TM Revolution - Seventh Heaven (Mania.com)
Date: Thursday, June 24, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 04, 2004
What They Say
In anticipation of a wonderful performance at the upcoming 2004 Pacific Media Expo, from Tofu Records comes T.M.R's next big release: SEVENTH HEAVEN - and on it are 11 tracks certain to take you there.
Packaging: promo: C-
Tofu Records does promotional and review copies of their discs the way most major record labels do: the reviewer receives a stripped-down version of the packaging, but the CD is complete. I can only review what I hold in my hot little hands, which is a cardboard sleeve adorned on the front with the gender-bending album cover and on the back with the song titles and "promotional use only" fodder.
The T.M.Revolution is short for Takanori Makes Revolution. Takanori Nishikawa is known in American otaku circles for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being his short U.S. tour last year. He has also been involved in the Gundam SEED series both as a voice actor and a musician, when he provided the voice for Miguel and a few of the theme songs, one being Zips (included on this release).
The cover of the album is silver and black, with a very feminine Takanori wrapping his gloved arm around a more masculine Takanori. I'd use the word "masturbatory" to describe this sort of thing in English music, and I'm not above using it here too. Even though he is really pretty. Still, if the selling point of this disc is T.M.Revolution's looks alone, then Tofu might have been better off sending me the full booklet. Lyrics would have been MUCH appreciated. The disc itself is VERY pretty, even though the screen-printing doesn't seem entirely lined up. The picture is of both Takanoris, laying around on the floor, looking pretty and tragic. Really lovely.
A note: While I was not sent the lyrics to the songs, it was pointed out to me that Tofu Records offers the translation to one of T.M.Revolution's albums, "coordinate", on their website. I hope they will soon offer the translation to this album as well. http://www.tofurecords.com
As usual, I'll break this down into a brief discussion of each track, and I'll summarize at the end. I started this disc with high hopes?I don't think I have any friends who dislike this man's music.
1. Key of SEVENTH HEAVEN
The opening of this track exudes mystery. Then, it quickly slides into a track that makes me confused?do I grab my old Nintendo controller, or do I go for the glowsticks?? No end to this track, it segues into track two.
2. Albireo (album ver.)
The most readily available single for this artist right now is Albireo, and while its not original in its composition, it makes my heart pound when I hear it. It harkens to the more theatrical turn-of-the-millennium K-pop by bands like H.O.T. Trust me, that never hurts. Its cliché, its unoriginal, its perfect. The guitar solo in the middle is surrounded by one of the nicest and most powerfully emotive voices since Yoshiki (X-Japan).
More and more, this album is shaping up to be JUST LIKE an H.O.T. album?specifically, "I-yah!". And yet, it stands alone because of its lack of bitter societal anger mixed with goodwill for mankind?and the rap. I don't hear this guy trying to rap. There is a God. Another fast-paced track, Zips conjures an urgency with its driving bassline. This track makes me curious?is T.M.Revolution his own backup singer? This was the Gundam SEED Special Edition opening theme. Knowing that almost makes me want to learn more about this series.
4. destined for?
This is more of a middle-of-the-road track, with an acoustic guitar playing highly in the mix. After the last track, this feels like either a B-side or an ending theme to a shoujo series. Takanori really evokes a sense of longing here. This is a very formulaic pop ballad, and there's nothing wrong with that. Without lyrics here, I feel a little lost, and if this weren't following a formula, I might have been completely lost. The key change in the last chorus is very 1980's and pushes me further into a comfort zone. Lovely track. Ends with a fade of about 40 seconds.
5. ARTERIAL FEAR
More ear-to-ear stereo action!! "Sense of sight, fear in the night!" grabbed me?it's a gripping beginning to this track. This is VERY heavy on the synthesizer, giving it a wonderful early 1980's new-wave/goth feel to it, while incorporating the kind of industrial you might hear on the more mainstream releases by VNV Nation. Takanori's vocals glide through this track like a boat through black water, pulling the listener into his heavily-makeup'd horror-show. It fades out too soon!!!!! I want closure.
6. Grateful World
?and while I am not afforded my closure, T.M.Revolution's horror-show takes a turn back onto a roller-coaster. Grateful World feels like K-pop of years past. This smacks of Dance Dance Revolution, even through the intense emotion in Takanori's voice?it seems to always be there. I'm coming to really enjoy his vibrato, which cut the near-stale quality of these songs. I want this man's voice to be doing something innovative, even though I'm enjoying the bend it gives this techno track, which, like the track before, ends without a sense of closure.
A guitar and a VERY strange use of Takanori's voice jar the listener into this unusual song. I asked for innovation, and in a sense, I get that here. While the song follows formula, we hear a pleasant and new whine in his voice that endears me to this very simple song. Stripped down, he sounds a little less grand and a little more like someone I might know, singing for his supper. The rest of the band comes in after one full rotation (verse-bridge-chorus), and this shapes up to be another middle-of-the-road track sweetened by Takanori's unique timbre. I'd love to hear this track live.
8. Get Over The Rain
This is almost entirely electric guitar and synthesizers. Takanori's voice is so compelling here! I was surprised to be greeted right at the beginning with a short version of the chorus. A nice spin on a nice Japanese pop formula. Here, it works especially well to hook the listener for the entirety of the song?I keep wanting to hear more of this hardcore para-para-inspiring delight. His vocals here edge on the roughness of punk, even though he's singing a very melodious song. This track stands out for me and I'm not entirely sure why!
9. Engraved On The Moon
Church bells and that ever present electric guitar push the listener into a song that feels a little like David Bowie's Tin Machine phase: rock'n'roll with emotion and that 1990's sparkle that all music from that post-pop/pre-grunge moment seemed to come away with. The synthesizers are a cute touch in this song. This feels heavier than it needed to be. NICE ENDING, with Takanori against the silence.
10. Tears Macerate Reason
.Another synth-driven song, not unlike the Project A-ko pop tracks. The guitars and drums add weight to this track, just like Engraved on the Moon, but it feels more appropriate here. This is a solid power ballad, one of the most fun and memorable on the whole album.
11. Wheel of fortune
This sounds a little like Malice Mizer, boys and girls. Still a formula song, but it integrates a nice mix of that heavy techno we saw at the beginning with the emotion Takanori exhibited in Grateful World. A fitting end to a pleasant disc.
In summary, let me make one thing crystal clear. This is not innovation. This is pop. Formulaic, a little heavy in composition at times, with a lot of techno and rock thrown in for good measure, but pop nonetheless. I had a lot of fun listening to this disc and will probably add it to my travel music rotation, as the mix of Takanori's voice and the compelling bassline are very conducive to Blade Runner/Matrix/giant robot imaginings. Close your eyes with this one, and slip away. I highly recommend it in the face of every cliché. This is good stuff from familiar territory.
Key of SEVENTH HEAVEN ,Albireo (album ver.),Zips ,destined for... ,ARTERIAL FEAR,Graceful World ,GUNJOH ,Get Over The Rain,Engraved On The Moon ,Tears Macerate Reason ,Wheel of fortune
Age Rating: All
Released By: Tofu Records
Aspect Ratio: TOF-008
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2