22 November 2013

Hiatus

Seeing as I'm pretty much overflown with school at the moment, and don't want to just disappear like that from the face of the Internet, I declare Japanese Melodia on hiatus. Not a particularly long one, mind you. I hope to see you soon!

9 November 2013

ClariS - Colorful

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica The Movie III : Rebellion OP

Tracklist:

1. Colorful
2. Surely
3. Pieces
4. Colourful - Instrumental -

1. Colorful

After a quick and playful music box intro, bells start off and unravel into a routine anison arrangement, complete with violins and acoustic guitars, with the bass quietly heard in the background, making the track a bit different from their usual electro-pop style. Fortunately, their vocals here are, instead attempting cuteness, more mature and deep sounding, like proper grown-up singers, but still provide energy to the catchy chorus. Although the song is a pleasant listen, and has a nostalgic tone to it, it's nothing special or quite original, and, in character, unfit for a series such as Madoka Magica (though, the problem with an unfit opening was present ever since the first anime episode).
Rating: 7

2. Surely

Clara's and Alice's vocals begin in unison, in a calm, broad arrangement, and becomes a song very similar to Colorful, except the focus is more on the acoustic instrumentals and the mid-tempo rather than full anison. With the song being relatively generic J-pop, the fact that it was a chore listening to it because it can be quite boring at times, and that there are very little differing elements to describe in the actual review, it doesn't earn any higher status than a scapegoat B-side.
Rating: 5

3. Pieces

Yet again, another completely unimaginative affair, barely differing from the previous two songs except for a slight change in the melody lines.
Rating: 1

I'm not having a fit of writer's block, but I am thinking of employing Konno's method for all such generic releases, since track-by-track reviews are almost always fruitless. As with livetune, ClariS will not get reviewed here anymore, despite the fact they get pretty big tie-ins.
My overall rating is: 4
Will I return for an another listen: No.

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6 November 2013

Minori Chihara - Kyoukai no Kanata

Kyoukai no Kanata OP
Kyoukai no Kanata IN

Tracklist:

1. Kyoukai no Kanata
2. NO LINE
3. Kyoukai no Kanata (Instrumental)
4. NO LINE (Instrumental)

1. Kyoukai no Kanata

Minori's calm, serene voice opens to an acoustic piano background, soon gaining a strong drum tempo and unraveling into a cheerful, laid-back arrangement. Including a violin in the chorus as well, which is actually the most active element of the instrumentation, it becomes usual anison with an added guitar solo near the end of the track. Unfortunately, except for the intro and outro, Minori's vocals are constantly under filters and with background, surprisingly varying in colour between soaring and powerful to cute and nasal, as they are not really the main representative point of the whole track. After quite an uncreative middle eight section with a very simple bridge, the final chorus is accomplished only by repeating the intro melody once again, with a prolonged ending annoyingly present, like in her previous single.
Rating: 7

2. NO LINE

A powerful pace suddenly appears, struggling to subdue the guitars and Minori under techno filters, until it explodes into the main melody. With barely anything else present, forceful, sometimes distorted guitars and drums are dominant, although the verse is calmer in terms of raw power, while the chorus is intensive, catchy and quite Faylan-like. Sadly, the second verse and chorus, with its many inappropriate  and uninspired variations feel unfit, and even the vocals seem worse and untrained after hearing the short version so many times. Opening the middle eight are alternating, distorted chords with Minori's vocals filtered up to obscurity, although, the only high point of it is another great guitar solo, until the song finishes off with yet another completely uncalled for elongation.
Rating: 6

A few mistakes here and there are allowed, but Minori's team lately seems to be continually (and intentionally?) making them, with either the songs getting too strained or too dull, constant excessive snippets in the songs at their end, and, overall making bad composure decisions and ruining a good song, as we can see in NO LINE. 
My overall rating is: 6 ½
Will I return for an another listen: Maybe.

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4 November 2013

ZAQ - Extra Revolution

Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita OP

Tracklist:

1. Extra Revolution
2. Namida Note
3. Candy Rain
4. Extra Revolution (Off Vocal)

1. Extra Revolution

Chaotically disharmonic synths open the song, untangling in a really light, cheerful electronic-pop track. Even for a pop song, the instrumentation is surprisingly simple, with only a thin piano following one or two lines of synths, but perfect for the cute and upbeat melody. ZAQ's voice is, accordingly, much higher in pitch, and successfully avoids nasal channeling, present with many singers who badly attempt to sing like this. Although the arrangement somewhat widens afterwards, it still retains the same character for the remarkably catchy chorus, and the heavier middle eight section, with a trance buildup to another burst of liveliness.
Rating: 9

2. Namida Note

A single ambiental synth and drop sounds start off, with a piano joining in coupled with ZAQ's distant voice, and soon turbulently circulating into a mid-tempo track. Compared to Extra Revolution, the vocals are much deeper and more dense and expressive, also doubling as a support at the final chorus in a jazzy manner, which makes them even more enjoyable than usual. Only one listen will give the impression of your usual pop arrangement, although, when cleared up, the instrumentation is much more exotic, with quiet synths in the background following an acoustic guitar, all while the violin joins in the middle eight section to the slow, marching tempo. Namida Note is, with its laid-back tone quite relaxing, and is another great track.
Rating: 9

3. Candy Rain

Finishing up the single, an acoustic guitar once again starts, but this time in almost a dubstep manner, and as if it were a background to a rap song, until it unravels into another ambiental, deep and relaxing arrangement, but with ZAQ singing an unusual mix of silent and very cute. The combination of the two sounds quite J-pop and like something Perfume might release, but, unfortunately, it's not as inventive in its cuteness, although interesting rhytmic figures and chromatic progressions are stretched out through the whole track. With the melody lines being somewhat generic as well, I'm not a big fan of the third track overall.
Rating: 6

This time around, we get another great release from the singer who actually writes and composes her own tracks; a very rare thing in pop music, and succeeds in it. With several singles already out beforehand, I'm hoping for an album soon as well.
My overall rating is: 8
Will I return for an another listen: Yes.

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28 October 2013

GRANRODEO - The Other self

Kuroko no Basuke 2 OP

Tracklist:

1. The Other self
2. DAWN GATE "Unfinished"
3. The Other self [OFF VOCAL]
4. DAWN GATE "Unfinished" [OFF VOCAL]

1. The Other self

An abrupt twisting over the guitar tones quickly bursts into a cheerful rocky arrangement, unfortunately consisting of exclusively guitars, with not as much variety as Henai no Rondo has, but still well fitting for an anime like Kuroko no Basuke. As the guitars follow through the fast tempo, Kishow's vocals do it as well, being exceptional as usual, but still somewhat nasal occasionally, especially in the English-infused chorus lyrics and shouts. Most of the track is just something simply pleasant I wouldn't normally return to, but the remarkably fast, long and skillful guitar solo in the middle eight section saves the song, and builds up to the final chorus, ending with a prolonged uplifting melody piece.
Rating: 8

2. DAWN GATE "Unfinished"

The next track starts subdued, with only a single guitar in play until it gains a trance-like rhythm and a retro, melancholic guitar chord progression with a western melody, being very reminiscent of older rock music. Fortunately, Kishow's vocals are here much clearer and also somewhat deeper, even including some vibrato and varying between soft and deep colours, but, aside that, the only other thing particularly noticeable is a mixed up structure as far as verses and choruses go. Maybe it's just a matter of taste or the fact that it's not ani-rock in the rock subgenres, but this song still doesn't leave a particular impression on me.
Rating: 6

Fanservice anime like Free! and Kuroko no Basuke (no matter how much I do or don't like them as a genre) usually don't have artistically-oriented music, and that reflects in how The Other self is composed when compared to Henai no Rondo, and even DARK SHAME. Overall, it's not a bad release but I'm definitely looking forward to better.
My overall rating is: 7.
Will I return for an another listen: Probably not.

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25 October 2013

Faylan - BLUE BLAZE / BELIEVE

BlazBlue: Alter Memory OP
Ragnarok World Championship 2013 theme

Tracklist:

1. BLUE BLAZE 
2. BELIEVE        

1. BLUE BLAZE

A sharp  industrial sequence opens, unraveling in an energetically catchy techno-rock arrangement. Along with the extremely catchy melody, Faylan's voice is coupled, sounding much more powerful than usual, and, for a change, rising to bigger heights without sounding overly nasal. Contrasting to the plain instrumentation from "wonder fang", we are presented with a chaotic mix of dubstep and rock, but still even measuring up to metal at certain moments, with several calm places through the song crossed with disharmonic synthage. Right before the final chorus, in a relatively dormant passage, a severely intense dubstep breakdown comes in completel unexpected, with Faylan counting down before several guitar chords break the melody and resolve the track, ending with the same catchy techno-induced theme from the beginning. Maybe it's just the impression from listening to it only for a few days, but BLUE BLAZE could as well be my new favourite Faylan song. 
Rating: 10

2. BELIEVE

Continuing from the silence that the previous track left is with, violins build up in a pleasant fantasy-anison arrangement, adding subdued guitars, flowing bells as decoration and even a choir singing in English (I'm pretty sure it's not just Faylan with filters). Although BELIEVE is much more cheerful and uplifting, with a very rich instrumentation it becomes quite strong in a moment, very similar to WHITE Justice. As Faylan's vocals are backed by the choir, it sounds even more heroic and triumphant, perfectly fitting an epic fantasy game Ragnarok Online is.
Rating: 9

It's such a refreshment to see a BlazBlue tie-in finally be the A-side, and it shows by the effort that was put into it. Faylan has been releasing great music lately, and BLUE BLAZE / BELIEVE is no exception.
My overall rating is: 10 - RECOMMENDED
Will I return for an another listen: Definitely.

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22 October 2013

T.M. Revolution x Nana Mizuki - Kakumei Dualism

Valrave the Liberator 2 OP 

Tracklist:

Type A ~
1. Kakumei Dualism
2. Kakumei Dualism (Tv Size)

~ Type C ~
2. Kakumei Dualism (Nana Mizuki Only)
3. Kakumei Dualism (T.M. Revolution Only)

1. Kakumei Dualism

Subdued guitar chords open the song, along with Nana's vocal lead, followed by T.M., who involves way too much excessive vibrato, making him sound ridiculous and amateur, until the song unravels in a strong, ani-rock arrangement. With dominating guitars and violins present in the background, this may be more of both of their domains, as opposed to the techno-inspired Preserved Roses, which incorporated less elements of anison and more of J-pop. Although, as brimming with energy as it is at every corner, the melody sounds too forced and an artificial gain of energy and strength, unlike the sudden breakdown in the middle eight section continuing into harmonies I'd prefer for the whole track instead of the already present ones. Kakumei Dualism, again, sounds more commercial and less artistic, and, even though it will eventually grow on me, it will become boring fast as well.
Rating: 8

2. Kakumei Dualism (Nana Mizuki Only) & 3. Kakumei Dualism (T.M. Revolution Only)

Unfortunately, as with the previous collaboration, the parts where one sings is left out in the other version, as I'd love to hear Nana exclusively sing the whole song, since T.M. performed poorly. On the other hand, his part sounds almost comedic and like a parody to a good vibrato and vocal control.
Rating: Unrated

It's a shame that music from two such renowned artists will be bought mostly because it's popular and mainstream, not because it actually has much artistic value like they separately do.
My overall rating is: 8
Will I return for an another listen: Maybe.

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20 October 2013

Aya Hirano - Promise

Kita Kitsune Monogatari Ashita e IN

Tracklist:

1. Promise
2. Takaramono
3. Up To Date
4. Promise -Instrumental-
5. Takaramono -Instrumental-

1. Promise

A silent piano opens the first track, lonely in its chord progressions until it's joined by the standard instrumentation of the acoustic guitar and violins. Although its framework is somewhat generic ambiental melodies and a simple melodic structure, Aya has succeeded in taming her deep and wild voice into a slower tempo, as it is linked with background vocals, especially in the chorus. Nothing notably eventful happens until, unexpectedly, the middle eight section starts with a too dramatic transition for a soft ballad like this one, but afterwards breaks down into a vocal-only cadence which gains tempo and concludes the song.
Rating: 6 ½

2. Takaramono

Commencing the next song is a quirky, lullaby-like synth and an acoustic guitar, which, contrary to the expectations of another ballad, pick up and gain a mid-tempo dance rhythm. This intro is unusually stretched out, as it slowly builds up to the place where Aya's vocals finally join in with the melody, as if this was an instrumental version halfway, and quite suddenly enter the chorus after only a few lines, without a tie to the previous melody. Accordingly, her voice is being filtered and backed-up all the time to give a dreamy feel to the track, even though it already had a laid-back character. Promise and Takaramono are very similar, but Takaramono takes the win for that slight dash of originality not present in the A-side.
Rating: 7

3. Up To Date

Wrapping up the single with a third song, a fast, impending intro sets off and turns into a cheerful, rocky guitar chord swap. After two more J-pop oriented songs, it's welcome to hear her main style again with this kind of an uplifting rock track, which carries the anison atmosphere with it. Even though the background vocals are over-layered so much they sound almost like a male voice, Aya lets her full strength loose, as she climbs to bigger heights and hits multiple vibrato in the duration of the song. It's not one of her best yet, but Up To Date does carry a pleasant sound of her past.
Rating: 7

Ever since her label shift, Aya hasn't gotten a single anime tie-in, which reflects in how her songs are mostly turning out lately; recycled and cliche (Hoshikuzu Garandou is excluded from this, fortunately), with an occasional return to her old style.
My overall rating is: 7.
Will I return for an another listen: No.

