Artist Spotlight :: Gackt

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Artists
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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… ]

貴方は宇宙を見上げたまま…
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
誰より素敵な僕の大切なその笑顔を
[ 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.
—–

Recommended Songs for:

Guitars:
Mirror
Vanilla
Another World (bonus: live)
Cube
Redemption

Encouragement/Love:
dears (early days, his eternal love song to fans)
君のためにできること [kimi no tameni dekiru koto]
Missing ~笑顔を見せて~
Marmalade
Road

Drama:
Misérable
鶺鴒〜seki-ray〜
君が待っているから [kimi ga matteiru kara] (bonus: unplugged/acoustic)
Returner

Ballads:
この誰もいない部屋で [kono dare mo inai heya de]
君に逢いたくて [kimi ni aitakute]
Last Song (unplugged/piano)
オレンジの退場 [orenji no taiyou] (with the cast and clips from Moon Child)

… Dancing:
Papa Lapped a Pop Lapped

Dancing… Cats:
U+K

xx

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Comments
  1. gojihara says:

    A reblogué ceci sur 寝たい時に寝るんで and commented:
    Une bonne présentation de mon artiste préféré.

  2. Geraldine says:

    What I love about GACKT is how he can be so diverse in style, yet still retain a signature sound. This is always the goal for any artist and although he has achieved it, he never stops pursuing, evolving, and perfecting his music. You’re right– his ability to touch others with his music and his utter devotion to his craft is what lies at GACKT’s core. As a violinist of ten plus years, I can also attest that his violin playing is commendable– the words said about him actually have merit. He seems to have no limit when it comes to music and I never fail to be astounded by what he can express through song.
    As for this review, it’s probably one of the best I’ve seen of GACKT. It’s straightforward, showcases a few songs, and explains about his music career without going off onto tangents about the man himself. It also has just the right amount of anecdotes expressing the effect that the artist made, but doesn’t go on to become a love letter– perfect for those who want to explore a new artist at their leisure without being bogged down by the fan’s pressure. Having needed to filter through many repetitive pages when I first discovered GACKT, I very much appreciate the spotlight on usually less focused-on– yet undoubtedly worthy– songs, and the list of recommendations separated into categories.

    • Bri says:

      Hey There! Awesome! I’m a fellow violinist as well! (24 years and counting, been teaching for 10.) His tone is lovely. Of course You-san takes the cake, though. That, the accomplished piano playing and his ridiculous vocal range and ear-tingling tone (also a singer of 18 years, and teacher) were what attracted me initially to his music. G loves his strings!!! (Faves: Kimi ga matteiru kara, Lost Angels, Lust for Blood, Freesia op.2, Hoshi no Suna – 7th night version) They’re everywhere, peppered throughout his albums.

      But, his piano playing is brilliant. Whether it be just him and his instrument or the luscious chords and intricate motives that add drama and texture to much of his catalog, it’s always appropriate and perfectly intended.

      It’s inspiring, and at the same time a bit antagonizing, as I could only aspire to be as well-rounded a talent as Gackt.

      • regenroxx says:

        I’ll always love that unplugged version of “Last Song.” And what about “Regret” if we go back a ways?

      • Geraldine says:

        Wow, you’ve been teaching violin for about as long as I’ve been playing! GACKT’s voice tone has a richness that never fails to amaze me. Even his high notes have a delicate, yet strong feeling. Ah, I wish I could describe it in more technical music terms, but as a visual artist, I inevitably go into colors, images, and thicknesses to represent sound.

        Really, there are just so many good songs that use strings (I love Birdcage, Uncertain Memory – Unplugged, and Setsugekka in addition to your list). What I also find unique is the way he fuses traditional Asian instruments with Classical and Rock instruments in some of his songs. I was actually just listening to the Diabolos album and I noticed that even the heavier songs such as Noesis have little violin parts woven into the harsh vocal parts.

        I completely agree with you on that last sentence. When someone shines brightly, sometimes it’s tempting to say “I’ll never be that good.” All we can do is keep trying and make GACKT an inspiration rather than someone to feel inferior to. After all, that’s one of his overall messages, isn’t it?

  3. Bri says:

    I only discovered Gackt a couple of years ago, thanks to a couple friends. But two of my long standing listen-to-it-on-repeat favorites have ALWAYS been Fragrance and Last Song (unplugged). As a fellow musician, I’d love to also point out to the unknowing, new listeners that Gackt also plays a host of other instruments like guitar, violin and shamisen…and has over 4 octave (Read: HUGE) Vocal range. It’s absolutely mind boggling how one man can play so many instruments well, sing like he does, and cover so many styles and varying intensities of rock and pop music even in one album alone, never mind a whole career.

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