YFCz Might Not Get All My Love, But They Get Some

So after convincing myself not to avoid it purely on principle, which is an utterly wrong thing to do, by the way, I looked up the full PV for YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz’s All MY Love, which dropped yesterday. There’s been some good discussions on here lately concerning the internationalization of GACKT, and what’s up with this whole YFCz thing. Well, all those confusing musings and ponderous wonderings aside, may I just state this simple, basic fact of life: regardless of who sings it, how many band-members there are, be it Cascade or Morning Musume nevermind, actually, neither of those acts will ever be cool, when a song is good, it’s good. Get over yourself and enjoy it.

Life is too short and your tastes are too rad to waste time being ashamed of your playlist.

In any case, all noodling and whining aside, I am actually ok with how All My Love turned out. Aside from the fact that the PV was totally not entertaining or thought-provoking in any way, shape, or form, I basically have no complaints. GACKT loves him some gently falling snow and some military-inspired outfits, wish they had shown more Chacha since I miss that flaming goddess, and I highly recommend Jon invest some time into learning his own stage moves instead of just copying GACKT’s moves like some creepy puppet, but well, you can’t exactly use pet-peeves as the basis for criticism can you? I just did. 

I’ll even go so far as to (wait for it) state that I was actually impressed by (yeah you can’t believe I’m saying it either) Jon’s performance. While I still consider him completely and entirely superfluous, I actually really enjoyed the harmonies, give him two thumbs up for his Japanese, and thought his voice was nice.

The song itself is really decent. The English straddled a thin line between overly repetitive and catchy, but since it’s already stuck in my head we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. GACKT sounded great, and I thought the orchestral heaves (for lack of a better word) gave the thing a sort of sad-movie-anthem-feel. Nicely done, YFCz, and I am somewhat more hopeful about the whole studio-album thing.

On a final note….Maybe it’s just the season, but was I the only one who mentally auto-filled “holy night” into that first line?

YFCz, New Musical White-Meat

I have an idea, which I may or may not feel like taking down in writing and forwarding to GACKT: Like, maybe he should drop the whole band thing and found the GACKT Orchestra. Then he can have as many band members as he wants on stage and nobody will think anything of it.

I like to think of myself as an adaptable soul, and I’m pretty open to change. But I’m also pretty comfortable with the 5-member band formula, now that Visual Kei has pushed me out of the standard 4-man comfort-zone and into the whole almost-as-cool-as-it-sounds “dueling-guitars” thing.

But to have 7 band members just hurts my brain. And dear lord, what exactly does that coat on the chair symbolize? Surely not the potential addition of an eighth member? Seriously, this is not A-PeaceAnd I still can’t figure out for the life of me what Jon’s actual, serious purpose is in this group. I know all the fangirls who harbor tender teenage dreams of going to Japan and starting Visual Kei bands will hate me forever for saying it, but I’m honest-to-gawd just waiting for a logical explanation for his presence in this band.

I can’t figure out if GACKT is just working the edge, or trolling us.

Not able to scrape enough interest off the bottom of my boot to watch the PV for The End of the Day, after the redundant lyrics pushed me away initially, I will say that I’m not entirely disinterested in All My Love. The song sounds decent enough on its own. That being said, I’m not sure I’m tempted enough to pre-order a copy of YFCz’s new album, destined to drop early 2012.  Title is TBA at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll be something relating to the waning phase of a 24-hour segment of time.

GACKT will also be releasing a single (solo? As far as I can tell) on the same date (2.22.12), titled Until The Last Day. Still haven’t heard Graffiti, but my Jrock senses tingled as I passed the Christmas tree earlier, and I’m pretty confident it’s in my future, all thanks to myself Santa of course.

GACKT writes on the walls for 40th single.

Although a lot of griping goes down during genre downtime, once we actually get to the other side of the drought– once we can begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, I think there’s something to be said for being denied the very thing we most desire. Think about it, if every single day saw some ground-breaking single or album dropping, not only would you be completely cash-strapped, but you would also be a spoiled, jaded punk. Admit it.

