Tag Archives: girugamesh

The Departure of DELUHI

With the slew of announcements regarding this or that jrock band’s dissolution bombarding our newsfeeds last year, it’s not hard to imagine that perhaps someone somewhere was relentlessly listing the names of jrock bands on a mysterious notebook while shouting “SAKUJO” with all the dramatic flair he could muster.

Well, whoever he is, he has struck again.

Teru Mikami

Having followed their progress and reviewed majority of their releases last year, I note with sadness DELUHI’s latest announcement that they are going to disband.

The whole thing felt surreal on 2 accounts:

  • when the band announced their hiatus way back in October, the reason was supposed to be to “further expand the band’s potential”. Leda even promised that when they return, “all of the members will have equal strength”.
  • secondly, the announcement was made on April Fool’s Day. No one should trust the internet on April Fool’s Day.

It has already been 10 days since and the shocking statement is still up on their OHP.

DELUHI is unequivocally departing. And it sucks. Big time.

My first encounter with the band is via their song REVOLVER BLAST. To this day, it has remained one of my favorite songs and when played with Wake Up!, another DELUHI favorite, I am given my much needed dose of energy.  And energy is one description that I will always attach to DELUHI.

DELUHI

Being a relatively young band, the passion and youthful exuberance are still very much palpable in their songs and performances. Even with just 2 mini-albums under their belt, DELUHI had already exhibited so much promise and versatility. Give or take a few more years, and DELUHI could have been spectacular.

DELUHI reminds me of the how girugamesh used to be, you know, before Ryo and the crew decided to become a lil’ bit radio-friendly.  In fact, I honestly believe that their last mini-album Yggdalive could fit very well into girugamesh’s discography. It fills the gap between the brilliant self-titled girugamesh and the experimental MUSIC.

Much like girugamesh before them, DELUHI had all the potential to blaze a blistering path before them. This made it even harder to fathom why that fire fanned out this early. So far, what we know is that bassist Aggy wanted out. All the band members decided then decided to disband as  “there would be no meaning in the DELUHI they continued with”. Fair enough. All that’s left now is to wish them good luck. Who knows, perhaps someday they’ll get together again after they’ve found their way back from that unseen destination. Just as they said in their portentous last single Departure, they will ask themselves in 5 years time “Do you still have the same dream?” Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to hear from them again.

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NO MUSIC NO REASON

Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. High school was a breeze because of top40 hits. Then as I got older, my taste became, shall I say it, more refined. I survived all-nighters in college with my eyes on the computer and Rage Against the Machine blaring on my ear. In my college thesis, I almost included Radiohead, Nirvana and Silverchair on the acknowledgement page as they helped me get thru tons of research and re-writes.

And then I discovered jrock and as they say, my life has never been the same.

It all began with a mixtape.

My younger brother brought home a compilation of anime theme songs given to him by a classmate. I’m  a big fan of anime so he lent it to me. To be honest, I’ve never bothered with the theme songs before as I’m guilty of skipping the opening credits. But lo and behold, amidst the confetti of jpop fluff I discovered gems. That mixtape introduced me to the music of Siam Shade, Asian Kung-fu Generation, and of course, to the 1 of only 2 bands I would ever admit of being a fangirl,  L’Arc~en~Ciel (in case you’re wondering, D’espairsRay is the other one but we’ll get to that later).

L'Arc~en~Ciel
Have Laruku, will follow

I owe it to that mixtape for introducing me to jrock. But what really immersed me hook, line, down to the damning sinker is the online forum Ongaku Society. Becoming a novice fan of jrock when one is tens of thousands kilometers away from Japan is tough, especially when my friends give me a blank stare every time I gush about a new song I discovered. Just imagine then my joy upon finding out that there is a site dedicated to Filipino fans of Japanese music. In the presence of peers, my fascination for jrock became a full-blown commitment.

Sadly, Ongaku Society is no more. The site was down for the longest time only to resurface without its most vital component: the forums. My memories though of the time spent lurking on the site remain intact to this day. For the longest time, Ongaku Society has become my one and only resource for jrock. It sated my appetite for all things L’Arc~en~Ciel and introduced me to the likes of Alice Nine, the GazettE and most importantly, D’espairsRay. I remember that visits to the Alice Nine and the GazettE threads were always a source of pure amusement to me. The said threads were always updated with the latest pictures and adorned with comments like “<insert band member’s name here> – sama!!!” I also owe it to those threads for expanding my vocabulary to include “ikemen” and “smexy”. Good times indeed.

