Posts Tagged ‘Visual Kei’

A&D-Revolution Music

A&DWhile I was studying in Kobe for a year, I blindly bought a ticket to a visual kei concert that was showing approximately 7 bands. The ticket was cheap, about 2,500 yen including the drink fee, and it was on a day when I had no class and could hang out in Shinsaibashi beforehand. I wasn’t expecting anything thrilling, just a nice night listening to music to try and find a new band to follow.

That night I saw A&D, Deluhi, Aicle., xTriPx and Velgreed. To this day I follow them all, and despite their vastly different styles, they bring quite a lot to the visual kei table. A&D, however, stood out more to me than the rest. Ska-inspired visual kei music? What?

That is exactly what they are. Their songs have this playful sense to them and melodies that remind me a great deal of the repetitive nature of ska. But it is the layout of their mini-albums and singles that fascinates me. Namely in that, interspersed with the ska-like happy-go-lucky tunes, there are some serious metal rifts going on. When I first saw A&D, they had just released their first mini-album, Aquarium, and the show was about one month after their formation. In other words, they were incredibly new. And yet their music had a confidence to it that most other bands strive to achieve for the duration of their careers.

Aquarium consists of six songs. No->Eternity opens with a gorgeous piano tune before breaking into melodic guitar rifts and vocals. Though the music itself is relatively slow, the vocals are upbeat. Title track Aquarium follows, and is much slower than the opener. It, for some reason, reminds me of the relaxing bubbles of an aquarium, making it an aptly-titled piece. The third track, Revolution Music, was the song they opened with the day I saw them. It’s the reason I am hooked on them. The bass line is stereotypical ska, but the whole thing is interspersed with catchy rock rifts and vocalizations. To this day, it is my favorite song by them. Go To My Way Go should be the background music to a road-trip scene. It’s light, upbeat, and again hold true to the undertones of ska while just being a fun jam piece. Breaker, a dramatic departure from the other songs on the mini-album, shows the band’s musical prowess and grasp of other genres, fully evidenced later on their follow-up single, Quill. There are strong elements of metal in Breaker, and is more of a mosh piece than the rest of the mini-album. Nanairo Sky rounds out the mini-album, with an upbeat tune much like Revolution Music. It’s a fan favorite, and keeps true to the overall theme of the album.

This is an excellent album, not just in the visual kei genre but in regards to music in general. They put on amazing live performances, and actually promote selling higher-quality merchandise in an effort to give back to the fans as much as the fans give them (just ask the manager and Yuki, the leader of A&D!). A&D adds a lot to the visual kei scene, and I recommend them to all my friends, whether said friends participate in the scene or not. Everyone has loved them so far, so I believe that means they are more than worthy of a chance.

Their website is: http://www.air-dignity.com/ and the members are Shizeru (v), Yuki (g), Saki (g) and Kage (b). This particular album might already be sold out on online stores, but I hope they will appear on a download website sometime in the future. Or you can look on ebay or yahoo auctions. Sorry I can’t be much help in this regard to fans outside of Japan. For those in Japan, there are definitely copies floating around, especially in used shops. They are also embarking on a one-man tour this summer, so people in Japan: GO SEE THEM!

Yes, he says OH MY GOD. And Youtube killed this video, but it’s a great example of their high-energy lives and the sound is excellent. If you can’t stand the video, here’s the recording:

Japanese Concert DVDS

So I own quite a few concert DVDs that I bought in Japan, and I noticed something the other day: I can play my region 2 DVD of Suicide Ali on my computer without having to switch regions. This got me thinking: If I could play this DVD on a standard Toshiba I bought in America a few months ago, does that mean other DVDs will play as well?

I grabbed a small portion of my collection of VK DVDs when I was home:

  • Versailles-History of the Other Side
  • シリアルNUMBER-クリップ集2 (which I bought for 5 dollars at Tower Records, brand new)
  • Psycho le Cemu-理想郷旅行Z at Zepp Tokyo
  • Vidoll-リマインドストーリー
  • Suicide Ali – Stitch Doll comment DVD

Of all the DVDs I tested, the only time I was asked to switch regions was with the シリアルNumber DVD. Even the comment DVD worked, though it made me want to smack Goshi because he talks with his hand in front of his face. And Kozi needs to open his mouth more when he speaks. And Hisashi definitely mumbles which is why I can’t hear him on my interview recording. Hiroshi is solid. I’m done ranting.

