Indefinite hiatus.

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Single review: “Tokohana” by Nagi Yanagi

Nagi Yanagi is a Japanese singer-songwriter from Kansai, Japan and is signed to Geneon. She is known for performing as a guest singer for the band supercell from 2009-2011. Tokohana is her 8th single.

Release date: 4th of June, 2014

Track list:
1. Tokohana
2. Wasurenai Tame ni
3. Crossroad
4. Tokohana (instrumental)
5. Wasurenai Tame ni (instrumental)
6. Cross Road (instrumental)

1. Tokohana
Other-worldly chanting is laid against the background of melancholic strings, forming a sort of eerie veil before this quiet, reflective sadness shatters into pieces with the forceful sound of insistent electric guitar strumming, steady drumming and beautiful violin melodies. As Nagi begins to sing the first verse, I feel quite disappointed to hear that she’s sounding rather monotone, despite her being totally capable of properly conveying the appropriate emotions that this song holds within. The arrangement is stripped down for the pre-chorus in order to maximise the dramatic increase in energy that the chorus presents, beginning with a heavy drop of rock-based instruments, and, unfortunately, more of Nagi’s vocals which lack a certain emotional spark. Don’t get me wrong though, I can acknowledge Nagi’s technical prowess and her ability to hit notes seamlessly, but she does not seem to be invested in this song as much as I’d like her to be. The chorus following the bridge seems to be slightly intensified in nature to function as the climax of the song, but it might have been due to Nagi’s rise in pitch at the end of the bridge that could have created that illusion. Not too sure. To conclude, Tokohana is an example of both great things and missed opportunities, but it contains the flickering sparks of what could have made it better.

2. Wasurenai Tame ni
A slow, simple yet tasteful piano melody begins to play, stopping at intervals to welcome the distant echoes of light, ambient, new age-esque sounds. Nagi begins to sing softly, using her talents to evoke a sense of being delicate and fragile on the exterior, but very much full of promise underneath. Her voice is muffled at times, which contributes a sort of call-and-response effect when juxtaposed and followed with her regular, melodic singing. Once the chorus rolls around, percussion is added to the mix, and Nagi’s vocals are exceptionally touching and sweet, further enhanced by layers of background harmonies. A single synthy line floats along the surface and makes its way across as Nagi begins to sings the second verse, which contains a noteworthy feature of an accompanying marching beat that is oddly still low-key enough to keep the peace. Towards the end of the song, the vocals and arrangement are given equal spotlight; neither are above the other, but rather, they are alongside each other in perfect unison. It is true that Wasurenai Tame ni is somewhat plain of a track, but simplicity can sometimes be quite pleasant.

3. Crossroad
The last track begins with a quick intro of a lively piano melody and acoustic guitar plucking, and with a single breath and a deep rushing sound, Nagi’s familiar vocals enter, sounding slightly airy and gentle in nature. The introduction of percussion allows things to pick up, and suddenly, her vocals become clearer, confident and more pronounced. The simultaneous halt of both the singing and the instrumental during the pre-chorus is interesting in an upbeat song such as this, as listeners might find themselves waiting attentively for just that moment to hear the song continue on. The chorus arrives just before you know it, giving the song a celebratory sort of vibe with its bright, uplifting quality. Honestly, there isn’t much to say about this song besides what has just been mentioned, since much of it screams “average pop song”, even if it’s sung by Nagi.

For the sake of comparison to Nagi’s two other rock-based A-sides, Zoetrope seems to be the perpetual topper, followed by the school food punishment-esque Laterality, and Tokohana in third place at the moment. That being said, the A-side is still quite good, but it’s lacking in some areas, which stops it from being of the same quality as its predecessors. Wasurenai Tame ni is a simple and decent track and happens to be the better B-side because Crossroad is way too poppy and ordinary for me. This single is a satisfactory effort overall for me, nothing more.

Rating: 3/5

 

A playlist for everything/everyone (vol.1)

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.40.30 am

This was just something I decided to do on a whim, and I did it really quickly, so don’t judge!

These playlists are based around the general sound and vibe of the songs, so it’s unlikely that I took the lyrics into account. The point is to feel the music! Furthermore, music is definitely a subjective experience, so what I included in this was based on my opinion and my experiences. Feel free to add your picks in the comment section below!

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Single review: “black bullet” by fripSide

fripSide is a Japanese pop and trance duo signed to Geneon Entertainment. black bullet is their 8th single.

Release date: 14th of May, 2014

Track list:
1. black bullet
2. pico scope -SACLA-
3. black bullet (Instrumental)
4. pico scope -SACLA- (Instrumental)

1. black bullet
The latest A-side from fripSide opens with a dance beat bouncing alongside layers of synth, and within barely a number of seconds, an eruption of Guren no Yumiya-esque chanting suddenly appears, stirring up an ominous, almost menacing atmosphere. The built-up passion is stripped away to reveal a somewhat calm section of the first verse, with Yoshino steadily singing parallel to a beat and a piano melody. Trademark fripSide synths smoothly transition into the established arrangement, and their consistent pulsating are in perfect time with the vocal melody. The verse escalates into the high-spirited chorus, filled to the brim with catchy melodies wonderfully handled by Yoshino, as well as vibrant synths á la sister’s noise and LEVEL5 -judgelight-. This pattern is repeated until the bridge, in which the beginning segment of a dance beat, synths and chanting is intermingled with an electric guitar solo, giving rise to a much welcomed surge of energy. But again, this is taken away in favor of Yoshino’s clear, now insistent vocals, this time accompanied by strings and hi-hats. Soon after, the arrangement is rightfully intensified once again in time for the final chorus, as Yoshino finishes on an extended high note, and the instrumentation comes full circle.

