Recently we had a bit of a tete-a-tete about one of the god-father bands in Visual Kei, Malice Mizer— and then elaborated more on how they helped to shape and develop Visual Kei and the various aesthetic compounds that affect the genre as a whole. After Malice Mizer disbanded, Mana went on to form his solo project, Moi Dix Mois, which was also a highly influential 2nd Generation VK group. Unlike MM, however, which sculpted the youshikibi and historical aesthetics of the genre, MDM was all-out Gothica, and set about pioneering the Gothic avenues of VK and Jrock.
This time around let’s get real macabre and have a chat about one of the rising stars of that genre, who have filled out the genre and taken Goth to a new level– not in regards to extremism, but rather in regards to how they have worked to shape their own style and niche, breaking from the Gothic-norm. (Honestly I never thought I would pair those two words. This stuff is becoming way too every-day for me…)
So tonight let’s light some purple candles and paint our talons black for D. Short name. Big deal.
My ‘hajimemashite’ (how do you do) from D was their PV for the song Sleeper, off the album The Name of the Rose, D‘s first full-length album (’05). One of the reasons I like them so much is because they are pure, unadulterated, stereotypical Visual Kei– there’s no wishy-washiness, no genre surfing, no complications in describing their aesthetic. It’s straightforward, and yet awesome at the same time. They can be the poster-child for this whole topic….the god-children of Malice Mizer! (Hey, it could happen).
Visual Kei bands these days…well, the band members get around a lot. If you look at their histories, each one has been in about 7 different bands by the time they get to the current band. And many bands form bands out of old band-members, so sometimes it’s like “Mir:ageX@” #2 I don’t have a problem with this, but it does, certainly, leave a slightly muddy genre. After you listen to a handful of bands, say, on the radio, and you go “huh…that sounded familiar.” And then you realize that it was familiar because the guitar player and vocalist are the same as the ones from the last band.
D vocalist ASAGI and guitarist Ruiza were both in the 2nd generation VK band Syndrome, together with guitarist SIN. When Syndrome crashed and burned (in a manner of speaking), the three members set out to form Syndrome 2–aka D. However, shortly after the release of their debut mini-album, NEW BLOOD, SIN decided to leave the band, and was replaced by Hide-Zou.
The year…was 2003.
Along with their steady export of music, D has also put out their own magazine publication since 2005, The Mad Tea Party Magazine. Occasionally typeset as “T.M.T.P.Ma”, D‘s tea-party is a regular Visual Kei publication, which usually has them on the front cover, but features mega-names such as Kagrra, Moi Dix Mois, lynch., and jealkb. As of October 13th 2009, 11 issues have been released.
In 2007 they officially launched their fan-club, Ultimate Lover.
D released singles and several full-length albums under an indie label until 2008, when they signed with Avex Trax and went major. They held a final indies tour called Follow Me, which struck their final minor chord and elevated them to D-major scales. They debuted with Avex Trax via the release of the single “BIRTH” in May, 2008. They later released the Yami no Kuni no ALICE/Hamon single, which was used as the theme song to the Japanese horror movie Twilight Syndrome: Dead Go Round, as well as the soundtrack to the video game of the same title. They started 2009 off with the release of cool ballad Snow White, and their first major album, Genetic World.
The band has a great sound, even if it is pretty set. They don’t play around a whole lot, which is one downside in my opinion. However, ASAGI has an amazing, and very unique voice. Perfectly suited to this type of drums and bass-heavy music, ASAGI has one of the deepest, smoothest, most liquid-evil voices I’ve ever heard. It works excellently both with the heavier Gothic shredding, as well as the elegant, aloof ballads such as Snow White.
The way the melodies are written, he sings them straight long enough that when he reaches the grace-notes or vibrato, it sends shivers down your spine. They can be hard to catch on the first listen-through, but I particularly like the little ornamentations he does in a piece from Syndrome [see below]….listen closely for it… Some kind of melodic warble. If you miss it the first time, he does it again around the high notes in the chorus.
Their image is really quite stereotypical. The costumes, hair, and makeup are theatrical and tasteful– this is a hard-core Gothic band, so buckles, black, bondage are all in order, all the time. They enjoy wearing taffeta skirts, midriff-baring cropped jackets, and those shorts with buckles that attach to leg-warmers that don’t look warm. However, despite being pretty standard Gothic fare, they pull it off with sincerity of attitude that keeps them hardcore. These guys are the perfect juncture of where Gothic aesthetics meet Visual Kei beauty-ideals.
D‘s look really embodies the androgyny and aesthetic of VK, and in a way that can’t possibly be argued. Come on, admit it, admit it– you’ve never seen anything like them before. They are pure, unadulterated VK hot off Malice Mizer’s family tree. Unlike a lot of VK groups, D intertwines historical/Gothic with fantasy elements. Their look from Birth reminds me of something out of Final Fantasy X or something. It’s very cool.
By the way, I was once asked how you tell if they are men or women– my answer was, ‘easy, they’re all guys.’ You’ll believe it when you hear it, at least.
Their songs are really long. This observation is drawn from the assumption that most songs average at about 3.30 minutes, with a long one at around 5-6 minutes. Most of D‘s songs average at about 5-5.45 minutes. This saves you the trouble of having to press the Replay button every 3.30 minutes (instead we just end up pressing it every 5.45 minutes). They have a steady streak of gloomy ballads, but balance it neatly with a some really mind-boggling pieces, and a good amount of heavy stuff.
Jrock bands tend to be musical chameleons. When you listen to Gackt, his style changes with almost any song– (I have about fifteen playlists on my iPod just of Gackt) Anyone who has tried to introduce me to new music will know well that I like to change bands as infrequently as possible, so when bands have like a million genre-bending things going on, I like it. But D…is very steady. They know their style, and they stick with it. Even their ‘happy’ songs stick close to their signature style. So, unlike with other artists where you have to test each album to make sure their latest style is something you’ll be into– with D, you know what you’re getting, and you know it’s going to be good.
Since the band went major in ’08, things have really been picking up for them. They released several singles in ’09, songs off of which were used for various anime and, strangely, a cell-phone dating-sims game. In early 2010 the band will do a 7th Anniversary tour (7th Rose) across Japan. They have scheduled for release a DVD of PVs, and a new full-length album, both set to hit shelves in March.
Official Website (Japanese)
Note: For anyone interested in the fan-club, Ultimate Lover, it is currently still only available in Japan.
Syndrome(ASAGI, Ruiza, former D member SIN)
Night of the Children (ASAGI and Hide-Zou)