I-ai- is the newest album of the band I-アイ- (I-ai-), time to take a closer look into this album! Last time I had the honour of reviewing their album “Crystallize”, you can find it here. Find my opinion of their new album I-アイ- down below! The pair is currently also on European tour.
02.薔 薇 と 蛇 (bara to hebi)
05.アシッド・レイン (Acid Rain)
08.DANCE IN THE DARK
Their first track, EG♂I$M, starts out slowly, it gives of an Eastern-vibe. This thought disappears quickly as the song progresses into a more techno-ish impression. Guitar mixes with the techno beat and singer Hiroaki joins in. He sings in a whispery manner, setting a mysterious atmosphere. This whisper continues on in this song. After the first chorus you’ll hear Hiroaki sing again with guitarist Yuki more unto the background. At the end of the song you’ll hear a violin peaking through the music. This track gave me a relaxed feeling, it had some techno elements but because of the guitar play it gave you a completely different idea.
薔 薇 と 蛇 (bara to hebi) is their second track and immediately starts out with singing accompanied by the drums setting a basic rhythm. In this song I noticed a certain effect on Hiroaki his vocals, it didn’t sound completely natural. What it did do was create a cool and mysterious effect. This song started out composedly, speaking of the instrumental. It’s as the song advances that more instruments join in creating a more heavy sound. Somewhere mid song the music fades and a dubstep part starts. After this you’ll hear Hiroki whisper and the song continues as if the break never happened. Even though this song was quite jammed and heavy it finished in a serene piano solo. This is a song which I would listen to in the background while working, very cool and energetic.
Their third song, NEO JESUS, begins with a very mysterious, almost horror-like sound. The kind you’ll hear in a thriller when someone looks behind the corner. This song is exactly like that. You’ll hear this sound and then get surprised by Hiroaki as he grunts the word “JESUS” signing the start of the song. After this Yuki comes in with a guitar solo. This song is filled with grunting and several normally sung lines. A mix of both. Halfway the song Yuki has another guitar solo which I personally find very cool. What surprised me was that in this track, when there was no grunting or guitar solo’s , it was a quite calm and peaceful. It seemed as if it turned into a completely different song. Towards the end the grunting became whispery and the guitar more aggressive and finishes in one final grunt. This is truly a nice heavy song, lots of grunting and guitar play. Really a cool track.
FETISH, their fourth song, starts out with guitar and drum making it sound very heavy. This sound becomes lighter as the piano seeps through. After the intro the harsh sound has turned slightly softer and Hiroaki his beautiful voice is again hearable. In the background you’ll notice a woman’s voice. This voice made the song a lot more elegant in my opinion. The two voices created a beautiful harmony. Halfway there is another short piano play as the woman’s voice disappears making place for Hiroaki to fill. This track had a fleeting vibe but also the more heavy sounds of the guitar and drums creating a nice contrast. Very nice and pretty song.
The fifth song is called アシッド・レイン (Acid Rain) and it, indeed, start of with the sound of rain. My first impression was that it had something jazzy going on. The piano swings in the background and Hiroaki his voice sounds different from his other songs. It also has noticeably more piano in it compared to their other songs. In this song there is also another female singer in the background. The track ends with a jazzy piano play and Hiroaki his vocals. This was a very nice and contrasting song compared to the others in this album. Very nice change of pace and certainly one of my favourites.
Their sixth track, Liquid Flower, starts with a serene piano solo accompanied with sounds of children, a woman and a man. It made me think of a family. Hiroaki sounds as if he’s singing through a megaphone. It sounds peaceful yet sad. After the intro the megaphone effect is gone and Hiroaki sounds normal again. Again this song has some jazz elements as the former one. Saxophone and piano collaboration is to blame. In this song there’s a background vocalist although I suspect it to be Hiroaki himself or Yuki the guitarist. Whispery voices are also part of this song. Towards the end is another guitar solo and it continues as before. Hiroaki sings in a peaceful manner which showed of his clear vocals. The track comes to end with several guitar chords which fades away. Very beautiful and peaceful track, certainly another favourite of mine.
