|March 09, 2011
|02. Onaji Yume
|03. Down By The Salley Gardens
Review: If Fractale’s OP sequence, with its mesmerizing colors swirling and out, doesn’t sufficiently capture your attention on its own, then Hitomi Azuma’s “Harinezumi” should make it more stimulating. “Harinezumi” derives much of its captivating power from its impeccable combination of vocals and instrumentals. Neither component overshadows the other and both work together in concert to deliver a transcendent experience. Azuma’s delivery, in particular, is engrossing in the way it ebbs and flows, moving from a confident tone to a brief melancholy interlude before she navigates towards the energetic chorus.
Once there, Azuma’s emphatic expression knocks me out of my subdued, wandering reverie as it shakes off the shadowy burdens and pushes me into a higher realm of being. The hefty dose of energy accompanying the chorus, dealt through the synth, also makes me more sensitive to the singer’s longing and anguish which she delivers through the lilting phrases. It helps that “Harinezumi” isn’t static either. As it proceeds, the melancholy slowly melts away, replaced by a smidgen of hope which creeps in until it becomes wholly elevating by the end, making it one of the more engaging techno J-pop fusions I’ve heard lately.
The next track, “Onaji Yume,” true to its title, does an excellent job in sculpting an animated dreamscape. It starts with a light techno pajama-pop sound (think Lullatone), imbuing the song with a light, bouncy atmosphere and evoking the image of someone wandering past corridors filled with quaint, childhood memories. Azuma’s mellow delivery reinforces the nostalgia as the two vocal layers are interwoven to form a pleasant aural quilt made up of those playful memories yearning to make themselves known once more. Their wishes are granted, and they bubble forth during the chorus, showering me with a bevy of synth that feels like an explosion of life and color. The joy it exudes is inviting, and I can’t help but surrender my senses so as to relive those euphoric moments once more.
Finally, this album closes up with a Japanese-accented rendition of “Down by the Salley Gardens” played to a traditional-sounding Irish theme. Its folksy atmosphere serves as a nice contrast to all the techno and pajama-pop in the prior tracks while demonstrating the extent of Hitomi Azuma’s expressiveness through her yearning delivery that hearkens towards a rustic sort of nostalgia. The only major issue lies in her Engrish pronunciation, but on the whole, this nice, slow-paced track makes for a relaxing way to close the album out as it allows the listener to fondly reminisce over lost love.
In Harinezumi, Hitomi Azuma shows us her grasp for conveying confidence, melancholy, mellowness, and nostalgia through her singing, and doing a competent job of it all. Given that this is her debut single, that feat is all the more impressive, and I do hope there’s a long career ahead of her, especially since she has the vocal chops to back it all up.
Rating: Very Good
Fractale OP – Harinezumi
Fractale ED – Down by the Salley Gardens