Yeah, I’m finally posting this. Hikaruhoshi (main poster over at the I’ve Sound Livejournal community and all-around nice guy) and I put our heads together a few weeks back to create a joint review in the vein of Somethingawful‘s Fashion SWAT column. Whether or not we succeeded in emulating David Thorpe and Zack Parsons’ column in the slightest is debatable, but if this gets a good reception Hikaruhoshi and I may do another one of these in the future.
Kaori Utatsuki (詩月カオリ) – Chasse (2007, Geneon)
2. Change of heart
3. Chasse -Instrumental-
4. Change of heart -Instrumental-
aibu: So… I’m ready if you are
hikaruhoshi: OK… Is this thing on?
aibu: Yes it is, and I believe you’re up first
hikaruhoshi: OK, I’m hikaruhoshi, long time I’ve fan and main contributor to the Livejournal community “ive_sound”. I’ve been a fan since Shooting Star came out back in early 2002, hence the handle. (A note for less in-the-know readers: ‘Hikaru hoshi’ comes from the song Shooting Star, more particularly the line “kimi wa ano hikaru hoshi, shooting star”)
aibu: And I’m DMC, aka ‘Aibu’, sole contributor to Aibu -I’ve Sound Blog- over at WordPress. Unlike Hikaruhoshi I didn’t get into I’ve until Re-sublimity in 2005, but that’s really neither here nor there. Anyways, we thought this whole ‘Chasse SWAT’ thing would be a cool and unique approach to reviewing, also it saves effort that otherwise might be put into writing in the usual manner.
hikaruhoshi: So if you like it, we might do it again. For those of you who don’t know SWAT, it’s the last bastion of humor from SomethingAwful. Except instead of insulting people’s clothes, we critique Kaori.
We’ve listened to Chasse a few times ourselves. We wanted to do this on the first listen, but considering it was released over American Thanksgiving, I was out of town for several days which is why this review is so late. [Editor’s note: Or rather, why the original draft was so late – the rest is all solely my fault]
aibu: and now for the song…
hikaruhoshi: LUNLUNLUN, LA LA LUNLUNLUN
aibu: This song… it’s like a carnival. A really scary, happy carnival.
hikaruhoshi: Complete with marching band, and by marching band, we mean a tuba.
aibu: A possibly demonic marching band.
hikaruhoshi: An electronic mishmash of fake instruments, a bit of sparkling things.
aibu: In which snaps come in for some reason. I never will know why.
hikaruhoshi: And then they go out and back in. It’s more like claps, though.
aibu: And these weird-ass synthesizers too. Where did they come from? Why did they leave there?
hikaruhoshi: Something just seems so looooow budget sci-fi like MST3K; Tron, except earlier. Star Trek, except worse. There’s just something so space-agish about the synths.
aibu: It’s got that kind of retro-futuristic feel that a lot about the ’70s had. Possibly the only way in which the song evokes the era, really.
hikaruhoshi: Sounds like it was modified off of some 60’s soap opera organ… But back to LUNLUNLUN itself.
aibu: Although the intro is pretty bitchin’, [Editor’s note: I should’ve said anything but “bitchin'” here] the problem with Chasse is that all the additions made to the song for the full version seem wholly extraneous.
hikaruhoshi: There isn’t really all that much, actually. It’s only 3:46 long.
aibu: Well, it’s a good song. Like how Shining stars Bless was a good song.
hikaruhoshi: Yeah, very happy.
aibu: But in this case, ‘good’ seems like damning it with faint praise when compared with other I’ve successes like Naraku no Hana or Shichitenhakki Shijoushugi. And the claps may be extraneous, but they’re still less terrible than the claps on FLOW.
hikaruhoshi: At least. And they aren’t in the whole song, either; they know when they’re not wanted.
aibu: They just peek in to see if it’s OK, but they’re too shy to stick around for too long.
hikaruhoshi: They are pretty half-hearted.
aibu: Truth be told, sampled clapping almost always is.
hikaruhoshi: There are claps on the Mixed Up version of Namida no Chikai, but those were even more half-hearted. At least it had a tambourine.
aibu: Chasse could’ve used a tambourine. All those bloody songs from the ’60s and ’70s had tambourine. However, with Chasse Takase’s sure got the Wall of Sound down pat.
hikaruhoshi: Well, at least he’s trying to fill the canvas, so to speak?
aibu: As I said earlier, Chasse sounds like a carnival.
hikaruhoshi: And it is busy.
aibu: And that wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t use so many layers. I mean, strip Chasse down to the piano. It’s an entirely different song now, isn’t it?
hikaruhoshi: I count four, maybe five layers.
aibu: The song’s probably got well over 32 tracks in there when all’s accounted for.
hikaruhoshi: Would it have been better for the high synths to be more like a calliope?
