Posted by: 愛撫 | 08/29/07

Single review: Eiko Shimamiya – Naraku no Hana

Well, I’ve been thinking and it’s about that time – time, that is, to start writing reviews. To begin with, I’ve got the single Naraku no Hana, opening theme from horror anime Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai ( ひぐらしのなく頃に解). I’m using my default album/single-reviewing template here, so if anyone has any suggestions for how to better lay out reviews feel free to comment.

Eiko Shimamiya (島みやえい子) – Naraku no Hana (奈落の花) (2007, Frontier Works)

Naraku no Hana cover

Tracklisting:

1. 奈落の花

2. FLOW

3. 奈落の花 Instrumental

4. FLOW Instrumental

The review:

Eiko Shimamiya’s Higurashi no Naku Koro ni opening was amongst my first exposures to I’ve Sound – and from the very second those growling synthesizers started up, I knew it was something special. So right from the start there was a lot of pressure put on Naraku no Hana, its spiritual successor and Eiko’s second maxi-single with I’ve. Would it keep the feel of the original’s claustrophobic trip through the dark forest of Hinamizawa, horror-show piano buried under layers of bloodthirsty synthesizers and multi-tracked vocals surrounding you at every turn – or would it work more with the moments where Eiko’s voice was allowed to shine through, the ray of light cutting through the forest?

Early previews showed that the latter was very much the case – although nods to the original like backmasked vocals remained prevalent in this new song, the overwhelming theme was one of escape – if Higurashi no Naku Koro ni were the trip into the forest, Naraku no Hana is the frantic dash out from its depths. “Don’t blossom here”, Eiko says in the chorus* -Hinamizawa isn’t where you belong. And the previews didn’t lie – when the full song came along, sure enough Eiko was showing you the way out.

As for whether or not the redemptive theme makes for a better song, I personally think it did. The tenderness in Eiko’s voice on the chorus, the spurts of noise in the introduction, all the elements just come together so beautifully it’s hard to think of how it possibly could’ve been done any better. At least, for the A-side that was the case – for whatever reason, I’ve decided to put one of the most weirdly inappropriate songs in their 9-year history on the B-side. It’s called FLOW, and it’s the closest Eiko has ever come to sounding like a generic J-pop idol. The song itself is pretty stupid and inoffensive, but following such a beautiful song as Naraku no Hana with a completely inconsequential track was a questionable move to say the least. And, provided this wasn’t just some one-off flirtation with stupidity, it’s a depressing indicator of I’ve’s overall move away from their hard trance-inspired electronica towards unremarkable pop music – a move that, previously, it had seemed Eiko had managed to avoid being a part of entirely. But, on the other hand, she’s had weird experiments in genres that completely don’t suit her in the past (anyone who’s heard her pseudo-denpa tracks knows exactly what I’m talking about) that never managed to damage her credibility any so for all we know FLOW may just be another one of those. Unfortunate, yes, but nothing to get too worried about.

Overall, Naraku no Hana is an amazing single (best of the I’ve summer crop for sure) brought down slightly, but only slightly, by its admittedly stupid B-side. And, as they say – if you only buy one import maxi-single this summer, make it Naraku no Hana.

* (She actually says “sonna basho de sakanaide”, but quoting Japanese lyrics just seems so pretentious)


Responses

  1. You probably know, but there was a part where they reversed Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Its the first 30 sec of Higurashi.

    And yeah, FLOW was totally weird. Or should i say, normal, by I’ve standards. I’ve only listened to it 5 times, compared to Naraku no Hana’s 38.

  2. Yeah, I actually made a comment regarding the backmasking (that’s what you call reversed sound, by the way) – “although nods to the original like backmasked vocals remained prevalent in this new song”

    And yeah, FLOW… I sort of like it, but it’s more of a guilty pleasure than anything else and I haven’t bothered listening to it nearly as often as I have Naraku no Hana.

  3. Backmasking? o.O
    I learned something new today ^^

  4. hey DMC, I know you’ll freak out when I you get to read this but can you believe!?? I uploaded the FLOW song in my eSnips account…

    I’m the first (as in first person) to upload the Naraku no Hana. As I logged in now, Naraku no Hana has been viewed/listened 356 times and marked as favorite by 3 users.

    But can you believe!? FLOW has only 39 views and the one that really freaked my day out was it was favorited by one user!?! o__O now that’s something because I don’t listen to FLOW as often as to Naraku no Hana…

    and I still can’t accept the fact (that much) that the single reached #12 in the Oricon charts!?? with that weird B-side song, maybe it was carried by the marvelous Naraku no Hana so it was kind of ignored, I think.

  5. […] I was gonna do a Naraku no Hana review, but I’ve Sound Blog got it well-covered. Quite the […]

  6. In response to Fred…

    I was going to be mature about this, but I really couldn’t resist.

    Ha ha, FLOW got owned. :P

    The guy who favourited it probably added Naraku no Hana as well though – I know the type, they add basically everything from an artist they like to their favourites list regardless of whether or not it’s any good. Could be wrong though and this person does just genuinely love FLOW…

    Bahh, now what are the odds of that?

  7. ‘Bahh, now what are the odds of that?’
    As Singaporeans like to say, its easier to strike lottery.

    I’ve been looping the single quite a while now, and i noticed something interesting. I can hum the entire tune of Naraku no Hana, but not FLOW. I guess FLOW is too generic to register in my brain d(-_-)b

  8. […] I was gonna do a Naraku no Hana review, but I’ve Sound Blog got it well-covered. Quite the […]

  9. […] Shimamiya – Naraku no Hana (August […]

  10. I… really really liked FLOW. Admittedly it’s not as good as Naraku no Hana but it is something I can definitely listen to & loop for maybe one day. Personal taste I suppose :)

  11. yea, i think that FLOW is a kinda cute song. not as epic as naraku no hana, but i mean, would you rather listen to the same song over and over and over and over and over and over??

    of course naraku no hana is awesome but even the greatest songs get tiresome after the 8795032360993202196th time

  12. […] no means is WHEEL OF FORTUNE a worthy successor to Naraku no Hana, I’ll say that much for starters. But, in many a way, it was never supposed to be. The […]


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