2. pico scope -SACLA-
Tied to an anime short, the accompanying B-side starts off with a palpitating synthesizer, somewhat similar to the kind of sound that would accompany a tense moment in an action/sci-fi movie. As this lone sound thins out, a happycore instrumentation breaks out of the blue, and Yoshino’s higher, juvenile tone emerges to match the mood. Beginning the first verse is the simple combination of the faint sound of the palpitating synthesizer and the ever-present, forceful dance beat. As the arrangement increases in tempo, it is enhanced with a plethora of synths reminiscent to those heard in only my railgun, only much quicker. Oddly, this song doesn’t feature the escalating to a chorus, but rather, the verses almost blend into the chorus, as both sections seem like they are on the same level (intensity and tempo-wise). An entertaining electro/techno breakdown is what characterises the bridge, and just like in black bullet, much energy is present in this section. The track ends with a repetition of the chorus, soon brought to a halt in a similar fashion to the Gokukoku no Brynhildr opening theme.

I have been eagerly anticipating this single for a while now; partly because I’m a fan of fripSide, and also because I heard the TV size of black bullet several times while keeping up with the anime of the same name. Either way, I knew this was going to be good, and the duo did not disappoint. The A-side is basically anison done well, creatively incorporating chanting with the standard fripSide style we know and love. pico scope -SACLA- is probably the fastest I’ve heard from them as of yet, and even though it’s quite short and relatively straightforward, it’s an entertaining tune to hear. Overall, a commendable effort!

Rating: 4/5

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On a side note:

The Limit Break review is taking a bit longer than we thought for a few reasons, so I decided to post this in advance :)

Upcoming reviews!

Hey all~

I thought I should post the next set of reviews while Austin & I work on the review for Cyntia’s Limit Break. As usual, this may or may not be edited later, so feel free to check back from time to time to stay updated. Anyway, here’s what’s coming up…

My reviews include:
fripSide – black bullet [Single]
Nagi Yanagi – Tokohana [Single]

Austin’s reviews include:
Konomi Suzuki – This game [Single]
LiSA – Rising Hope [Single]

And the collaborative review will be:
Nana Mizuki – SUPERNAL LIBERTY [Album]

Those are some really good artists, I’m sure you’ll agree.

That’s all for now! Please stay tuned!
Moira~

Single review: “The♡World’s♡End” by Yui Horie

CD only cover

Yui Horie is a Japanese pop artist and well-known idol seiyuu. She is sometimes affectionately nicknamed “Hocchan” by her Japanese fans. The♡World’s♡End is her 19th single.

Release date: 12th of March, 2014

Track list:
1. The♡World’s♡End
2. Han’eikyuu-teki ni Aishite yo♡
3. The♡World’s♡End (off vocal ver.)
4. Han’eikyuu-teki ni Aishite yo♡ (off vocal ver.)

1. The♡World’s♡End
A gentle, almost fragile introduction comprised of vocals and a delicate xylophone tune suddenly erupts into a convulsion of la la’s, sharply-strummed strings stuck in an infinite looping melody, and a beat that’s quite quick yet quite vague at the same time. The composition is maintained while Yui sings an identical vocal melody as the very beginning of the song, and she then promptly sings a set of several lines in rapid-fire action, serving as the chorus. Unfortunately, the aforementioned part of the song is either badly mixed, or purposefully made to sound mostly like background music with understated main vocals, yet I cannot comprehend the reasons for the latter. Soon after, however, the composition is changed up with a marching band-esque beat, as well as quirky brass and woodwind instruments, but still retaining the sharply-strummed strings. From there, a playful pre-chorus leads into a now slightly jazz/swing-influenced chorus. For the bridge, it is first another set of lines sung in rapid-fire action, but then the flow of the song is slowed down and toned down with whispery background vocals behind bells and the familiar marching band-esque beat right after. Yui finishes the song by repeating the chorus twice, and the song closes with the now-recognizable combination of la la’s, strings and a beat that can be described the same way this whole song can be described: quite quick yet quick vague at the same time.

2. Han’eikyuu-teki ni Aishite yo♡
The B-side follows suit and opens with another (extended) gentle, almost fragile introduction comprised of vocals, only this time accompanied with piano instead of a xylophone. Almost a minute into the track, beautiful strings make their entrance to accompany the pre-existing elements, but are stopped short for a sample of Yui’s voice acting skills. Suddenly, the song bursts into a bright, high-spirited instrumental segment, and as badly transitioned it is, it’s a good change from the ballad-like nature of the passage that opened the song. Handclaps rightfully accompany an undeniably catchy verse; the chorus is made up of the same bright, high-spirited instrumental from earlier, now combined with the lines sung just before the spoken section of the song towards the beginning. Thankfully, the song does not change much as we progress through, with the exception of the bridge in which Yui sings alongside a piano accompaniment, transitioning into an odd section of echoing filtered spoken lines. The instrumental, much to my delight, crescendos into the final chorus, before ending with a few notes from a lone right-side electric guitar. Overall, I think that anything NOT sounding playful and upbeat should have been cut, and that definitely includes the opening passage of piano, strings and vocals. I think it’s best not to juxtapose two different styles in this case. Either way, however, this one is the better song of the single.

Ironically, as the follow-UP single to Golden Time, The♡World’s♡End is a step DOWN. The A-side, while being the second opening theme for the anime Golden Time, is a confusing mess of many different emotions, moods and instruments. And the B-side, tied as the second ending theme for the same anime, can be spoken of in almost the same way, but to a lesser extent. To my disdain, most of the single felt vague and had no definite sound. I mean, I know I asked for more variety in my review of her previous single, but this is just a bit ridiculous.

Rating: 2/5