Whatever They Say, GACKT, Never Change Your Way

After months of emotional struggle, and tedious week after week of avoiding every preview, CM, PV, TV premier and snippet that ever passed through my radar… not to mention just the doubt that the single would ever find its way to me to begin with…yesterday I found the typical ultra-neat brown box on my doorstep. Instead of a bank-account I practically just direct-deposit all of my money straight into CDJapan, so by now I know what these neat brown boxes are. They’re how my birthday happens many times throughout the year.

This package, though, has been highly anticipated since early June, and there was a moment of slack-jawed awe as I gaped at its orderly contents wrapped in green paper. It is here. The waiting for EVER is done.

Not having heard a single preview, and what with the two totally opposite covers for the limited vs. regular editions, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this single. To be honest, my bar wasn’t set very high. From the cover (granted I think it’s pretty wicked) I was more or less expecting FARAWAY 2. Yes, I know. I hath sinned, and now smite me.

Within the first 3 seconds, with only the first ragged, bouncing drums to go by, my eyebrow was already quirked. Rolicking drum loops, a mean bass lick, and then some kind of rockabilly guitar riffs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place as the chord prog for some 1940’s action movie theme song, set us up for the ride. In the first thirty seconds before GACKT starts singing, I was already rocking out. I was not expecting this at all. Stylistically, I’ve been waiting for this song my whole life.

The construction is basically what we’re familiar with by now, but the chord progressions are fresh, new, and very different. There were a few moments when I thought ‘is he going to do the GACKT thing?’ but the line would either dip or rise up, just skirting familiar ground enough to keep us guessing.

The instrumentation is some of the freshest, most innovative that I think we’ve heard from GACKT in a long time. The 10th Anniversary releases were terrific, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t really feel this wow factor of, this is new and different and he has never done this before. EVER, though, has some of the funkiest stuff going on I’ve heard in a while — and I have to say, I don’t think I’ve heard a bass line like that since Vanilla.

The vocals are hardcore as well. The song is at once bad-ass and uplifting, and this emotional split is spliced together by GACKT’s foolproof vocals. His singing is as exceptional as expected, and the vocal melody is wicked strong, even, and has an awesome feel. The lyrics are also great…he’s finally not ‘dakishimete’ ing every which way and where (don’t get me wrong, there’s no word more satisfying to give a good Gacktese wail than dakishimete), and the message he input with the English lines is heartfelt and inspirational: Whatever they say, never change your way. However, I did think that how he inserts “EVER” into the chorus felt slightly awkward, and a little bit forced.

If we use wine, tea, or cologne nomenclature, we would discuss the layers of sensual experience in the terms of ‘notes’. So the notes, ranging from ‘base notes’ to ‘top notes’ refer to the experience of taste that unrolls along your palate or the scent that unfolds as oil is warmed by body-heat. This is the only way I can describe the layers of sonic texture that build up the overall groove of EVER. The base-notes set the pace from the get-go with the rolling drums and heavy, funky bass line. The chord-progression is also mixed, because it straddles the line between dark and upbeat. So as the deep, dark, thrashin’ base-note airs off, the scent it fades into is something a tiny bit fruity, with light spices and a hint of summer sun. The variegation of the notes, however, is a flawless, seamless transition that never even ‘happens’.

The awkward b-side, at which I looked and had a ‘huh?’ moment while simultaneously being overjoyed that he re-released a song from Rebirth, is Uncontrol ♂狂喜乱舞♂ [kyoukiranbu- eng: ‘dance wildly’] edition.  Since legit GACKT remixes are few and far-between, I was kind of psyched to hear that this is, in fact, a dance remix of Uncontrol. This was also highly unexpected…and extremely well-received. I realize the repetitive drum-track should annoy me, and Uncontrol shouldn’t be making an appearance right now to begin with…but the truth is, it works. It works incredibly well on EVER, because like the titular track, Uncontrol is also one of those songs that confuses you by making you want to maliciously vandalize things…but when you’re in a really upbeat mood.

Overall, I am extremely impressed and pleasantly surprised by EVER— really, the single as a whole. The choice of Uncontrol (remixed, of course) was one very well made, although I was skeptical and slightly disappointed at first not to be getting a fresh b-side. The fact that it’s an annoyingly bad-ass remix makes it just…it just is what it is. EVER really blew me away, and I’m pumped over how creative and new it feels.

GACKT is rocking us as hard as ever…and man, whatever they say, never change your way.

One response to “Whatever They Say, GACKT, Never Change Your Way

  1. Wonderful review! I am happy to see you were just as blown away as I was. I noticed that you and I had several of the same thoughts. For example, I’m a sucker for a good bass line and EVER definitely delivered.

    I don’t think I can listen to EVER while driving, because that whole “maliciously vandalize things in a good way” mood might be exacted on several mailboxes or small animals.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go chuckle to myself while saying the word “ever,” as it is such a humorous/thrilling word to pronounce. ;)

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