballad, well it’s slow at the start, but the speed kicks in, but of course, it’s still a ballad. Ending the album is, as expected and aforementioned, a ballad. I keep coming back to her second album and comparing this to ‘Just believe.’, and they have a pretty similar instrumentation, except that the arrangement in the latter was definitely louder and stronger. This song has a lot of pianos and violins to stay in the ballad genre and it’s all played with a simple and calm tune. Drums are introduced in the first chorus and onwards, and I think that the song sounds more complete from there. This song seems perfect for moments like a tender moment for a couple or something… I think… But it sounds like a song that you’d listen to with a really good friend and think back on life.. Okay, it doesn’t exactly match up to the likes of ‘Just believe.’, but just like what I thought of Nana Mizuki’s ‘Yakusoku’ from ‘ROCKBOUND NEIGHBORS’, this is a nice and relaxing ballad to close the album…

Maon Kurosaki’s debut album (no, H.O.T.D. is not counted), was a good mix of… rock, synthy songs and cheerful songs! Oh, and a ballad thrown in at the end… Overall, we both agree that her vocals were great, and… that the arrangements in general were interesting, especially with her synthy songs! Of course, there were some misses here and there as well…I’m pretty sure that the both of us found this album great nonetheless. And I’m glad that she improved even more with the album after this, i.e. ‘VERTICAL HORIZON’.

Our opinions combined…

Top five favorites (in order of appearance):
VANISHING POINT (Moira’s overall favorite)
Magic∞world
SCARS
ANSWER
screaming! shouting loudly! (Austin’s overall favorite)

Least favorite song: Lisianthus.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hooray for our first collaborative review!
Thanks for reading, hahaha :)

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7 thoughts on “Album review: “Butterfly Effect” by Maon Kurosaki

  1. The italics confused me at first… but the Final Fantasy related comment on the first song already identified Austin (*≧▽≦)
    Well, this was Maon’s first album, so her real image and experimentation with electronic music alongside rock were still in its beginnings. On the upside of things, Vertical Horizon was a big upgrade and evolution of the very style that was first set in this release.

    • If only there was a thing that would allow me to control the size of text, or even the text color, then the key for identifying who was who would be a bit more obvious. :p

      But yeah, you can kind of see who is who according to what we say. Excluding the Final Fantasy related comment, Austin is definitely more for how the song makes him feel, as well as the kind of situation the song would be most suited in. I think I write more of the structure and technicalities of the songs, including comparing tracks with one another. I think. :L

      I noticed that a lot of songs here have a corresponding similar track in VERTICAL HORIZON, not just the ones I wrote about above…

      Out of curiosity, what were your favorite tracks from this album?

  2. I think this is the first joint review I’ve read anywhere, so I was curious how it was going to be written. It was good how you two kept your viewpoints separate, but combined them in your writing well.

    It’s great how Maon’s music has evolved and got better, HOTD had some good tracks but a few too many meh tracks for me, Butterfly Effect was much better and VERTICAL HORIZON topped Butterfly Effect.

    My favourites were SCARS and Emergence!… one of them got on the top 5 ;-P

    • I haven’t seen collab reviews anywhere else either, so I thought this would be something refreshingly new. Glad that you liked it! This was really fun for both of us to write, so you guys will be seeing a few more of these! ;)

      Austin was brain-dead and suggested we write two separate paragraphs for each song, but I was like, “Hahaha, no. Too long. No”. So I came up with the whole “single-paragraph-with-regular-and-italic-text” kind of thing. :)

      Yes, I agree, she’s getting better and better. Oooh, I think Austin will be reviewing H.O.T.D., but I’ll just wait for him to confirm that…

      Yay, you like SCARS too. Wait, of course you would, heehee.
      It’s ironic that in our review, there’s initially many praises for Emergence!, but then ends with, “…and her vocals don’t really do much to make it shine. Not bad, but not that great either.” I only noticed that now, haha.

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