KOKIA – trip trip

August 12, 2018 at 12:34 PM | Posted in KOKIA | Leave a comment

triptrip1ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – trip trip

1. Chouwa
2. Jikau Toki wa
3. Say Hi!
4. The rule of the universe
5. Princess EHIME
6. Tenshi
7. Pink no Zou
8. Hello passing days
9. Hana
10. Ningen tte Sonno Mono ne
11. Ashioto
12. tomoni
13. a gift

♦ ♦ ♦

trip trip is the second album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on January 23, 2002. The album did not chart on the Oricon weekly charts.

Chouwa is a magical and epic opening track with such good vocals by KOKIA, I fell in love with it as soon as I heard it. It’s like, with this track, KOKIA inspired singers like alan, since this song made me think of her music. Four and a half minutes of mystical drums, strings, and epic singing.

Jikau Toki wa tones it down again with a relaxed acoustic guitar arrangement and hushed singing by KOKIA. I like the addition of the accordeon halfway through the first verse, it makes it stand out more. Otherwise, it would have been a regular pop song. Two minutes into the song it takes off and becomes a bit more powerful, but it should have been a bit shorter.

Could Say Hi! be KOKIA’s first uptempo song ever? I remember her debut album ‘songbird’ being filled with ballads so this is definitely a first. It’s a pop/rock track with nice percussion and guitars and it’s very nice to hear KOKIA heading in this direction. The chorus is also completely in English and the lyrics make you happy (“Having ice cream with extra whipped cream“, haha).

If Say Hi! was original for having an English chorus, The rule of the universe gets extra bonus points for being completely in English. Most of the time I can understand KOKIA and she really does her best. Its sort of like a pop/rock power ballad and I love how there is even an electric guitar solo in the bridge. A very powerful and nice track.

For the first part of Princess EHIME, I can’t really follow the music. It’s a weird piece with whispered vocals by KOKIA and soft percussion, synths and sound effects of bubbles and birds. It doesn’t get any different as the song progresses so I think this is my song of avoidance.

Tenshi opens with a soft piano melody and KOKIA’s small voice, but becomes more powerful as soon as it gets to the chorus. It’s similar to The rule of the universe when it comes to that pop/rock power ballad style, but it has a bit less impact. Still I like it pretty much.

I have the feeling Pink no Zou is going to be a quirky song since it translates to ‘pink elephant’.. It instantly channels some kind of Bollywood genre combined with piano music. I was right, this is weird, just like Princess EHIME, and I don’t like the high pitched vocals (a bit childish). “Paohhn paohhn”, or whatever.

Back to the normal songs, and I hope KOKIA stops doing that to me. Luckily, Hello passing days is a nice bouncy pop song with a catchy piano/guitar hook that instantly captures attention. It’s just a regular track but made so much better since Pink no Zou preceeded it. It becomes catchier the longer I listen to it.

Hana is a beautiful ballad with an airy quality to it, the harp is such a nice addition. Somewhere along the bridge there are also some flutes, but very subtle. I think this is exactly what I needed at this point on the album, so fresh and enjoyable and different from all the other tracks.

Ningen tte Sonna Mono ne brings back the pop/rock ballad ambience that is very prominent on this album, but it’s a nice track. I like KOKIA’s mature and controlled vocals a lot, and despite this being a good solid track on its own it disappears among the other similar songs on the album. Despite that, definitely worth your time.

The accordeon opens Ashioto and together with KOKIA’s interesting chant it makes for a nice intro. The prominent role of the accordeon instantly makes it a very original song and I must say I quite like it. Probably one of the best songs on the album and one of the most memorable ones.

There’s something Middle Eastern about tomoni with the soft drums, chimes and strings. KOKIA uses some interesting vocal techniques as well and it suits the song perfectly. It comes off as very mysterious, but it just needs that little bit of extra epicness to really soar. Despite that, it’s definitely one of the most interesting and original tracks.

a gift opens with an English monologue by KOKIA and her voice sounds so cute. Then the actual song begins with a piano melody and soft strings. KOKIA’s chanting along with the background singers sounds so angelic and peaceful. It’s a very quiet track, but it captures me and it just feels like a good track to close the album.

trip trip is an interesting album. Again, as with ‘songbird’, I don’t understand why it didn’t chart, because there are worse albums out there that did. There are quite some original songs on this album like Chouwa and tomoni that deserve some attention and it’s good that KOKIA finally put some more uptempo stuff on her album. Yet only the first and final part of the album are REALLY good, the middle is just meh with the two oddballs (Princess EHIME and Pink no Zou) and a lot of pop/rock midtempo ballads. Still, I think this is a very decent album and I’m glad I know it now.

