Posted by: 愛撫 | 06/07/08

Album review: I’ve Girls Compilation vol. 2 – verge

Second volume in the I’ve Girls Compilation series, the 2-disc monster “verge” is rightfully viewed by many a fan as when Kazuya Takase really started coming into his own as a producer/songwriter.

Various – I’ve Girls Compilation vol. 2: verge (2000, Visual Art’s)

Tracklisting:

(Disc one)

1. MAKO – bite on the bullet -under mellow style-

2. AKI – Grow me

3. R.I.E – Take me high

4. MELL – Fall in Love

5. AKI – Take on your will

6. 島みやえい子 (Eiko Shimamiya) – Dreamer

7. 島みやえい子 – Now and heaven

8. AKI – Pure Heart ~世界で一番アナタが好き~ (Sekai de Ichiban Anata ga Suki)

9. MAKO – treating 2U -wrap up style-

10. Lia – 鳥の詩 -short ver.- (Tori no Uta)

11. MAKO – Never forget this time

12. MELL & MIKI – 空より近い夢 (Sora Yori Chikai Yume)

(Disc two)

1. 彩菜 (Ayana) – freak of nature : start

2. 島みやえい子 – 氷結の夜 (Hyouketsu no Yoru)

3. AKI – RIDE

4. AKI – Two face

5. 彩菜 – freak of nature : end

6. 島みやえい子 – Around the mind

7. SHIHO – Days of promise

8. 彩菜 – uneasy

9. 彩菜 – Discrimination

10. 島みやえい子 – ガラスの月 (Garasu no Tsuki)

11. 島みやえい子 – verge

The review:

For what it was worth, “regret”, Kazuya Takase’s first compilation album released under the I’ve Sound label (reviewed by yours truly right here) was a better album for what it had the potential to be than for what it actually was. Therefore, when looking at its follow-up “verge”, it would seem best to think of verge as the fulfillment of Takase’s promise; on verge every problem that regret had is fixed, everything that was done right expanded upon.

Most noticeable of the improvements (and one that unfortunately never resurfaced as the compilation series grew stricter in structure through the later installments) made for the second time around was that Takase approached the structuring of verge as an album, not a compilation – a distinction that’s certainly worth more than a few split hairs. Throughout both of the album’s unusually listenable discs, the feeling of an album is solidified through the inclusion of a number of original songs (and re-recorded eroge tracks for when the originals didn’t suit the album); perhaps most notably the two-part “freak of nature”, the second disc’s mostly-instrumental hard trance introduction. Even without any eroge connection or even any lyrics to speak of, the song provides a better introduction for the second, harder disc than any of the eroge tracks. It’s an awesome bit of music, and its inclusion on verge was a playful stroke of genius on Takase’s part.

Not that the eroge tracks aren’t top-notch as well, however. Tori no Uta, AIR opening theme, beloved vocalist Lia’s debut and I’ve’s first real “breakout hit” (Last regrets was fairly popular in its own right, but never achieved the sort of rabid devotion as Tori no Uta has sustained over the years), is here, albeit in an abridged version – and enough really can’t be said about the other songs. If I had to single out a single song for praise above all the rest, however, I would have to pick Eiko Shimamiya’s “Around the mind”. Opening theme for Software House Parsley’s “Phantom Knight: Mugen no Meikyuu 2”, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest Around the mind as the song on which Eiko Shimamiya changed from the last-minute inclusion she was on regret into the talent who would later go on to produce all those excellent Higurashi themes I can’t stop raving about. Shimamiya’s performance on the track is married perfectly to Takase’s vaguely urban production (which manages to work hip-hop vocal samples into the mix without sounding forced, somehow) and makes the song unforgettable – and after songs like Around the mind, it really was no surprise that Shimamiya was given the title track for verge.

Shimamiya wasn’t the only vocalist coming into prominence on verge, however. While the lineup remained otherwise unchanged from regret (excepting Lia’s aforementioned introduction and one-time I’ve girl MARY’s quick dismissal sometime before verge’s release), I’ve stalwart SHIHO made her debut on verge with the song “Days of promise”. While it wouldn’t be until I’ve Girls Compilation volume 4 (LAMENT) that the full I’ve Special Unit would appear on one album, SHIHO’s presence in the lineup makes 3 of the original 7 I’ve Special Unit girls present.

But it wasn’t just the lineup for the vocalists that was starting to change around with verge. While the album still undoubtedly belongs to Takase, a few of verge’s songs found him receiving help (whether with lyrics, composition or arrangement) from fellow eroge-music producers Tomoyuki Nakazawa and Atsuhiko Nakatsubo, and late-album highlight Garasu no Tsuki was never touched by Takase’s hand at all – the song’s production credits are solely Nakazawa’s, the first song in the I’ve Girls compilation series without the I’ve founder’s stamp on it. While still a ways away from the diverse production lineup we know I’ve for now, verge showed Takase starting to loosen the reins and accept the idea of a collective, an important step in the evolution of the brand from what it was in 1999 to what it is now.