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7 October 2013

Kawano Marina - Sono Koe wo Oboeteru

Monogatari Series 2 ED

Tracklist:

1. Sono Koe wo Oboeteru
2. Kieru daydream - Acoustic Version
3. Sono Koe wo Oboeteru - Instrumental

1. Sono Koe wo Oboeteru

Without any previous intro, Marina's voice, deeper than usual and a playful piano open the first track, showing a more energetic tempo than your average ending theme has. Even though the arrangement is common anison, the catchy chorus crossed with occasional distorted guitars to add the kick and background vocals make the song much more balanced just so it doesn't seem cliched and boring, as the ideal measure of cheerfulness rarely comes by in a J-pop. I rarely like these types of tracks, but I would definitely return for another listen.
Rating: 8

2. Kieru daydream - Acoustic Version

A drum hit marks the start, as thin acoustic guitars open the melody an octave higher than it was in the original, providing much more of a laid-back character. Fortunately, Marina is going for more vocal originality here, with added jazz off-singing, but the static and lacking chord progression, missing some of the harmonies from the original make it much less fulfilling, even though the conversion was performed nicely. The acoustic version is pleasant, but too basic to transcompose the whole Kieru daydream.
Rating: 6

Marina is yet to show any specific image of her own, but her oncoming singles have all pushed through nicely. The only noticeable flaw in Sono Koe wo Oboeteru as a whole is that it's too short, as we get the A-side and a remix, without a new B-side track. My overall rating is: 7

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30 September 2013

Kalafina - Alleluia

Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin IN

Tracklist:

1. Alleluia
2. dolce

Live recordings not to be reviewed:

3. fairytale ~2012. Christmas LIVE ver.~
4. Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku  ~2012. Christmas LIVE ver.~

1. Alleluia

The new single from Kalafina starts off in a serene sound, with slow violins joining in and wielding their usual chord progressions. As the instrumentation grows stronger, Keiko's powerful vocals in contrast with a higher-pitched arrangement lead on, until subdued guitars unravel into a chorus with a single touching "Alleluia" sung by all three vocals. Though Hikaru and Wakana serve mostly as the backing to Keiko's voice and in the interludes, their impact is still present in the track, which employs optimistic and uplifting anison-ballad instrumentals rather than the expected sadder, neoclassical tone. I was hoping for an emotional roller coaster after Consolation heightened my expectations, but another ballad in their opus does just fine as well.
Rating: 8

2. dolce

An eerie, mysterious sound opens, with only several thin synths and occasional bells to support it, before uplifting choral sequences ensue in a harmony completely separate from the instrumental background. Although having a familiar feel, like a mix of Madoka Magica soundtrack elements (specifically, Credens Justitiam, even having the similar track length) and Hikari Furu, the chorus becomes quite more dramatic and serious than the cheerful verses, providing more excitement in a melodic sense than Alleluia. Complexity may be Yuki Kajiura's middle name, but sometimes the most simple things are the best attention-keepers.
Rating: 10

By now we're all used to Kalafina being impeccable all the time, so, summed up, the only minor flaw that exists is that perhaps Alleluia could of been a little more inventive. My overall rating is: 9.

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17 September 2013

TKDz2b feat. The 49ers - Never Say Never


Danganronpa The Animation OP

Tracklist:

1. DANGANRONPA
2. Never Say Never
3. Never Say Never ~Instrumental

1. DANGANRONPA

A prelude to the actual opening theme opens quietly, as deep synths unwind, until resounding bass turns the track into a mix of Nagi Yanagi-like surrealism crossed with haunting female voices and usual gritty trance. Several melodic sections intertwine as the three-minute listen goes on, and the game music character reminds of some darker and more realistic JRPGs, most so of The World Ends With You, only with added guitars. The song is ended with a single hanging tone, making room for the next track with anticipation.
Rating: 8

2. Never Say Never

Continuing on from the trancy atmosphere, Never Say Never speeds up and continues into exclusively English rapping with catchy lyrics, and, most importantly, very symbolic and related to the anime. Contrasting the verses, which there aren't much of anyway because of the song's barely bigger length than DANGANRONPA, the chorus is sung instead with strong female vocals backed with subdued guitars, which appear otherwise just as chanting without words spread throughout the song, and chip away as the track ends. I'm not usually a fan of English-only anime songs, but, I have to admit that this one is definitely noteworthy, if even only for the proper pronunciation and avoidance of EngRish.
Rating: 9

Danganronpa has captivated me both as an anime and as a game, and now it's the turn of the OST in line. My overall rating is: 8 ½

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11 September 2013

cinema staff - great escape

Shingeki no Kyojin ED2

Tracklist:

1. great escape
2. cinema staff [Bokutachi no Hihou] tour Final (will not be reviewed as it's a live recording of 8 tracks)

1. great escape

A forceful drum entrance sets the way for an extremely fast and strong guitar solo, all until the verse sets down in a laid-back fashion mixed with occasional bits of rock guitars. The vocalist has a colour somewhere between your average pop singer and a full-blown rock vocalist, suiting the catchy but not overly hard hitting chorus (or most parts of the song, for that matter). Unfortunately, though the arrangement is promising, the track remains relatively unmemorable, and doesn't convey the emotions shown in the anime one bit as Utsukushiki Zankoku no Sekai does, and the fact that it's much shorter doesn't help at all, as only certain elements of the track are listen-worthy.
Rating: 5

It's a real shame that great escape would be the only imposter among the masterfully done opening and ending themes. My overall rating is: 5

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7 September 2013

fripSide - eternal reality

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S OP2

Tracklist:

- Regular Edition -
1. eternal reality
2. Scorching Heart
3. eternal reality -TV size-
4. Scorching Heart -Instrumental-

- Limited Edition -
1. eternal reality
2. Coupling Tune A
3. eternal reality -TV size-
4. eternal reality -Instrumental-

1. eternal reality

Wow, another single in such a (relatively) short notice? I was barely finished rotating sister's noise when eternal reality opens with a usual fripSide instrumental, except the atmosphere is slightly happier and more anison when compared to the first opening. SAT, unfortunately, has an unchanged formula here, and, if I had to choose a previous Railgun song to compare it to, another average fripSide A-side would be LEVEL-5 Judgelight; the arrangement has no innovations whatsoever, while Yoshino is thin and faltering when singing, and the partial absence of filters doesn't help. 
Rating: 6

2. Scorching Heart (Regular)

A darker ambient ensues, utilizing more of fripSide's rockier style than the usual techno, with the guitars being quite subdued to fit the dance sequences, but still noticeable. Sadly, at least in the verses, the arrangement is the only thing that distinguishes the song from their overused cadences, before the chorus comes in using a standard pop chord progression, which, at least in this case, is a new thing. Yoshino is filtered the whole time, with even a slight vocoding layer to emphasize the robotic feel of it, but the vocals haven't exactly been the highlight of fripSide's song anyways, so the change is barely discernible. Following the second chorus is an almost non-existing middle eight section, which is only bridged by a small vocal-only part and Yoshino's whisper before wrapping up the track.
Rating: 7

2. Coupling Tune A (Limited)

In spite of the somewhat generic soundtrack name, Coupling Tune A is very much a full song. Opening with Yoshino singing to a synthy background, it made me wonder if it's the same singer in question, as she opens very deeply, suiting the dark atmosphere. Unlike the previous two tracks, this song turns more towards trance than anison, which is that missing originality and spirit, and is easily detected by the constant bass hitting in the background and the unusual lack of guitar and piano until right before the chorus. Fortunately, Yoshino acts as a real trance vocalist for once, as her vocals are quite subdued, especially in bridges, and used more as a background and an addition to the instrumentals. Of course, you can't have a fripSide song without a guitar solo in the middle eight section, but it doesn't break the overall flow of the track, or steal the spotlight to cheerless synthage which shows the serious, dramatic side To Aru Kagaku no Railgun can sometimes have.
Rating: 9

Unlike sister's noise, the very opening to the show was somewhat disappointing this time around, but Coupling Tune A makes up the listening time for all that was lacking in the previous two songs as, by far, the best song in the single. My overall rating is: 8.

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3 September 2013

ZAQ - Gekijouron

High School DXD OP2

Tracklist:

1. Gekijouron
2. Dokuyoruron
3. Shout to the top

1. Gekijouron

The first track opens heavily, with drums being in the spotlight and a silent piano in the background, before switching roles and unraveling in her signature electronic-pop style.  Even though Gekijouron has certain elements from Alteration, the impression as a whole gives off more melancholy and a certain sad tone, especially with ZAQ showing off her deeper registre and great control of it, including even occasional vibrato. The catchy, dramatic chorus is the highlight, employing rock guitars and making up for impact, along with the incredibly chaotic, fast and eargasmic piano solo from the middle eight section, speeding it up just by imagining her play on the piano, coupled with synths moving at the exact same speed. After the slow build up, hearing ZAQ's voice soar in the final chorus decides this as my new favourite from her.
Rating: 9

2. Dokuyoruron

After hearing the fast and exciting A-side, Dokuyoruron comes in as the calmer ballad in the single, and, fortunately, ZAQ's composing skills prevent it from being another generic one. Her voice is, contrasting the first track, this time higher and actually filtered, but the widening instrumentation makes up for the lack of vocal depth, with violins paired with heavy drums and even the choir present sporadically. While the strings are quite subdued in the background, often just playing a single tone, the always-present electronic part bursts in the chorus, completely covering the already hidden bass and other, high-pitched synths present almost all of the time. Wrapping up, everything stops as the vocals climb up for an octave and finish the track.
Rating: 7

3. Shout to the top

Immediately greeting us with something a bit stronger, ZAQ's much more nasal and cuter colour comes to notice, as well as vocoding, signifying that a usual pop song is ahead, utilizing nothing but synths and even cadences that can recognizably be from A-pop (that's probably what I'll call American pop from now on). Still, it manages to be interesting and catchy, and very much reminding of KOTOKO's BUCANEER. Here, with the presence of so much voice change from the natural tone, a strange difference arises as well, between the "very very high pitch" singing used in the background, presumably also by ZAQ, and the "very high pitch" one used in normal singing. This isn't perhaps varied as the other two tracks are, but it does have the element of fun while listening to it.
Rating: 8

I could as well list one of the reasons for having ZAQ as one of my favourite singers the fact that her idol was Minorin, but her self-composing ability is a rare one in today's anison, and is probably a valuable resource in Lantis, the bane of most good musicians. My overall rating is: 8.

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29 August 2013

Yuuka Nanri - Mother land

Valrave the Liberator IN

Tracklist:

1. Mother land

1. Mother land

Opening with a very calm, serene ambiental sound, as if the track was a relaxing meditation piece, Yuuka's voice joins in to form a few oriental-styled cadences with her collected voice as louder drums and violins overlap after a time for more of a classic anison arrangement. Even though she is working on an another anime, the whole track, and especially the touching chorus feels very much like something Chiaki Ishikawa would compose, bringing a melancholic overtone although the chorus consisted of intersecting tones Yuuka is singing in a choral way displays major chord progressions. As the middle eight section returns to the same melody and silence found at the beginning, bells and a waltzing tempo appear, making a dramatic transition to the final chorus.
Rating: 8

Mother land was perhaps designed to be only a follow-up to her main single previously released, but it has plenty of independent listening worth, even more so than BLOODY HOLIC. My overall rating is: 8.

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27 August 2013

Yuuka Nanri - BLOODY HOLIC

Blood Lad ED

Tracklist:

1. BLOODY HOLIC
2. snow wind
3. BLOODY HOLIC ~Without Vocal
4. snow wind ~Without Vocal

1. BLOODY HOLIC

Yuuka's thin voice coupled with a relaxing ambient opens the song, before several strong guitar chords interrupt and unravel into strong techno-rock with slightly gothic chord progressions. As the synthage dies down, the verse returns to a slower tempo, but we finally get to hear the vocals becoming a bit stronger and living up to the standard Yuki Kajiura set for her all the way back in FictionJunction, although the arrangement strays off that path, combining many elements from different styles, and coupling the piano with guitars and synths. Unfortunately, her voice becomes filtered once the song builds up to the chorus, but they are the needed strength since the instrumental is surprisingly absent with techno-rock, being much more subdued, and fitting into the middle eight section, which is crossed with very distorted but silent electric guitars and the piano. As the firstly unnoticeable whispers grow into a real Gregorian choir, the song slips into the serene environment from the beginning, followed by a short drum solo which returns us to the final chorus. BLOODY HOLIC is nothing especially epic, nor it strives to do so, but it's very pleasant overall. 
Rating: 7

2. snow wind

In contrast with the name "snow wind" with which we'd usually expect a seasonal ballad of sorts, after the unimposing introduction a rock-ish instrumentation is present but with it being subdued and overflown with ambiental synths, the atmosphere becomes quite melancholic, laid-back and shows the 80s retro charm all while the tempo-giving drums act as a layer present during the whole track. The B-side is actually better suited to Yuuka's vocals, as they aren't really suited to more outgoing, heavier style, and the nice, relaxing note of it ties everything together nicely.
Rating: 8

BLOODY HOLIC as a single may not stand out a lot, but it's a still a good addition and a worthy listen in Yuuka's discography. Perhaps snow wind got a higher mark purely for reminding me of the classics with its arrangement, which is rare nowadays. My overall rating is: 7 ½

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24 August 2013

Annabel - Alternative

Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen ED

Tracklist:

1. Alternative
2. Ao ni Tokeru
3. Alternative (Instrumental)
4. Ao ni Tokeru (Instrumental)

1. Alternative

A quiet, impending single frequency opens the first track before dissolving into a slow, serene but a bit creepy instrumentation with the constant company of unusual pulsing synths in the background. All while Annabel is singing with her whisper-like voice, not increasing her volume even when the arrangement is threatening to overwhelm her, the atmosphere gains a more powerful violin background similar to ALI PROJECT, although still retaining the dark spirit of the Rozen Maiden anime. Even though the melody is entrancing, clear classical music influences can be heard, especially in the middle eight, pairing high violins and the deep double bass, as the song ends with a silent harp, leaving a dreamy aftertaste. Alternative is an excellent impression, especially as this is my first time listening to a song of hers.
Rating: 9

2. Ao ni Tokeru

Changing things up from the haunting ambient we've been able to hear, Ao ni Tokeru appears with a silent flute and a quirky xylophone, as it slowly achieves a much faster tempo and becomes a catchy mix of anison and J-pop in the chorus. That being said, aside the arrangement, the melody sounds too frantic, random and disharmonic the whole time, losing on the laid-back and relaxing aspect of it in the beginning, while, surprisingly, being quite boring. The B-side doesn't come near the quality Alternative had.
Rating: 5

Annabel's style, at least how I see it in this single, is very similar to Nagi Yanagi, which is perhaps brought up by the fact that they were a musical duo once. Despite the somewhat failed Ao ni Tokeru, I am looking forward to reviewing her further works. My overall rating is: 7.

