Review Summary: Beauty and Chaos
Kashiwa's newest release sounds nothing like any of its predecessors. Gone are the lavish, captivating soundscapes lead by string and piano. Gone is the humility, and gone are the gradual build-ups. This one opens with 90 seconds of drums only, and the song that follows isn't humble in the slightest, but bold and intense, even aggressive.
The album relies heavily on rhythm, on drums, electronic effects, and on distortion, tiny moments where the music cuts out, or where something totally bizarre is thrown in the mix, the kind of thing that was most prominent on April.#02, but wholly absent for the past four records. The single most prominent addition, however, has to be the usage of vocals, which are a major presence in almost every track.
Now, this isn't new. Vocals were around on 9 songs, too. But 9 songs ain't that good – most of it's arguably filler. This one is different. Re:RED is a beast, it is complex, dynamic, fresh, and aggressive. One thing that is most reminiscent of April #02 and Program Music I, in particular, is just how far it takes its ideas. The songs are so much more than just some simple melody turned into something presentable; they are their own little journeys, where an idea is taken and explored to its fullest, with all the effort necessary to really do it justice. The opener Roar
is not just great because it's radically different, it's great because of how far it's willing to go, how much passion has really been put into it. On my first listen, I was already impressed when, after the first four minutes, it begins to fade out and I assumed that was it. It's not. Those four minutes were just the introduction, where you can get a sense of what's in store for you. The ending is where fire is unleashed.
And there's plenty of diversity within the album, too. Hail Storms
takes the new style into a wholly different direction, relying heavily, at times exclusively, on beautiful vocals to deliver a song that's hauntingly melancholic... starting from a timid beginning and building for over eight minutes, reaching amazing heights on the way... and then you realize that the song doesn't even have lyrics, so much emotion but on an empty map. Subliminal Affirmation
feels similarly grand and is in some ways the most extreme out of the material present here. If you were ever curious what it would sound like if Kashiwa decided to turn this distortion thing to the absolute maximum, to see just how far you can possibly go with drum bits, chopped vocal samples, and weird effects all mixed together in a bizarre maelstrom of chaos, this is the track for you.
Having said all of this, one thing I'm certainly not claiming is that the album is consistent. Personally, I find both #6 and #8 abhorrent – please don't ever include male vocals again – but heights and lows do not cancel out. In a world with more music than one could ever consume, the function that maps values of songs to the value of an album looks much more like max
And the songs that shine, they shine brightly. This album is a must-hear for anyone with a genuinely open mind.
Hail Storms; Roar, EVAツ, Subliminal Affirmation, Secret Play Sacred Place