Favorite songsChouwa | Say Hi! | The rule of the universe | Hana | Ashioto | tomoni | a gift

OVERALL RATING
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3½ stars

KOKIA – Remember me

July 4, 2015 at 2:16 PM | Posted in KOKIA | 2 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – Remember me

1. Prologue “Remember me”
2. Watashi no Taiyou
3. Different way
4. Kawaranai Koto ~since 1976~
5. Happy birthday to me
6. with music
7. Anshin no Naka
8. Sora
9. The Power of Smile
10. Clap your hands!
11. I believe ~Umi no Soko Kara~
12. Daiji na Mono wa Mabuta no Ura
13. ?
14. sigh
15. Remember the kiss (duet “KOKIA & Piano”)

♦ ♦ ♦

Remember me is the third studio album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on November 12, 2003. The album reached #15 on the Oricon weekly charts, charting for 10 weeks and selling 45,195 copies.

The album opens with Prologue “Remember me”, and although I really like the piano music and chanting in the background KOKIA’s monologue cracks me up. Like, she was 27 years old here and she sounds like a 12-year-old. I’m sorry, I love her but this is just awkward.

Ahh, Watashi no Taiyou is so much better! The longer I listen to it, the better it gets. It’s so serene and the orchestral music is supreme. There are some banghra elements in the middle of the song that give it a nice extra, but overall this just oozes heavenly perfection. KOKIA’s vocals are better than ever, I honestly think she should only open her mouth for this album to sing and not speak. REPLAY!

Nice to hear some electric guitars and drums in the arrangement, I don’t think I’ve hears that so often in her discography. Still, true to her style, KOKIA kept Different way mellow while also giving it a little edge here and there. Interesting blend. It can get a little repetitive after a while, but as always the vocals make it alright. Nice song!

Kawaranai Koto ~since 1976~ is a real KOKIA ballad with lovely acoustic music and amazing vocals (I love those little note jumps she does at times). It’s just that there’s a huge contrast between the verses and chorus, of which I like the latter a little better. Yet when listening to the song as a whole, it’s very pretty! I could get used to this, it flows better than the previous song too.

I reaaaally dislike the opening for Happy birthday to me, KOKIA sounds so… childish. When you think about it it actually makes sense in a song like this, but that doesn’t mean one has to like it, right? Once she starts singing in her normal voice she sounds so much better, but I actually wanted something a little more uptempo here and not a ballad. I’d skip this anyway, it’s way too long.

I’m a bit on the fence with with music, I don’t know what to think of it. On the one hand, KOKIA singing in English doesn’t really work for me because of her accent. But then again her voice still sounds gorgeous and she displays a lot of soul in her vocals singing this. The longer I listen to it, the more I can appreciate this so maybe this will grow on me more in the future.

I like the percussion in Anshin no Naka, it reminds me a bit of army drums at times. Another ballad, I would really like a bounce by now. Yet, when listening to this individual song it’s actually quite good. Ofcourse KOKIA’s vocals slay everything and it gets more powerful near the middle of the song. I actually quite like it now!

Okay so this next song is way too long for its own good, but gorgeous it is. Sora has KOKIA singing along to an arpeggio harp and the combination of that with her clear vocals is heaven (wow, what a coincidence, the title means ‘sky’). I love it when she sings in her head voice at some point, breathtaking! Still, three and a half minutes would’ve been enough.

Yeah, a more upbeat track! The Power of Smile is the most poppy and funky song on the album yet and the chorus is so bouncy it’s impossible for me to sit still. Somehow this reminded me a little of ayaka’s music, which is a good thing! I can imagine this eventually being one of my favorite songs on the album.

From the beginning, Clap your hands! is such an interesting, mysterious and amazing song. The combination of Middle Eastern influences, electric guitars, synths and Western percussion is so perfect I can’t even begin to describe it. KOKIA does this amazing chanting about a minute into the song which is the cherry on top. It’s like a milder version of some of Kalafina’s songs that have about the same arrangement, so how can I not love this?

When it comes to the vocals, KOKIA probably delivers her most solid performance yet (on this album at least) for I believe ~Umi no Soko Kara~. Her voice is much deeper and more emotional, she sounds like she knows exactly what she’s doing when she’s doing it. It’s just the right amount of input every single time and it’s touching, especially after that superb key change after about four minutes.

KOKIA makes some of the most gorgeous ballads out there, and Daiji na Mono wa Mabuta no Ura is another interesting and unique one. It incorporates some percussion in the background to give it a little edge, but everything else stays very intimate. Too bad the flute in the arrangement is barely audible, but mostly the chorus makes this song worth it.