I never stood a chance. Jrock-related stuff is actually part of my budget now. I made my first purchase in 2007: HYDE’s first and last album as a solo artist: Roetngen and Faith. I bought it off Amazon US as the American version of both albums were much cheaper. Then I learned about the wonders of Oricon and so I opted to buy my stuff on YesAsia and later on, CDJapan.

my first jrock loot
topmost was the actual box that encased my first jrock cds

There’s only one thing left really, and I’m fervently anticipating the day I get to complete the full jrock experience: to watch at least one of my favorite bands live. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I find it quite ironic that despite the Philippines and Japan being on the same continent, performances by Japanese acts are close to nil in my country. And for some reason, every time these bands embark on the a “world” tour, Asian countries are left out. Nevertheless, I’ll have my chance soon and I’ll be sure to faithfully document it here on SOLILOQUY.

So that’s just about it, my history as a jrock fan. If you have wandered into this site and have read up to this point, chances are we share the same affliction. The question now is, how did yours started?

(note: post title is courtesy of girugamesh from the album NOW)

album review–Karma (MUCC)

This post is dedicated to the good people at the FedEx local office. Thank you for finally answering a simple query after 7 days, 5 phone calls, 3 different customer service representatives each saying different things and 4 emails, the last one of which I sent to every possible address related to your office that I could find. Because of your excellent red tape coupled with the fact that customs charged me an unprecedented and downright ridiculous taxes and duties, I presently have in my hands the most expensive pair of cds ever.

Now that we have the rant out of the way, I give you my much delayed review of MUCC’s Karma.

One thing MUCC can never be accused of is being one-note. With each release they give us a different facet, another proof of their versatility. But what’s more admirable is that while other bands tend to get the flak whenever they change styles (did someone just say girugamesh?), MUCC is relatively scot free. In their latest release, MUCC achieves to own a more upbeat and dare I say it, radio-friendly sound. Can they get away with it? Let’s check out each song to find out.

After a techno-esque intro, Karma kicks off with FALLING DOWN Organic Edition. This version adopts a more rocking sound than the single (click here for my review of falling down single). The guitars are more pronounced and whilst the original ends with Tatsurou doing falsetto, in the organic version he lets out a big growl as the rest of the band goes on hyperdrive. FALLING DOWN Organic Edition then makes a clean transition to the energetic Zeroshiki. One of the more fast-paced songs in the album, Zeroshiki is regrettably short, clocking in at only 2 minutes and 53 seconds. As for Chemical Parade Blueday, there’s a nice guitar solo midway and the “wo-oh-oh” parts are amusing. The beat tends to be repetitive though. Still, the song has a unique charm.

A. is the first slow song to make it to the track list and it is nothing spectacular, just your run of the mill acoustic rock ballad. I Am Computer, on the other hand, is a surprise. With a title like that, I kinda expected it to be another electronic dance track or a synth-pop concoction but on the contrary, it is a slightly mid-tempo song with a very catchy rhythm. The title track Karma is another surprise. It joins the intro Chemical Parade as instrumentals that the album can truly do without.

MUCC afterwards dishes out a 3-song sweep that gives justice to the myriad of influences that the band has experimented with: jazz for Corruption, brass band for Circus and finally, orchestral for Polaris. Piano-driven and with all-English lyrics sung with commendable coherence and emotion, Corruption is seductively sexy while Circus has a groovy vibe going on that got me thinking of Austin Powers. The inclusion of trumpets and the general big brass band sound are welcomed innovations and gave the song a lot of character. Finally, Polaris paints a pretty atmosphere with its soothing mix of string instruments.

Then Lion makes its entrance and all the prettiness is gone. The air thickens and the mood takes a dramatic turn. The dark and gritty MUCC of yesteryears is back. At least for a few precious minutes. Lion is without a doubt, the heaviest song in the album and the only one who would not be out of place during the pre-neo MUCC era. There’s plenty to love in the guitar rifts and the drums take a more prominent role than in any of the other songs in Karma. Tatsurou even throws in a few growls for old times sake. If I’m to summarize my impression of this song into one word it would only be: nostalgic.

Lion may be the heaviest, but it is Feather that takes the cake for being the sappiest song in Karma. It is also the most lifeless of the 14 tracks. True to its name, Feather is a flimsy ballad that is too melodramatic for its own good. The succeeding track is Yakusoku (Original Lyric Version) and it’s very similar to the single (click here for my review of the Yakusoku single).

Winding down the album is Freesia (Karma edit). I have a certain weakness for the Electro Mix that was featured in the Yakusoku maxi-single but the Karma edit edges it out big time. MUCC tinkered with the song so much that it resulted to a half-spoken/half sung track rife with emotion. The chorus is especially intense and the vocals remind me so much of Kuchiki no Tou. This, despite the fact that the two songs are as similar as night and day. Freesia runs for more than 6 minutes and the atmosphere is charged all throughout – from the industrial sounding intro up to the show-stopping finale.

