Posted by: 愛撫 | 08/13/08

Album review: I’ve Girls Compilation vol. 3 – Disintegration

2002’s Disintegration, in addition to being the first I’ve release to share its title with an album by The Cure (the only other to date being the Comiket exclusive ‘Mixed Up’), also marked the first time I’ve favourite KOTOKO appeared on an official compilation release.

Various – I’ve Girls Compilation vol. 3: Disintegration (2002, Visual Art’s)

Tracklisting:

1. KOTOKO – 涙の誓い -Album Mix- (Namida no Chikai)

2. KOTOKO – flow ~水の生まれた場所~ (Mizu no Umareta Basho)

3. KOTOKO – I can’t get over your best smile

4. MELL – FLY TO THE TOP

5. 島みやえい子 (Eiko Shimamiya) – To lose in amber

6. KOTOKO – resolution of soul

7. KOTOKO – Wing my Way -Album Mix-

8. MOMO – DROWNING -Album Mix-

9. SHIHO – Belvedia

10. KOTOKO – 君よ、優しい風になれ (Kimi yo, Yasashii Kaze ni Nare)

11. SHIHO – birthday eve

12. Lia – Disintegration

13. 島みやえい子 – 王子よ -月の裏から- (Ouji yo -Tsuki no Urakara-) 

The review:

Saying Disintegration’s tracklisting is a bit lopsided would be something of an understatement – with 6 of the album’s 13 tracks devoted to KOTOKO, it seems almost as if this ‘compilation’ is really a KOTOKO album with the other artists as mere guest spots; cameos by SHIHO and MOMO stopgaps to build anticipation for the next big KOTOKO song. And it even makes sense in context: while earlier Comiket releases saddled her with senior vocalist AKI, Disintegration was commemorating KOTOKO’s debut as a full-fledged solo artist. The same year Disintegration was released, KOTOKO had also helmed I’ve’s venture into the realm of anime music with her work for the Bandai Visual series Please Teacher (which included a full ‘image album’, Stokesia, in addition to the opening theme “Shooting Star”); for Kazuya Takase to essentially give a whole compilation album over to the girl who had just become his first certified money-maker was almost a natural thing to do.

And even three volumes into the compilation series, I’ve was still very much Takase’s in 2002. While 2 songs on the album (KOTOKO’s “flow” was produced by Tomoyuki Nakazawa, with album closer “Ouji Yo” provided by the ever-reliable Atsuhiko Nakatsubo) don’t have his name anywhere in the credits, the collective dynamic we know I’ve for was still far off: however, if one is to trace the origins of the modern “I’ve Sound” (as it were), Disintegration is undoubtedly the first of the compilation albums to truly break out of the Dancemania mold. Leaving behind the dubiously-legal samples and Bemani-ready beats of verge and regret, the songs on Disintegration have Takase refining his persona as a producer to something more akin to a true pop songwriter than the ‘electronica nerd’ he had made himself out to be before. Guitars are heard on multiple tracks (live instrumentation was conspicuously absent from the previous compilation releases), dated-sounding canned percussion largely done away with, and the entire experience is one far more organic than had been heard from Takase before.

Of course, the new sound wasn’t without its downsides: while live instrumentation was a welcome addition to Takase’s repertoire, the wandering midtempo pseudo-ballads that have plagued every I’ve release post-verge were certainly less than welcome: songs like the painful “Kimi yo, Yasashii Kaze ni Nare” have no real use as anything beyond dreary filler, yet half of KOTOKO’s contributions to the compilation are just that sort of song. It also can’t be denied that there was something lost in the transition when Takase cut out the sampling that characterized some of regret and verge’s most memorable tracks: Disintegration may be a more ‘mature’ album, but maturity isn’t anywhere near as fun as songs like FUCK ME were.

Even with those complaints, though, Disintegration contains some of the best music the I’ve label has ever been associated with. The final trio of birthday eve, Disintegration and Ouji Yo is one of the most brilliant collections of songs you’ll ever find on a compilation release, the adorable FLY TO THE TOP is a perpetual favourite (MELL doing ‘cute’ and doing it well) and MOMO makes an impressive debut with DROWNING; but ironically enough it’s the main attraction, KOTOKO, that fails to impress for the most part. Her screechy vocals render “I can’t get over your best smile” repulsive when it should be endearing, and none of her other contributions (save perhaps future Anime Expo theme song Wing my Way) really have the same punch as her peers’. She would have all the time in the world to polish up her skills later on, but on her big debut KOTOKO was outshone by the ones she was supposed to be outshining.


Responses

  1. […] [Blogs] I’ve Sound Blog Examines Disintegration Album review: I’ve Girls Compilation vol. 3 – Disintegration […]

  2. Popularity by association, I presume. A lot of the KOTOKO tracks came from popular games/anime (though I don’t recall if Farland Symphony was all that popular). Most of those games were from very emotional, mushy Key-ish games where the player would be encouraged to become emotionally involved with the characters, as opposed to games like whatever Drowning or FUCK ME where the subject matter is a bit more unsettling. Fans who had played the erm, happier games would undoubtedly feel more attachment to the track than a casual listener like me or Aibu.
    The reason I say that is that when I got Disintegration over five years ago, I was on a Onegai Teacher craze, so pretty much any song from that series would sound that much better, especially the KOTOKO songs. In retrospect, it’s too long even on Disintegration (in Stokesia, it is 7:15) and the vocals get exhausting to listen to. Five years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to convince me otherwise.

