Posted by: 愛撫 | 02/26/09

Double album review: I’ve Girls Compilation vols. 4 & 5 – LAMENT & OUT FLOW

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)

 

Tracklisting:

(LAMENT)

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

(OUT FLOW)

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 review:

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.


Responses

  1. If anyone knows a better way to format these please give suggestions now because this thing took more time to put into my stupid standardized review format (writing down the tracklisting, mostly) than it did to write it

  2. Ah, I’ve Girls Compilations… will we ever see them again? Guess not. Anyway, the only song I remember from Lament and OUTFLOW are, precisely, Lament and Outflow.

    Both are great songs! Lament features a mature, kick-ass, pessionate KOTOKO, while Outflow shows off the signature hardcore I’veness MELL has, though it will always be a mystery what the heck does MELL say during the intro… (“I was probably sleeping with you”?, “I was probably in deeply with drool”?, “I was propabling sinking with tool”? Well, guess we’ll never know.)

  3. This is actually one of the few I’ve albums that I listened to in its entirety BEFORE you wrote a review on it. Though I must say I wholeheartedly agree with your review.

    Interesting that this is Mami Kawada’s debut since she unfortunately does not stand out as much as Kaorin.

    It’s always interesting to compare the debut of each artist in the Special Unit to what they did later on and marvel and how far they’ve come. Especially KOTOKO in this case. Face of Fact is just astounding!

  4. you’re right about Mami back then. she really didn’t stand out and technically the worst, honestly *i won’t be biased over this… i’ll admit it*.

    but Mami’s ‘i pray to stop my cry’ was not bad and i favor this track. although it didn’t make Mami stand out. it really didn’t, since it was like a cover version of KOTOKO’s.

    well, the songs i like in both albums are GREEDY, LAMENT, I Pray to stop my cry -little sea style-, OUT FLOW, Kaze to kimi to daite *no matter how LAME this song was, i still appreciate it because it’s Mami’s debut*, Ever stay snow, Velocity of Sound and Senecio.

    and i wanna say something about KOTOKO’s ‘Close to me’. why that song was given to KOTOKO when her voice character wasn’t really fit for such kind of song ?? why not MOMO, for example ?? i gotta say that Reina made the whole song had R&B essence when she sang it in Budokan ’05, using the original arrangement.

  5. Personally my favourite among these would have to bee I pray to stop my cry ~little sea style~ (this song alone has had more plays, only beaten by KOTOKO’s CROSS UP), Velocity of sound and GREEDY. The rest, while great, are not as memorable to me.

    I do love these two compilations though – I agree that the quality of the songs are better than the previous compilations.

  6. rideback leaked!
    and the pv is also up on youtube, great song :)

  7. (late response, I know. I’ve been busy)

    Of those times in your life you will find nostalgia for, the first months of your freshman year will always stand out, and for me, it’s having this manic grin on my face as my pre-ordered Lament/Outflow (L/O) box set arrived in my campus mailbox. The remix of Prey alone sends me back to trips on the metro bus and walking between classes. Back then, I didn’t know much about I’ve more than “KOTOKO is awesome” and “the rest aren’t too bad either”, so this set, particularly the included PV of See You gave me a somewhat proper introduction to I’ve outside of KOTOKO. Better still, since this was before the days of Youtube and efficient *ahem* file sharing programs, I hadn’t heard the majority of the songs on either album (contrast to Collective) so as far as I was/am concerned, these two albums plus Stokesia, and Short Circuit are I’ve in its purest essence.
    With all due credit to Verge and Disintegration, L/O had the perfect blend of denpa, hard trance, and meaningful ballads, which as far as I know were the best songs that could be selected for the album at the time, not simply those that were the most commercially successful. Visual Art’s didn’t need the games/animes to hook me in, nor should have they. It troubles me to think what Geneon would put on a seventh compilation if they were so inclined.
    If there’s anything that hasn’t aged well, it’s how similar the vocalists sound compared to each other. Mami in particular sounds too much like a weak mix of KOTOKO and Eiko, whereas now, the difference is unmistakable. SHIHO and MOMO set themselves apart by virtue of their arrangements. Eiko and MELL don’t stand out too clearly neither, except for MELL’s Out Flow.

