Review Summary: An "interesting" album from one of Japan's most demented, yet creative, indie artists.
Dear god, what have I gotten myself into this time? I managed to get myself trapped in the demented world of Japan's Hanayo, and once you get in, you're hardly ever the same. Hanayo is known as a Japanese indie goddess, and it shows, with her unique blend of various elements (ambient, industrial, noise, psychedelic, and trip-hop being some of the very few genres she mixed throughout the years) and her soft and deceiving voice. With the release of "Gift", Hanayo manages to break out of indie obscurity and carves herself a spot among indie/experimental greats around the globe.
The album starts off with "Sometime a Girl Loves a Boy", which blends ambient tone with haunting and psychedelic elements, making it a track that ejects you into the world of Hanayo at full speed, before heading off into "Give U the Star", which is a f**ked track by itself, that has a progressive electro sound, with a zooming and penetrative bass line, and has Hanayo yipping at the listener. By the time "Sala Sala" comes on, the average listener is already stunned with the bizarre display of the first two tracks. But "Sala Sala" manages to take the cake of psychosis (thus far), with a haunting melody and cult-like percussion. The icing on the cake is Hanayo's ever-upbeat vocals, as they push the track into quite disturbing grounds. By the time that track is over, the singer has about half a minute to recuperate with the brief interlude, "Dear My Doc", before heading back into quite dark territory with the track "Les Sucettes", which starts off as a dancy/electro track, before breaking off into a noisy track, fronted by Hanayo's French lyrics. That wouldn't sound so bad, if Hanayo wasn't screaming in pain and trauma by the end of the track. By the time that track is done, "874 Cry Baby Killer" starts up, and is exactly as musically disturbing as the title would lead you to believe. However, the production actually makes this a bouncy track in some ways, in some grim, hellish way.
"Comonamyhouse" follows the path of grimness, and adds a bit of sinister themes to it, making it a good track, despite the whispered lyrics (or lack there of) over a traumatizing rhythm. And yes, trauma is the name of the game with "Gift". "Miso Supe" is a track that is based almost entirely on obnoxious noises and a repetitive bass line over all, but plays nicely into Hanayo's highly dark tale. "ISDN" is an interesting turn in the album, as it actually has a computer based beat to it, as Hanayo and the computer chant out a code of some sort. However, the album is brought back down to the album's bareboned grim theme with "(Ga) (Bon)", and has a dark organ based sound attached to it, but with various ethereal sound effects still in tact. "Banzai Neoteny" is actually one of the album's only sheer listening points, that takes a bit of the electronica in the album, and mixes it with the dark theme of the album, making it not a total bastard-child type of a track. The album then closes halfway with "Kimigayo", which is Hanayo's spin on the Japanese national anthem (interesting, as one might already know). The album then officially signs off with "Joe le Taxi", which is a cover of an 80's French pop song, but with a hardcore electro-club bite. A unique sign-off for the overall emotionally draining album.
The album takes you inside the mind of one of Japan's most darkest and disturbed minded experimental artists to date, and takes you on a journey of trauma through music and various sounds. While the darkness and experimentation is overbearing in some ways, the album is superb in its attempts of mixing a highly dark theme, with a few upbeat moments intact. The album is for the most part, however, a mentally and emotionally challenging listen. However, if you can cope with all of the emotional trauma behind this album, and are a fan of HIGHLY experimental music, check it out. Otherwise, STAY THE HELL AWAY.