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NICO Touches the Walls- Aurora

2009年 12月 8日

Haaah unusual cover. Does anyone know what those animals are? I know Mika Nakashima was walking one of them in her single, Oborodzuki ~Inori~.
~EDIT: apparently those are Malaysian tapirs

Aurora, the title track, is less than 2 minutes long. I was truly impressed with vocalist Tatsuya’s precision with his falsetto. What I love though, was the carefulness of the guitars. Aurora had the right blend of melody and rhythm. Too bad this wasn’t a full song!

Hologram was used as the second OP for the anime Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. When I watched the anime I thought Hologram was an awkward transition from YUI’s Again. However, when I listen to this song on its own I’m totally addicted to it. It’s an upbeat rock song perfect for an anime like FMA. I love the guitar work… we can go from solos to accompaniments seamlessly. I loved the bridge of this song especially because of the vocal manipulation. For the final chorus the melody switches to a different arrangement, which is kinda cool. This is my favorite track off of the album.

We follow Hologram with another great track, Me. Me is slower paced and has a relaxing feel to it. It’s not quite a ballad, but we have a more progressive feel here. There’s also a beautiful guitar solo (duet) in the middle of the song. Also, Tatsuya can really belt out some notes!

Lonesome Ghost has a totally different feel from anything we’ve heard yet. We begin with some ethnic drums, and we’re prepared for a kind of latino vibe. This song had much more of a Western influence IMO. I personally dislike about 99% of Western music motifs, so this song doesn’t really work for me. It’s a spicier rock song, so if you’re into that kind of stuff then this song is good for you. Also, Tatsuya’s English is pretty good!

BIGFOOT has a Western kind of feel initially, but I think it morphs into something totally its own after the intro. BIGFOOT is a great example of NICO Touches the Walls’ ability to make each song unique.

Kakera -Subete no Omoitachi e- begins with something Kagrra,-esque. While you shouldn’t expect to hear a shakuhachi anytime soon, Kakera has a very nice feel. Overall it’s a laid-back and calm song. Be sure to pay attention to the instrumentals here… bass gets a more complex part in this song.

Sabitekita totally changes the mood. It’s of the “spicy” vibe, similar to Lonesome Ghost… but better. While it still isn’t a typical Eastern rock melody, it’s a pretty inventive and sexy track. Seems like NICO has a tendency to borrow from latino melodies.

Now we have LEO, a song over 5 minutes long, and with a very ominous intro. It actually songs VK-ish (yes, I know visual kei isn’t a “style,” but we all know that VK bands have revolved around a similar sound). For a while you don’t really know where this song is going… sometimes we have rapid drums… sometimes no beat at all… around 2 minutes we hear a more prominent guitar part. LEO is a more inventive song, but we don’t get to hear it really get into it until around 4 minutes in.

Another favorite track of mine is next: Nkyoku to Nkyoku. It’s an uplifting rock song that really reminds me of Asian Kung-Fu Generation. Like… the resemblance is uncanny. Still, this is a song that makes you want to jump and have fun. One of the best on the album.

Fuujin reminds me of a song Heidi. would do. The verses are riddled with short guitar chords and strong beats. The chorus has a really interesting flair to… something Eastern European? Well that’s what reminds me of… and probably no one else will think that xD.

Following the energetic Fuujin is Nami. We can tell right away it’s going to be a ballad because of the soft synth and calm acoustic guitar. It’s a relaxing song and solid ballad.

Lastly we have TOMATO… interesting title… and what’s more interesting is that this song is over 6 minutes long. The song uses some interesting dissonance that prevents it from becoming a traditional ballad. While I was initially deterred by the title choice, TOMATO is one of the strongest tracks on the album… a great end too!

Overall: I was hesitant to try out NICO, but I’m totally in love with their music now! All the songs are great with the exception of the “latin” tracks.

Rating: 8.5/10

Track list:

  1. Aurora
  2. Hologram (ホログラム, Horoguramu)
  3. Me (芽, Sprout)
  4. Lonesome Ghost
  5. Bigfoot (ビッグフット, Biggufutto)
  6. Kakera -Subete no Omoitachi he- (かけら -統べての想いたちへ-, Fragments -To all the thoughts-)
  7. Sabitekita (錆びてきた, Rusted)
  8. Leo (レオ, Reo)
  9. N Kyoku to N Kyoku (N極とN極, N Poles and N Poles)
  10. Kazehito (風人, Windy Person)
  11. Nami (波, Wave)
  12. Tomato (トマト, Tomato)
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