It’s like this last part of the album features all the amazing songs, ? is another one that wows me! It’s not only upbeat, but it also has much more of a pop/rock sound including an electric guitar solo in the bridge. This proves KOKIA can not only do ballads, but she also slays songs like this! Recommended!

sigh is very interesting since it combines acoustic guitar music with a nice percussion pattern that you don’t hear very often. Eventually that’s what makes this song a little more uptempo and not just another ballad. With the amazing vocals completing it, it’s another standout track on this album.

The title of Remember the kiss (duet “KOKIA & Piano”) already makes it clear: a piano ballad. But it’s a very heartfelt ballad and the lone piano without any other kind of accompaniment puts the focus on KOKIA”s clear vocals. It’s a great song to close the album and another recommendation for thiose of you who don’t know it yet.

At first I didn’t know what to expect, but it turns out I actually like this album very much! It doesn’t even sound like a 2003 album, more like 2010 or something like that. There were some songs in the first half that were iffy, but everything just picked up from Sora on and a string of amazing and unique songs followed. I think I have to listen to this album again in the future to really determine the perfect rating, but for now this rating is already very good and promising!

Favorite songs: Watashi no Taiyou | Sora | The Power of Smile | Clap your hands! | I believe ~Umi no Soko Kara~ | ? | sigh | Remember the kiss (duet “KOKIA & Piano”)

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

KOKIA – I Found You

March 30, 2015 at 9:28 PM | Posted in KOKIA | 5 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – I Found You

1. Family Tree
2. Oishii Oto yum yum music
3. Recover
4. Solace~Kioku no Mori ni Tsumoru Kaiga
5. Ogre to Umarete
6. I Found the Love
7. Make Sense
8. Dear Armstrong
9. I Found You
10. Tabi Ressha life train
11. Muryoku to Shitta Hi

♦ ♦ ♦

I Found You is the fourteenth album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on March 18, 2015.

Family Tree opens the album in a very soft and serene way. Although I’m familiar with the way KOKIA uses her voice, her amazing adlibs and vocal techniques here amazed me once more. This song is a beautiful ballad set to piano and strings, with the harmonies and singing melodies stealing the show, reminding me again of how breathtaking KOKIA’s music can be.

The next song has a more bouncy quality. Oishii Oto yum yum music displays KOKIA’s more bluesy vocal style, while the music is influenced by pop music. What surprises me is that KOKIA’s vocals remain so light and distant compared to the quite energetic and uplifting arrangement, but the song as a whole is very catchy to say the least.

Recover has an interesting arrangement. While feeling more like a ballad because of its soft use of piano and guitar strokes, there is a little tempo to it in its soft percussion in the background. It’s unlike anything I’ve heard before and it seems like this is another original KOKIA creation no other artist can come up with.

Solace~Kioku no Mori ni Tsumoru Kaiga finds itself more in the epic ballad category than any of the other songs up until now and it also brings out KOKIA’s more operatic vocal skills further along in the song. In my current mood, I think it’s more like the perfect lullaby song than that it actually grabs my attention, but other than that it’s actually very pretty!

I’m gonna dub KOKIA the new queen of ballads and epic use of vocals. Ogre to Umarete is a more accessible ballad song for me because it actually has a buildup in the arrangement. It strives towards a highlight and the song as a whole accentuates KOKIA’s perfect vocals. Although there is a lot of repetition in the song, it doesn’t really matter to me this time.

If you guys know me well, you probably know I don’t like too many ballads in a row. HOWEVER, I Found the Love is clearly an exception to the rule. It’s a soft piano ballad and although there are already more ballad tracks than midtempo/uptempo on this album, this one is bound to take your breath away. KOKIA’s harmonizations in the chorus are more than perfect and it made me dream away instantly. The real recommendation on this album!

Make Sense is the shortest track on the album at about 2:40 and also probably the most unique song on the album. It’s fully in English and sung to an acoustic guitar only. It has a very intimate feel, very genuine too, and I have to compliment KOKIA on her English. Simple yet stunning!

I have no idea what Dear Armstrong is about but the title is quite interesting. This is probably another lullaby-like song, but a very pretty one indeed. Its arrangement is led by a piano and a beautiful violin in the background, which makes it sound quite emotional. KOKIA’s vocals are again top notch, especially in the chorus.

So there we have the title song I Found You, not surprisingly another ballad but by now I’m quite done with my old ways and I actually welcome this sound (if it’s done by KOKIA, mind you). The melodies in this song are amazing, it’s all so simple yet it sounds so effortful, I can actually fall in love with this song right now.

There’s a little more tempo to Tabi Ressha life train although it stays in a very safe and soft place. The unexpected aspect of the song is the pattern of the soft percussion in the background, it gives the song a more bouncy quality. A unique track to say the least, very enjoyable.