Sometimes a little downtime can be good for us. It’s probably great for the artists who aren’t releasing, too. It means that when they finally release something, it has actually been crafted with care, and by the time it finds its way into our hands, our reception is more appreciative. So even though I whined along with the best of you, I find that now that there’s a smattering of awesome releases to look forward to as the cool weather starts waxing, I’m really just, I don’t know, ready for them. After months of lying in a grumpy heap on the floor playing 2008’s singles over and over again, the 4th quarter’s offerings come at the perfect time. I am ready to love them.

It would seem that GACKT is stepping it up and showering us with his generous goodwill by keeping a steady stream of releases lined up for the turning of the seasons. Still reeling from the impeccable swag of Episode.0, and still tentatively prodding September’s YFCz first single, we’re now also presented with the news that November 30th will lengthen Christmas lists worldwide with the addition of GACKT’s 40th single, Graffiti.

40 is a nice, round number. And if 40 isn’t an impressive musical-releases benchmark, I just don’t know what is. I remain continuously impressed by GACKT’s ability to sustain his commitment to quality throughout the creation and production of so much music, and I look forward to seeing his career continue on in the future with more excellent and thought-provoking material.

Is it just me reading into things too much, or does it seem like perhaps GACKT is making a slight aesthetic switch-up here? Somehow titles such as Episode.0 and Graffiti feel like era-ic titles. It’s different, and I like it. They feel urban and modern, which for some reason comes as a breath of fresh air after a long stream of poetic titles like The End of Silence, Lost Angels, and Flower.

 Although I hate to keep going on and on about it in such a shallow way, I also really hope the single brings a new hairstyle….But by golly I need this to not be it:

Graffiti will be released on November 30th, 2011, in the traditional 2 editions. Limited edition from CDJapan includes bonus DVD, etc, etc, and First Press editions include a poster. The single’s title-TBA B-side will be featured as a character song for the high school-club anime series SKET DANCE.

The Gakupost

 Owning up to the fact that I totally spaced on including the PV for Episode.0 in my review the other day, honestly I meant to, and then when I proof-read the review, I completely forgot the PV existed. In any case, it makes a good excuse for a follow-up post… Hoorah for the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

Since Episode.0 has been the latest topic of discussions around here, I’d like to continue the discussion a little more formally, meanwhile taking out two birds with one stone. The two most logical follow-up comments regarding GACKT’s latest single and cover of the Gakupo vocaloid song of the same name, are currently: Was the PV any good? and Has anyone heard the vocaloid version?

We’ll take them one at a time, in reverse. First of all, and I mentioned this briefly in response to Kaxxina‘s comment this morning, to be perfectly honest, and I know this may be a great pitfall in my history of Japanophilia, I really have zero, nada, amari attraction to, and interest in, the vocaloid scene. If that whole scene makes you tick, then tick away to your heart’s content. But let’s just get this out in the open: vocaloids weird me out.

Has anyone else read the novel Idoru by William Gibson, by any chance? I took a copy out of the library when I was dying of mono this summer, and it actually turned out to be a stimulating read– exactly along the lines of my interests, being concerned with Japan, fandom, and advanced theoretical concepts relating to the Japanese music industry and its future. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, do take my recommendation. Also for your benefit: the story is basically based on the idea that Japan has developed a new idol, the perfect idol, and….she’s not a real human being. She’s a holographic projection, and everyone is going nuts over her. Anyway, fascinating stuff.

Well, I kind of feel like the whole vocaloid thing isn’t too far off from the Idoru thing. Like, all these people are going apeshit over these singers….that aren’t even real. It’s just odd, isn’t it? On one hand it’s quite a cool concept, and the ingenuity of it is something I can appreciate, yes. But on the other hand, people are already dating pillows and marrying video-game consoles; novels from the ’90s have sci-fi situations in which real people become engaged to holographic images….Friends used to tease me that I would end up married to a robot, and honestly, I doubt that– only because soon the world might be populated with ideas rather than sentient, or even mechanical, lifeforms.

What were we talking about, again? Oh yeah, Gakupo.