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15 August 2013

Vacation time!


During the next seven days, I'll be on vacation with little to no internet access, which, unfortunately, means I won't be able to review, tweet or check my email. Of course, as soon as I come back, I'll review everything I missed at the biggest speed humanly possible.

じゃね  (^▽^)

13 August 2013

Eri Kitamura - Birth

Kamisama no Inai Nichijoubi OP

Tracklist:

1. Birth
2. Lifetime Trader
3. Birth (Off Vocal Ver.)
4. Lifetime Trader (Off Vocal Ver.)

1. Birth

A haunting, deep intro sets the ground for church bells and chanting in English, very similar to Kalafina, before suddenly stopping and unraveling into a heavy rock section. Although the verse starts off with just a piano and Eri's unusually silent voice, the arrangement kicks in with almost metal-like distorted guitars and dreamy chanting, which is spread across the whole track, creating little interludes. Characteristically for her A-side songs, we get a catchy ani-rock chorus again, except the violin is a little less noticeable and involved this time, without strong grinding of it like in re;story, which transitions to the middle eight section completely devoted to the choir and building up with an effective, strong guitar solo. I'm quite glad she's following through with her initial stance and keeps releasing somewhat heavier, more rock-oriented music than most of her colleagues. 
Rating: 9

2. Lifetime Trader

Lifetime Trader takes in the ambient from Birth's introduction, except it's much more subtle and surreal, mixed with bells and creating something that sounds like an old Final Fantasy soundtrack piece, which is ruined interrupted by Eri's whispering and turns into an upbeat rock track. Perhaps for the first time, she is intentionally trying to make her colour similar to LiSA's, but it only makes her sound a bit silly and amateurish, especially when coupled with unnecessary male shouts as to give weight to her vocals which are already giving out. Not only is her voice a copy, but the whole melody and chord progression as well, being an obvious Frankenstein-like compound of the songs Veronica and LOVE&HATE from her debut album. A very strong, headbang-worthy middle eight sequence makes me feel even more sorry for the excellent instrumentation which could have been used in many different ways to make this track better.
Rating: 6

It may seem that her title tracks are still infallible, but the composing effort is showing signs of tiredness from following the same formula over and over again, as we get to see in Lifetime Trader. Playing the occasional card of LiSA-like rock is not bad, but the impression takes a toll if it's badly done. My overall rating is: 7 ½.

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11 August 2013

LiSA - träumerei

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyo OP

Tracklist:

1. träumerei
2. I doubt it
3. Yuuyake Nostalgia
4. träumerei (TV Size)


1. träumerei

Deep, haunting bells open the first track, with an introduction very similar to CHOIR JAIL, until the guitars and the upbeat rhythm completely take over in an ani-rock composition. Despite the arrangement consisting of only electric guitars and heavy drums, the catchy melody makes up for the variation, even after numerous listens. Unfortunately, we don't get to see much of LiSA's voice in its stunning clarity because it's filtered most of the time, aside the powerful, touching chorus where it does give the effect needed. Again in the middle eight section, the silent choir and the mysterious atmosphere appear again, slowly building up to a fast drum sequence, and unraveling into the final chorus, which is this time around accompanied by occasional background lines LiSA has sung as well. If I dare say with all those SAO fans out there, this is even better than "crossing field".
Rating: 10

2. I doubt it

Following on, restless with the waves of energy, "I doubt it" opens with a relaxing and melancholic intro, but quickly overturning the expectation of a ballad with  a few western-ish guitar chords followed by the serious and catchy verse. The second track shows off LiSA's other side, as it is much more explosive and aggressive, and more rock-oriented than anison when compared to träumerei. Likewise, her unmatched vocal colour for rock and an edgier image is utilized, along with a higher tone and great, although subtle vibrato skills. As to suit the whole track, the middle eight section is marked by an euphoric, extremely energetic guitar solo which climaxes as LiSA's soothing tone sings along to a laid-back environment before everything gets interrupted by strong chords and a chorus which is raised by an octave to achieve more momentum. It's rare to see a B-side being on the same level of quality as the title track.
Rating: 10

3. Yuuyake Nostalgia

Wrapping up the single is LiSA's singing to restful guitars in the background, being significantly slower than the previous tracks, but, don't be fooled, as the instrumentation gradually gains tempo and more of her cheerful, uplifting pop-rock taste in the chorus, Although this tries to please the part of the fanbase which finds pleasure in her cuter songs, it's not as memorable as ROCK-mode or WiLD CANDY, and the fact that it is barely 3 minutes long doesn't contribute at all. Ending with a kind of an unfinished feeling, it seems one track had to be a scapegoat. Well, at least it's not a ballad, alike to those LiSA has done in her previous single to fill up disk space, and it does serve its purpose.
Rating: 8

This is usually the place where I find myself commenting on the future of the artist in question, but all I can say is that LiSA never fails to impress me, and, if she continues like this, will be a worthy heir even to Nana-chan-kami-sama. My overall rating is: 9

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8 August 2013

Faylan - wonder fang

Hakkenden - Tohou Hakken Ibun 2 OP
BlazBlue: Chronophantasma OP 

Tracklist:

1. wonder fang
2. Blue Sanction
3. wonder fang (Off Vocal)
4. Blue Sanction (Off Vocal)

1. wonder fang

A sudden, violent, and somewhat westernized series of chords open the first track, appearing not as dark as Faylan's usual music, and actually a bit more uplifting. As usual, her vocals are dry and struggling, having an excellent colour for aggressive rock music, and sometimes achieve great distancing effects with the creative usage of voice filters. Unfortunately, even though the arrangement is filled with only hard electric guitars and strong percussions, aside from occasional synthage in the middle eight section, the melody itself isn't anything special or memorable, and the song is actually under the standard 4 minutes, showing that the composing level wasn't exactly high this time. God FATE, the first Hakkenden opening was much better, and I'd like to see more of that, not only mild effort.
Rating: 7

2. Blue Sanction

It appears that the BlazBlue tie-ins Faylan has are always better, at least in my eyes, from the main song in the single. The powerful mix of synths and filtered guitars which opens proves that, followed by a much harder, darker arrangement which can even parry a song from the GazettE, crossing into metal. Here, her voice is a bit more muffled by the strong instrumentation, but clears up in the verse which employs only drums and a piano until the distorted guitars interrupt. More complex melodies require stronger vocal utilization, especially in the catchy ani-rock element in the chorus. A powerful guitar solo marks the transition to the final chorus along with a buildup, crossing over Faylan's melancholic singing paired with a piano until it again unravels into a techno-rock salve, followed by an unusual outro melody. The variety and a boosted arrangement make Blue Sanction a much better track than the A-side, once again.
Rating: 9

If it weren't for the anime relation, the two songs could be switched, Blue Sanction would be the main one, and nobody would even notice. I'm not worried about Faylan's future works, though, since wonder fang was just a minor setback in the chain of excellent work. My overall rating is: 8

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4 August 2013

StylipS - Prism Sympathy

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya ED

Tracklist:

1. Prism Sympathy
2. Tsunagu Kizuna . Tsutsumu Kodoku
3. Brand-new Style!! ~Mahou Mitai na Show time~
4. Prism Sympathy (Inst.)
5. Tsunagu Kizuna . Tsutsumu Kodoku (Inst.)
6. Brand-new Style!! ~Mahou Mitai na Show time~ (Step Two/Inst.)

1. Prism Sympathy

Silent, synthy rotations open the first track, bursting into an upbeat, technopop idol track followed by a series of cheerful voices. As expected, besides the various electronic elements, rarely any other instrument is used in the arrangement, except perhaps the barely noticeable electric guitar. Although, no matter the instruments or the genre, everybody seems to use a dubstep breakdown somewhere in the song, even StylipS, though it's well-hidden behind the filtered unison of the vocals which barely do any soloing. Usually nothing more is expected of them, as the melody is somewhat simple and easy to perform. Hyper-kawaii isn't usually my style (well, besides Yukarin) but it's not that boring, and I can get around to listening to it more eventually.
Rating: 7

2. Tsunagu Kizuna . Tsutsumu Kodoku

More like usual anison, the piano and the violin make an introduction with a strange, off-key single note hidden in the melody. The track gains some tempo with an acoustic guitars, and several solos from different members, until the touching and catchy chorus unravels, being especially effective since it's sung in unison and dreamlike bells. I haven't really expected to hear such a song from StylipS (whom I have never heard a song from before), but it seems the classic anison element is present as well. Every verse ends with a piano chord, before everything climaxes into the effective middle eight breakdown with a rocky guitar involved. How can it be possible that this isn't a tie-in?
Rating: 8

3. Brand-new Style!! ~Mahou Mitai na Show time~

Finalizing the single, a more energetic start opens, being much more idol-like and... cheerleaderly (?) with all the bright, happy, diabetes-inducing unison of voices. Like a mix of the previous two tracks, Brand-new Style uses both light electric guitars but also recurring anison elements like the violin. With, once again, almost no solo vocal usage, every member overly aims for the perfect kawaii voice, but only ends up with too much nasal usage and a sugary, unmemorable colour. For some strange reason, which very well may be the chord progression in the chorus, this song reminds me of Minorin (but, lately, everything does).
Rating: 7

If it were any other idol-pop group, I'd probably frown at the very idea of reviewing a single of theirs, but StylipS fortunately managed a good debut here at Japanese Melodia. Of course, I am hoping for more material alike to the second track, which was my favourite. My overall rating is: 7

1 August 2013

Nagi Yanagi - Euaru



Tie-ins:
Track no. 2 - Yahari Ore no Seishun Lovekome wa Machigatteiru OP
Track no. 6 - Jormungand ED
Track no. 8 - Amnesia OP
Track no. 9 - Jormungand: Perfect Order ED
Track no. 13 - Ano Natsu de Matteru ED

Tracklist:

1. Hontou
2. Yuki Toki
3. Ao no Parade
4. concent
5. helvetica
6. Ambivalentidea
7. euaru
8. Zoetrope
9. Laterality
10. Strange Attractor
11. Kuoria
12. Translucent
13. Vidro Moyou
14. Uso

1. Hontou

A strange, impending frequency opens the album, almost like it's setting the ground for something explosive, but is interrupted by a silent piano playing a relaxing melody. Everything becomes dreamy and surreal, perfectly describing Nagi's main style, and prepares us for what's coming next, seeing that it's a mere introduction of almost 2 minutes.
Rating: 9

2. Yuki Toki

The instrumentation dies down for a moment, and revives itself with Nagi's cheerful singing. Every singer has stepped out of their usual style at least once, and Nagi's time has come now. Unlike Zoetrope or Laterality, among her upbeat tracks, this one represents an overused, generic anison style dominated by the piano and the violins. Strangely, though the atmosphere of the song is happy and cute, she doesn't try make her vocals nasal even once, which I'm thankful for, because her warm colour is very hard to achieve. Summing up, this is not bad, but at the same time nothing which hasn't been heard before. It's a real shame B-sides weren't included, because Surrealisme from the same single would do just as good as the "icebreaker" on the album.
Rating: 7

3. Ao no Parade

Surreal melodies appear again, with the single tone held by a violin while the synthy, fluttery environment unravels. As the entire ambient is fairy-tale like, it becomes very hard to describe completely, with the hypnotic, sudden style changes from the pleasant, happy one to the mysterious, enchanting one reminiscent of J-pop, and the chanting melody used in the middle eight sequence which greatly resembles one from the introduction. The track ends as if it were again to change in tempo, with a short, sharp piano chord, leaving us with a shortage of synonyms for the word "relaxing".
Rating: 9

4. concent

Leading on, a choppy, cut signal intermission starts, very much reminding like something that would be the theme of the Data Overmind from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, with the engulfing silence and space-like impression. As Nagi repeats the words like "concent", "concept" and "contact", the fleeing arrangement feels very thin in the ear, since everything is so silent and subdued, crossed occasionally just by a bit heavier piano chords. She doesn't make either ballads or techno, she makes weird songs in the best way possible, and that remains even when the instrumentation expands, becoming quite similar to Perfume at the end, being faster but just as attention-keeping.
Rating: 10

5. helvetica

Quietly, a serene atmosphere makes its way coupled with Nagi's very silent singing, being next to a whisper. With an incredibly relaxing and mystic charm, the ambient reveals and her singing slowly becomes a bit faster, with the rotating synthage in the background, while still retaining its calmness. Instead of adding a heavier instrumentation, the track grabs our attention with all of its little quirks, ranging from child-like chanting in the background presumably done by Nagi herself, to the sharp guitar chords which suddenly break the consistency of the track, ending with very slight and subdued dubstep. As everything becomes more silent, the single playing electronic frequency quickly rushes downwards in pitch, returning the mystique to the listen.
Rating: 10