Muryoku to Shitta Hi closes the album very much in the same spirit as most of the other tracks: soft and pretty. What distinguishes this track from the others is the tempo (a little hard to follow at times) and use of instruments, with KOKIA doing more of her echoed adlibs in the background. A serene track to close the album.

So… I wasn’t expecting to like this album this much, especially since I’m a fan of a little variation when it comes to ballads and uptempo stuff. Yet there IS variation in KOKIA’s songs, even though most of them are indeed ballads. It took me a little time to get that into my head, but now there is so much I appreciate about this album. There is something in every song that makes it unique and memorable and if you ask me, you have to be a very good songwriter to obtain something like that. As you can see, practically three third of the songs is among my favorite tracks. Not convinced yet? Just download the album alright.

Favorite tracks: Family Tree | Oishii Oto yum yum music | Recover | I Found the Love | Make Sense | Dear Armstrong| I Found You

OVERALL RATING
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4½ stars

KOKIA – pieces

February 14, 2015 at 11:01 PM | Posted in KOKIA | 13 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – pieces

1. KARMA
2. Insonnia
3. Transparent
4. Chinmoku
5. Fate
6. Omoi
7. Nageki no Oto
8. Koto no wa
9. Anata to Deatte
10. Road to glory~for Dragon Nest White Version
11. EXEC_REBIRTHIA=PROTOCOL/.
12. EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/.
13. Hikari no Naka ni

♦ ♦ ♦

pieces is an outwork collection album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on August 24, 2011. Most of the tracks were originally on various soundtracks. The album reached #62 on the Oricon weekly charts where it charted for 2 weeks.

I was actually blown away by KARMA, it’s such an impressive song! I know some of KOKIA’s work, not everyhing, but I didn’t expect this epic and haunting song. Obviously it was the intro song for an anime (Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ to be exact) and KOKIA paid a good tribute to the anime by adding a lot of ad-libbing and chants to the song. I’m totally into this.

Insonnia was the B-side for the previous track (first we’ll get all the A-sides and B-sides in their exact order of release, fyi). What I like about this is that it shows KOKIA’s talent for languages, since the entire song is sung in Italian! Very nicely done, still it’s a bit like a lullaby song and that’s always quite risky in the first part of an album (I always say so haha). Sooo… I nearly fell asleep but nonetheless it’s soothing and beautifully sung.

KOKIA made another song for Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~, and it’s called Transparent. For an anime song, it’s quite peaceful and it doesn’t have many highlights, at least during the first parts of the song. It has a sense of mystery surrounding it because of the arrangement, I think it’s very well done only the chorus could’ve been more inviting.

Chinmoku has quite a long intro with soft chants in the background and a piano playing to distant percussion. I find it hard to keep paying attention to the song to be honest, since it’s so soft and soothing. That doesn’t make it less pretty, it actually develops after a while, but it tends to drag by now and I’m still not too sure how I feel about it. It definitely has its moments, so I’ll give KOKIA credit for that.

Yes, finally something with a little more edge to it! Fate was used as the opening theme for the anime movie Break Blade and it has this kind of marching/battlefield style that I really like. KOKIA’s chanting in the song gives me goosebumps, her voice is at its best in this song. Close enough to epic perfection!

Despite being another ballad, Omoi is actually quite interesting because of the depressing ambience and low strings playing a beautiful melody for KOKIA to sing to. Her voice is like a whisper, subtle and pretty. The only problem here is the length of the song, it’s just a bit too long because after about three to four minutes I’ve had it.

Nageki no Oto features that lovely chanting in the background again, KOKIA just has the perfect voice for such vocal techniques and she sings in the perfect tone during the entire song. I’m so much more impressed by her vocals here in comparison to Omoi, while the music as quite a similar depressing approach as said song.

Okay, by now it’s probably clear that I’m not too keen on too many ballads in a row. Yet Koto no wa manages to surprise me while still being a ballad, how is that possible you may ask. Well, the fact that this is the first song to actually have a wintery kind of feel to it and the arrangement sounds pretty interesting with the piano and strings with some soft percussion. KOKIA’s higher pitched voice is is very soothing too. A bit lenghty again though.

Anata to Deatte is like Insonnia part II, a lullaby legato style. Just like Insonnia it’s pretty and that shouldn’t be forgotten, but I nearly fall asleep to songs like this one because it’s so sloooow. I miss the Italian too.

Ooh, time for something more interesting with the mysterious and one of a kind song Road to Glory~for Dragon Nest White Version. It’s like a mix of Middle Eastern and Asian influences with the chanting, drums and erhu, a very edgy and impacting soun that I adore right from the start. There is no doubt that this is probably one of my favorite songs on the entire album!

