Review Summary: Stuck in a tug of war between euphoria and hopelessness.
Try as I might to settle on an answer, Totsuka no Tsurugi
's prevailing mood is proving elusive to me. For reasons I'll divulge in a moment, 'euphoric' doesn't feel quite right, as much as the case for it is the most immediate; while its title may point towards darker vistas, opener 'Eternal Loneliness' is probably the best example of its lighter side. Borrowing much from the orderly yet spirited world of tech house, its bombastic synths, lively character and repetitive, layered nature make it as at home in the ecstasy-fuelled clubhouse as it is in the bedroom of the introvert. However, as the EP continues this optimism starts to fade. The title track has an air of Ridley Scott's Alien about it
– echoing, metallic crashes disrupt the 'laser-gun' bassline, looming breakbeats threatening to burst into the foreground like a Xenomorph's offspring. The celestial twinkling and upbeat patina of 'Heartbreaker' is promising, yet marred by the dooming mantra ”alive or dead: your choice”
. Indeed, by the time 'Demons of the Past' comes forth, it feels as though the joie de vivre
has drained from the French producer. The pace remains, but the flighty, carefree melodies are replaced by deliberate, functional lines; the bass seems to intensify, seeking to intimidate rather than move the listener.
Therefore, it would appear that Totsuka no Tsurugi
is the soundtrack to a well-fought, yet ultimately hopeless descent into brutalism; however, its forays into melancholia blur the lines between bliss and industrial sterility. The end of 'Eternal Loneliness'', for example, sees its bittersweet undercurrent rise to the forefront, finishing the piece on a more sullen note than one might have expected. The aforementioned phrase used in 'Heartbreaker' is the starkest light/dark juxtaposition here, the listener reminded of life's finite nature during a moment of otherwise childlike wonder. Yet, these lugubrious features aren't just used as a mere downer; crucially, closer 'Demons of the Past' does not end
on a wholly emotionless, dehumanised note. The 'deliberate, functional' melody mentioned earlier is certainly that, but it's also beautiful, wistful, sad – a flicker of colour in an increasingly greyscale soundscape. For this reason,while 'euphoric' isn't the right word to describe Totsuka no Tsurugi
, 'hopeless' isn't the right one either. It seems to land a middle ground between the two, constantly caught in a tug of war with itself; being privy to it is spellbinding.