6. Ambivalentidea

If Ambivalentidea were to progress the same way it started, calmly and quietly, it would continue the chain of peaceful, mysterious slow tracks, but, fortunately, the change of ambient is welcome. After the initial impression, the piano joins with a violin and suddenly stops, then revives itself again, in a repetitive fashion. As the track moves on, the repetitions become darker and more menacing, until the violin vibrato and Nagi's lamenting strongly evolve and gain an obvious tempo and loudness. The gothic chord progressions are crossed with the sharp, strong sighs of the ghastly background vocals, while the arrangement becomes even denser with power and subtle scares. As everything slowly dies down, the creepily orchestrated violin returns just for that single tone, and suddenly ends, making a scary but very unique, memorable experience.
Rating: 10

7. euaru

The title song is, unusually, located right in the middle of the album, and is one of her expected electronic-infused slow songs. Being quite similar to Surrealisme, the playful piano and the silent vocals create an enjoyable atmosphere, spiced up with some exotic harmonies. The chanting background fades away and mixes with the instruments, amplifying the dreamlike scenery, making the usual construction of the verses and the choruses obscured, as if it's non-existing. After a series of different musical themes, Nagi's voice returns, intentionally struggling with the overpowering chords and instruments, finishing with a mysterious end, like most of her songs do.
Rating: 9

8. Zoetrope

As the last tone of euaru becomes silent, the euphoria rises again when the violin orchestra and Nagi's wailing vocals open one of my favourite songs by her, quickly completely turning away from her usual style and becoming an extremely aggressive heavy rock song. As the tempo switches between mid and fast, the instrumentation crescends more and more until a silent, mysterious piano solo where the power of her unfiltered vocals is heard, before unraveling into a lamenting, serious and explosive chorus. Accordingly, with the quite emotional outburst, the violins sharply join in, intemperately playing a dark melody while making the church bells be even more expressed. After a series of heavy metal-like progressions, the middle eight section is a mix between the surreal harp and piano and the electric guitars, ending with the only place where the vocals are actually filtered, so much to the point where they become unrecognizable. I truly sometimes wonder how I hadn't noticed the greatness of Zoetrope right away when watching Amnesia for the first time.
Rating: 10

9. Laterality

Continuing on from Zoetrope's energy, seemingly random piano sequences overturn into a powerful, though a bit more commonly encountered, catchy ani-rock melody which is just a bit more optimistic than the previous track. For the first time in this album, Nagi's voice isn't only significantly stronger and higher, but is arranged to actually rise above the instruments, like most songs do, instead of being a part of them. Of course, no matter how rocky this may be, the roots of her music are present in the interludes, which are, just like in Zoetrope, piano-filled and there to create the mystery, alongside the jazz-like bass in the clubby atmosphere. Ending with random harmonies, just the way it began, Laterality is a great follow-up.
Rating: 9

10. Strange Attractor

A strange sound alike to a record being set appears, quickly passing into the mix of her dreamy style with added tempo and heaviness, just like in Yuki Toki, except the seemingly gothic-like second verse. Accordingly, her vocals aren't as distant and silent, but nevertheless have the same colour that would otherwise be heard. Strange Attractor is, unfortunately, the scapegoat track in the album, not being original like its predecessors.
Rating: 7

11. Kuoria

Kuoria is opened by a silent piano, which, by the usage of it across all of her songs is one of the main elements in her music. After a repetition of just two or three tones, ambiental synthage and occasional bells are added, harmonizing with Nagi's reserved, quiet voice. So little things are going on, the arrangement is so empty, yet the track is effective and attention-grabbing, even though it clocks at over six minutes. As to add quirks to the already established melodics, bells take on the piano melody, being a change and a marking sign, because the relaxing and serene element obscures the verse/chorus formation once again.
Rating: 9

12. Translucent

We yet again get a piano intro, though this time with a somewhat sadder, more rhythmic melody. This track could probably be the first slower song we could actually call a ballad, as it is pleasant and actually very simple. Quietly, Nagi's background vocals sing "translucent" in the background, and when the actual singing starts up again, it is empowered with a catchy melody.
Rating: 8

13. Vidro Moyou

Whispy background vocals and synths with bells open the track, but now with a beat to it and a significantly faster tempo, alike your average ED theme. Nagi's voice is a bit more pushed back relating to the arrangement, but only so we can hear the full strength of it, ranging from very 80s like electronic sections to a strange, repetitive bass with a modern sound, hence the quite strong transitions in the middle eight section, revealing the final chorus. Vidro Moyou was her first major release, so I don't blame it for the lack of her signature style, but it still shows some signs of it, like a spice to the standard format.
Rating: 7

14. Uso

Closing the album, we have a mute, deep, baby-like relaxing background, coupled with somewhat stronger drums and heavier piano sequences. Uso is significantly shorter than any other song on the album, being only about three minutes long, and serving as an outro, but it stills remain an interesting listen, as the occasional chanting even becomes the part of the very instrumentation, and the sections where all the tempo is lost, and bells are added, as to sum up all the quirks one can find in a Nagi Yanagi song. Surprisingly, her vocals are actually filtered, and not just supported by the choir for the first time, but they still ensure a soothing, pleasant ending.
Rating: 9

Nagi has nicely surprised me with her first major album, compiling everything good about her style, and even adding more, which the string of several songs, all rated with a 10 show. Everything is looking good so far, and I am eager for her next release.

Favourite songs (in no special order):

concent
helvetica
Ambivalentidea
Zoetrope

Least favourite songs:

Yuki Toki
Vidro Moyou

My overall rating is: 9

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29 July 2013

Nana Mizuki - Vitalization

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G OP
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 ED (Track no. 2)

Tracklist:

1. Vitalization
2. Ai no Hoshi
3. Dramatic Love

1. Vitalization

Even after several attempts to write about it, Vitalization still manages to slip through with its overwhelming amount of epic, making it next to impossible to do justice to. A chopped-up pile of heavy synthage opens the track, exploding into a suddenly deep ambient and Nana's almost operatic vocals. Being even crazier than Synchrogazer, the complex arrangement utilizes every imaginable kind of techno and electronic samples, from 8-bit chips, over sub-woofers and extremely hard, strong dubstep sequences right before the salve of the insanely fast, seizure-inducing chorus. As not to forget the roots of her music, on the top of all the trancelike spins a single hypnotic violin is added as well, making another venture into techno-anison. In contrast, Nana's voice flawlessly slips from heavily layered tones to the impressive pureness similar even to one of Yuki Kajiura's vocalists. Summing up, the effectiveness of it might just be present there because it's all new and unique, but it will definitely be present in the legends as one of her best songs, and a masterpiece.
Rating: 10

2. Ai no Hoshi


Suddenly, the atmosphere completely changes, with a silent piano slowly playing in the background accompanied by a touching violin. The dreamlike, soft scenery gains a bit of tempo afterwards, joined by drums and an acoustic guitar, and even a harp, but it still leaves the serene impression unimpaired. Accordingly, Nana's vocals have the main spotlight here, soaring up to heights and returning even deeper, all while following the moving melody and tear-jerking chord progressions which make this song so special. The fans are somewhat split on either Ai no Hoshi or Vitalization being the better song, but all I can say is that it's definitely up to the challenge of the famous tie-in it was given.
Rating: 10

3. Dramatic Love

Closing the single, Dramatic Love is perhaps a bit of a load-off for Nana because of the lack of the overall seriousness and vocals stunts, being more like an upbeat, filtered version of DISCOTHEQUE mixed with the 80s catchy charm. For some reason, aside the uplifting and happy instrumentation, heavily techno-related elements from Vitalization appear occasionally, such as deep pulsations, slightly noticeable dubstep and such, which together with the piano and bells creates a quirky game-like feeling, especially in the middle eight section. There are some unusual harmonies present, but the song is very enjoyable and caters to her more J-pop oriented fans. 
Rating: 9

Considering this single is yet to officially come out in Japanese stores and charts, fingers crossed that it will reach the #1 spot it definitely deserves. I was rather too rash to say Jiyuu e no Shingeki is the best single of the season, since Vitalization has a fair chance at beating it, especially in the eyes of a devoted fan. My overall rating is: 10 - RECOMMENDED.

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25 July 2013

May'n - ViViD

Blood Lad OP

Tracklist:

1. ViViD
2. Wild Rose
3. ViViD (without May'n)
4. Wild Rose (without May'n)

1. ViViD

An impending intro joined by a western-style guitar open the Blood Lad theme song, unraveling into Mayn's signature uplifting  techno-dance beat mixed with light rock passages. As if it were from any J-pop singer, its catchiness and may actually be the main selling point, as the track switches from happy to relatively serious in a short amount of time. Unsurprisingly, though, the vocals, after climbing up in quality with her previous singles, remain consistently powerful and versatile, especially in one moment where she hits a very high tone, followed by a harder electric guitar sequence, and wrapping up the final chorus filled with unusual harmonies including the filtered supporting vocals. Overall, it's a bit simple and short when compared to most of anison, but still quite enjoyable.
Rating: 8

2. Wild Rose

In contrast with ViViD's energy, the next track starts silently, with a touching piano intro over subdued strings and bells. As the song progresses more, a rich arrangement appears adding acoustic guitars and even more strings with the slow tempo. In contrast, here, May'n switches from her dominant vibrato capability to a unique whispery vocal colour, which perfectly suits such a relaxing piece. Ending the same way it started, it gives the impression that it could very well be used in an anime as an ending theme, although the title is mistaken with the intentions and emotions this track reflects.
Rating: 9

In the sea of generic B-side ballad finishers, Wild Rose stands out, even surpassing ViViD in my eyes. This being either the third of the fifth single in this era, depending on if you count the digital ones, it seems it's already about time for a new album from May'n, which I am expecting to be of the same quality. My overall rating is: 8 ½

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23 July 2013

ALI PROJECT - Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai

Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen OP

Tracklist:

1. Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai
2. Fraulein Rose
3. Otome no Aganai

1. Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai

A gliding violin introduction sets the uplifting, yet slightly creepy atmosphere for a catchy synth melody followed by Arika's singing. Although it's more of their Light Alice style than the heavy gothic music we usually expect, it still follows some eccentric chord progressions utilizing bells in the midst of a seemingly cheerful melody, making it quite similar to their previous single, and perfect for the grim setting of the Rozen Maiden anime. Especially for a newcomer to their music, Arika's vocals may seem thin and inconsistent, but she again proves, despite her age and long career, that she can still perform the vocal stunts and even have an excellent vibrato capability. The strange ambiental noise and distorted guitars that have been following the instrumentation through the whole track are expressed at the final chorus, wrapping up the song in a mysterious fashion.
Rating: 9

2. Fraulein Rose

Silently, Fraulein Rose makes its entrance with a deep, relaxing piano, and, judging by the title, is also somewhat Rozen Maiden-themed, despite not being a tie-in. On the contrary of such a deep arrangement, Arika sings even higher this time, with a fairy tale-like dreamy choir backing her up, until the tempo and an acoustic guitar set in. This track is much of their usual style, but still has that one bit of melancholy and the strange, scary heavy gothic moments. Instead of the usual vocal filtering and layering, Arika reaches very high without her voice actually going into falsetto, and the same choir is silently being added every time an effective transition needs to be made. Suddenly, the mood is broken by an explosive, dark theme including strings much deeper than we've been able to hear, but not a long time passes before the serene ambient returns.
Rating: 10

3. Otome no Aganai

The big violin orchestra unravels, following a melody very much like the main melody of Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai. Slowly, everything starts getting heavier and heavier with more classical music-like crescendos and dramatic effects, before it returns to the restful thematic. Unfortunately, the third track in the single isn't anything especially memorable, but it's worth listening to even if only for the haunting arrangement, and the usage of Arika's light voice once again. 
Rating: 8

If Arika with her 50 years of age can do music this excellent, to the point where the worst track in the single still deserves an 8, then she surely sets the bar higher for any other musician. My overall rating is: 9.

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19 July 2013

Luna Haruna - Ai wo Utae

Monogatari 2 ED

Tracklist:

1. Ai wo Utae
2. Koi no Senshi
3. Uchiage Hanabi
4. Ai wo Utae -Instrumental-

1. Ai wo Utae

I had myself wondering if I played the right single, since Luna's new song is absolutely nothing like any material she has released in the past. With the uplifting rock guitar and the noticeable violin to make it all closer to usual anison, this sounds very much like something LiSA would release. However, this actually works against her vocal power, since it doesn't have the chance to shine due to the simpler melody, even with the excellent colour. Ai wo Utae could be a nice song by itself, but the attempt of merging her extremely artistic profile (Yuki Kajiura, anyone?) with somewhat cheap pop-rock is unfortunate. If she wants to do heavier stuff, it would definitely work better if she went down the path of gothic metal, like we've been able to see in her past single, than jump right into the mainstream.
Rating: 7

2. Koi no Senshi

A quirky piano glissando opens up the next track, followed by an acoustic guitar and the cheerful hand clapping which immediately raise a red flag for something sugary and cute once again. It pretty much tries to copy the previous song, except for the simpler arrangement and only a bit more upbeat rhythm. Luna can definitely do much better, as this song made it presence only when playing, while leaving nothing memorable and noteworthy behind.  
Rating: 4

3. Uchiage Hanabi

This would be the usual ballad which would wrap up the single, but instead of more of the same, we get something more melancholic, quiet, and the Luna Haruna we're used to. Being quite relaxing and dreamy, the piano and even some silent synths play in mid-tempo over the beautiful, touching melody, and the clear vocals, which are finally filterless. Surprisingly, the chorus provides a very catchy melody, but without utilizing any of the standard chord progressions. It appears the final song is the best one of all three, and is already making a music video on itself, being very reminiscent of autumn and falling leaves.
Rating: 9

Where did our Gothic Lolita Kajiuran go? It's not like her composers don't have the ability to make good songs anymore; it's the probable attempt to copy some of her labelmates which have succeeded with ani-rock. Well, at least they had the decency to make the cover look cheesy, as to show what's mostly inside the package. My overall rating is: 7.

