Archive for January, 2013

Dir en grey :: 輪郭 [ Rinkaku ]

Posted: January 17, 2013 in Songs

Dir en grey :: 輪郭 [ Rinkaku ]
Available on CDJapan: Special [CD+Live DVD] | Limited [CD+DVD] | CD

Trying to say I’m not affected by this band is like denying I’m cold when my fingers are already turning blue. I can’t even pinpoint it. Most of the songs from their last album, Dum Spiro Spero have evoked something of a journey or exploration through the mind. This one continues on that vein.

Something in that initial clash of guitars just grabs me and pulls me in. Kyo’s voice is eerie, like some spirit guiding me through corridors of some abandoned dusty house. There are shadows everywhere, some of them move. Some of them have secrets. Despite the darkness, the potential danger, the spirits prove eventually harmless. The chorus gives rise to hope, to some faint light, than everything in the house, including me, can be saved.

I have no idea what the lyrics say. I haven’t looked up the translation. But such is the sheer power in Dir en grey’s music. If you open yourself to it. If you let go enough to truly listen. At some point, the song ceases to become a result of carefully placed guitar, drum, and bass notes. It takes you on a journey, however far and however deeply you want to fall.

A new mini album, 『THE UNRAVELING』 is set for release on April 3, 2013.
Preorder at CDJapan: Special [2CD+DVD] | Limited [CD+DVD] | CD



Artist Spotlight :: Gackt

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Artists

Since embarking on a solo career in 1999, Gackt has built up a dizzying array of brilliant music mixing rock, pop, classical, and everything in between. He started his music career as a drummer but has since proven himself an incredibly talented pianist, composer, performer, and vocalist. His consistent and unwavering commitment to his work, his fans, and his vision have cemented him as a fixture in Japanese rock.

Gackt :: uncontrol
Available on iTunes: MP3/Album

“uncontrol” was never a single, not even a b-side. It was tucked into an album between two attention grabbing songs- one for its rock edge, the other for its bipolar arrangement. The construction is fascinating. A clash of noise in the beginning tumbles into messy, muddy distorted vocals. It resolves briefly into a clear, soaring chorus, only to drown again in the noise. The cycle repeats- a musical interpretation of push and pull- two steps forward, one step back. It’s a constant struggle, with moments of triumph. Much like life, much like love.

Then there’s the lyrics.

( Translation from Senshi Gakuen )

どれだけ叫んでも… どれだけ求めても… どれだけ交わしても…
どれだけ抱きしめても… どれだけ望んでも… どれだけ傷つけても…
[ No matter how much I cry out… no matter how much I ask… no matter how much I evade…
No matter how much I embrace you… no matter how much I wish… no matter how much I hurt… ]

静かな夢だけを… 優しい夢だけを…
[ As you looked up at the sky…
Only the quiet dream… Only the gentle dream… ]

Despite the years, it has remained one of the songs that has spoken to me the loudest. The song gives me chills every time I hear it. The passion in Gackt’s voice, the emotion he conveys, both hurts and heals. The spell this song weaves over me doesn’t diminish. It’s as if I’m hearing it for the first time, every time.


Gackt :: Fragrance
Available on iTunes: Mp3/Album

“Fragrance” was released as a b-side to the guitar-happy “Another World.” Atmospheric and moody, it was the exact opposite of the title track. It was also one of the most intriguing pieces of music I’d ever heard.

The first acoustic notes, the minor key invite the listener into a secret, mysterious place. Faint bells whisper a welcome as soft flute guides you further inside. The arrangement is slightly sensual, the repetition in the refrain becoming mesmerizing as the song goes on. The music creates a world that encourages you to let go, to get lost in your thoughts, to dream, to fantasize.

( Translation from Senshi Gakuen )

聞かせておくれよ その声を…
見せておくれよ その夢を…
醒めぬ眠りに落ちても 怯えることはないから
[ Please let me hear the voice…
Please show me the dream…
Because even if I fall into unending sleep there’s nothing to be afraid of

教えておくれよ 真実を…
告げておくれよ その罪を…
赤い涙に濡れている 隠されたこの姿を…
[ Please teach me the truth…
Please tell me the crime…
As my hidden self is wet with red tears…

I could listen to this song over and over and never get tired of it. I always end up transported, discovering something new. Even if it’s only in my mind.


Gackt :: 君が追いかけた夢 [ kimi ga oikaketa yume ]
Available on iTunes: MP3/Single | Album

This live performance showcases Gackt at his rawest, also his best. He looks exhausted. He’s in a tank top and jeans. There’s no elaborate costuming. No make up, no theatrics. It’s just him, giving everything he can, to his fans, to his performance, in a song about unconditional support and love while chasing your dreams.

( Translation from Senshi Gakuen )

君が追いかけた夢なら 傷つくことにおそれないで
ふるえる夜には君を抱きしめてあげよう だから
[ If it’s the dream that you chased, don’t be afraid of getting hurt
On nights then you tremble, I’ll hold you close, and so… ]

悲しそうな顔はやめて 君の笑顔を見せておくれ
[ Stop with that sad looking face, Let me see your smile
It’s more wonderful and more precious to me than anything else, that smile ]

This song, his endurance, the sheer exuberance and love he commands from the crowd- that at the core is what I love most about Gackt. The rest of it- the stage performance, the angst-ridden plots and personas, the silly dancing cats- is just icing on an already rich cake. He was born to be on stage, to transcend musical boundaries, to challenge cultural stereotypes, and transport audiences to worlds they’ve never dreamed of.

Annalise Emerick :: This Love Won’t Break Your Heart
Available on Amazon: MP3 | EP | CD

This song is exactly how I want to spend New Year’s next year- with people who nourish my soul and allow me into their lives to do the same. In 2013, I want to surround myself in love and light, and bring the same to those around me.

2 minutes ‘till its midnight, we’ve been drinking since the sun went down
Everyone’s been kissing, throwing love around

Love is such a tricky word. For years, it was used against me. To manipulate, control, and eventually break me.

“I love you more than anything.”
“I love you so much, I can’t live without you.”
“You’ll never find anyone who’ll love you as much as I do.”

It was never love, it was control. It was ownership. It was possession. (more…)