    EDIT: Yeah, Rideback is out. Try not to listen to it right after listening to L/O or you might get disappointed.

  8. “Try not to listen to it right after listening to L/O or you might get disappointed.”

    You could say that again. Hey, I’m liking RIDEBACK don’t be mistaken but if you compare the quality I’ve had in the past, it’s really incomparable to the I’ve today because the past was much greater [w/ Out Flow & Collective as two of their best compilations ever] while the present I’ve rarely composes (or maybe even lacks the passion to compose) something which have a distinctive quality that they had in the past. :((

  9. Of all the Girls Compilations, I’m least familiar with OUT FLOW, but still a huge fan of KOTOKO’s stuff on LAMENT. Gawd, Face of Fact! I love a lot of these songs, though. Most of them are very memorable for me, like hikaruhoshi, when I first got into I’ve, or at least the Special Unit phase.

    I can’t wait till I can get my hands on these two albums, plus Disintegration, to complete my collection. After all, LAMENT and OUT FLOW have the absolute best cover designs. <3

  10. The official Departed to the Future page is up with previews and song titles too!

    The songs are:
    snIpe by KOTOKO
    Kara no Tsubomi by MELL
    end of refrains~Chiisana Hajimari~ by Kaori Utatsuki
    Paranoia by Eiko Shimamiya
    L’Oiseau bleu by Mami Kawada-L’Oiseau bleu means “the blue brid” in French.

    IMO, Paranoia is the best track on the CDs. It also seems that the Universal/Geneon merger has happened and our favorite music group are under the new label, which could mean better promotions which equals better slaes!

    http://www.geneon-ent.co.jp/rondorobe/music/ive/ivebox/

  11. I didn’t like RIDEBACK that much. Its… well… like no vain meets kicks, crashes with KOTOKO, eats Mami Kawada and has MELL for dessert (seriously, who sings? It sound like a weird mix of all of them xD). The Engrish sucks, nut the japanese version is quite fine. The PV is quite cool. The cover is a little too generic… I’m still waiting for Bizzarerie Cage, it will most probably exceed RIDEBACK.

    “It also seems that the Universal/Geneon merger has happened and our favorite music group are under the new label, which could mean better promotions which equals better slaes!”

    ^Yeah, not to mention a probable universaleatsgeneonification on the nonsense anime music that has been produced recently. Seriously, geneon is poisonous to I’ve… Going back to basics might work wight now… I wish another Out Flow was released. It’s such a unique song…

  12. Not going to happen. Universal is by far the more dominant of the two, so Geneonification as you call it, won’t happen. On top of that Universal wasn’t the one that needed help at all. The merger was just because Geneon was drowning in their jacked up business. Universal saved them, so now they really don’t have much power.

  13. That’s precisely what I said: “universalEATSgeneon-ification” perhaps I should’ve said “universaleatsgeneonation”. Geneon sucks, let us hope Universal can save I’ve from Geneon’s claws…

  14. Sorry about that. Got lost in the jumble of words. And yes we must hope and pray that Universal can save I’ve. Geneon is just plain fuckin lazy now.

  15. Hey let’s maybe talk about LAMENT and OUT FLOW that sounds like a good idea

    I wish I mentioned the title track on OUT FLOW in the review, it deserves it

  16. Yeah I kinda noticed you didn’t mention Out Flow in your review. Although it’s already an old MELL song, it still remains as one of my favorites. <3~ Ignoring the usual engrish but the arrangement’s very awesome and kickass!

  17. Have you heard the G.M.S. remix of Out Flow from verve-circle Psychedelic Trance Edition? It’s pretty weird, but the remix version grows on you nicely if you give it time.

    As for why I never mentioned anything MELL, Eiko or SHIHO did in the review, I pretty well thought the review was long enough already and that for the most part those girls were going through the motions with these releases and there wasn’t too much noteworthy about the performances this time ’round. Also, I kind of formatted the review to make it somewhat awkward trying to slip in a kind word about OUT FLOW’s title track, so I gave it a mention in parentheticals towards the end. Still feel like I cheated it.

  18. […] Double album review: I’ve Girls Compilation vols. 4 & 5: LAMENT & OUT FLOW […]

  19. I liKE SNOW by song EIKO SHIMAMIYA!


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