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22 November 2013

Hiatus

Seeing as I'm pretty much overflown with school at the moment, and don't want to just disappear like that from the face of the Internet, I declare Japanese Melodia on hiatus. Not a particularly long one, mind you. I hope to see you soon!

9 November 2013

ClariS - Colorful

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica The Movie III : Rebellion OP

Tracklist:

1. Colorful
2. Surely
3. Pieces
4. Colourful - Instrumental -

1. Colorful

After a quick and playful music box intro, bells start off and unravel into a routine anison arrangement, complete with violins and acoustic guitars, with the bass quietly heard in the background, making the track a bit different from their usual electro-pop style. Fortunately, their vocals here are, instead attempting cuteness, more mature and deep sounding, like proper grown-up singers, but still provide energy to the catchy chorus. Although the song is a pleasant listen, and has a nostalgic tone to it, it's nothing special or quite original, and, in character, unfit for a series such as Madoka Magica (though, the problem with an unfit opening was present ever since the first anime episode).
Rating: 7

2. Surely

Clara's and Alice's vocals begin in unison, in a calm, broad arrangement, and becomes a song very similar to Colorful, except the focus is more on the acoustic instrumentals and the mid-tempo rather than full anison. With the song being relatively generic J-pop, the fact that it was a chore listening to it because it can be quite boring at times, and that there are very little differing elements to describe in the actual review, it doesn't earn any higher status than a scapegoat B-side.
Rating: 5

3. Pieces

Yet again, another completely unimaginative affair, barely differing from the previous two songs except for a slight change in the melody lines.
Rating: 1

I'm not having a fit of writer's block, but I am thinking of employing Konno's method for all such generic releases, since track-by-track reviews are almost always fruitless. As with livetune, ClariS will not get reviewed here anymore, despite the fact they get pretty big tie-ins.
My overall rating is: 4
Will I return for an another listen: No.

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6 November 2013

Minori Chihara - Kyoukai no Kanata

Kyoukai no Kanata OP
Kyoukai no Kanata IN

Tracklist:

1. Kyoukai no Kanata
2. NO LINE
3. Kyoukai no Kanata (Instrumental)
4. NO LINE (Instrumental)

1. Kyoukai no Kanata

Minori's calm, serene voice opens to an acoustic piano background, soon gaining a strong drum tempo and unraveling into a cheerful, laid-back arrangement. Including a violin in the chorus as well, which is actually the most active element of the instrumentation, it becomes usual anison with an added guitar solo near the end of the track. Unfortunately, except for the intro and outro, Minori's vocals are constantly under filters and with background, surprisingly varying in colour between soaring and powerful to cute and nasal, as they are not really the main representative point of the whole track. After quite an uncreative middle eight section with a very simple bridge, the final chorus is accomplished only by repeating the intro melody once again, with a prolonged ending annoyingly present, like in her previous single.
Rating: 7

2. NO LINE

A powerful pace suddenly appears, struggling to subdue the guitars and Minori under techno filters, until it explodes into the main melody. With barely anything else present, forceful, sometimes distorted guitars and drums are dominant, although the verse is calmer in terms of raw power, while the chorus is intensive, catchy and quite Faylan-like. Sadly, the second verse and chorus, with its many inappropriate  and uninspired variations feel unfit, and even the vocals seem worse and untrained after hearing the short version so many times. Opening the middle eight are alternating, distorted chords with Minori's vocals filtered up to obscurity, although, the only high point of it is another great guitar solo, until the song finishes off with yet another completely uncalled for elongation.
Rating: 6

A few mistakes here and there are allowed, but Minori's team lately seems to be continually (and intentionally?) making them, with either the songs getting too strained or too dull, constant excessive snippets in the songs at their end, and, overall making bad composure decisions and ruining a good song, as we can see in NO LINE. 
My overall rating is: 6 ½
Will I return for an another listen: Maybe.

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4 November 2013

ZAQ - Extra Revolution

Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita OP

Tracklist:

1. Extra Revolution
2. Namida Note
3. Candy Rain
4. Extra Revolution (Off Vocal)

1. Extra Revolution

Chaotically disharmonic synths open the song, untangling in a really light, cheerful electronic-pop track. Even for a pop song, the instrumentation is surprisingly simple, with only a thin piano following one or two lines of synths, but perfect for the cute and upbeat melody. ZAQ's voice is, accordingly, much higher in pitch, and successfully avoids nasal channeling, present with many singers who badly attempt to sing like this. Although the arrangement somewhat widens afterwards, it still retains the same character for the remarkably catchy chorus, and the heavier middle eight section, with a trance buildup to another burst of liveliness.
Rating: 9

2. Namida Note

A single ambiental synth and drop sounds start off, with a piano joining in coupled with ZAQ's distant voice, and soon turbulently circulating into a mid-tempo track. Compared to Extra Revolution, the vocals are much deeper and more dense and expressive, also doubling as a support at the final chorus in a jazzy manner, which makes them even more enjoyable than usual. Only one listen will give the impression of your usual pop arrangement, although, when cleared up, the instrumentation is much more exotic, with quiet synths in the background following an acoustic guitar, all while the violin joins in the middle eight section to the slow, marching tempo. Namida Note is, with its laid-back tone quite relaxing, and is another great track.
Rating: 9

3. Candy Rain

Finishing up the single, an acoustic guitar once again starts, but this time in almost a dubstep manner, and as if it were a background to a rap song, until it unravels into another ambiental, deep and relaxing arrangement, but with ZAQ singing an unusual mix of silent and very cute. The combination of the two sounds quite J-pop and like something Perfume might release, but, unfortunately, it's not as inventive in its cuteness, although interesting rhytmic figures and chromatic progressions are stretched out through the whole track. With the melody lines being somewhat generic as well, I'm not a big fan of the third track overall.
Rating: 6

This time around, we get another great release from the singer who actually writes and composes her own tracks; a very rare thing in pop music, and succeeds in it. With several singles already out beforehand, I'm hoping for an album soon as well.
My overall rating is: 8
Will I return for an another listen: Yes.

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28 October 2013

GRANRODEO - The Other self

Kuroko no Basuke 2 OP

Tracklist:

1. The Other self
2. DAWN GATE "Unfinished"
3. The Other self [OFF VOCAL]
4. DAWN GATE "Unfinished" [OFF VOCAL]

1. The Other self

An abrupt twisting over the guitar tones quickly bursts into a cheerful rocky arrangement, unfortunately consisting of exclusively guitars, with not as much variety as Henai no Rondo has, but still well fitting for an anime like Kuroko no Basuke. As the guitars follow through the fast tempo, Kishow's vocals do it as well, being exceptional as usual, but still somewhat nasal occasionally, especially in the English-infused chorus lyrics and shouts. Most of the track is just something simply pleasant I wouldn't normally return to, but the remarkably fast, long and skillful guitar solo in the middle eight section saves the song, and builds up to the final chorus, ending with a prolonged uplifting melody piece.
Rating: 8

2. DAWN GATE "Unfinished"

The next track starts subdued, with only a single guitar in play until it gains a trance-like rhythm and a retro, melancholic guitar chord progression with a western melody, being very reminiscent of older rock music. Fortunately, Kishow's vocals are here much clearer and also somewhat deeper, even including some vibrato and varying between soft and deep colours, but, aside that, the only other thing particularly noticeable is a mixed up structure as far as verses and choruses go. Maybe it's just a matter of taste or the fact that it's not ani-rock in the rock subgenres, but this song still doesn't leave a particular impression on me.
Rating: 6

Fanservice anime like Free! and Kuroko no Basuke (no matter how much I do or don't like them as a genre) usually don't have artistically-oriented music, and that reflects in how The Other self is composed when compared to Henai no Rondo, and even DARK SHAME. Overall, it's not a bad release but I'm definitely looking forward to better.
My overall rating is: 7.
Will I return for an another listen: Probably not.

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25 October 2013

Faylan - BLUE BLAZE / BELIEVE

BlazBlue: Alter Memory OP
Ragnarok World Championship 2013 theme

Tracklist:

1. BLUE BLAZE 
2. BELIEVE        

1. BLUE BLAZE

A sharp  industrial sequence opens, unraveling in an energetically catchy techno-rock arrangement. Along with the extremely catchy melody, Faylan's voice is coupled, sounding much more powerful than usual, and, for a change, rising to bigger heights without sounding overly nasal. Contrasting to the plain instrumentation from "wonder fang", we are presented with a chaotic mix of dubstep and rock, but still even measuring up to metal at certain moments, with several calm places through the song crossed with disharmonic synthage. Right before the final chorus, in a relatively dormant passage, a severely intense dubstep breakdown comes in completel unexpected, with Faylan counting down before several guitar chords break the melody and resolve the track, ending with the same catchy techno-induced theme from the beginning. Maybe it's just the impression from listening to it only for a few days, but BLUE BLAZE could as well be my new favourite Faylan song. 
Rating: 10

2. BELIEVE

Continuing from the silence that the previous track left is with, violins build up in a pleasant fantasy-anison arrangement, adding subdued guitars, flowing bells as decoration and even a choir singing in English (I'm pretty sure it's not just Faylan with filters). Although BELIEVE is much more cheerful and uplifting, with a very rich instrumentation it becomes quite strong in a moment, very similar to WHITE Justice. As Faylan's vocals are backed by the choir, it sounds even more heroic and triumphant, perfectly fitting an epic fantasy game Ragnarok Online is.
Rating: 9

It's such a refreshment to see a BlazBlue tie-in finally be the A-side, and it shows by the effort that was put into it. Faylan has been releasing great music lately, and BLUE BLAZE / BELIEVE is no exception.
My overall rating is: 10 - RECOMMENDED
Will I return for an another listen: Definitely.

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22 October 2013

T.M. Revolution x Nana Mizuki - Kakumei Dualism

Valrave the Liberator 2 OP 

Tracklist:

Type A ~
1. Kakumei Dualism
2. Kakumei Dualism (Tv Size)

~ Type C ~
2. Kakumei Dualism (Nana Mizuki Only)
3. Kakumei Dualism (T.M. Revolution Only)

1. Kakumei Dualism

Subdued guitar chords open the song, along with Nana's vocal lead, followed by T.M., who involves way too much excessive vibrato, making him sound ridiculous and amateur, until the song unravels in a strong, ani-rock arrangement. With dominating guitars and violins present in the background, this may be more of both of their domains, as opposed to the techno-inspired Preserved Roses, which incorporated less elements of anison and more of J-pop. Although, as brimming with energy as it is at every corner, the melody sounds too forced and an artificial gain of energy and strength, unlike the sudden breakdown in the middle eight section continuing into harmonies I'd prefer for the whole track instead of the already present ones. Kakumei Dualism, again, sounds more commercial and less artistic, and, even though it will eventually grow on me, it will become boring fast as well.
Rating: 8

2. Kakumei Dualism (Nana Mizuki Only) & 3. Kakumei Dualism (T.M. Revolution Only)

Unfortunately, as with the previous collaboration, the parts where one sings is left out in the other version, as I'd love to hear Nana exclusively sing the whole song, since T.M. performed poorly. On the other hand, his part sounds almost comedic and like a parody to a good vibrato and vocal control.
Rating: Unrated

It's a shame that music from two such renowned artists will be bought mostly because it's popular and mainstream, not because it actually has much artistic value like they separately do.
My overall rating is: 8
Will I return for an another listen: Maybe.

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20 October 2013

Aya Hirano - Promise

Kita Kitsune Monogatari Ashita e IN

Tracklist:

1. Promise
2. Takaramono
3. Up To Date
4. Promise -Instrumental-
5. Takaramono -Instrumental-

1. Promise

A silent piano opens the first track, lonely in its chord progressions until it's joined by the standard instrumentation of the acoustic guitar and violins. Although its framework is somewhat generic ambiental melodies and a simple melodic structure, Aya has succeeded in taming her deep and wild voice into a slower tempo, as it is linked with background vocals, especially in the chorus. Nothing notably eventful happens until, unexpectedly, the middle eight section starts with a too dramatic transition for a soft ballad like this one, but afterwards breaks down into a vocal-only cadence which gains tempo and concludes the song.
Rating: 6 ½

2. Takaramono

Commencing the next song is a quirky, lullaby-like synth and an acoustic guitar, which, contrary to the expectations of another ballad, pick up and gain a mid-tempo dance rhythm. This intro is unusually stretched out, as it slowly builds up to the place where Aya's vocals finally join in with the melody, as if this was an instrumental version halfway, and quite suddenly enter the chorus after only a few lines, without a tie to the previous melody. Accordingly, her voice is being filtered and backed-up all the time to give a dreamy feel to the track, even though it already had a laid-back character. Promise and Takaramono are very similar, but Takaramono takes the win for that slight dash of originality not present in the A-side.
Rating: 7

3. Up To Date

Wrapping up the single with a third song, a fast, impending intro sets off and turns into a cheerful, rocky guitar chord swap. After two more J-pop oriented songs, it's welcome to hear her main style again with this kind of an uplifting rock track, which carries the anison atmosphere with it. Even though the background vocals are over-layered so much they sound almost like a male voice, Aya lets her full strength loose, as she climbs to bigger heights and hits multiple vibrato in the duration of the song. It's not one of her best yet, but Up To Date does carry a pleasant sound of her past.
Rating: 7

Ever since her label shift, Aya hasn't gotten a single anime tie-in, which reflects in how her songs are mostly turning out lately; recycled and cliche (Hoshikuzu Garandou is excluded from this, fortunately), with an occasional return to her old style.
My overall rating is: 7.
Will I return for an another listen: No.

