Shimotsuki released her new fantasy album Griotte no Nemuri Hime a few days ago (14th). In terms of music style it is similar to Thindaria no Tane, her previous commercial fantasy album. But this time, there are a few new composers/arrangers, Naruke Michiko (なるけみちこ, famous for her work in Wild Arms), Yoshitaka Hirota (弘田佳孝, Shadow Hearts) and MANYO (hmm.. not really famous for anything, but he has worked with Shimotsuki for a long time, pretty much a little after she started her music career). Iwadare Noriyuki (岩垂徳行), the main arranger for Thindaria no Tane is also doing some composition and arrangement this time.
Thindaria no Tane was good, but it lacked a little variation and creativity in terms of arrangement and composition. It is a successful fantasy formula, but to be really successful it would take more than just repeating it. I have only listened to Griotte a few times, but I am fairly impressed by it, and the inclusion of the few game composers is a positive thing.
The album starts off with an instrumental, Horobiru no Kotowari (滅びの理 ). I don’t think it would take more than a listen or two before one would get into it and love it. But this is before you listen to last track, FEL FEARY WEL., the full version of the melody realized with vocals. The song starts out slow, but it doesn’t take long until it picks up and reaches its epic climax. I haven’t heard much of Naruke’s work, but personally I believe the arrangement could not have been so well crafted without her help. It’s hard to see it happening based on all the arrangement Iwadare has done in Thindaria.
The next two tracks, Kienai Uta (消えない欠片) and Erabareta Tami (選ばれた民) are some of the best tracks from this album. Kienai Uta is the only track that Shimotsuki did everything herself, and the arrangement is actually pretty good, even though she lacks experience and possibly knowledge when it comes to that. Erabareta Tami on the other hand uses part of the melody of Horobiru no Kotowari and it proves to be good to the ears yet again.
Ohime-sama to Doukeshi (お姫様と道化師) is your typical cheery, happy Shimotsuki track. Sad to say I am not a fan of them so there’s little I’d want to comment (or maybe she should stop making these tracks >_>). Madara no Kuni (斑の王国) could be thought of as the sucessor of Shinjitsu no Honoo (真実の炎) from Thindaria, but it has failed to deliver the folk’ish rock feel it is trying to invoke. Ultimately, it sounds like your standard stock of J-pop music. Owari no Toki e (終焉の刻へ) suffers a similar flaw, but to a lesser extent. Note that both are arranged by Yoshitaka and Naruke, which could help explain the disorientation in style.
Hitori Yume (独り夢) is a purebred “MANYO” track, it’s literally filled with his signature stamps (for comparison, have a listen at “LUNA”). And of course, being a MANYO fan, I couldn’t appreciate it more. A little off from the whole fantasy theme of the album, but the cold, cold feelings of MANYO’s music gives can never get old.
The next few tracks are mostly written entirely by the new people. They aren’t too bad, but they are probably the weaker portion of the album. Hane ni Sugaru Mono (羽に縋る者) has some potential, the starting phase is pretty interesting, but the murmuring is probably unnecessary, and the track feels like going nowhere at times due to its repetitive melody.
The last track worth mentioning is Gyaku Mawari no Inochi (逆廻りの命). Its assertive chanting resembles Mamoribito (護森人) from Thindaria, but it plays a secondary role this time with the main vocal sung in classical Japanese. If you like Mamoribito (which I do), this track will no doubt appeal to you.
Overall, even though I have commented the tracks written by the new composers are probably slightly inferior, their contribution has definitely given the album a refreshing flavour, and the album as a whole doesn’t feels as monotonous as Thindaria. But this is all just my first impression, and I am sure things could change a little in time.
- Horobiru no Kotowari (滅びの理 ) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101posts3/media/091019shimotsukiharuka-horobirunokotowari.mp3?attredirects=0
- Kienai Uta (消えない欠片 ) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101posts3/media/091019shimotsukiharuka-kienaiuta.mp3?attredirects=0
- Erabareta Tami (選ばれた民) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101posts3/media/091019shimotsukiharuka-erabaretatami.mp3?attredirects=0
- Ohime-sama to Doukeshi (お姫様と道化師)
- Madara no Kuni (斑の王国)
- Hitori Yume (独り夢) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101posts3/media/091019shimotsukiharuka-hitoriyume.mp3?attredirects=0
- Sora Watashi (空渡し)
- Tsunagari no Hana (絆の花)
- Owari no Toki e (終焉の刻へ)
- Hane ni Sugaru Mono (羽に縋る者) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101posts3/media/091019shimotsukiharuka-hanenisugarumono.mp3?attredirects=0
- Kooru Sekai (氷る世界)
- Gyaku Mawari no Inochi (逆廻りの命) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101posts3/media/091019shimotsukiharuka-gyakuwawarinoinochi.mp3?attredirects=0
- FEL FEARY WEL. (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101posts3/media/091019shimotsukiharuka-felfearywel..mp3?attredirects=0
Don’t be alarmed with the romaji writing for a few Kanji. It is the representation used in the lyrics.