What weird names for the next two tracks. EXEC_REBIRTHIA=PROTOCOL/. is the first (both were used for Ar tornelico games) and it gives ‘epic’ a completely different meaning. I love how she opens the song with some extended high adlibbing (a bit opera-like actually) and sings in a deeper voice that suits her very well. This song is exactly what I needed, especially with Road to Glory surprising me the way it did. Love the bagpipes as well, very original!

Okay, I express my deepest love for the ‘EXEC songs’ now. EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/. is bound to be played on repeat for the next couple of days. It has that same marching style that Fate had but even more appealing an it gives me so many goosebumps. Very suited for media, for sure. The layered vocals are the best I’ve heard on the entire album and I love how she apparently sings in Hymnnos, the fictional language in the games this was used for. Hands down, the absolute best.

Hikari no Naka ni sounds like the perfect closing song for the album. Not completely a ballad, but it has some aspects of it. It has some punch because it has a little more tempo and the music swells as the song develops. I think this is another masterpiece on this album with a lot of attractive melodies and ofcourse, KOKIA herself is performing with top notch vocals again, very controlled.

At first I thought this would be a little disaster, with all the ballad tracks in a row. I like some variation, as you probably know if you’ve read more of my reviews. Surprisingly enough, the second half of the album was almost completely made of masterpieces and, as it later turned out, absolute favorites of mine. I have loved KOKIA’s voice for as long as I can remember and I reviewed her Irish inspired album and ‘songbird’ a couple of years ago, but I never actually listened to more of her works. Now, thanks to this request (a succesful one I can tell you) I’m inspired to give it another go. One of my ‘discoveries’ of 2015: my newfound love for KOKIA!

Favorite tracks: KARMA | Fate | Nageki no Oto | Koto no wa | Road to Glory~for Dragon Nest White Version | EXEC_REBIRTHIA=PROTOCOL/. | EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/. | Hikari no Naka ni

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

KOKIA – Christmas gift

December 25, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Posted in KOKIA | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – Christmas gift

1. Amazing Grace
2. Hallelujah
3. I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
4. We Three Kings Of Orient Are
5. Christmas Medley
6. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)
7. Ave Maria
8. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
9. Seinaru Yoru ni~Holly Night
10. Kokoro no Rousoku

♦ ♦ ♦

Christmas gift is the eighth album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on November 12, 2008. The album reached #56 on the Oricon charts and charted for two weeks.

Amazing Grace starts off acapella with just some soft bells in the background, and it’s so amazing to hear KOKIA show off her classically trained vocals. She can sing long high notes with such a clear voice, it gives me goosebumps. Later, strings come in and KOKIA starts singing a duet with herself (her own background vocals). Her layered vocals sound great. It actually gives me ‘Fairy Dance’ vibes when the song develops. A beautiful version of the song, and perhaps even my favorite.

KOKIA’s voice is so cute when she sings Hallelujah, or well it isn’t actually singing, it’s more like softly speaking out the lyrics. Although it’s not the best version of Leonard Cohen’s song I’ve heard, it has something. I can’t tell what it is, but the song has a good emotional feel. KOKIA’s English is not that good when she sings certain words, but no one does a worse job than Kuu so… I like the little saxophone parts that drop in somewhere during the middle of the song. In the end, I’m surprised that I actually like it.

There are some carols on this album as well, and the first is I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. It starts off very harmonious with strings and a piano, and that’s where I had the feeling that this will definitely be a calm ballad album. KOKIA’s vocals are way better this time, her English is good and her voice actually blends in very wel with the overall soft jazz ambience the song has. The arrangement is the best thing this song has to offer, with the strings and piano playing around each other and magically flourish.

We Three Kings Of Orient Are is another traditional Christmas song that I don’t know because I’m not a Christian. A saxophone solo smoothly leads into the song, and every now and then it returns with a little accent around the piano music. There’s a sense of mystery to this version that I like very much, it already distincts itself from the rest of the songs on the album. Another nice fact about this song is that KOKIA’s vocals are much stronger and I can even hear some of the Irish vocal techniques she learned while recording her previous concept album.