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7 October 2013

Kawano Marina - Sono Koe wo Oboeteru

Monogatari Series 2 ED

Tracklist:

1. Sono Koe wo Oboeteru
2. Kieru daydream - Acoustic Version
3. Sono Koe wo Oboeteru - Instrumental

1. Sono Koe wo Oboeteru

Without any previous intro, Marina's voice, deeper than usual and a playful piano open the first track, showing a more energetic tempo than your average ending theme has. Even though the arrangement is common anison, the catchy chorus crossed with occasional distorted guitars to add the kick and background vocals make the song much more balanced just so it doesn't seem cliched and boring, as the ideal measure of cheerfulness rarely comes by in a J-pop. I rarely like these types of tracks, but I would definitely return for another listen.
Rating: 8

2. Kieru daydream - Acoustic Version

A drum hit marks the start, as thin acoustic guitars open the melody an octave higher than it was in the original, providing much more of a laid-back character. Fortunately, Marina is going for more vocal originality here, with added jazz off-singing, but the static and lacking chord progression, missing some of the harmonies from the original make it much less fulfilling, even though the conversion was performed nicely. The acoustic version is pleasant, but too basic to transcompose the whole Kieru daydream.
Rating: 6

Marina is yet to show any specific image of her own, but her oncoming singles have all pushed through nicely. The only noticeable flaw in Sono Koe wo Oboeteru as a whole is that it's too short, as we get the A-side and a remix, without a new B-side track. My overall rating is: 7

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30 September 2013

Kalafina - Alleluia

Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin IN

Tracklist:

1. Alleluia
2. dolce

Live recordings not to be reviewed:

3. fairytale ~2012. Christmas LIVE ver.~
4. Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku  ~2012. Christmas LIVE ver.~

1. Alleluia

The new single from Kalafina starts off in a serene sound, with slow violins joining in and wielding their usual chord progressions. As the instrumentation grows stronger, Keiko's powerful vocals in contrast with a higher-pitched arrangement lead on, until subdued guitars unravel into a chorus with a single touching "Alleluia" sung by all three vocals. Though Hikaru and Wakana serve mostly as the backing to Keiko's voice and in the interludes, their impact is still present in the track, which employs optimistic and uplifting anison-ballad instrumentals rather than the expected sadder, neoclassical tone. I was hoping for an emotional roller coaster after Consolation heightened my expectations, but another ballad in their opus does just fine as well.
Rating: 8

2. dolce

An eerie, mysterious sound opens, with only several thin synths and occasional bells to support it, before uplifting choral sequences ensue in a harmony completely separate from the instrumental background. Although having a familiar feel, like a mix of Madoka Magica soundtrack elements (specifically, Credens Justitiam, even having the similar track length) and Hikari Furu, the chorus becomes quite more dramatic and serious than the cheerful verses, providing more excitement in a melodic sense than Alleluia. Complexity may be Yuki Kajiura's middle name, but sometimes the most simple things are the best attention-keepers.
Rating: 10

By now we're all used to Kalafina being impeccable all the time, so, summed up, the only minor flaw that exists is that perhaps Alleluia could of been a little more inventive. My overall rating is: 9.

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17 September 2013

TKDz2b feat. The 49ers - Never Say Never


Danganronpa The Animation OP

Tracklist:

1. DANGANRONPA
2. Never Say Never
3. Never Say Never ~Instrumental

1. DANGANRONPA

A prelude to the actual opening theme opens quietly, as deep synths unwind, until resounding bass turns the track into a mix of Nagi Yanagi-like surrealism crossed with haunting female voices and usual gritty trance. Several melodic sections intertwine as the three-minute listen goes on, and the game music character reminds of some darker and more realistic JRPGs, most so of The World Ends With You, only with added guitars. The song is ended with a single hanging tone, making room for the next track with anticipation.
Rating: 8

2. Never Say Never

Continuing on from the trancy atmosphere, Never Say Never speeds up and continues into exclusively English rapping with catchy lyrics, and, most importantly, very symbolic and related to the anime. Contrasting the verses, which there aren't much of anyway because of the song's barely bigger length than DANGANRONPA, the chorus is sung instead with strong female vocals backed with subdued guitars, which appear otherwise just as chanting without words spread throughout the song, and chip away as the track ends. I'm not usually a fan of English-only anime songs, but, I have to admit that this one is definitely noteworthy, if even only for the proper pronunciation and avoidance of EngRish.
Rating: 9

Danganronpa has captivated me both as an anime and as a game, and now it's the turn of the OST in line. My overall rating is: 8 ½

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11 September 2013

cinema staff - great escape

Shingeki no Kyojin ED2

Tracklist:

1. great escape
2. cinema staff [Bokutachi no Hihou] tour Final (will not be reviewed as it's a live recording of 8 tracks)

1. great escape

A forceful drum entrance sets the way for an extremely fast and strong guitar solo, all until the verse sets down in a laid-back fashion mixed with occasional bits of rock guitars. The vocalist has a colour somewhere between your average pop singer and a full-blown rock vocalist, suiting the catchy but not overly hard hitting chorus (or most parts of the song, for that matter). Unfortunately, though the arrangement is promising, the track remains relatively unmemorable, and doesn't convey the emotions shown in the anime one bit as Utsukushiki Zankoku no Sekai does, and the fact that it's much shorter doesn't help at all, as only certain elements of the track are listen-worthy.
Rating: 5

It's a real shame that great escape would be the only imposter among the masterfully done opening and ending themes. My overall rating is: 5

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7 September 2013

fripSide - eternal reality

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S OP2

Tracklist:

- Regular Edition -
1. eternal reality
2. Scorching Heart
3. eternal reality -TV size-
4. Scorching Heart -Instrumental-

- Limited Edition -
1. eternal reality
2. Coupling Tune A
3. eternal reality -TV size-
4. eternal reality -Instrumental-

1. eternal reality

Wow, another single in such a (relatively) short notice? I was barely finished rotating sister's noise when eternal reality opens with a usual fripSide instrumental, except the atmosphere is slightly happier and more anison when compared to the first opening. SAT, unfortunately, has an unchanged formula here, and, if I had to choose a previous Railgun song to compare it to, another average fripSide A-side would be LEVEL-5 Judgelight; the arrangement has no innovations whatsoever, while Yoshino is thin and faltering when singing, and the partial absence of filters doesn't help. 
Rating: 6

2. Scorching Heart (Regular)

A darker ambient ensues, utilizing more of fripSide's rockier style than the usual techno, with the guitars being quite subdued to fit the dance sequences, but still noticeable. Sadly, at least in the verses, the arrangement is the only thing that distinguishes the song from their overused cadences, before the chorus comes in using a standard pop chord progression, which, at least in this case, is a new thing. Yoshino is filtered the whole time, with even a slight vocoding layer to emphasize the robotic feel of it, but the vocals haven't exactly been the highlight of fripSide's song anyways, so the change is barely discernible. Following the second chorus is an almost non-existing middle eight section, which is only bridged by a small vocal-only part and Yoshino's whisper before wrapping up the track.
Rating: 7

2. Coupling Tune A (Limited)

In spite of the somewhat generic soundtrack name, Coupling Tune A is very much a full song. Opening with Yoshino singing to a synthy background, it made me wonder if it's the same singer in question, as she opens very deeply, suiting the dark atmosphere. Unlike the previous two tracks, this song turns more towards trance than anison, which is that missing originality and spirit, and is easily detected by the constant bass hitting in the background and the unusual lack of guitar and piano until right before the chorus. Fortunately, Yoshino acts as a real trance vocalist for once, as her vocals are quite subdued, especially in bridges, and used more as a background and an addition to the instrumentals. Of course, you can't have a fripSide song without a guitar solo in the middle eight section, but it doesn't break the overall flow of the track, or steal the spotlight to cheerless synthage which shows the serious, dramatic side To Aru Kagaku no Railgun can sometimes have.
Rating: 9

Unlike sister's noise, the very opening to the show was somewhat disappointing this time around, but Coupling Tune A makes up the listening time for all that was lacking in the previous two songs as, by far, the best song in the single. My overall rating is: 8.

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3 September 2013

ZAQ - Gekijouron

High School DXD OP2

Tracklist:

1. Gekijouron
2. Dokuyoruron
3. Shout to the top

1. Gekijouron

The first track opens heavily, with drums being in the spotlight and a silent piano in the background, before switching roles and unraveling in her signature electronic-pop style.  Even though Gekijouron has certain elements from Alteration, the impression as a whole gives off more melancholy and a certain sad tone, especially with ZAQ showing off her deeper registre and great control of it, including even occasional vibrato. The catchy, dramatic chorus is the highlight, employing rock guitars and making up for impact, along with the incredibly chaotic, fast and eargasmic piano solo from the middle eight section, speeding it up just by imagining her play on the piano, coupled with synths moving at the exact same speed. After the slow build up, hearing ZAQ's voice soar in the final chorus decides this as my new favourite from her.
Rating: 9

2. Dokuyoruron

After hearing the fast and exciting A-side, Dokuyoruron comes in as the calmer ballad in the single, and, fortunately, ZAQ's composing skills prevent it from being another generic one. Her voice is, contrasting the first track, this time higher and actually filtered, but the widening instrumentation makes up for the lack of vocal depth, with violins paired with heavy drums and even the choir present sporadically. While the strings are quite subdued in the background, often just playing a single tone, the always-present electronic part bursts in the chorus, completely covering the already hidden bass and other, high-pitched synths present almost all of the time. Wrapping up, everything stops as the vocals climb up for an octave and finish the track.
Rating: 7

3. Shout to the top

Immediately greeting us with something a bit stronger, ZAQ's much more nasal and cuter colour comes to notice, as well as vocoding, signifying that a usual pop song is ahead, utilizing nothing but synths and even cadences that can recognizably be from A-pop (that's probably what I'll call American pop from now on). Still, it manages to be interesting and catchy, and very much reminding of KOTOKO's BUCANEER. Here, with the presence of so much voice change from the natural tone, a strange difference arises as well, between the "very very high pitch" singing used in the background, presumably also by ZAQ, and the "very high pitch" one used in normal singing. This isn't perhaps varied as the other two tracks are, but it does have the element of fun while listening to it.
Rating: 8

I could as well list one of the reasons for having ZAQ as one of my favourite singers the fact that her idol was Minorin, but her self-composing ability is a rare one in today's anison, and is probably a valuable resource in Lantis, the bane of most good musicians. My overall rating is: 8.

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29 August 2013

Yuuka Nanri - Mother land

Valrave the Liberator IN

Tracklist:

1. Mother land

1. Mother land

Opening with a very calm, serene ambiental sound, as if the track was a relaxing meditation piece, Yuuka's voice joins in to form a few oriental-styled cadences with her collected voice as louder drums and violins overlap after a time for more of a classic anison arrangement. Even though she is working on an another anime, the whole track, and especially the touching chorus feels very much like something Chiaki Ishikawa would compose, bringing a melancholic overtone although the chorus consisted of intersecting tones Yuuka is singing in a choral way displays major chord progressions. As the middle eight section returns to the same melody and silence found at the beginning, bells and a waltzing tempo appear, making a dramatic transition to the final chorus.
Rating: 8

Mother land was perhaps designed to be only a follow-up to her main single previously released, but it has plenty of independent listening worth, even more so than BLOODY HOLIC. My overall rating is: 8.

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27 August 2013

Yuuka Nanri - BLOODY HOLIC

Blood Lad ED

Tracklist:

1. BLOODY HOLIC
2. snow wind
3. BLOODY HOLIC ~Without Vocal
4. snow wind ~Without Vocal

1. BLOODY HOLIC

Yuuka's thin voice coupled with a relaxing ambient opens the song, before several strong guitar chords interrupt and unravel into strong techno-rock with slightly gothic chord progressions. As the synthage dies down, the verse returns to a slower tempo, but we finally get to hear the vocals becoming a bit stronger and living up to the standard Yuki Kajiura set for her all the way back in FictionJunction, although the arrangement strays off that path, combining many elements from different styles, and coupling the piano with guitars and synths. Unfortunately, her voice becomes filtered once the song builds up to the chorus, but they are the needed strength since the instrumental is surprisingly absent with techno-rock, being much more subdued, and fitting into the middle eight section, which is crossed with very distorted but silent electric guitars and the piano. As the firstly unnoticeable whispers grow into a real Gregorian choir, the song slips into the serene environment from the beginning, followed by a short drum solo which returns us to the final chorus. BLOODY HOLIC is nothing especially epic, nor it strives to do so, but it's very pleasant overall. 
Rating: 7

2. snow wind

In contrast with the name "snow wind" with which we'd usually expect a seasonal ballad of sorts, after the unimposing introduction a rock-ish instrumentation is present but with it being subdued and overflown with ambiental synths, the atmosphere becomes quite melancholic, laid-back and shows the 80s retro charm all while the tempo-giving drums act as a layer present during the whole track. The B-side is actually better suited to Yuuka's vocals, as they aren't really suited to more outgoing, heavier style, and the nice, relaxing note of it ties everything together nicely.
Rating: 8

BLOODY HOLIC as a single may not stand out a lot, but it's a still a good addition and a worthy listen in Yuuka's discography. Perhaps snow wind got a higher mark purely for reminding me of the classics with its arrangement, which is rare nowadays. My overall rating is: 7 ½

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24 August 2013

Annabel - Alternative

Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen ED

Tracklist:

1. Alternative
2. Ao ni Tokeru
3. Alternative (Instrumental)
4. Ao ni Tokeru (Instrumental)

1. Alternative

A quiet, impending single frequency opens the first track before dissolving into a slow, serene but a bit creepy instrumentation with the constant company of unusual pulsing synths in the background. All while Annabel is singing with her whisper-like voice, not increasing her volume even when the arrangement is threatening to overwhelm her, the atmosphere gains a more powerful violin background similar to ALI PROJECT, although still retaining the dark spirit of the Rozen Maiden anime. Even though the melody is entrancing, clear classical music influences can be heard, especially in the middle eight, pairing high violins and the deep double bass, as the song ends with a silent harp, leaving a dreamy aftertaste. Alternative is an excellent impression, especially as this is my first time listening to a song of hers.
Rating: 9

2. Ao ni Tokeru

Changing things up from the haunting ambient we've been able to hear, Ao ni Tokeru appears with a silent flute and a quirky xylophone, as it slowly achieves a much faster tempo and becomes a catchy mix of anison and J-pop in the chorus. That being said, aside the arrangement, the melody sounds too frantic, random and disharmonic the whole time, losing on the laid-back and relaxing aspect of it in the beginning, while, surprisingly, being quite boring. The B-side doesn't come near the quality Alternative had.
Rating: 5

Annabel's style, at least how I see it in this single, is very similar to Nagi Yanagi, which is perhaps brought up by the fact that they were a musical duo once. Despite the somewhat failed Ao ni Tokeru, I am looking forward to reviewing her further works. My overall rating is: 7.

