RURUTIA’s 6th album
27th February 2009
RURUTIA is one of only a handful of artists that I wasn’t introduced to by the “usual means,” which are 1) exposure via anime or related media and 2) direct recommendation from friends. Until recently, I was so negligent of radio and other such random discovery tools that I only learned of new English-speaking artists via AMVs, which is kind of sad? Now that I’ve found a nice plugin to read in Pandora’s outputs into my last.fm (thus, satisfying my OCD), I’ve been giving that a spin, but that really has nothing to do with RURUTIA, whom I discovered on my own a few years ago. Though her style and genre is quite a ways apart from my usual rock, pop, and alternative, the mysterious quality of her music has always drawn me in.
The echoey ambience of RURUTIA’s voice is haunting and airy, perhaps other worldly; the emotion always feels very sincere, very innocent, very hopeful. Her melodies also have a lot of classical influence, which is always a huge plus for me. Unfortunately, I’ve only heard her first couple of albums, so I’m not sure how her style might have evolved over the years. The most recent album of hers I’ve heard is Meme from 2005, and I haven’t really been keeping up with her singles either. This should be interesting then, huh?
TRACK 01: Seirios (YouTube it)
Quiet, but dramatic, piano opening with electronic distortion in the tempo. Vocals are slow and eerie… every syllable is enunciated very clearly. Chorus picks up the pace and the sound is a lot more forceful, stronger, and very desperate sounding. Her pronunciation of “Seirios” is recognizable, which is kind of surprising since she doesn’t often sing in English (if at all?). Second verse echos the first, slow and haunting. It builds very steadily and the second chorus erupts really nicely from it. Ooh, really beautiful high notes here. The emotion is really touching; the melody is really awesome. This would be great music to accompany some kind of final struggle. There is no bridge or final chorus, but the outro is a quiet (but still dramatic) piano interlude with the distortion to keep you on your toes until it fades out to silence.
TRACK 02: サイレントプレイヤー(Silent Prayers) (YouTube it)
Brighter, more cheerful sounding opening. Twinkling sounds lead into more electronica and hesitant violins. Vocals start mysteriously; sounds more like speaking than singing, but that changes fairly quickly. Chorus is rather typical RURUTIA — lots of gorgeous high notes presented in a very airy way; it’s a very unique sound. Second verse has more of the speaking-singing, but it’s more forceful and pressing now. More urgent. Second chorus sounds more cheerful, but I’m not sure that that’s the right word. It’s more “bright.” I can imagine this illustrating some crazy colorful garden scene with a ton of butterflies, but I might just associate butterflies with RURUTIA in general since one of my first and favorite songs is “Lost Butterfly.” I don’t think it’s unfitting though. Bridge has more of that “bright” feeling — the melody has that “magical” air to it. It’s a nice instrumental. Final chorus leads out to the same instrumental, which ends without fading.
TRACK 03: Opus
“Opus” was a track on an album of the same name and a ballad version of (presumably) the same song also appeared on another album, but I haven’t heard either of them so I’m not sure if this “Opus” is the same song or related at all. Intro has some quick bass strings and then a haughty-sounding viola (I think? I’m bad at recognizing strings). Vocals are calm and slow, very casual-feeling, or as casual as RURUTIA gets. The chorus brings back the classic sound though: voice becomes very airy and there are some nice overlaps. Second verse feels a bit more forced and kind of confused, like it’s caught between the mood of the first verse and the chorus. Chorus feels more and more generic, like this could be the chorus of any number of RURUTIA songs. Oh, damn. Beautiful piano interlude! It’s very soothing and peaceful. A bit short, but the final chorus feels less plain because of it. Airy high notes fade out to the end.
TRACK 04: オーロラ飛行 (Aurora Hikou)
Very epic and dramatic-sounding intro. This would make a great movie theme of some sort. Vocals feel kind of misplaced at the beginning though, and the mood is difficult to pinpoint. An awkward sustained note leads into slower lyrics with no background music and a weird uncertainty. Verses and chorus are hard to pick out here, but what I assume is the first chorus brings back the epic/dramatic feeling from the intro. The mood feels like the end of the world now, perhaps before some big final battle where everyone is expected to die. The mood doesn’t really escalate though — the quiet desperation doesn’t change or grow, so the song kind of stagnants by the second chorus. Still, it’s all very pleasing to the ear. Like ALI PROJECT though, I think RURUTIA has a lot of songs that fall into the same sort of sound and feeling so it becomes difficult to distinguish between them. Also like ALI PROJECT though, I know there are plenty of gems amongst that heap; this just isn’t one of them. Still, outro to this is pretty unique, if a bit clashing with the rest of it.