So going back now to our earlier question: Can MUCC get away with their “new” sound? The answer is yes. Karma is actually a good album – it has variety yet the songs complement each other very well. In fact, a major plus point for this album is how the track list was arranged. As mentioned in my comment on FALLING DOWN and Zeroshiki, there is a clean transition between songs and the same could be said for the whole album. It is as if the final notes of one song naturally flows into the intro of another. The end result is a really, really long medley that captures the high and the lows – both musically and emotionally.

maxi-single review – Inochi no Ki (girugamesh)

limited edition regular edition

It is a realization that surprised even myself but had to be declared nonetheless: I actually like girugamesh’s latest single ‘>Inochi no Ki.

My reception to their previous effort, Color has definitely been caustic (you can read my review here) and when I first head the preview for Inochi, I was more than ready to pass this one up. However, when I first heard the full song I found myself rather enjoying it.. and even more so after a few more listens.

Blame it on that catchy guitar rift that opens the title track. It has the right hook that paves the way to a light and easy beat. It’s perky but not overwhelming. The overall vibe of the song is positive and it’s of the transmittable kind. In fact, if there’s one word to describe Inochi no Ki it would be breezy. Soothing would be a strong contender. In addition, Inochi no Ki is one of those songs that allows full appreciation of the vocals.And in this regard, Inochi no Ki does not disappoint. Satoshi did a good job in imbuing the song with emotions.  No death growls, just honest to goodness singing.

The b-sides Vision and Endless Wing bring listeners to more familiar territory. Yes, they are still not of the hardcore variety that the old-school girugamesh dished out. Still they are more rock than pop which couldn’t really be said of Inochi no Ki. Anyway, I’m not really too keen on Vision. It has it moments but on the overall, it has the been-there-done-that feel to it. And to be honest, that pathetic attempt of a growl before the song ends sounds feeble.

Endless Wing, is a different story altogether. It’s a beacon of light that shows girugamesh still has traces of their former selves lurking somewhere. The song is not of 13’s reborn calibre, without a doubt. But the sound is somewhere between the self-titled second album and the divisive Music.

On the whole, Inochi no Ki sounds promising. I admit still waiting for the darker girugamesh to manifest itself again but in the meantime, I am willing to tolerate these little rays of sunshine. Well, maybe except Color.

bonus: The cover artwork is another plus point. To me, it looks like a doodle from Da Vinci’s notebook. Then again, it’s hardly original. There is actually a site that lists down album covers featuring.. you guess it right, trees. On the jrock front, these two came to mind:

yggalive_DELUHI kanashimi wa kitto_UVERworld

Could you think of a few more examples?

we are coming to you live (via streaming)!

As I start writing this piece, the stage is being set up for MUCC’s performance at this year’s Jack in the Box. They’re the final act of the night and the crowd’s energy is palpitating like mad. Then suddenly the stage lights up. MUCC appears and the familiar strains of their hit FUZZ is heard. The crowd goes wild. And I got to savor it all – in real time, at the comfort of my own home about 2,966 km away.

Welcome to the wonders of live streaming.

Jack in the Box 2010

Thanks to the emergence of sites like myspace and ustream, fans like me from other countries could now attend jrock concerts albeit in the virtual sense. In fact, Jack in the Box is just the latest to join a rapidly increasing list of events being broadcasted live via the internet.  Two days ago, I was rocking with Miyavi in ustream for his Screaming Out from Tokyo tour. About a month before that, I joined a legion of hyperventilating fangirls who were singing along with VAMPS in their free live at Roponggi.

What makes the experience different from watching the performance in say, a YouTube upload, is that since it’s live, you get to enjoy it untainted by comments/reviews from fans who were fortunate enough to attend the actual concert. And as I’ve mentioned a while back, you get to savor the moment together with those who are in the venue itself. You get to be one with them in anticipating for the next act or the next song, share their slight annoyance over technical difficulties and their amusement over an epic blooper that no DVD offshoot could give justice to. Via live streaming, the excitement is not just contained in the club or stadium alone but is spread out across the globe.

Live streamings hold even greater significance for us fans from countries that have slim chances of being included in a world tour itinerary. It’s our only chance to wholly experience the visual in visual kei. It won’t be an audacity to think then that I’m not the only one that’s extremely grateful for the opportunity. I’m sure nothing beats experiencing a live in the venue itself but for now, this would do. And besides, at least we don’t have to worry about our feet being stomped on or someone’s elbow hitting us in the face. Our biggest concern is the speed of our internet connection but that’s another story already 🙂

whose version of GLAMOROUS SKY do you like the most?

