Review Summary: Less is More
The blueprint of an artist’s works all lie within their composition, where the potential of a song can ultimately be realized or end up squandered. Ichiko Aoba’s musical concept is simple and rather minimalistic. She emphasizes the simplicity and stretches it to the limit, creating music that lacks various instrumental elements in order to highlight the elements she chooses to employ. Kamisori Otome (Razor Maiden)
is a showcase of brilliant composition, positioning an intertwining vocal harmony along the vibrating strings of the guitar, proving that less is more.
In the opener, ‘Fuwa Rin’, a gently strummed guitar seizes the listener, leading them into a room filled with Ichiko’s reverberating voice; “fuwari fuwari (floating gently along)”
is a befitting line for the song itself. In each song, the melodies are fluttering, shifting between sections, creating warm, lush, and dreamy textures as if you are lying on top of a cloud. Ichiko is never hesitant to make the most intimate sounds, almost like she is whispering gently into your ear. She paints the blank album art with her music, transforming the mere shade of white from the album art into a colorful landscape, unfolding into the dreamy world of Ichiko Aoba.
Ichiko Aoba’s emergence as a singer-songwriter signifies not only her technical skills, but also her songwriting ability. She often evokes the vivid imagery of certain places, connecting her listeners to her own experience. In Kamisori Otome
, the lines are often uplifting, lighthearted, and occasionally romantic, leaving not even a slightest room for depressiveness. Ichiko’s lyrics are usually hard to decipher. As they are written in Japanese, a normal translation wouldn’t help in order to truly understand the meaning behind them. With lines like, “Let me tell you my secret:/ If you get off three stations down from there/ You’ll hear the sound of the master key (translated),”
one needs a certain level of understanding of the context and references behind the lyrics. But even without such context, the blissfulness within this album remains intact.
is a rather homogeneous piece of work, in terms of how it sounds and how it is structured. Though, thanks to its short, 27-minute, Kamisori Otome
avoids overstaying its welcome, even transforming the homogeneity into something that works in its favour. The lack of experimentation and obvious variation is something that engenders the idea that this debut signifies the humble beginnings of Ichiko Aoba.