Review Summary: The magnum opus in Susumu's catalog. A tightly knitted disc full of emotion, laced over a mechanical orchestration.
Not many individuals have made such an impact in the Japanese electronica circuit as Susumu Hirasawa. Susumu got his first big break in the late 70's as the frontman for the electronic experimental band P-Model. However, in the late 80's, Susumu decided to embark on some solo adventures, his first being 1989's "Jikuu no Mizu (translated in English as Water in Time in Space)". While the P-Model project was eclectic enough in the electronic scene, his solo material was even more rich in terms of sound, as it often had the eclectic electronic style he adapted from his time in P-Model, mixed with countless other genres, such as progressive rock, classical, psychedelic, and even a few ambient tinges. However, with 1994's "Aurora", Susumu managed to collide all of what he has to offer in an astounding disc which brilliantly orchestrates his remarkable talents as a musician.
"Love Song" bleeds astonishing emotion, as Susumu whispers over the relaxed electronic current. The end result is a breathtaking ballad-esqued track which puts all of Susumu's emotions on the forefront. A heart-string puller, and a mellow song which puts the listener into a deep, sleep-like trance, as the atmospheric solar winds of the song blow gently into the ears of the weary listener. "Aurora" is easily one of Susumu's best tracks to date, and offers a stomping sound which battles with a progressive-like epica sound. The sheer powerful punch throughout the song is evident, and makes the song the most vivid and noteworthy track on the album. "Chikara no Uta" has a drowned sound to it, and has progressive Celtic elements scattered all throughout the track. Susumu croons along the churning, rich sound, thus making the track a memorable one as well.
"Kaji wo Tore" is one of the most dramatic songs on the album, and follows a theatrical sound, full of strings and intensifying orchestration, with Susumu bellowing along the frantic song. While it may not be an album highlight, the song is certainly an entertaining one, and one that is fantastic in that spectrum. "Snow Blind" is probably the most mainstream of all the songs, and follows a slow bass line and a keyboard bit, with Susumu following the various ups-and-downs within the song. The bridge is arguably the best part of the song, which has a haunting melody, with drowned synthesizers and Susumu gently singing alongside. An interesting song, and definitely the most approachable one on the album. "Kaze no Bunshin" is an orchestra-based song, similar to "Aurora" in terms of atmospheric power. With the floating orchestral style of the song, "Kaze no Bunshin" easily ranks among one of the album's most solid tracks. "Tobira Jima" is the album's longest song, spanning over 13 minutes in length, and follows a non-rhythmic style, instead centering on sheer electronic-orchestrated emotion. The song, really, is pretty plain in terms of the other songs on the album, but has a unique style to it nonetheless, with bleak, haunting synthesizers levitating throughout the track, and Susumu's vocals rattling throughout the extensive track. The album's final track, "Yonderu Bell", centers around keyboard ambience, and Susumu's over-echoed vocals. The song creates a soothing, relaxing atmosphere, with various celestial bits thrown in to add a spacey feel as well. A fantastic way to close out such a brilliant album.
Throughout the album, "Aurora" proves to be one of, if not THE best, albums in his extensive solo catalog. With a sound that does battle with various influences, "Aurora" expresses one of the most epic sounding electronic-based albums in not just Japanese music history, but easily electronic history as well. Recommended to open minded music fans, as "Aurora" will easily take your breath away, and take you on a dreary, yet equally powerful, ride of which you've never experienced before.