The Christmas Medley: 13 minutes of joy! KOKIA’s rendition of Santa Clause Is Coming To Town is soooo cute, like… she sings ‘Sahnta Close’ to an adorable melody. And faster paced too! The next song is Let It Snow, with matching bells and oboe accents. The entire medley has a soft jazz feel to it, and it always fits the Christmas ambience in my opinion. The Little Drummer Boy is where KOKIA starts singing with a borderline British accent during some parts, if you ask me. Not familiar with this song but she doesn’t make it very special or anything. The First Noël is another s0ng I don’t really know very well, but KOKIA sings it with such a beautiful and controlled voice that I instantly love it. The little jingle bells and soft harpsichord fit very well together to create the best Christmas/Renaissance ambience. Until I hear a sheep. Yes. Jingle Bells is more bossa nova stuff, turned cute. Her version has a nice tempo and beat to it, and it comes off as very modern to me. Then we get back to Santa Clause Is Coming To Town one last time and a very cute message from KOKIA to Santa Clause set to the melody of Silent Night before this medley is over. Very nice medley with good Christmas songs, but there was no transition between the different parts.

The first use of Japanese in a song: Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together). Is it just me or is there a sense of melancholy all over this song? I bet it’s that harpsichord, it makes the song very haunting when it’s not meant to be. Still, the ambience is enjoyable. I like the English and Japanese in the same song together. But although the song lasted for four and a half minutes, it went by way to fast for me.

The next song is Ave Maria, an opera song but not traditionally a Christmas song. I guess you can turn anything into a Christmas song? KOKIA’s voice is clear and strong, but also almost angelic, against the piano and violin music. She hits amazing notes in this song, and the best thing about KOKIA’s opera vocals is that she doesn’t make it heavy. I don’t feel pressured when listening to this!

A nice acoustic guitar melody opens It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, and that same acoustic quality stays throughout the song with some lighter strings added later on. The melodies are the most appealing yet, just like KOKIA’s middle range voice here which I love to hear. A real surprise in this heavenly arrangement was a panpipe, a unique touch to a song on this album and it kept the attention. Very good song!

Seinaru Yoru Ni~Holly Night has a huge typo in the album’s official tracklist but who cares, THIS SONG IS SO BEAUTIFUL. One of only two Japanese-only song on the album, it’s a very mysterious but beautiful song with some kind of accordion playing some nice accents and KOKIA’s light angelic vocals singing the melodies with a slight echo to them. The notes she hits are amazing again. One of my favorite songs on the album.

The other Japanese-only song on this album is the piano ballad Kokoro no Rousoku, and I’ve always thought that KOKIA’s voice sounds best with piano music while she’s singing in her soft airy voice. It’s a very simple song, yet the emotion it oozes is breathtaking and it just silents me. It’s a beautiful way to close this album, it’s almost like it has come full circle with this lovely piece of music.

Christmas gift may be filled with ballads and the only uptempo stuff was in the Christmas Medley, but KOKIA did give us some beautiful Christmas songs with this release. Her voice is something you need to get used to, but once you know how she rolls you can enjoy almost everything she does. Just look at Hallelujah. She sings in a very cute, almost childish voice and it didn’t disturb me a bit. I just fell in love with her music as soon as I heard the Irish concept album, and it’s great to hear she still uses some of the singing techniques she learned while recording that album on this one. Too bad Christmas is only once a year,  but on the other hand, if you listen to this album just once a year you can enjoy it every time without letting it bore you!

Favorite tracks: Amazing Grace | Hallelujah | We Three Kings Of Orient Are | Christmas Medley | Ave Maria | It Came Upon A Midnight Clear | Seinaru Yoru Ni~Holly Night | Kokoro no Rousoku

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

KOKIA – songbird

November 25, 2012 at 7:21 PM | Posted in KOKIA | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – songbird

1. Watashi wa Utau Kotori Desu
2. Soyo Kaze ga Sougen wo Naderu You ni
3. I catch a cold
4. Shiroi Yuki
5. River
6. Hirisagari no Toki
7. You
8. Live Alone
9. Arigatou…
10. Erika
11. Aishiteru Kara (Sincerely Version)

♦ ♦ ♦

songbird is the debut album by Japanese singer KOKIA, released on July 16, 1999. The album did not chart on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

Watashi wa Utau Kotori Desu instantly shows off KOKIA’s beautiful and unique vocals a capella at first before adding a simple but pretty piano line. My first KOKIA album was the Fairy Dance album, so I’m already a little bit familiar with her vocal techniques, which I find amazing. For such a simple opening track, I can get used to this! Even the whistling that closed the song gave me chills.

Although her vocals were a little bit more childish at the time, Soyo Kaze ga Sougen wo Naderu You ni continues the lovely acoustic feel the previous track already had in a rather good way. KOKIA’s timbre fit this kind of music perfectly, so I’m glad she performs another ballad now. It’s a rather long track and the melodies are pretty much continues all the way through, but there’s enough variation in the track through pitch changes and KOKIA’s always interesting vocals.

