|To Aru Majutsu no Index
|Mami Kawada; Maiko Iuchi; Tomoyuki Nakazawa
|Feb 04, 2009
|Mami Kawada; Maiko Iuchi
|Mami Kawada; Tomoyuki Nakazawa
Review: “Masterpiece” may go down as one of the most ironically titled songs that I’ve come across in awhile because a masterpiece it isn’t. Rather than try to be enjoyable, it takes its cue from To Aru Majutsu Index most admirably by succeeding at being both utterly dull and unimaginative.
Harsh? Perhaps. As I’ve listened to more OP/ED albums, I’ve become more disenchanted with artists who fail to maintain a passable standard of quality and resort to stylistically similar pieces that get worse with each rehash. Mami Kawada’s music exhibits this trend and her stock has fallen drastically in light of her last two singles (this and “PSI-missing“). In listening to “masterpiece,” evaluating and grading this song becomes an exercise in consulting the thesaurus under the word “boring” to prevent the repeated usage of that word lest it become as tiresome as the song itself.
“Masterpiece” starts off with a dissonant blare from a cacophony of synthesizers that proceed into a generic-sounding rock beat to set the rhythm for Mami Kawada’s entrance. Upon entering at 0:18 her voice exhibits a quality similar to someone singing over an aircraft’s radio communications device, which gives the song a cyberpunk atmosphere when combined with the electronica in the background. It’s not a particularly original way to start things off, but up to this point, the issues are minor because this introduction builds up the piece nicely.
The problems appear around 0:42 when the harsh electronic tones die down and Kawada’s singing becomes emotionally muted while the backup singers’ airy tones add nothing to the song, rendering it somewhat disjointed from the introduction. But even that isn’t as damning as the chorus section, which comes across as being so dry and emotionally void that you wonder who came in and sucked all the passion out of Kawada. The melody is repetitive and Kawada’s heart and attention are elsewhere because the way she sings is so unexpressive that the song suffers horribly. I could achieve better results by trying to get a Vocaloid character to sing this track, which is never good news and becomes all the more frustrating when we know Kawada is capable of much more than what she displays here.
After the chorus, there’s little that can be done to preserve what’s left of this track. The interlude consists of cacophony that carries little in the way of substance and a reprise of the chorus adds insult to injury by making its asinine motive all the more ponderous. If there was a place in hell reserved for me, they’d have this song on infinite loop. “Super Special” might have been slightly painful, but here, we don’t even get the benefit of amusement value because its boring melody and terrible singing yields a combination that serves as a kiss of death.
With that first track down, there’s little to hope for from the B side, though thankfully, “jellyfish” isn’t much worse than “masterpiece.” This song starts out with a harsh electronic line that softens slightly to bring out an ethereal quality to the music that then shifts to make way for a strong, overbearing beat. Kawada’s performance in this song lacks expressiveness because the way she sings feels so weak, unassertive, and lifeless. Luckily for her, composer Tomoyuki Nakazawa seems to have been sympathetic to her plight and remedied it by making this song rely very little upon her singing by putting in a minute-long synth beat at 1:43. Unfortunately, the ensuing beat and melody aren’t all that interesting and though the section featuring Kawada from 2:55 to 3:16 is somewhat enjoyable, that’s the sole bright spot in this benighted track. To preserve our sanity, it may just be better to pretend that this album never existed. Let us move on to greener pastures.
I’m not one to speculate about any artist’s career, but if “masterpiece” and “PSI-missing” are of any indication, Mami Kawada is at the twilight of her career. There’s nothing preventing her from making a resurgence, but to do so, she’ll have to go back to the fundamentals. Start off by finding better composers who don’t rely on the same old structure that’s been beaten to death, branching out into different styles to go outside her comfort zone, and working at being more expressive when she sings. Her voice is certainly capable of bringing out solid performances, but until she takes these steps, she’s only drowning herself in the sea of mediocrity.
Opening – masterpiece