SWEET BUTTERFLY, is the seventh track, starting with the sounds of nature. Some barking dogs, whistling birds and peaceful piano play. It gave of a fantasy aura. Hiroaki his vocals are again very clear and pretty. He sings in such manner that fits this song perfectly. Again because the guitar and drums aren’t too obvious it gives space for the piano to show it’s serene quality. Towards the end there is a guitar solo but it’s done in a mild way. The singing returns and end with Hiroaki his last words.
The eighth track of this album, DANCE IN THE DARK, begins with music which reminds me of movies, such as Lord of the Rings, very dramatic but nice. Through the music you’ll hear Hiroaki speaking in a demonic way. After he finishes talking he starts grunting. The song, completely overturned, is now a heavy metal song with full on grunting, loud guitars and drums. Very dark song it is but with it’s own special charm. Further in the song Yuki has a guitar solo which continues on throughout the song whilst you can hear the vocals singing. Mixed with the singing are grunting sounds in the background. At the end of the drum solo the music abruptly stops. The fantasy intro returns as if all the chaos never happened. This track was very nice! The contrast was very charming, surprising in a good way.
Their ninth track, SAMURAI JAP, starts with an Eastern sound. This is cause by this certain flute that’s heard more often in Eastern soundtracks. Very relaxed and mysterious.. But let’s not judge to quickly as the pace could change just as it did with I-ai. And it did! This Eastern sound is quickly replaced by grunting, guitars and drums. A complete 360 degree turn! In the higher tones you’ll hear some kind of bell. The Eastern sound returns at softer parts in between the guitar and drums. After this Hiroaki starts to sort of rap-sing. It also seemed as if some parts were censored. At a certain point you’ll hear a sort white-noise, as if someone is moving around the radio. After this the song continues as before. Throughout the whole song the Eastern elements are notable. When it seems as if the song has ended in a quiet way you’ll be surprised yet again with some more grunting. I find that this song finds certain charm in these Eastern elements.
Christian Rose, the tenth track of their album, begins with a piano solo and floating sound. As if you’re somewhere high up relaxing on a cloud. The song truly begins when the piano starts to speed up. As the piano continues, the calm vibe persists. Guitar, violins and piano are now clearly hearable. When Hiroaki starts singing it sounds very high and peaceful. After this slow part the song progresses into a slightly louder sound with Hiroaki singing in a normal pitch. Although you can still hear high pitched voices in the background. Midsong there is slightly longer guitar solo, it sounds slightly floating. After this solo the singing continues again as before. It slows down towards the end and the sound of the sea mixes in. It ends with only the sound of the sea and ticking of a clock. I find this a very beautiful, mysterious and fairy like song. Another one of my personal favourites in this album.
The eleventh and final track, DUTY, starts out immediately with singing edited with a filter. It’s a very energetic and busy song in comparison with their previous tracks. The guitar made me feel happy. Hiroaki his singing is present in the background together with the drums. Suddenly the song progresses into a more heavy sound. Grunting, whispering and faster guitar play are the cause. In this song too Yuki has a guitar solo. It slows down towards the end of the song and extra reverb is hearable on Hiroaki his vocals. The song ends with Hiroaki his last words. This song is very energetic and has a lot of dynamics and is certainly not boring to listen to.
Sadly this album came to an end real quick. There were several tracks which were very nice and others who were simply breathtaking. This album had no song that I disliked, everything was to my taste. This album had a lot of variation, from soft gentle piano play to grunting with heavy guitars. I hope that this review has given you an idea of what to expect from this album and also has piqued your interest to take a listen yourself.
You can buy I-ai- at the website of I-アイ-, but also on iTunes, Amazon MP3 and on Spotify.