What the… I catch a cold is the craziest song I’ve ever heard. It’s like a nursery song. True, it’s upbeat and fun with a bouncy piano melody, but KOKIA’s vocals… Do I need to say more? Take the title literally guys, since there’s even some sneezing in the song. I don’t even know what this song is doing here, but damn did it make me LMFAO.

Back to the serious stuff now. Luckily, Shiroi Yuki takes on a much more mature sound, both musically and vocally. I’m also glad KOKIA kept the suspense in the track through her vocals, she doesn’t sing the same way all the time and actually sings very quietly and peaceful before belting out her lyrics suddenly. There’s a sense of drama to this song that I like, especially when compared to I catch a cold. Some repetition in the melodies as well, but it has its charms.

River is another beautiful ballad with matching vocals, in triple time to bring up some variation to the album. I like the way the piano and acoustic guitar work together to really establish that ‘river’ feel in the arrangement. KOKIA’s light vocals easily fly over that arrangement to make the song even lighter, almost angelic. By now I know that KOKIA tends to overuse some melodies in a song that could make them drag, so when I don’t really pay attention to that fact this is actually one of the better songs on the album.

Now Hisagari no Toki is an interesting track. It continues the minimalistic approach most of the other previous tracks had (well… actually it’s all of them but w/e) with the almost typical arrangement including an acoustic guitar, a piano and soft percussion. I’m not sure where I stand with KOKIA’s vocals, sometimes she tends to not hit the higher notes spot on. Other times her vocals are perfect, and ofcourse her head voice comes up again, pretty as ever. I’m in love with that sound. So.. I don’t know about the overall song. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for now.

You has quite a nostalgic sound in the arrangement, which reminds me a little of some older songs from the early nineties (it has the same sound as Beauty and the Beast by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, LOL). The strings arrangement in the background give the song a more emotional feel, and I must say that besides the repetitions there are definitely some highlights in this song that some previous songs didn’t have. Therefore I think it should deserve some extra credit here.

The longest song on the album at almost six miutes is Live Alone, and it actually drew my attention right from the start. It takes me back to the first two tracks, which I absolutely loved, but it brings along some new aspects too. The background vocals layer the song beautifully, the percussion explores some new details and halfway the song actually becomes a little bit uptempo suddenly!

Ah, the well known Arigatou… . Some of you may know the Cantonese cover version by Sammi Cheng, but since I didn’t know either version before this review I’ll just leave that one alone. For another acoustic ballad that emphasizes another good collab between the piano and acoustic guitar, it definitely has a unique melody that makes the song stand out a little more on this ballad heavy album. Same for the electric guitar, wow that was a real wake up call. I don’t even need to hear Sammi’s version, this one already completely satisfied me.

Erika starts right away with KOKIA singing to a soft piano melody with her matching angelic vocals. As soon as the background vocals drop in, the entire song really starts to take flight. There’s an emotional tone to both KOKIA’s vocals and the music, it almost gives me goosebumps since I like the melody in this song so much. It’s just too bad this song is over too soon, and still it was just over four minutes in length.

Although almost everyone thinks Aishiteru Kara (Sincerely Version) is the better song on the album, I think it’s okay. I mean, I really like it, KOKIA totally dedicated herself to this song to the fullest and the arrangement is beautiful, it’s just that I just heared Erika, which completely stunned me. Still I really think this was the best choice to close the album, and during these 5 minutes I must admit the song starts to grow on me since KOKIA’s singing is especially catchy when she sings the title words. Good song.

Okay… So this album was pretty much all ballads. It wasn’t just ballad heavy, there just wasn’t anything else to find here. STILL. If you ask me, there are definitely some good songs on this album that could’ve shot KOKIA to stardom. That didn’t happen, and after this album she took a break for two years before returning in 2001 at another record label. I must admit I can see why this album isn’t her best until now, but what I don’t get is that this album didn’t chart at all. What was wrong with the Japanese? Don’t they enjoy some easy listening? *sigh*  I guess I’m the only one who can appreciate this album.

Favorite tracks: Watashi wa Utau Kotori Desu | Soyo Kaze ga Sougen wo Naderu You ni | River | You | Live Alone | Arigatou… | Erika | Aishiteru Kara (Sincerely Version)

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

KOKIA – Fairy Dance ~KOKIA meets Ireland~

August 20, 2010 at 3:59 PM | Posted in KOKIA | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – Fairy Dance ~KOKIA meets Ireland~

1. Lydia~Fairy Dance
2. song of pocchong~Shizuku no Uta (song of pocchong~雫の歌)
3. Kanashikute Yarikirenai (悲しくてやりきれない)
4. Black is the colour
5. Soshuu Yakyoku (蘇州夜曲)
6. Siúil a Rúin
7. Sono Mama de ~be as you are~ (そのままで ~be as you are~)
8. Taimse Im’ chodhadh

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Fairy Dance~KOKIA meets Ireland~ is Japanese singer KOKIA’s  seventh studio album, released on September 24, 2008. It is the third of four albums released in 2008 to celebrate her 10th anniversary as a singer. She recorded five covers and three original songs for this Ireland inspired album. Of the covers, three are traditional Celtic songs. The album reached #67 on the Oricon albums charts, selling 4,000 copies.