Got my hands on Acid Black Cherry’s latest album and was surprised to find out that the band also had its own version of GLAMOROUS SKY. As many would have known already, GLAMOROUS SKY was specifically written for the movie adaptation of popular shoujo manga NANA. HYDE composed it while Yazawa Ai penned the lyrics. Since Mika Nakashima released it as single in 2005, a few artists had done their respective covers. To the best of my knowledge, Acid Black Cherry’s version would be the 5th.

Listed below are the links to the different versions and my two-cents on each of them:

      • NANA starring MIKA NAKASHIMA version – Arguably one the highlights of the first NANA film was when Mika Nakashima was “singing along to the song that didn’t even have lyrics yet”.  The song, of course, was GLAMOROUS SKY. Later onto the film, she and the Black Stones would perform GLAMOROUS SKY to an obviously impressed audience. What’s so good about this version is how Mika Nakashima’s vocal performance was able to inject a lot of soul into a rock song. While I highly doubt that GLAMOROUS SKY is the type of song a band would stake their career for (the song was pivotal in the film as hearing it convinced Nana to reignite the Black Stones), the NANA starring MIKA NAKASHIMA version is a very stirring piece buoyed by Mika Nakashima’s soulful crooning. To date, this was the only version of the song with female vocals.
      • girugamesh version – I find girugamesh’s cover uncharacteristic for the band as it was totally different from what their sound was back then.  If I’m not mistaken, this was recorded during their 13’s reborn days during which girugamesh embraced a darker, more aggressive sound. Their version of GLAMOROUS SKY, on the other hand, is very pleasant to the ears and is more upbeat by a teeny bit than the original. Toshi’s voice is also surprisingly subdued, just honest to goodness singing. Of all the versions, I must say I like this one best as it fully embraces what GLAMOROUS SKY is all about: a pop-rock song with a catchy chorus.
      • HYDE (VAMPS) version – Having composed the song, HYDE had all the right to alter the arrangement and this he did by transforming GLAMOROUS SKY into an edgier rock song. His version is also the most sensual of all given the breathy vocals and numerous moanings he showcased in the song. Another advantage is the fact that it had English lyrics. To HYDE’s credit, his enunciation was acceptable. Overall, it was a cover that’s very hard to pass up.
      • Bentley Jones version – The version of gaijin tarento Bentley Jones is distinct because it turned GLAMOROUS SKY into a seminal dance track.  It’s definitely an interesting take on the song but requires getting used to.
      • Acid Black Cherry version – Despite the minor alteration in rhythm, Acid Black Cherry’s version sounds the most faithful to the original. But as Acid Black Cherry was behind it, GLAMOROUS SKY was infused with good ol’ rock n’ roll vibe.  Still , this version has yet to muster enough panache to topple the other versions.
      • BONUS ENTRY: pseudo-HYDE version – Before HYDE officially recorded the song for his compilation album, a GLAMOROUS SKY cover floated in cyberspace purported to be done by him.  While there were some who praised the version, a number of fans slammed it for not being the real deal. Sometime last year, it was revealed that the version was in fact, not sung by HYDE but by a impersonator.

So there you have it. As mentioned, my vote goes to girugamesh’s. How about you, what’s your favorite?

single review – COLOR (girugamesh)

COLOR (girugamesh)

The moment I heard Color, I immediately scoured my playlist for earlier girugamesh tracks if only to remind me what made me like this band in the first place. Had I heard the title track first, I honestly doubt if I’ll give girugamesh another listen. Yes, the song is catchy but it sounds too much like the opening song of some random anime. I can almost imagine the lead character running towards me while his cohorts appear one by one. All the while, the furry monsters are at their cutest selves. It doesn’t help that the pv was very bland. If the song sounds like an anime intro then the pv looks like the opening of a really bad jdorama. Everything about it was boring. Cinematography was bad and Satoshi et al look like an effin’ boyband.

The second track, sunrise, is more interesting with its samba infused beat. But take the Latin influence aside and all that’s left is another generic track. Thankfully, there is a third song that sort of saves this single from being a complete failure.

With just the faintest hint of jazz and more of fantastic guitar rifts, Flower is such pure fun to listen to. It must be really exciting to see the band perform this live and I would certainly be on the lookout for the part wherein Satoshi squares it off with the piano. To me, the short segment between 2:02 to 2:20 of Flower is enough reason to pay attention to this single.

To conclude, Color is girugamesh not at its best. girugamesh to me is one of the best visual kei bands out there but with this single they sound like a pop act trying hard to crossover to rock. Anyway, the band revealed that they have another single coming out soon and I sincerely hope that they recapture the passion and edge that set them apart from the rest of the pack. They could start by being more creative in naming their songs. Color. Sunrise. Flower. Seriously guys, how much lamer can these get?