I also find the quality of the vocaloid vocals to be eerie and a little unnerving. For me, one of the main reasons why I am so attracted to the sound of the human voice is…because it comes out of a human. Unlike playing a musical instrument, it’s actually something that’s physically a part of you. This is amazing to me. And now that they’re piping it out of machines….Honestly it loses its appeal. That being said, nothing wrong with it. Here it is, form your own opinions:

Next up, we have the PV for the living, breathing, real-people GACKT version. I know this was revealed a million and a half years ago, but I make a point of not watching PVs for certain artists before the singles are released. A method for building tension and reverence, I suppose. Now that I have seen it, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t use it as a reference point for the single itself.

Although I like the stylizing and the imagery presented in the PV, it really didn’t feel like a PV to me. And seriously, what is that random chick doing there, and why is she lip-syncing the lyrics? Someone (perhaps me….) should write a letter to all the PV directors, like, ever, and let them know that you can still make a good PV without a chick being in it. Honestly, come on, she had two scenes that weren’t even that cool.

All in all I felt like the PV was quite boring. Pretty to watch–once. But nothing striking that would inspire me to watch it again.


Sounds Like Gackt – Before All Caps

Let’s not even go into detail about this– let’s just jump right to the review, shall we? I don’t want to embarrass myself by explaining why it’s taken so long for this to get posted. In any case, GACKT’s latest, and 39th, single, July’s Episode .0, is one of those weird cover/collab things he releases spontaneously from time to time. This time around, the origins of this single show just how used to Japan I’ve become over the years: Episode .0 and Paranoid Doll are vocaloid covers….

I don’t really know that much about vocaloids, except they’re allowed to have concerts now, and people actually go to them. My closest encounter with them is all the multitudes of cute girls who cosplay as this Hatsune Miku creature and post pictures of themselves all over the internet and wander around conventions trailing blue hair.

The songs on the single were originally released for Kamui Gakupo (GACKT’s vocaloid character), a lanky bishounen samurai person with long blue/purple hair (pictured below).

The artwork for the single also depicted this character for the limited edition, and GACKT affected an imitation of what Gakupo might look like in real life for the regular edition of Episode.0.

Although GACKT didn’t actually compose the songs for his 39th, this fact doesn’t concern me in the slightest. Jrockers are incredible talents when it comes to covering songs or working with other composers. Just think about the Kamen Rider releases (which were mostly good) and his Gundam covers. Great performances of great songs. GACKT also produced the entire single, which definitely contributed to the retention of all the flavor of his work. Actually, on that note, this single sounds the most like “him” that I’ve heard in a long time, and I bloody well like to hear those nuances back in his music.

There’s no lag-time: when Episode.0 starts, it starts, and it grabs you from the opening chords. The sound is all around solid and incredibly fresh. A mid-tempo track, the pacing and organization of the song felt like his more recent work, but the production of the vocals was definitely original Gackt–before all caps.

The quality of the music for both tracks is digitized and eclectic, which I think is a cool homage to the vocaloid origins. Also appreciated the koto elements in Paranoid Doll. They brought the samurai thing full-circle and also reminded me of The End of Silence and ZAN, and seeing as I thought that was a brilliant single, it’s a good association.

Actually the thing I liked the best about the songs on Episode.0 was simply the quality of GACKT’s vocals. With vocals like that, the background music could be blips and bloops for all I would know or care (but for the sake of the review, I listened intently, I swear). GACKT was so so on-top of his game for this, so brilliantly produced, and just, well, quite awesome. I feel like it’s been a while since that falsetto was showcased, and it seems like he really implemented a lot of the ornamentation and stylistic twists that were prominent in his old work. That “sound” being something I’ve missed in his new stuff, it felt really amazing to be hearing it again. Don’t mind me while I gush a little bit.

All in all, this is a very solid single. The tracks were cohesive, yet completely distinctive. The actual compositions were brilliantly written, totally refreshing and yet they were completely well suited to GACKT’s style. The blend of nostalgia and energy captured in the 2 songs will definitely put Episode.0 among some of my favorites from hereon out.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Episode.0 yet, I absolutely recommend doing so. Great compositions, great performances, and great production have come together to make a great single.