Review Summary: While as a whole, "April. #02" is a fine achievement, the inconsistency and disorganization are truly damaging to the overall experience.
With Kashiwa Daisuke, it seems like creativity comes naturally. While combining post-rock and electronica is nothing revolutionary, the way he composes is nothing short of extraordinary. Well, that was the case for his crowning achievement, "Program Music I." It was a brilliant, and fantastic exploration of neo-classical and electronica. In reality, Daisuke is incredibly inconsistent. The follow up to his 2007 effort, "5 Dec." saw the artist in complete disarray. It was a mess of bleeps and bloops, stewing in a vat of static and disorganized noise. Needless to say, the change in direction left much to be desired. It lacked the beautiful harmonies and well thought out passages found in "Program Music I," and instead filled the holes with an oppressive electronic aesthetic.
Yet it is interesting to see his humble beginnings. His solo project arose after the disbanding of post-rock outfit, Yokada. Therefore one would assume the early sound of Kashiwa Daisuke to take a more post-rock direction. However, his first effort "April. #02," sounds more like an amalgamation of the two albums mentioned earlier. It walks a middle ground between "Program Music I" and "5 Dec." The electronica influence is more prevalent than in "Program Music I," yet it features much of what made said album great. While the sweeping melodies and string work are included, the bleeps and bloops play a very large role. This is both a nice detail, and an unfortunate annoyance.
With artists in the vein of Daisuke, it's often difficult to find a nice balance between the two styles. It's either too much or too little of either aesthetic. "April.#02" often finds a nice balance between the two, and for the most part the electronic and post-rock blends wonderfully. However, as a whole, the album is incredibly inconsistent. Stylistically, it's a mish-mash of sounds and noises, that only seem to come together by chance. And that's the biggest failing of the album. Sections of the album appear to happen by accident. Beautiful harmonies and passages are halted by static and twitchy noises, and it's sort of a toss up as to whether or not it will recover. That is not to say that electronica ruins the album, but it's poor handling certainly hurts it in the long run.
While these criticisms seem like a deal breaker, for the most part, "April.#02" is a wholly worthwhile listen. The energetic creativity is clearly in check with songs like the title track. The title track is about 25 minutes in length, and feels like predecessor to "Program Music I." It encompasses many styles, and is exceptionally varied throughout, keeping the track fresh and interesting. Yet even within this great track lies a very unsure artist, unable to organize his music into such an ambitious track. At times, it doesn't flow quite right, and stylistically it's very uneven. Yet the good outweighs the bad, making it quite a standout on the album.
While the album finishes out strong, the middle seems to take a nosedive. The two subsequent songs after "April. #02" drag, and the misused electronics are more prevalent than ever. While novel in most respects, "Airdrop" and "Deepblue" don't do much to turn heads. However, the album's two final songs, "Rabbit's Quartet" and "The Unexclusive Virus," really close things well. The former is a mildly lively piano piece, and manages to be both dreamy and interesting. It's a very mellow piece that features some neat electronic detail without sacrificing beauty and intrigue. The closer manages to be incredibly minimalist, yet still evocative. It's a great piece to end on, as it allows the album to slip away gracefully.
"April.#02" is a great album, and clearly displays the promise and creativity of a natural born musical mind beginning to blossom. For the most part, everything works incredibly well, and at times the effort is very provocative and wholly entertaining. However, it lacks maturity and consistency, which ultimately bogs down the entire experience.