|Album Title:||Anime Love Hardcore|
|Artist:||Initial P (Pete Ellison), Toki, Diana Garnett, Yosuke|
|Release Date:||July 21, 2010|
|Purchase at:||iTunes, Disko Warp Music|
|1. Catch You Catch Me||Initial P, Toki||4:27|
|2. Sobakasu||Initial P, Diana Garnett||5:00|
|3. Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis||Initial P, Diana Garnett||4:23|
|4. Heart of Madness||Initial P, Yosuke||3:42|
|5. Delicate ni Sukishite||Initial P, Toki||3:47|
|6. Theme from Lupin the 3rd ’78||Initial P||3:38|
|7. Grip!||Initial P, Diana Garnett||4:07|
|8. Sorairo Days||Initial P, Toki||4:19|
|9. Gekkouka||Initial P, Yosuke||3:57|
|10. Moonlight Dentetsu||Initial P, Diana Garnett||4:35|
Review: Disko Warp Music’s Anime Love Hardcore follows the same formulaic approach that has been used in anime electronica albums since forever and the results are predictable. When the modus operandi consists of speeding up the tempo, adding a rhythm and a few flourishes to the piece, and having someone sing it, there isn’t going to be much in the way of creativity. Expecting these arrangements to expand the scope of the music is pretty much a fool’s errand.
While the means by which the music is produced might not open up the new avenues I’d prefer to hear, the least the artist can do while arranging is make sure that the tracks are skillfully produced. To Pete Ellison’s credit, the instrumentals are never worse than slightly annoying, with random swooshes, gibbering noises, and chiptune sound effects like the ones that pop up on the non-vocal “Theme from Lupin the 3rd ’78” being the only things that really got on my nerves. While I thought that “Theme from Lupin the 3rd ’78” does stick too religiously to the original, I can empathize with wanting to take a safe path in the production of this album. It won’t raise heads, but at least it didn’t grate on my nerves.
The same cannot be said for the vocal tracks however. If any subsequent volumes of Anime Love Hardcore are to be released, one of the first issues that need to be addressed is to either find artists who can sing well or assign songs to artists who are capable of belting out a song in the best possible light. I had a lot of problems listening to Toki’s performances because her voice felt lifeless. Her voice has this girly sound to it, making it perfect for songs like “Catch You Catch Me,” except I never once felt the ebullience that the track is capable of instilling. That’s still nothing compared to “Sorairo Days” though, which sounds ugly the whole way through. Off-tune singing aside, the progression into the lilts carry little more than a speck of emotion that would indicate she’s doing anything other than going through the motions. Perhaps the addition of a vibrato to her delivery would have helped matters because as it stands, she just cannot engage my interest with her performances.
Diana Garnett, while she sounds like she’s singing with a stuffy nose, fares better, especially in the lower registers. I was put off at first by her delivery in Rurouni Kenshin’s “Sokabakasu” because of how weird she sounded while singing the higher notes, but I’m willing to give that a pass because I’ve never had positive associations with the song to begin with. As the album progresses, I heard slight improvements in her performance of the now-overplayed “Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis” and “Grip!,” but it’s not until “Moonlight Densetsu” that she really hits that perfect stride. As a whole, the last song on the album is the best; not only does Garnett put forth a good effort, the song retains the mystical aura that the original possessed and the arrangement worked well at drawing me in.
Of the singers, Yosuke probably delivers the most consistent performance. He stumbles a bit during the parts in “Gekkouka” where the tempo goes by fast, but his rendition of Hokuto no Ken’s “Heart of Madness” comes off as a more energetic version of the original. I’d characterize the original as coming from the same vein as the music in Rocky’s training montage, and it fits with the scene it’s used in in the anime. The arrangement doesn’t stray too far from that aura with Yosuke’s soft-spoken voice carrying the 1980s feel while the electronica gives the song more energy while keeping its macho overtones.
All told, this is a decent first effort and I do hope that the creators take these critiques as ways in which to improve their subsequent works. I’d love to hear a different take on a familiar melody, especially when it’s capable of revealing aspects of a song that I would not have noticed before, and I realize that such a task is really difficult, but the ability to do that is what separates the good happy hardcore music from the rest of the pack.
Rating: Not Good