Review Summary: The far-east sends its love with this incredible dreamy adventure from one of Japan's finest.
The far east corner of Asia is such a distant place. There are many wonders hidden in its shadows and if you search hard enough, you'll find some real treasure. One of these such treasures you might happen upon is an eccentric rock band by the name of BUCK-TICK. Almost unheard of in the western world, in Japan, these guys are a whole generation of music. Their colourful blend of gothic rock, new wave and traditional rock can at times make for an intriguing listen but a lot of the time, makes for a hard listen. BUCK-TICK's releases tend to be rather long and at times tedious to sit through (for example; Six/Nine; 13-kai wa Gekkou), often lacking focus where it's needed and needless to say, their distinct sound is probably somewhat of an acquired taste. As a result of this and there massive discography, getting into them is quite a challenge. That's where this particular album comes in. You'll find this twelve albums in, obscured within the mass of ignorable looking releases between Darker Than Darkness (Style 93) and 13-Kai wa Gekkou.
Originally intended as a double album with Mona Lisa Overdrive and generally considered the weaker of the two (which is far from the truth), Kyokutou I Love You brings a sound both recognisably BUCK-TICK and something a little different for a change. The album experiments with a lot of electronic sounds and keyboards akin to the albums released around it. The difference in this release however is that unlike Sexy Stream Liner or Mona Lisa Overdrive, the electronic sounds here are never overbearing and arguably more atmospheric, making for a very enjoyable listen. Kyokutou I Love You is also BUCK-TICK's most mellow effort made up of lots more slower ballad type tracks than previous efforts. The album presents a sound-scape that feels at times as though you are floating on clouds and then in an instant you are in the midst of a fiery inferno. You float up through the clouds with the opener "Shippu no Blade Runner," its dark poetry warming you up for the whirlwind of sonic bliss and vivid imagery the album is about to conjure up. The song shows off the albums versatility very early on starting off with a dreamy combination of keyboard, acoustic guitar and soft vocals before a whirlwind of instruments join in. The song moulds itself into the T Rex inspired "21st Cherry Boy" after lowering its sound back to the way it started. "21st Cherry Boy" is a great example of the recognisable BUCK-TICK sound still being present (and the less than subtle sexually charged lyrics of course) within the hurricane of experimentation.
The album has some ingenious moments where you could float off on a cloud and forget all of your troubles. "WARP DAY" and "Shanikusai-Carnival" being the best example of these. These mesmerising tracks are one of the main things that makes this album stand out amongst its peers. "Shanikusai-Carnival" in particular is a standout addition to BUCK-TICK's enormous discography. BUCK-TICK's longer songs tend to have a lighter atmosphere to them, where as "Shanikusai-Carnival" contains a darker atmosphere that is probably what evolved into the sound on 13-Kai wa Gekkou as it is very reminiscent of the albums spooky nightmare filled atmosphere.
The albums lyrics are some of Atsushi Sakurai's best. The touching ode to his deceased mother in "Long Distance Call" is heartbreaking and captivating. The album explores the more vivid parts of his imagination from the nocturnal "Ghost" to the blood boiling "Trigger" and the call for unity in the intense atmosphere in "Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete" Sakurai is at his zenith. His writing is solid throughout the entirety of the record and his delivery is even more so, never failing to impress and really adding those final touches to the powerful ethereal atmosphere captured by the album. Hisashi Imai's work on the lyrical front simply cannot be ignored either, the rushing winds of "Shippu no Blade Runner" were his doing after all. The majority of the albums incredible composition is his as well and he has really brought out the best of his work on this effort. Acoustic guitar makes a bit more of an appearance on this album, songs like "Brilliant" take on lives of there own with it. "Brilliant" and "Oukoku Kingdom Come" have an almost post-rock feel to them as well along with "Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete" although the later is at the other end of the sonic spectrum.
"Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete" is my personal favourite BUCK-TICK song and deserves special mention. This song contains a strength to it that is basically unparalleled by any of their other songs. The song seems like some sort of desperate cry of love out to the rest of the world (hence the songs title, in english "From the Far-East with Love" I suppose) hoping that someone will hear it, "could that person be you"" The world needs to love itself, it has to be capable. So much is captured in this song and the songs instrumentals capture the intensity. The instruments seem to bury each other, but everything is distinctly audible. A promenant keyboard and Sakurai's powerful baritone voice dominate and pull the song with them. The song is so much louder than their other songs, everything seems to be distorted in someway. The melody is also one of the bands most gripping, the song just doesn't seem to last long enough for you to have had enough. Everytime the line "Ai wo Kome Utau, Asia no Hate de" comes around, your soul just instinctively sings along with it, regardless of whether or not you actually understand what it means (I had to look all the lyrics up). Words do not describe this song, it's a force we're not meant to fully understand.
From the hurricane of dynamics of "Shippu no Blade Runner," the dream-scape that is "Shanikusai-Carnival" the opus that is "Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete," all the way through to the wordless noise that is the albums epilouge "Continue," Kyokutou I Love You never lets you down. Although not perfect and rather experimental, it's more than deserving of your time. Kyokutou I Love You is however one of those albums that takes another listen to be appreciated fully, you won't come away disappointed. I hope other people enjoy this album as much as I do and that BUCK-TICK are brought to a wider audience at some point in the future. Probably not the best place to start, but definitely not one to miss, Kyokutou I Love You is one of BUCK-TICK's finest, be sure to check it out.