Gosh, for my first encounter with KOKIA’s music, I was completely stunned by how beautiful Lydia~Fairy Dance is! KOKIA is performing in traditional Irish sean nós style, and her head voice sounds so etherical… She sings in harmony with herself, and not an entire choir, which I always like a lot. Also heard on this track are very good arranged fiddle, guitar and flute parts. The flute plays lovely light melodies, so I’m almost dreaming away with this song… I have loved Irish music since Titanic, so I am positive this whole album will not let me down.

song of pocchong~Shizuku no Uta (song of pocchong~雫の歌) also includes that lovely fiddle sound in the music, and KOKIA herself is singing in… well, I don’t know what it is. Gibberish? What I DO know, is that KOKIA can hit some extremely high notes with those gibberish lyrics! This song is pretty enjoyable for me, but I like Lydia~Fairy Dance a little over this one. The music is most enjoyable ofcourse! I can hear Sissel Kyrkjebo chanting the Titanic tune already…

Wow, I love the woodwind and guitar in the opening for Kanashikute Yarikirenai (悲しくてやりきれない), which seems to be a Japanese track on this album. It also shows me what KOKIA’s vocals are really like without the chanting and overall gibberish adlibbing. She’s very talented in my opinion, her voice is easy on the ears and very light. Her voice goes very well with the beautiful flute in the background, and it’s the third track in a row that appealed enough to me.

Apparently The Corrs sung Black is the colour as well… Should ask my mum sometime… Anyway, KOKIA does it again. She sings completely in English and does that pretty well, better than fellow Japanese singer Koda Kumi (but that’s not even a comparisation worth). What I noticed, is that KOKIA sings this song form a male perspective. She sings about a certain ‘she’ in, for example, ‘I love the ground whereon she goes‘. The three magical instruments, being the flute, fiddle and guitar, return in this track ofcourse, and this is definitely one of my favourites.

It’s great fun to hear what you get when you mix an old Japanese song with an Irish musical arrangement: Soshuu Yakyoku (蘇州夜曲). KOKIA sings with so much beauty and calmness in her voice, she really sings in an Irish way. The music also features that typical Irish sound with the fiddle playing a nice tune. I keep noticing that KOKIA’s singing is always at a higher pitch, which gives off that special ambience for this album. For a Japanese woman, she blends in with this style very well.

A Japanese woman singing in Irish? It’s possible! Just listen to the beautiful Siúil a Rúin, and you’ll know how pretty KOKIA brings these Irish lyrics together with a lovely Irish melody made of a guitar and flute most of all. The choir in the chorus sounds wonderful as well, and the fiddle decorates this track once in a while ofcourse. The guitar is most dominant in this track, but my main focus is on KOKIA’s flawless vocals, including the accent she’s trying out!

As soon as I hear KOKIA’s first vocal notes in Sono Mama de ~be as you are~ (そのままで ~be as you are~), I immediately know that this will not be my last review of her music. Not even close! This track is a little more uptempo than the others because of the rhythm of the guitar, KOKIA’s lyrics are fully Japanese again and I love the flute part in the bridge. The fiddle becomes more dominant during the last chorus, and the instrumentarium and KOKIA’s vocal volume gain strength during the last minute of the song, my favourite part.

When KOKIA performs acapella during the beginning of Taimse Im’ chodhadh, it’s pure and flawless again, and it’s especially beautiful because of the uillean pipes addition. This track reminds me the most of the Titanic Suite, even in its melody lies a hince of that song. Because it reminds me so much of that, this could easily be my favourite song on the entire album, even though it’s so calm and relaxing.

Is there anything more I have to say about this album? Yes, that it was way too short for me and that I’m begging KOKIA for a follow-up on this album for sure! She did great, and for a Japanese performer, she can blend in with Celtic styles very well. For someone who already liked Irish music, I love it even more now because of this album. So because she did another style so well, I think KOKIA may be able of pulling anything off. So… since no one in my environment can stand this music, I call this my own guilty pleasure. And believe me, I’m PROUD of it!!

Favorite tracks: Lydia~Fairy Dance | Black is the colour | Siúil a Rúin | Taimse Im’ chodhadh

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

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