Review Summary: Inside the Actors Studio... with Guernica.
We are introduced to – rather abruptly and unrelentingly, mind you – Guernica's shrill style with songs that embody oddly specific sensations the way around... Perhaps if you were able to pair the sonic equivalent of a Studio Ghibli film with a few choice hallucinations, you would be close to describing the rambunctious Shinseiki e no Unga
. Horns blare with Vegas-kitsch, often blasting out with jazz flare or a classical sensibility, without throwing the listener for too much of a loop, and still remaining formal despite it being completely out-of-control. And the vocals could be likened to a cooing opera singer to a crazed cabaret performer, with an incredible range of timbres and styles that range from shrill to resounding to soaring, adding quite the amount of character to each song on display. To add to that, orchestral arrangements add to the maelstrom of ideas, with examples being the dizzying atmosphere created by the strings on the second track and the fragmented call-and-response between the string section, percussion and brass on the grand finale. This extensibility is not the sole focus of the album though; it is not exhausting to listen to, or superficially zany on any level. In contrast, the caffeinated orchestration and the cheap Casio tones have been tenderly cared to, in order to amplify their presence in subtle, near indescribable ways. Humanity is still intact, with humor on the part of the careening vocals and the passion on part of the majestic winds and the urgent strings. Whimsy also plays a part with regards to this pathos and the escapist qualities of the album. Certain horn lines at the beginning of the album could be likened to Wagner, and others are easily compared to Atlantic City casinos or a fantastical cruise ship cabaret. With an incredible cinematic quality and a knack for theatrics, Shinseiki e no Unga
is watermarked with all the details of a stage performance, overloaded on kitsch. And it's truly all for the better, for this case this half hour is splendorous.