Review Summary: Infectious electronica album from experienced Japanese outfit which will lure you in with their catchy songs, and not their rough grasp of the English language.
Despite only surfacing in 2001, Japanese electro duo Capsule have rapidly established themselves as one of the country's most industrious bands, and with the release of "Flash Back" marks the band's tenth release. Over the years Capsule's sound has developed from its early "bubblegum pop" foundations and progressed to the more mature electronic sound which it has nurtured over recent albums. "Flash Back" re-enforces this maturity, but with it, maintains the playful message which each release has had.
The album's nine songs vary but they collectively come together to formulate an album built on pulsating basslines, infectious synths and memorable melodies. Songwriter and producer Yasutaka Nakata has carefully crafted these songs to leave a lasting impression on the listener. The opening track “construction” is essentially an intro at just one minute long, yet its tense build up creates an uneasy atmosphere which is dark and mysterious. The album kicks into overdrive soon after with the high energy, in your face, electronica explosion, that is the instrumental title track. It lures in the listener with its choppy drums and banging basslines, epitomising the recent transition Capsule has underwent.
One interesting move is singer Toshiko Koshijima is used less frequently on the album, with the introduction of guest vocalists on certain tracks. For example, "You are the reason" has a distinct European flavour to it, departing from Koshijima's trademark robotic distorted vocals in favour for an almost generic clean female voice. However, this doesn't hinder the high tempo dance track, and in fact, becomes one of the strongest tracks on the album. The seductive "Love Me" continues where the previous track left off with another clean female voice commanding the pace of the dark yet catchy track. On the other hand, “MUSiiX” sees Nakata experimenting with static effects, looped vocals and generally inserting his trademark bass sound to create a highly charged formula.
Whilst there is no question "Flash Back" is predominantly an energetic electronica album, there are several songs which add another dimension to the cohesive flow of the offering.
"Eternity" creates a summer mood, full of pop and fun, but still with a mature synth accompaniment. Koshijima’s contribution to Capsule has always been her ability to add simple and catchy vocals. This is shown by “Get down” which has the simple lyrics of “1 2 3 4 get down get down” which sounds frankly silly but unsurprisingly, becomes lodged in your brain instantly. “I’m feeling you” has a beautiful and poignant feeling to it which is cradled by soft distorted vocals and by the end leaves you more relaxed than pumped up. This calm atmosphere is continued with the closing track “Electric Light Moon Light” and it differentiates to all the tracks due to it mainly being sung in Japanese.
To any experienced listeners of Capsule, this is a progressive and accomplished expansion of their already vast catalogue of albums, but to the majority who are unaware of this band; this will give you a true insight to their modern sound and "Flash Back" is highly recommended to anyone looking for a starting point.