The summer is over and daylight savings time has ended last weekend. Now we can look back on a beautiful summer. A CD which fits the summer perfectly is the mini-album by cali≠gari: 憧憬、睡蓮と向日葵 (doukei suiren to himawari).
After the album 12 in March of 2015, the band thought it was time for a mini-album, the second release after the departure of drummer Makoto in 2014. The three band members, guitarist and bandleader Ao Sakurai, bassist Kenjirou Murai and singer Shuuji Ishii still appear to form a solid band and deliver a disk with summer as a concept with confidence.
01. 薫風、都会、行き行きて (kunpuu tokai yukiyukite)
02. ギラギラ (giragira)
03. 陽だまり炎 (hidamari honoo)
04. 蜃気楼とデジャヴ (shinkirou to deja-vu)
05. アレガ☆パラダイス (alega paradise)
06. 憧憬、睡蓮と向日葵 (doukei suiren to himawari)
The summer starts with the cover already, the jewel case is blue, but the picture on the cover is also blue. Green, sunflowers, lilies and swans bathing in the water kissed by the sun. The titles of the songs also give a summer-vibe, but what about the contents of these songs?
The first impression of the mini-album wasn’t spot on immediately: the summer-vibe is obvious from the get-go, but it doesn’t seem to stick just yet. This might be because the band experiments with their sound on a regular basis and alternate between serious and less serious songs. A CD that has to grow isn’t unusual. It took a while before it started to dawn, maybe because it didn’t seem like how the musicians intended. It was only during my first trip to Japan in the hot month of June that the puzzle pieces started to form together.
The mini-album is a mixture that you can describe as a big city like Tokyo: it can be hustling and bustling, but also quiet. Not completely silent though. Imagine a beautiful Summer day in which the sun is shining brightly and you’re on your way to your final destination. Either by foot, or by public transport where you see the environment pass you by as you go.
A perfect song for travelling by subway or train is 薫風、都会、行き行きて (kunpuu tokai yukiyukite). Shuuji’s voice is very soothing in this song, enabling you to really dream away at this song. It’s not completely dreamy yet though, as the instruments make sure the song remains bubbly. 陽だまり炎 (hidamari honoo) and 蜃気楼とデジャヴ (shinkirou to deja-vu) go in the same category, but there is an upbeat rhythm. On top of that, the last-mentioned song does bring up the erotic aspect of ‘eroguro’ which we all know and love from the band. It’s amplified by vocalist Shuuji, who seems to be sighing a little.
The mini-album is not just calm and dreamy: the song ギラギラ (giragira) has been written by the guitarist and bandleader and is a great example of a funny and catchy upbeat song that makes it very hard for you to keep still. You can hear how Shuuji and Aoi work together to create a funny song with a chorus you can really sing along to. Another song that makes you want to dance is アレガ☆パラダイス (alega paradise), which is very cheerful in comparison to the other songs on the mini-album.
Shuuji’s voice throughout the whole album is very pleasant to hear. He has a nice vibrato and can play with his voice in many different ways, making him very powerful one moment and very dreamy the next. Even if it was less than what you’re normally used to from this singer. Instrumentally speaking the CD is very solid. The band knows how to deliver the concept from start to finish, transforming the area around the listener into a warm summer day. The songs fit each other very well and are very fitting for cali≠gari, even though it will be a little harder to process for newer fans of the band due to this CD being different than most of the material the band has produced over the years. Even so, the cali≠gari vibe is clearly there, probably due to the craziness of Ao -which he mostly adds in the writing and composing of the songs- in combination with the familiar voice from Shuuji and notable bass tones from Kenjirou.