Basically, I am writing this to let people know that they CAN buy and play a lot of concert DVDs from Japan WITHOUT having to switch the region/buy a region-free DVD player/do some crazy ripping to make the media work.

Not everyone realizes this, and even I didn’t know the extent of how this works. I have yet to try the DVDs that come with the CD/DVD combo sets, but since the Vidoll one worked (though it was a live recording CD/DVD combo) I will assume it will work for most others.

Stitch Doll and some S.A.

Suicide Ali and I

So this past April at Tekkoshocon (the local anime convention), Tainted Reality brought Suicide Ali and Luzmelt to perform. To be honest, I could have cared less about Luzmelt, as they were too new and I didn’t have a good feel of their music. I was, however, ECSTATIC for the opportunity to see Suicide Ali. During my year in Kansai, I was unable to see them due to either schedule conflicts or just a general lack of shows to choose from. La Carmina managed to score some passes for my friend Shiori (who took all these wonderful pictures) and I, so off we went! Unfortunately, I was coming down with the flu during the week, so when the con-time came, I was dying. I did a ton of stupid things I shouldn’t have/didn’t want to (I left a voice recorder in the interview room, and Suicide Ali had to return it to me later, and also I was shaking people’s hands [I am a germ-a-phobe], so I had multiple mini panic attacks). But the performances did not disappoint in the least, and I am trying to get my butt to Tokyo for their one man (solo show) on Christmas. It was the first time I had seen them perform live since I found out about them back in 2006…sadness.

There will be a new single out the 23rd of June, Stitch Doll, and Tainted Reality had a preview on the broadcast. Now, here’s where I have to bitch a bit: It was INCREDIBLY hard to hear most things on that broadcast. I don’t tune in enough to know whether that’s a regular thing or just how it was that night, but my speakers were knocked up to 11. However, after making sure I was guaranteed an earache by pressing my ear onto the already-turned-up speaker, I really liked what I was hearing. It was much more in line with the song レバンディシュリング(Revandish Ring), which is probably one of my favorites of theirs (but 人間の要[Ningen no Kaname] is my all-time favorite, which was played an as encore THANK GOD). I immediately pre-ordered the Stitch Doll single from Darkest Labyrinth, and paired with the Variable Messiah (Goshi and Hiroshi’s old band) best-of album.

Goshi

Suicide Ali has been around for six years now, and Goshi and Hiroshi about ten. It just amazes me that not many people know about them when the music and vocals are extremely well done. I take that back, the first time I heard Suicide Ali induced a WTF expression on my face that caused my insane Venezuelan roommate to laugh at me. I wish I could remember what the song was, but I suppose I just got so used to their style that I blocked it all out…At any rate, I adore this band and will make every effort to see them in either Osaka or Tokyo, despite the fact I am stuck in Obihiro (with an airport 20-30 minutes away ;])

I recommend:

正しい魔法の作り方 (Tadashii Mahou no Tsukurikata) (single, includes 人間の要 new version. The video on youtube now is the older version of the song, fyi.)

受継がれた指輪 (don’t trust me on this, but Uketsugareta Yubiwa, I THINK) (mini-album, has the version of Ravendish Ring I like the most)

Youtube. Use youtube on this because it links you to so many other songs. CDBaby.com also allows you to preview before you buy, whereas Darkest Labyrinth sells only the CDs with no preview, but also sells signed pictures and posters.

Kozi

I love these pictures. More for the hell of it.

Hiroshi

Hisashi

My CDs shipped today! I can’t wait to get them ❤

What band should I review next? Any opinions?

Visual Kei Review: 愛狂います。ー サイコXレタア

The first Visual Kei band review I will do involves a very unique group from Nagoya.  