However, the album’s brilliance is one of those things that gets bittersweet in retrospect. Even by the time volume 3 of the compilation series had come out, the flagrantly illegal willy-nilly sampling (horror films, rap songs, what-have-you) that made regret and a few songs on verge so much fun had pretty much gone the way of the dodo, and the vocalists who made verge such an amazing experience would similarly disappear not too long afterwards, either through moving on to other projects (Lia) or simply buggering off entirely (Ayana, MIKI, and most tragically the wonderful AKI). I’ve history can be broken down into a few distinct eras, and verge represents both the beginning of I’ve as we know it as well as the end of crazy dance producer Takase. Yes, he still keeps many of the quirks that characterized his production on verge to this day (he’s made maybe 2 or 3 tracks in his life not drowned in those trademark synthesized strings of his), but in shaking off the Dancemania influences it’s hard to deny that something was lost in the process. Maybe it’s the sense of humour present in verge and so dreadfully absent from any releases afterwards (come on, would he really do anything like Freak of nature these days?), maybe it’s the fact that letting go of the control-freak desire to have the compilations all to himself got him slipping into laziness as a producer, who knows. Either way, the man who made verge never would have made BLAZE. He never would have made Re-sublimity or Red fraction either, though, so an argument could easily be made for his radical style change being an improvement – but, good or bad, one thing that’s for sure is that there isn’t going to be another verge.


Responses

  1. I feel pretty lucky to have found this in my local CD store when I’ve was relatively unknown (okay, so it was 3 years since “Shooting Star” was first unveiled) – now it’d probably be a Godsend if I were to find the other compilations and all the CDs I see where Ayumi Hamasakis, Utada Hikarus, w-inds etc.

    And you know, the cover was pretty “racy” or Malaysia :P I mean, a naked Kanna who has a light thrown all over her to cover the nakedness on the cover? I’m surprised they imported it!

    That aside, this album introduced me to the wonderfulness that’s AKI & R.I.E. and of course, “Tori no Uta” – in fact, I knew about the song before I even knew that it was a theme for Air. Really loved “Sora Chikai Yume” and “Take Me High” and of course the Eiko tracks. I think this album was what made me really fond of Eiko. I also loved the intro tracks “freak of nature”, those tracks were great.

    Nice review! I’m kinda hoping I’ve will still continue to do great music, but they’ve gotta step up their Geneon game or just dump it altogether.

  2. Oh wait, make that 1~2 years instead of 3. And of course “racy” for Malaysia.

  3. I like this album but not as I like OUT FLOW… :(

    But I like the Eiko Shimamiya’s tracks here except for the titular track… Or maybe it’s the fact that I first heard the mixed up style of verge by Ayana? I don’t know… The arrangement of verge is good but somehow, I just didn’t like how Eiko sung it. And I also like the two Freak of Nature… and Discrimination.

    And if I’m not mistaken, this was the last compilation wherein AKI was present? Aww, too bad, I like her though.

  4. hey… check this out… I just read this from ivemusic.net

    EIKO SHIMAMIYA First Asia Tour 2008 in Taiwan

    http://www.sre-music.com/info/info.cgi?mode=entry&ym=200806&no=14

    it’ll be in September 14, 2008…

  5. DAMMIT why do they get all the I’ve utahime???

    *sighs* Anyone care to donate a few bucks so that I can go see her in Taiwan?

  6. Supposedly, Mell’s album is called “MELLSCOPE”!! Let’s just see if it’s true or not.

    PS:

    Does anyone have that song “Selfish Gene” from the I’ve tribute albums?

  7. wow where did you actually find it? I just browsed amazon, and it was true!! MELLSCOPE!!! o__o sounds hilarious if you ask me… ><

  8. Amazon! ^_^

  9. wow we have the same source!! Btw (to Same), is this the Selfish Gene you’ve been searching?

    http://music.fenbei.com/5871771

    (Sorry to the two of you, Aibu and Hikaru… for posting irrelavant convos… ^^)

    just tell me if that’s the right or wrong one so that I can help you search for the song… :) Then if I got it right, just tell me… I’ll gladly upload it to my web hosting account. ^_^

  10. To fred: That’s the right one! You rocks and thanks bunches!

  11. MELLSCOPE? Ugh. Couldn’t have kept the title moderately obscure or moderately unintelligible, eh? This sounds more moderately ridiculous.

  12. ^ you could say that again.

    @Same>> No problem. ^_^ here ya go. :)
    [audio src="http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/1/24/685841/Selfish%20Gene.mp3" /]

  13. Once again. Thanks big time!

  14. Thank’s is very nice! sountrack ^^


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