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15 August 2013

Vacation time!


During the next seven days, I'll be on vacation with little to no internet access, which, unfortunately, means I won't be able to review, tweet or check my email. Of course, as soon as I come back, I'll review everything I missed at the biggest speed humanly possible.

じゃね  (^▽^)

13 August 2013

Eri Kitamura - Birth

Kamisama no Inai Nichijoubi OP

Tracklist:

1. Birth
2. Lifetime Trader
3. Birth (Off Vocal Ver.)
4. Lifetime Trader (Off Vocal Ver.)

1. Birth

A haunting, deep intro sets the ground for church bells and chanting in English, very similar to Kalafina, before suddenly stopping and unraveling into a heavy rock section. Although the verse starts off with just a piano and Eri's unusually silent voice, the arrangement kicks in with almost metal-like distorted guitars and dreamy chanting, which is spread across the whole track, creating little interludes. Characteristically for her A-side songs, we get a catchy ani-rock chorus again, except the violin is a little less noticeable and involved this time, without strong grinding of it like in re;story, which transitions to the middle eight section completely devoted to the choir and building up with an effective, strong guitar solo. I'm quite glad she's following through with her initial stance and keeps releasing somewhat heavier, more rock-oriented music than most of her colleagues. 
Rating: 9

2. Lifetime Trader

Lifetime Trader takes in the ambient from Birth's introduction, except it's much more subtle and surreal, mixed with bells and creating something that sounds like an old Final Fantasy soundtrack piece, which is ruined interrupted by Eri's whispering and turns into an upbeat rock track. Perhaps for the first time, she is intentionally trying to make her colour similar to LiSA's, but it only makes her sound a bit silly and amateurish, especially when coupled with unnecessary male shouts as to give weight to her vocals which are already giving out. Not only is her voice a copy, but the whole melody and chord progression as well, being an obvious Frankenstein-like compound of the songs Veronica and LOVE&HATE from her debut album. A very strong, headbang-worthy middle eight sequence makes me feel even more sorry for the excellent instrumentation which could have been used in many different ways to make this track better.
Rating: 6

It may seem that her title tracks are still infallible, but the composing effort is showing signs of tiredness from following the same formula over and over again, as we get to see in Lifetime Trader. Playing the occasional card of LiSA-like rock is not bad, but the impression takes a toll if it's badly done. My overall rating is: 7 ½.

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11 August 2013

LiSA - träumerei

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyo OP

Tracklist:

1. träumerei
2. I doubt it
3. Yuuyake Nostalgia
4. träumerei (TV Size)


1. träumerei

Deep, haunting bells open the first track, with an introduction very similar to CHOIR JAIL, until the guitars and the upbeat rhythm completely take over in an ani-rock composition. Despite the arrangement consisting of only electric guitars and heavy drums, the catchy melody makes up for the variation, even after numerous listens. Unfortunately, we don't get to see much of LiSA's voice in its stunning clarity because it's filtered most of the time, aside the powerful, touching chorus where it does give the effect needed. Again in the middle eight section, the silent choir and the mysterious atmosphere appear again, slowly building up to a fast drum sequence, and unraveling into the final chorus, which is this time around accompanied by occasional background lines LiSA has sung as well. If I dare say with all those SAO fans out there, this is even better than "crossing field".
Rating: 10

2. I doubt it

Following on, restless with the waves of energy, "I doubt it" opens with a relaxing and melancholic intro, but quickly overturning the expectation of a ballad with  a few western-ish guitar chords followed by the serious and catchy verse. The second track shows off LiSA's other side, as it is much more explosive and aggressive, and more rock-oriented than anison when compared to träumerei. Likewise, her unmatched vocal colour for rock and an edgier image is utilized, along with a higher tone and great, although subtle vibrato skills. As to suit the whole track, the middle eight section is marked by an euphoric, extremely energetic guitar solo which climaxes as LiSA's soothing tone sings along to a laid-back environment before everything gets interrupted by strong chords and a chorus which is raised by an octave to achieve more momentum. It's rare to see a B-side being on the same level of quality as the title track.
Rating: 10

3. Yuuyake Nostalgia

Wrapping up the single is LiSA's singing to restful guitars in the background, being significantly slower than the previous tracks, but, don't be fooled, as the instrumentation gradually gains tempo and more of her cheerful, uplifting pop-rock taste in the chorus, Although this tries to please the part of the fanbase which finds pleasure in her cuter songs, it's not as memorable as ROCK-mode or WiLD CANDY, and the fact that it is barely 3 minutes long doesn't contribute at all. Ending with a kind of an unfinished feeling, it seems one track had to be a scapegoat. Well, at least it's not a ballad, alike to those LiSA has done in her previous single to fill up disk space, and it does serve its purpose.
Rating: 8

This is usually the place where I find myself commenting on the future of the artist in question, but all I can say is that LiSA never fails to impress me, and, if she continues like this, will be a worthy heir even to Nana-chan-kami-sama. My overall rating is: 9

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8 August 2013

Faylan - wonder fang

Hakkenden - Tohou Hakken Ibun 2 OP
BlazBlue: Chronophantasma OP 

Tracklist:

1. wonder fang
2. Blue Sanction
3. wonder fang (Off Vocal)
4. Blue Sanction (Off Vocal)

1. wonder fang

A sudden, violent, and somewhat westernized series of chords open the first track, appearing not as dark as Faylan's usual music, and actually a bit more uplifting. As usual, her vocals are dry and struggling, having an excellent colour for aggressive rock music, and sometimes achieve great distancing effects with the creative usage of voice filters. Unfortunately, even though the arrangement is filled with only hard electric guitars and strong percussions, aside from occasional synthage in the middle eight section, the melody itself isn't anything special or memorable, and the song is actually under the standard 4 minutes, showing that the composing level wasn't exactly high this time. God FATE, the first Hakkenden opening was much better, and I'd like to see more of that, not only mild effort.
Rating: 7

2. Blue Sanction

It appears that the BlazBlue tie-ins Faylan has are always better, at least in my eyes, from the main song in the single. The powerful mix of synths and filtered guitars which opens proves that, followed by a much harder, darker arrangement which can even parry a song from the GazettE, crossing into metal. Here, her voice is a bit more muffled by the strong instrumentation, but clears up in the verse which employs only drums and a piano until the distorted guitars interrupt. More complex melodies require stronger vocal utilization, especially in the catchy ani-rock element in the chorus. A powerful guitar solo marks the transition to the final chorus along with a buildup, crossing over Faylan's melancholic singing paired with a piano until it again unravels into a techno-rock salve, followed by an unusual outro melody. The variety and a boosted arrangement make Blue Sanction a much better track than the A-side, once again.
Rating: 9

If it weren't for the anime relation, the two songs could be switched, Blue Sanction would be the main one, and nobody would even notice. I'm not worried about Faylan's future works, though, since wonder fang was just a minor setback in the chain of excellent work. My overall rating is: 8

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4 August 2013

StylipS - Prism Sympathy

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya ED

Tracklist:

1. Prism Sympathy
2. Tsunagu Kizuna . Tsutsumu Kodoku
3. Brand-new Style!! ~Mahou Mitai na Show time~
4. Prism Sympathy (Inst.)
5. Tsunagu Kizuna . Tsutsumu Kodoku (Inst.)
6. Brand-new Style!! ~Mahou Mitai na Show time~ (Step Two/Inst.)

1. Prism Sympathy

Silent, synthy rotations open the first track, bursting into an upbeat, technopop idol track followed by a series of cheerful voices. As expected, besides the various electronic elements, rarely any other instrument is used in the arrangement, except perhaps the barely noticeable electric guitar. Although, no matter the instruments or the genre, everybody seems to use a dubstep breakdown somewhere in the song, even StylipS, though it's well-hidden behind the filtered unison of the vocals which barely do any soloing. Usually nothing more is expected of them, as the melody is somewhat simple and easy to perform. Hyper-kawaii isn't usually my style (well, besides Yukarin) but it's not that boring, and I can get around to listening to it more eventually.
Rating: 7

2. Tsunagu Kizuna . Tsutsumu Kodoku

More like usual anison, the piano and the violin make an introduction with a strange, off-key single note hidden in the melody. The track gains some tempo with an acoustic guitars, and several solos from different members, until the touching and catchy chorus unravels, being especially effective since it's sung in unison and dreamlike bells. I haven't really expected to hear such a song from StylipS (whom I have never heard a song from before), but it seems the classic anison element is present as well. Every verse ends with a piano chord, before everything climaxes into the effective middle eight breakdown with a rocky guitar involved. How can it be possible that this isn't a tie-in?
Rating: 8

3. Brand-new Style!! ~Mahou Mitai na Show time~

Finalizing the single, a more energetic start opens, being much more idol-like and... cheerleaderly (?) with all the bright, happy, diabetes-inducing unison of voices. Like a mix of the previous two tracks, Brand-new Style uses both light electric guitars but also recurring anison elements like the violin. With, once again, almost no solo vocal usage, every member overly aims for the perfect kawaii voice, but only ends up with too much nasal usage and a sugary, unmemorable colour. For some strange reason, which very well may be the chord progression in the chorus, this song reminds me of Minorin (but, lately, everything does).
Rating: 7

If it were any other idol-pop group, I'd probably frown at the very idea of reviewing a single of theirs, but StylipS fortunately managed a good debut here at Japanese Melodia. Of course, I am hoping for more material alike to the second track, which was my favourite. My overall rating is: 7

1 August 2013

Nagi Yanagi - Euaru



Tie-ins:
Track no. 2 - Yahari Ore no Seishun Lovekome wa Machigatteiru OP
Track no. 6 - Jormungand ED
Track no. 8 - Amnesia OP
Track no. 9 - Jormungand: Perfect Order ED
Track no. 13 - Ano Natsu de Matteru ED

Tracklist:

1. Hontou
2. Yuki Toki
3. Ao no Parade
4. concent
5. helvetica
6. Ambivalentidea
7. euaru
8. Zoetrope
9. Laterality
10. Strange Attractor
11. Kuoria
12. Translucent
13. Vidro Moyou
14. Uso

1. Hontou

A strange, impending frequency opens the album, almost like it's setting the ground for something explosive, but is interrupted by a silent piano playing a relaxing melody. Everything becomes dreamy and surreal, perfectly describing Nagi's main style, and prepares us for what's coming next, seeing that it's a mere introduction of almost 2 minutes.
Rating: 9

2. Yuki Toki

The instrumentation dies down for a moment, and revives itself with Nagi's cheerful singing. Every singer has stepped out of their usual style at least once, and Nagi's time has come now. Unlike Zoetrope or Laterality, among her upbeat tracks, this one represents an overused, generic anison style dominated by the piano and the violins. Strangely, though the atmosphere of the song is happy and cute, she doesn't try make her vocals nasal even once, which I'm thankful for, because her warm colour is very hard to achieve. Summing up, this is not bad, but at the same time nothing which hasn't been heard before. It's a real shame B-sides weren't included, because Surrealisme from the same single would do just as good as the "icebreaker" on the album.
Rating: 7

3. Ao no Parade

Surreal melodies appear again, with the single tone held by a violin while the synthy, fluttery environment unravels. As the entire ambient is fairy-tale like, it becomes very hard to describe completely, with the hypnotic, sudden style changes from the pleasant, happy one to the mysterious, enchanting one reminiscent of J-pop, and the chanting melody used in the middle eight sequence which greatly resembles one from the introduction. The track ends as if it were again to change in tempo, with a short, sharp piano chord, leaving us with a shortage of synonyms for the word "relaxing".
Rating: 9

4. concent

Leading on, a choppy, cut signal intermission starts, very much reminding like something that would be the theme of the Data Overmind from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, with the engulfing silence and space-like impression. As Nagi repeats the words like "concent", "concept" and "contact", the fleeing arrangement feels very thin in the ear, since everything is so silent and subdued, crossed occasionally just by a bit heavier piano chords. She doesn't make either ballads or techno, she makes weird songs in the best way possible, and that remains even when the instrumentation expands, becoming quite similar to Perfume at the end, being faster but just as attention-keeping.
Rating: 10

5. helvetica

Quietly, a serene atmosphere makes its way coupled with Nagi's very silent singing, being next to a whisper. With an incredibly relaxing and mystic charm, the ambient reveals and her singing slowly becomes a bit faster, with the rotating synthage in the background, while still retaining its calmness. Instead of adding a heavier instrumentation, the track grabs our attention with all of its little quirks, ranging from child-like chanting in the background presumably done by Nagi herself, to the sharp guitar chords which suddenly break the consistency of the track, ending with very slight and subdued dubstep. As everything becomes more silent, the single playing electronic frequency quickly rushes downwards in pitch, returning the mystique to the listen.
Rating: 10