愛狂います。, read as Aicle., are self-described as “those apple-looking people”. Really. They said it at a concert in Takadanobaba Area in summer 2009. This could be because ルビ (Rubi, Guitar) has a fascination with attaching “large apples to his head”. Actually, he constantly has some form of apple paraphernalia on his body at any given point in time. This statement could also be from the fact that えみる (Emiru, Vocals) used to have half-red and half-green hair that was spiked up, thus emulating an apple. The other two members, 玲音 (れおん. Leon, Drums) and さらん (Saran, Bass), have less-apple-themed attire and hairstyles. However, that does not mean that the styling of this band focuses solely on the vocalist! Lately, the entire band has done a shift in styling, moving away from their former, more color-centric attire toward a style that can only be described as being bitch-slapped by a  rainbow. (By “color-centric,” I mean each member has one color that they focus on in their wardrobe) They are truly embracing kote-kei and making it their own. I have also heard them described as “Nagoya-kei”, however I am not entirely sure what this phrasing entails. It was also used to describe Lupo Label (now disbanded), yet the music and fashion styling of the bands do not really compare.

Their latest single, サイコXレタア (Psycho Letter),has えみる appearing to channel some SiSeN with his belly shirt, shorts, and color combinations. At any rate, the title of the song is a very accurate description, as the song is rather random and blends multiple styles together. What makes Aicle. great, though, is their ability to actually pull off these combinations. It has, in a sense, become their signature music style. Other Visual Kei bands often attempt to do this type of music style combination, but more often than not they fall on their face in the attempt. There is no other way to describe Aicle. but “unique,” both in the sense of their style, music, and interesing music style.

Here’s what’s going on musically in this single:

さらん may appear to be playing some boring bass lines, but before the bass solo (which is rather simple), he is often playing slap-style. His alternation with ルビ also makes for some interesting plays off one-another musically. Very interesting bass lines going on with this band, very interesting indeed….

玲音 is a soild drummer. Let’s be honest: a good drummer can hold any band afloat. There is a lot more programming in this song, but he holds a steady beat and throws in a few tricks every now and then.

ルビ has been holding down the fort as the main guitarist since the rhythm guitarist, ケイタ (Keita) left in early 2009 due to family issues. I’d say he’s been doing a brilliant job and he is all over the neck of that guitar. I adore the pedals and such that they use, it rounds their unique style out.

えみる. Either you love his vocals, or you hate them. I, personally, like how he can turn off the vibrato for certain parts and back on again for the chorus. His voice is rather high-pitched by male standards, but it works in his favor, adding another layer of unique musicality to the mix. The vocals are standard Aicle., so you have to listen to more songs to understand exactly what I mean by turning on and off the vibrato.

Aicle. is, to me, a true Visual Kei band. They experiment musically and also in the realm of fashion, and pull it off. They are experiencing a huge jump in popularity, selling out shows not only in their native Nagoya but in Tokyo and Osaka as well. If possible, I highly recommend seeing them live, as the fans are just as unique as the band. (They have a certain name, these fans, but I have forgotten it….It was a play on 狂い) There is also a lottery that the goods stand has, called a クラクジ (kurakuji). for about 200 yen, you pull out a lollipop that has a number on it. This number indicates you prize, which ranges from a button to an autographed poster to (this only happened once as far as I know) a meeting with the band for pictures. I won the autographed poster, an autographed photograph of 玲音 before he dyed his hair from blonde to the pink-red-orange, a few candid live photographs, and a hand towel (it’s a Japanese thing…). I also met them after a concert once, sans makeup. That was a bit horrifying, but it was cool just the same.

For those new to Aicle and wanting to hear more, I recommend the following songs, as they give a good overview of what this band can do (and they can all be found on youtube!):

心臓 (Shinzou)

トウメイニンゲン (Toumei Ningen)

ハマー*ヘッド (Hammerhead)

ゴメンナサイ (Gomen Nasai)

Choco Sand Biscuit Cream

That’s all for this review (wow, that was lengthy…) but I hope it was enjoyable! If you have any bands or singles that you want me to review, just post them in the comment section or shoot me an email!

Aicle. circa Hammerhead