  3. I didn’t bother noting this in the review, but KOTOKO also had a major eroge hit on her hands back in ’02 thanks to Triangle Heart 3 (in which she provided the singing voice for the character Fiasse Crystela), so the popularity wasn’t *entirely* Please Teacher’s fault. It is, however, also worth noting that KOTOKO had nothing at all to do with Triangle Heart 1 and 2. Or Triangle Heart 2’s low-budget ero OVA spinoff which shall not be referred to by name.

  4. Personally I was also introduced to I’ve through KOTOKO’s Onegai Teacher works, so I’m kinda fond of those years where everything sounded good to me, lol. Now I’ve kinda learnt to be more “discerning” (God that sounds cocky, but I’ve no other word for it) with their songs, so I can’t really feel the same way about their new releases compared to when “Shooting star” was all I would sing around the hosue.

    Did that make any sense to any of you? LOL.

  5. Makes sense to me. Back in the days when all the Japanese music I could find were Weiss Kreuz themes and low-quality Malice Mizer, “Shooting Star” was like a gleaming golden chalice among plastic sippy cups.

  6. Personally, SHIHO’s “Belvedia” makes the album for me. There’s something about the kitchy intro and engrossing main melody that really tickles my fancy. I love the song so much that I used it during a video presentation at work in Mexico. Sombreros were blown away, I shit you not… I also threw in FF6’s overworld music for good nerdy measure.

    I have to agree that this is perhaps I’ve Sound’s most balanced compilation, if not flat out the best. MOMO’s DROWNING is every bit as epic as Belvedia and while KOTOKO’s songs are decidedly not her best, I’d say Wing my Way and Resolution have stood the test of time. If I’m not mistaken she also wrote the lyrics to DROWNING, as well as more than just her songs. I’m just a bit disappointed that PEKO wasn’t assigned to more memorable songs.

    Although these questions are probably best reserved for your FAQ, I’d really like to know what caused SHIHO’s defection to Staravid and MOMO’s departure for POR. The latter of which seems to be RIP, as their website 404’ed on me last time I checked. Poor, poor MOMO… talk about a crappy career choice.

  7. “I have to agree that this is perhaps I’ve Sound’s most balanced compilation, if not flat out the best.”

    Who are you agreeing with? Nobody said this compilation was particularly well-balanced: in fact, my review opens with me saying it’s lopsided thanks to the KOTOKO overdose. For my money, the most ‘balanced’ compilation was the brilliant verge, and far as I care SPOILER WARNING Collective is the ‘flat-out best’ of the compilation albums END SPOILER.

    “I’m just a bit disappointed that PEKO wasn’t assigned to more memorable songs.”

    PEKO is better known as Eiko Shimamiya.

    “I’d really like to know what caused SHIHO’s defection to Staravid and MOMO’s departure for POR.”

    Internal company politics at I’ve that fans can only speculate about? If I ever find out answers to these questions I’ll post them in the FAQ, but all we really have is speculation because nobody wants to say anything officially regarding the split.

  8. My educated guess is that MOMO and SHIHO didn’t want to be bound under Eiko-sensei and the producers and therefore “graduated” shortly after the Budokan concert. While MOMO hasn’t done much in the past year or so, SHIHO has been free to collaborate with a variety of producers and releases albums quite regularly, like last weekend’s Chain of Soul.
    The five that became Love Planet Five I can only presume are contractually bound to I’ve production either by Geneon or Visual Art’s, so the only way they would ever be able to explore other arrangers is to go through Geneon, like Eric Moquet with MELL’s “repeat” and a good portion of “master groove circle.” The trade-off, of course, is that Geneon is a much greater marketing force than Lia’s Queen’s Label or SHIHO’s Staravid. Case in point: MELLSCOPE debuted on the Oricon’s daily album charts at number 4 despite little fanfare online.

  9. Ah! Agreeing with myself, I suppose, along with your last paragraph. And I’m aware PEKO=Eiko, but don’t you think her old pseudonym was a lot cooler? Besides, her older songs work better for me, so I tend to stick with that name. Anyway, thanks for the review and for the breakup speculation.

  10. Haha then I’m the one agreeing with Aibu’s spoiler. COLLECTIVE was the most flat-out best compilation. It contains the epic win titular track COLLECTIVE which is (I considered) one of the best KOTOKO track composed/arranged ever although it’s a little eye-soring that KOTOKO’s name can be seen in a lot of tracks.

    @hikaruhoshi>> yeah, I can’t believe my eyes that MELLSCOPE even reached #4 in the daily charts but despite that, it fell on #11 next day and today, Friday night, it landed #16 which is a little sad,..


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