aibu: Well, yes and no, because it’d help it seem more like a carnival. But that would also up the busy factor of the song, and might push it into the realm of creepy rather than cute.
hikaruhoshi: And the synths in the bridge aren’t somewhat unsettling?
aibu: Well, that was my next point. The song’s teetering on the edge as-is.
hikaruhoshi: And the PV doesn’t help.
aibu: You know… I’ve tried to be nice about it, but Kaori just is not an attractive woman.
hikaruhoshi: Yeah, she is not idol material, wasn’t hired to be in front of a camera. Then again, none of them were.
aibu: Which is a good thing for their music, but a bad thing for their videos. KOTOKO’s been looking especially good recently though.
hikaruhoshi: MELL works… Wait, I take that back. Her outfit in the kicks! video, allll the way up the leg.
aibu: Hey man, that was hot.
hikaruhoshi: No. In half of those scenes she looked dead or rather, undead.
aibu: Well, she’s messed up, we all knew that.
hikaruhoshi: Be nice.
aibu: No, I mean messed-up as in she’s just kind of out-there, you know? I mean, Red fraction.
hikaruhoshi: Messed up. Not like messed up.
aibu: Songs like that just aren’t made by normal people.
hikaruhoshi: That was messed up. But Kaori doesn’t do it. I mean, she can’t show her style in the PVs, not like the others.
aibu: Mami probably will be doing kicks! in another year. Kaori’s style at this point is kind of the safe, boring one, which is sad, because her solo tracks on SHORT CIRCUIT II showed nothing but promise.
hikaruhoshi: Yeah, Kaori’s style is cute, though not yet dempa.
aibu: Naisho*Naisho in particular I would like to note was brilliant.
hikaruhoshi: But is that marketable for an anime (that kind of music? I say, “why not?”) Nanatsuiro should have had a dempa opening.
aibu: Well, logic says it very much should be marketable. Remember Motteke! Sailor Fuku? That was more hardcore denpa than most of I’ve’s stuff, and yet it was a huge hit. So why not Kaori’s denpa-lite? Why, Geneon?
hikaruhoshi: Because she needs to be cute, like a doll, not hyper like… pikachu?
aibu: Naisho wasn’t hyper though, it was a sort of unique balance that only Kaori has, that same balance her Geneon singles ignore in favour of sounding like Kirei na Senritsu for the most part.
hikaruhoshi: Ugh. Uninteresting, yeah. Naisho is not uninteresting, neither is Change of heart.
aibu: Yeah, Change of heart was a surprise.
hikaruhoshi: I wrote that I figured after hearing the first thirty seconds, I had heard it all. And up to about 1:10 or so, it kinda was, but then… “Change of heaaart…” OK, somewhat poppy, but it’s such a good hook.
aibu: Poppy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s a certain brand of joy that comes from embracing listenability.
hikaruhoshi: But it can easily be generic.
aibu: The verses make sure Change of heart doesn’t become too generic though. The synth strings 2:57 in, however, are a sure sign that Maiko’s trying her hardest to turn the song boring. As much as I love the song, Iuchi doesn’t know what to do with a 5-minute-plus runtime.
hikaruhoshi: Yeah, not too much of a bridge, except for the full stop.
aibu: The song would be well-served by an abbreviated version, chop maybe a minute off. Even having said that, I love the Engrish vocals despite the unimpressive bridge, so the full runtime’s worth it all just for those.
hikaruhoshi: Yeah, cut just about everything after 4:30… But it’s also uplifting. Maybe I’m just a sucker for chords.
aibu: Change your heart and live for a dream, right?
hikaruhoshi: Suppose so.
aibu: Much better than “MY NAME IS PAIN” or, uhh, “stay with me help”
hikaruhoshi: Yeah, I get the idea.
aibu: Change of heart is one of those rare B-sides that totally outshines the single. I mean, I can barely even remember Chasse by the time Change of heart’s first chorus comes along.
hikaruhoshi: That says something… LUNLUNLUN LALA LUNLUNLUN… Yeah, for such a catchy title track, you just want to listen to this one.
aibu: LUNLUNLUN may be an alien parasite dead-set on sucking away all your thoughts, but Change of heart is the perfect antidote.
hikaruhoshi: Didn’t just suck my thoughts, it borked my CD-drive and your portable hard drive.
aibu: Indeed it did.
[Editor’s note: we experienced massive technical difficulties prior to writing this review.]
hikaruhoshi: I found the antidote though: The Best of Kansas CD. It was a tough fight, but the power of Kansas prevailed.
aibu: Is that really how we’re ending this review? Kansas?
(Last word: a less heavily-edited version of this transcript was posted earlier at the I’ve Sound LJ community, and that post can be found here.)