Released simultaneously, volumes 4 and 5 of the I’ve Girls Compilation series marked the debut of I’ve girls Mami Kawada, Kaori Utatsuki and MOMO in addition to introducing the short-lived duo ‘Healing Leaf’ (Eiko and Mami) and marking the first time the entire “I’ve Special Unit” would appear on a compilation release.
Various – I’ve Girls Compilation vols. 4 & 5 – LAMENT & OUT FLOW (2003, Visual Art’s)
1. SHIHO – PREY -Remix-
2. 島みやえい子 (Eiko Shimamiya) – SNOW -Album Mix-
3. KOTOKO – Face of Fact
4. KOTOKO to 詩月カオリ (Kaori Utatsuki) – SAVE YOUR HEART -Album Mix-
5. KOTOKO – 遮光 -Album Mix- (Kageri)
6. 詩月カオリ – 僕らが見守る未来 (Bokura ga Mimamoru Mirai)
7. MOMO – GREEDY
8. KOTOKO – Feel in tears
9. KOTOKO to 詩月カオリ – 夏草の線路 -Album Mix- (Natsukasa no Senro)
10. Healing Leaf – 雨に歌う譚詩曲 (Ame ni Utau Ballad)
11. 川田まみ (Mami Kawada) – I pray to stop my cry -little sea style-
12. MELL – 悲しみの花 (Kanashimi no Hana)
13. KOTOKO – Lament
1. KOTOKO – Heart of Hearts
2. KOTOKO – Close to me…
3. MELL – さよならを教えて ~comment te dire adieu~ (Sayonara Oshiete)
4. 詩月カオリ – Senecio
5. KOTOKO – sensitive
6. 川田まみ (Mami Kawada) – Wind and Wander
7. SHIHO – Ever stay snow
8. 川田まみ – 風と君を抱いて (Kaze to Kimi wo Idaite)
9. 島みやえい子 – 空を舞う翼 (Sora wo Mau Tsubasa)
10. 島みやえい子 – 砂の城 -The Castle of Sand- (Suna no Shiro)
11. MOMO – Velocity of sound
12. MELL – Out Flow
The double-headed monster that is LAMENT/OUT FLOW was brought about by a number of drastic changes to the way the I’ve Sound collective was structured, behind the boards as well as the more immediately recognizable changes in vocal lineup.
On the production side of things, while (as with the majority of I’ve Sound releases) Kazuya Takase still handled the majority of composition and arrangement duties, more songs than before never touched Takase’s hand, with Takase’s old FUCTORY RECORDS partner C.G mix making an impressive compilation debut with the song Face of Fact on LAMENT, studio guitarist/sometime guest arranger Shinya “wata” Watabe being given a song to himself with OUT FLOW’s Sora wo Mau Tsubasa, and increased presence from both I’ve mainstay Tomoyuki Nakazawa and guest arranger Atsuhiko “FISH TONE” Nakatsubo. The resulting diversity in sound makes for a listening experience that seems less organic and natural than previous compilation outings (the jarring tonal shift between the restrained Face of Fact and garish SAVE YOUR HEART on LAMENT stands out as a particularly painful example), but any loss in cohesion is more than made up for by the quality of the material on display with these two releases.
The refocusing of the I’ve Sound vocal lineup (possibly introduced to make the group more commercially viable, which must have worked as Takase signed with Geneon records the year after LAMENT and OUT FLOW were released) to a core 7 members in favour of the more amorphous group that had provided duties previously was still largely arbitrary at the time of these albums’ release, as 7 members still allowed for a great deal of creative breathing room, but in the larger context of what I’ve meant it was massively significant. The new I’ve was to be a tighter unit vocally, even as the list of producers was expanding, and the gamble I’ve took with the reformat pays off brilliantly. While many of these girls wouldn’t truly come into their own until much later, the new vocalists managed to round out the group nicely and make up expertly for the gaps left by departed I’ve girls: quite literally in the case of Kaori Utatsuki, as Utatsuki functions as replacement for former I’ve girl AKI in two re-recordings of duet songs originally recorded by the KOTOKO TO AKI unit. The KOTOKO to Kaori Utatsuki unit functions every bit as effectively as the original did, albeit with Utatsuki admittedly lacking the charm of AKI’s more instantly recognizable voice. Similarly, new vocalist MOMO provides two worthy sequels to Lia’s title track from Disintegration, bringing the hard trance in great form with GREEDY and Velocity of sound, both undoubtedly highlights of their respective compilation albums.
Harder to describe is where exactly Mami Kawada, the final new introduction to the lineup, was supposed to fit into the equation. Lamely paired with Eiko Shimamiya as ‘Healing Leaf’, she seems lost without a defined gimmick to help distinguish her as more than just Shimamiya’s slightly rougher-’round-the-edges double. While we all know what she would later become, it’s hard to listen to her efforts either with Shimamiya or flying solo on these albums and figure out exactly what Takase was going for when he brought her in.
LAMENT finds I’ve mainstay KOTOKO (who, naturally, gets the lion’s share of songs on both compilations allocated to her) startlingly mature, with the title track and the aforementioned Face of Fact two of the best songs in the entire I’ve Sound oeuvre. If KOTOKO on Disintegration was characterized as being an unfortunate result of Takase jumping the gun and overhyping his new star vocalist before she had time to work out the kinks, KOTOKO on LAMENT delivers on everything Disintegration promised and more. Proving every bit as able at rocking out harder than I’ve had ever bothered to before on Lament as she is at playing the hyper-cutesy eroge heroine on SAVE YOUR HEART, KOTOKO manages the rare feat of being the proverbial Jack of all trades, and mastering them all too. Her performances on OUT FLOW aren’t anything to scoff at either, but it’s LAMENT that truly shows the I’ve Sound princess at her best.
While LAMENT and OUT FLOW are both packed with standout moments (Velocity of sound, any KOTOKO song on LAMENT, MELL’s title track from OUT FLOW), they’re incredibly frustrating to analyze as coherent albums: seeming more thrown-together than any of the other compilation releases, haphazard tracklistings and an unfortunate number of terribly bland songs that go in one ear and out the other make it hard to truly like these two releases. Perhaps, had I’ve found a way to compress the best of both discs into one, the resulting product would be more of a worthwhile endeavour, but as such, LAMENT stands out mostly because of its KOTOKO tracks, while OUT FLOW ranks as the weakest of the compilation releases.