6. Ambivalentidea

If Ambivalentidea were to progress the same way it started, calmly and quietly, it would continue the chain of peaceful, mysterious slow tracks, but, fortunately, the change of ambient is welcome. After the initial impression, the piano joins with a violin and suddenly stops, then revives itself again, in a repetitive fashion. As the track moves on, the repetitions become darker and more menacing, until the violin vibrato and Nagi's lamenting strongly evolve and gain an obvious tempo and loudness. The gothic chord progressions are crossed with the sharp, strong sighs of the ghastly background vocals, while the arrangement becomes even denser with power and subtle scares. As everything slowly dies down, the creepily orchestrated violin returns just for that single tone, and suddenly ends, making a scary but very unique, memorable experience.
Rating: 10

7. euaru

The title song is, unusually, located right in the middle of the album, and is one of her expected electronic-infused slow songs. Being quite similar to Surrealisme, the playful piano and the silent vocals create an enjoyable atmosphere, spiced up with some exotic harmonies. The chanting background fades away and mixes with the instruments, amplifying the dreamlike scenery, making the usual construction of the verses and the choruses obscured, as if it's non-existing. After a series of different musical themes, Nagi's voice returns, intentionally struggling with the overpowering chords and instruments, finishing with a mysterious end, like most of her songs do.
Rating: 9

8. Zoetrope

As the last tone of euaru becomes silent, the euphoria rises again when the violin orchestra and Nagi's wailing vocals open one of my favourite songs by her, quickly completely turning away from her usual style and becoming an extremely aggressive heavy rock song. As the tempo switches between mid and fast, the instrumentation crescends more and more until a silent, mysterious piano solo where the power of her unfiltered vocals is heard, before unraveling into a lamenting, serious and explosive chorus. Accordingly, with the quite emotional outburst, the violins sharply join in, intemperately playing a dark melody while making the church bells be even more expressed. After a series of heavy metal-like progressions, the middle eight section is a mix between the surreal harp and piano and the electric guitars, ending with the only place where the vocals are actually filtered, so much to the point where they become unrecognizable. I truly sometimes wonder how I hadn't noticed the greatness of Zoetrope right away when watching Amnesia for the first time.
Rating: 10

9. Laterality

Continuing on from Zoetrope's energy, seemingly random piano sequences overturn into a powerful, though a bit more commonly encountered, catchy ani-rock melody which is just a bit more optimistic than the previous track. For the first time in this album, Nagi's voice isn't only significantly stronger and higher, but is arranged to actually rise above the instruments, like most songs do, instead of being a part of them. Of course, no matter how rocky this may be, the roots of her music are present in the interludes, which are, just like in Zoetrope, piano-filled and there to create the mystery, alongside the jazz-like bass in the clubby atmosphere. Ending with random harmonies, just the way it began, Laterality is a great follow-up.
Rating: 9

10. Strange Attractor

A strange sound alike to a record being set appears, quickly passing into the mix of her dreamy style with added tempo and heaviness, just like in Yuki Toki, except the seemingly gothic-like second verse. Accordingly, her vocals aren't as distant and silent, but nevertheless have the same colour that would otherwise be heard. Strange Attractor is, unfortunately, the scapegoat track in the album, not being original like its predecessors.
Rating: 7

11. Kuoria

Kuoria is opened by a silent piano, which, by the usage of it across all of her songs is one of the main elements in her music. After a repetition of just two or three tones, ambiental synthage and occasional bells are added, harmonizing with Nagi's reserved, quiet voice. So little things are going on, the arrangement is so empty, yet the track is effective and attention-grabbing, even though it clocks at over six minutes. As to add quirks to the already established melodics, bells take on the piano melody, being a change and a marking sign, because the relaxing and serene element obscures the verse/chorus formation once again.
Rating: 9

12. Translucent

We yet again get a piano intro, though this time with a somewhat sadder, more rhythmic melody. This track could probably be the first slower song we could actually call a ballad, as it is pleasant and actually very simple. Quietly, Nagi's background vocals sing "translucent" in the background, and when the actual singing starts up again, it is empowered with a catchy melody.
Rating: 8

13. Vidro Moyou

Whispy background vocals and synths with bells open the track, but now with a beat to it and a significantly faster tempo, alike your average ED theme. Nagi's voice is a bit more pushed back relating to the arrangement, but only so we can hear the full strength of it, ranging from very 80s like electronic sections to a strange, repetitive bass with a modern sound, hence the quite strong transitions in the middle eight section, revealing the final chorus. Vidro Moyou was her first major release, so I don't blame it for the lack of her signature style, but it still shows some signs of it, like a spice to the standard format.
Rating: 7

14. Uso

Closing the album, we have a mute, deep, baby-like relaxing background, coupled with somewhat stronger drums and heavier piano sequences. Uso is significantly shorter than any other song on the album, being only about three minutes long, and serving as an outro, but it stills remain an interesting listen, as the occasional chanting even becomes the part of the very instrumentation, and the sections where all the tempo is lost, and bells are added, as to sum up all the quirks one can find in a Nagi Yanagi song. Surprisingly, her vocals are actually filtered, and not just supported by the choir for the first time, but they still ensure a soothing, pleasant ending.
Rating: 9

Nagi has nicely surprised me with her first major album, compiling everything good about her style, and even adding more, which the string of several songs, all rated with a 10 show. Everything is looking good so far, and I am eager for her next release.

Favourite songs (in no special order):

concent
helvetica
Ambivalentidea
Zoetrope

Least favourite songs:

Yuki Toki
Vidro Moyou

My overall rating is: 9

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29 July 2013

Nana Mizuki - Vitalization

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G OP
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 ED (Track no. 2)

Tracklist:

1. Vitalization
2. Ai no Hoshi
3. Dramatic Love

1. Vitalization

Even after several attempts to write about it, Vitalization still manages to slip through with its overwhelming amount of epic, making it next to impossible to do justice to. A chopped-up pile of heavy synthage opens the track, exploding into a suddenly deep ambient and Nana's almost operatic vocals. Being even crazier than Synchrogazer, the complex arrangement utilizes every imaginable kind of techno and electronic samples, from 8-bit chips, over sub-woofers and extremely hard, strong dubstep sequences right before the salve of the insanely fast, seizure-inducing chorus. As not to forget the roots of her music, on the top of all the trancelike spins a single hypnotic violin is added as well, making another venture into techno-anison. In contrast, Nana's voice flawlessly slips from heavily layered tones to the impressive pureness similar even to one of Yuki Kajiura's vocalists. Summing up, the effectiveness of it might just be present there because it's all new and unique, but it will definitely be present in the legends as one of her best songs, and a masterpiece.
Rating: 10

2. Ai no Hoshi


Suddenly, the atmosphere completely changes, with a silent piano slowly playing in the background accompanied by a touching violin. The dreamlike, soft scenery gains a bit of tempo afterwards, joined by drums and an acoustic guitar, and even a harp, but it still leaves the serene impression unimpaired. Accordingly, Nana's vocals have the main spotlight here, soaring up to heights and returning even deeper, all while following the moving melody and tear-jerking chord progressions which make this song so special. The fans are somewhat split on either Ai no Hoshi or Vitalization being the better song, but all I can say is that it's definitely up to the challenge of the famous tie-in it was given.
Rating: 10

3. Dramatic Love

Closing the single, Dramatic Love is perhaps a bit of a load-off for Nana because of the lack of the overall seriousness and vocals stunts, being more like an upbeat, filtered version of DISCOTHEQUE mixed with the 80s catchy charm. For some reason, aside the uplifting and happy instrumentation, heavily techno-related elements from Vitalization appear occasionally, such as deep pulsations, slightly noticeable dubstep and such, which together with the piano and bells creates a quirky game-like feeling, especially in the middle eight section. There are some unusual harmonies present, but the song is very enjoyable and caters to her more J-pop oriented fans. 
Rating: 9

Considering this single is yet to officially come out in Japanese stores and charts, fingers crossed that it will reach the #1 spot it definitely deserves. I was rather too rash to say Jiyuu e no Shingeki is the best single of the season, since Vitalization has a fair chance at beating it, especially in the eyes of a devoted fan. My overall rating is: 10 - RECOMMENDED.

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25 July 2013

May'n - ViViD

Blood Lad OP

Tracklist:

1. ViViD
2. Wild Rose
3. ViViD (without May'n)
4. Wild Rose (without May'n)

1. ViViD

An impending intro joined by a western-style guitar open the Blood Lad theme song, unraveling into Mayn's signature uplifting  techno-dance beat mixed with light rock passages. As if it were from any J-pop singer, its catchiness and may actually be the main selling point, as the track switches from happy to relatively serious in a short amount of time. Unsurprisingly, though, the vocals, after climbing up in quality with her previous singles, remain consistently powerful and versatile, especially in one moment where she hits a very high tone, followed by a harder electric guitar sequence, and wrapping up the final chorus filled with unusual harmonies including the filtered supporting vocals. Overall, it's a bit simple and short when compared to most of anison, but still quite enjoyable.
Rating: 8

2. Wild Rose

In contrast with ViViD's energy, the next track starts silently, with a touching piano intro over subdued strings and bells. As the song progresses more, a rich arrangement appears adding acoustic guitars and even more strings with the slow tempo. In contrast, here, May'n switches from her dominant vibrato capability to a unique whispery vocal colour, which perfectly suits such a relaxing piece. Ending the same way it started, it gives the impression that it could very well be used in an anime as an ending theme, although the title is mistaken with the intentions and emotions this track reflects.
Rating: 9

In the sea of generic B-side ballad finishers, Wild Rose stands out, even surpassing ViViD in my eyes. This being either the third of the fifth single in this era, depending on if you count the digital ones, it seems it's already about time for a new album from May'n, which I am expecting to be of the same quality. My overall rating is: 8 ½

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23 July 2013

ALI PROJECT - Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai

Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen OP

Tracklist:

1. Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai
2. Fraulein Rose
3. Otome no Aganai

1. Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai

A gliding violin introduction sets the uplifting, yet slightly creepy atmosphere for a catchy synth melody followed by Arika's singing. Although it's more of their Light Alice style than the heavy gothic music we usually expect, it still follows some eccentric chord progressions utilizing bells in the midst of a seemingly cheerful melody, making it quite similar to their previous single, and perfect for the grim setting of the Rozen Maiden anime. Especially for a newcomer to their music, Arika's vocals may seem thin and inconsistent, but she again proves, despite her age and long career, that she can still perform the vocal stunts and even have an excellent vibrato capability. The strange ambiental noise and distorted guitars that have been following the instrumentation through the whole track are expressed at the final chorus, wrapping up the song in a mysterious fashion.
Rating: 9

2. Fraulein Rose

Silently, Fraulein Rose makes its entrance with a deep, relaxing piano, and, judging by the title, is also somewhat Rozen Maiden-themed, despite not being a tie-in. On the contrary of such a deep arrangement, Arika sings even higher this time, with a fairy tale-like dreamy choir backing her up, until the tempo and an acoustic guitar set in. This track is much of their usual style, but still has that one bit of melancholy and the strange, scary heavy gothic moments. Instead of the usual vocal filtering and layering, Arika reaches very high without her voice actually going into falsetto, and the same choir is silently being added every time an effective transition needs to be made. Suddenly, the mood is broken by an explosive, dark theme including strings much deeper than we've been able to hear, but not a long time passes before the serene ambient returns.
Rating: 10

3. Otome no Aganai

The big violin orchestra unravels, following a melody very much like the main melody of Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai. Slowly, everything starts getting heavier and heavier with more classical music-like crescendos and dramatic effects, before it returns to the restful thematic. Unfortunately, the third track in the single isn't anything especially memorable, but it's worth listening to even if only for the haunting arrangement, and the usage of Arika's light voice once again. 
Rating: 8

If Arika with her 50 years of age can do music this excellent, to the point where the worst track in the single still deserves an 8, then she surely sets the bar higher for any other musician. My overall rating is: 9.

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19 July 2013

Luna Haruna - Ai wo Utae

Monogatari 2 ED

Tracklist:

1. Ai wo Utae
2. Koi no Senshi
3. Uchiage Hanabi
4. Ai wo Utae -Instrumental-

1. Ai wo Utae

I had myself wondering if I played the right single, since Luna's new song is absolutely nothing like any material she has released in the past. With the uplifting rock guitar and the noticeable violin to make it all closer to usual anison, this sounds very much like something LiSA would release. However, this actually works against her vocal power, since it doesn't have the chance to shine due to the simpler melody, even with the excellent colour. Ai wo Utae could be a nice song by itself, but the attempt of merging her extremely artistic profile (Yuki Kajiura, anyone?) with somewhat cheap pop-rock is unfortunate. If she wants to do heavier stuff, it would definitely work better if she went down the path of gothic metal, like we've been able to see in her past single, than jump right into the mainstream.
Rating: 7

2. Koi no Senshi

A quirky piano glissando opens up the next track, followed by an acoustic guitar and the cheerful hand clapping which immediately raise a red flag for something sugary and cute once again. It pretty much tries to copy the previous song, except for the simpler arrangement and only a bit more upbeat rhythm. Luna can definitely do much better, as this song made it presence only when playing, while leaving nothing memorable and noteworthy behind.  
Rating: 4

3. Uchiage Hanabi

This would be the usual ballad which would wrap up the single, but instead of more of the same, we get something more melancholic, quiet, and the Luna Haruna we're used to. Being quite relaxing and dreamy, the piano and even some silent synths play in mid-tempo over the beautiful, touching melody, and the clear vocals, which are finally filterless. Surprisingly, the chorus provides a very catchy melody, but without utilizing any of the standard chord progressions. It appears the final song is the best one of all three, and is already making a music video on itself, being very reminiscent of autumn and falling leaves.
Rating: 9

Where did our Gothic Lolita Kajiuran go? It's not like her composers don't have the ability to make good songs anymore; it's the probable attempt to copy some of her labelmates which have succeeded with ani-rock. Well, at least they had the decency to make the cover look cheesy, as to show what's mostly inside the package. My overall rating is: 7.

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