So after weeks of listening to this album endlessly and saturating myself with all of their songs, I can finally finish my review on their latest album by SOIL&PIMP"SESSIONS" CIRCLES! Sadly it is what I was expecting, although I was excited about this, I knew this album was not going to be just like any of their other releases.
Yep it is inconsistent! It feels just like the same way Random Access Memory by Daft Punk felt! I mean that album (RAM) was great... but each song was it's own universe! and here... it happens the same... kinda... In preparation for this review I listened to a few tracks by each artist they collaborated with, and what I noticed, with the exception of Ringo Sheena, and Jose James (the featured artists in the 2nd and 3rd track, respectively), is that most of these artist benefited from the collaboration, either by taking an opportunity to be under a bigger spotlight, or to promote their own sound.
But you know what I noticed after listening to the album like twenty times? How does the first track starts? Shacho the "Agitator" and frontman of SOIL&PIMP"SESSIONS" says "This is a journey into Jazz", it's a perfect intro to this album that fluctuates more than any musician would have liked, and now that I'm talking about that first track, Jazzy Conversation with Rhymester, a well known hip hop group in Japan, they add their touch to this track, while retains a lot of the jazz roots, yet straying away from the traditional sound of the genre, it's the perfect song to kick start an album: quick, easy to listen, and with super catchy chorus, you couldn't ask for a better introduction for what's coming up!
After the intro to the album, we jump to Koroshiya Kiki Ippatsu, sung by Ringo Sheena, apparently she's very popular in Japan, with a rising list of artist to perform next to her, this popularity is related to her approach to the creative process of songwriting and unusual lyrics, unfortunately I can't confirm this due to my lack of Japanese knowledge. The title of the song can be translated into "An Assasin's Assasin" aspiring to the old days of Big Band Jazz, classy yet explosive, this song is like a fantastic James Bond-esque title theme.
Summer Love with Jose James, it's quite simple, with a waltzing rhythm and classic jazzy drums, the arrangement it's quite conservative, nevertheless it's a great song, and the chorus is so damn good! More or less could be said for Kioku No Tavi, performed by Ryat, which is the 8th track from the album, what stops this one from being better than Summer Love is the use of a certain instrument, I'm not a big fan of the guitar in Jazz, I find its sound intrusive =/ takes away the magic of the Piano... Anyway! both tracks are similar, conservative, well balanced, easy to listen tracks, these are the ones that balance the album amidst the madness that is the middle section of it.
And here is where things get a bit ugly, Bon Bon Villa is by no means a bad song, it's just that it feels way too pop for my liking, but with great performers, instead of Jazz we are listening to some sort of Samba played by a Jazz Band something that SOIL&PIMP has done before with a older release from them called Paraiso (incidentally the track is also the intro for Michiko to Hatchin, an anime I just started to watch), the execution of a Brazil-inspired song is better in the older entry, plus Miho Fukuhara's voice distracts too much from the music (she also performed the ending song "Let it Out" for Full Metal Brotherhood), I'm not saying that her voice subtracts from the overall experience of the song, but it feels like she wants to steal the show, just listen to the last twenty seconds of the song and compare it to the rest of it.
As soon as this track ends it comes another one that is difficult to digest, Light Blue Soldier by Miyavi with a small cameo of SOIL&PIMP, cause that's how I think that song was conceived, he barely leaves room for them to play by using two tracks for his guitar playing skills! The song screams "This is Rock!", without knowing exactly what it's talking about, it edges closer to Bossa and Samba than Rock but oh well... I will let Miyavi think he's playing Rock. Incidentally while browsing I found some of his songs to be quite entertaining, and he knows how to handle a guitar, alas it appears his ego got the best out of this song.
Ananta with U-zhaan, I learned to love this one, such a weird track, it has the progressive genre written all over it! If you know a bit more about progressive music, you will notice how the song makes these sudden changes in tempo and rhythm that feel out of place, but when they are part of a movement, like Ananta is, it makes so much sense, all my years of listening to Yes and Rush (among many others) have taught me to appreciate this genre, heh! even the way it starts is a nice trick =P both drums going against each other, until they find harmony and start playing in unison =) and then it explodes and the rest of the instruments kick in! My favorite of the bunch even if Shacho lyrics in the passage are a bit unsettling.
Frog in the World!... Good God! Initially I didn't like that song, why would they chose Frog... a difficult word for a Japanese to pronounce! the horrible Engrish... hahaha, eventually I got over it, and just like you said, it would make so much sense if I understood Japanese too! What I liked about that track is how it keeps growing and growing until it explodes, that energy is manifested by Tavito Nanao's sweet and fragile voice. That scream before it ends! WOOF!
Hey Tagger I'm Here is a sweet farewell! feels like the ending of an anime =) it's the track from the album that makes me want to hug the singer, Asada Kaori AKA Bonnie Pink has a beautiful voice. It's such a bittersweet song, cause when you are getting comfortable is time to go, which I believe is the best way they could have said goodbye =)
Did you notice that I mentioned only 9 out of 10 tracks?... yeah it happens to be that the sixth track is one called Iceburn... SCREW Iceburn! and screw DJ Kentaro! I won't even bother to bold the name of the song =) I mean WTF! the song starts bad, get's better as soon as the band kicks in, only for him to maul the hard work they did to lift that... that thing he tried to do! there a few things that could be saved from the song, like the great work by like the great keyboard work by Josei, which is the only instrument in the song that is not sampled nor mauled. I mean Dub-Step and Jazz? Really? Do you know what this track reminds me of? There's this song that is featured in the Dreamcast and Wii game Samba de Amigo, titled Samba de Janeiro. That song is not that good, yet it is better than what DJ Kentaro tried to do here... which is weird because he already collaborated with S&P on their 6th album, and his work there wasn't bad at all!
In the end all these tracks do have something in common between them, they are performed by 10 different artists, and SOIL&PIMP"SESSIONS" is the one that is providing support to their songs. So it's a Journey into different iterations of Jazz, the album covers Modern Jazz, Big Band, Classic Jazz, Latin Jazz, Progressive Jazz and some sort of Electronic/DubStep Jazz... (UGH!) Not their best album, and compared to their other releases, it's disappointing, nevertheless it is one of the best albums I've heard this year. Even being bad they are great.
6/10 happy Nachs
- Go visit TAY Classic to get your daily fix of all that Jazz.
- Want more? Why don't you check my other album review of the once popular Swedish Band The Cardigans?
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