Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category

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.


Artist Spotlight :: The Howling

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Artists

Artist Spotlight :: The Howling

I wasn’t feeling particularly angry this morning but hearing them really hit the spot. Considering I’ve been going for really mellow stuff lately, it came as a bit of a surprise. It was “Pitbull” that caught my attention first. Maybe it was the guitar effect in the beginning. It initially sounded less aggressive than it really was. By the time I realized there were drums in the mix, I was already into the groove. When the chorus hit, I was headbanging, not really sure how I’d gotten there. Didn’t really care to be honest. Just felt good to let loose for a change.

Next up was “Beat the Panic.” I was already revved up from “Pitbull” so this was a more natural transition. This song is just plain fun. It’s such a live song, I can totally imagine being in the middle of a pit, surrounded by people with fists in the air jamming along. Something about the guitars gets me too. I wanted the solo to keep going.

I am the racket in your head, that’s getting louder and louder again
And when I’m done with you, you’ll be lucky to be breathing

Some days I just want to be totally taken over. (more…)