TRACK 05: 流光 (Ryuukou) (YouTube it)
Generic violin opening. Awesome sustained note though… vocals start off brisk and confident. Tempo and background beat is very nice; fits in very well with the voice. This song apparently also previously appeared on the album Opus. First chorus sounds really awesome — energetic, but not over the top; not quite urgent, but still important-sounding. Well placed high notes too. I really love the melody and sound of the verses; it’s mysterious in a different way, like it isn’t really trying to be haunting, but is anyway. Lyrics are pretty interesting as well. Bridge sounds a little airy and a little desperate, but the confidence isn’t that far off either. It’s a strange blend. I love the “mada mada”s, but I’m a sucker for repetitions as long as it doesn’t get ridiculous. This might be my favorite on the album thus far, though Seirios was really nice too…
TRACK 06: 無憂歌 (Muyuuka)
Energetic piano opening, but it eases up gradually. Vocals start off nicely and make it sound like a simple ballad, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. Voice is very soothing and calming. Moves into the first chorus very smoothly; sounds and feels very much like an earnest love song. RURUTIA sounds particularly sincere here. There’s really not much to say beyond that, haha, but this really is a sweet song.
TRACK 07: LAST DAY
Moderate violin opening with a cheerful little keyboard in the back (or a pipe instrument? Hard to tell!). Vocals are… very normal sounding? That’s not meant in a bad way either, but I’m not sure how to describe them. The mood feels very much like a “this is a good day” kind of thing, if that makes any sense. Chorus is more familiar-sounding — urgency and quiet desperation and an airy, haunting quality. Eases up into the second chorus, but it retains much of the darker aura. By the second chorus, I feel like the theme of the song is trying to reach something but not being able to. Or protecting something, as I think the lyrics imply. Bridge has a nice melody and leads into a sincere-sounding interlude before the final chorus. Not a bad song overall.
TRACK 08: 氷鎖 (Hyousa)
Dramatic piano opening with hushed whispers in the accompaniment. This song apparently appeared on a mini album of the same name. Vocals start off simply, calmly, though it doesn’t take long for the desperation to creep back in. Dramatic pause before the chorus, which sounds particularly tragic at first, but eases into something rather generic-feeling? Second verse brings more of the same, but I like the piano a lot. I think I also actually like the pause before the choruses, but the chorus itself feels a bit out of place, like the melody doesn’t really carry between it and the verses. Bridge feels similarly strange, but the hushed voices from the beginning return for the outro.
TRACK 09: 夢蛍 (Yume Hotaru)
Trilly piano intro. Eerie and energetic (?) at the same time. Suddenly stops for some particularly haunting piano before the vocals begin. The off-keys in this song really accent the ghostly feel; the piano does a great job in helping as well. Chorus felt kind of weird, but the second verse is just as eerie as the first, though perhaps a little more cheerful? I think the main reason that the chorus is kind of disorienting is because it has more background music and a stronger tempo, which is kind of clashing. Bridge has some interesting guitar, which almost sounds out of place amongst the more classical instruments and distortion. Next chorus is less jarring and leads into a distant and echoy verse/chorus, which gradually fades out. Hm.
TRACK 10: VOID
Intro immediately makes me think of the ending of some kinda movie, perhaps a click flick or a family film — something with a predictably happy ending. Vocals immediately counter this thought by sounding completely unfitting for such a scenario. Lyrics are slow and RURUTIA’s voice is drawn out and rather awkward instead of eerie. Very hard to keep track of verses and choruses in this song; everything kind of blends together… oh, the second verse kind of sets itself apart there with a preceeding pause. Tone and everything sounds the same though; another one of those forgettable songs, perhaps? Lots of sustained notes, some pretty, some awkward. …Yeah, kind of a forgettable song, though I think the slower tempo kind of contributed to boring me.
TRACK 11: 星と羽 (Hoshi to Hane) (YouTube it)
Spacey kinda intro. Appropriate, I guess (“Hoshi to Hane” = “Stars and Feathers”). This is yet another song that’s also appeared on the Opus album in 2007. Vocals also start off kind of spacey. Some ooh-ing and soft sustained notes with a twinkling triangle or something in the background. And then, a piano! With purposeful static. Sounds rather nostalgic, but I have mixed feelings about it. Huh, piano goes on for quite a while. Vocals return rather abruptly along with the spacey-ness. Not really sure what the mood is supposed to be for the song, but everything feels very distant in one way or another. Ooh-oohs fade out gradually along with some odd percussion.
OVERALL: Seirios doesn’t feel all that different from the RURUTIA albums I’m familiar with, though I’m not sure I like the changes I do spot. The classical influences seem more diminished and I think there are less songs that really stand out and more that blend in with her general sound and vocal quality, which is particularly disappointing. I was surprised at the number of tracks that have apparently already appeared on previous albums, though none from the ones I’ve heard. Opus and Hyousa were both mini albums (though at eight tracks each, they’re really not that far off from full albums), but it does seem kind of cheap to have so many repeating songs. The title track and “Ryuukou” are definitely my favorites here; “LAST DAY” and “”Hyousa” probably follow that, but the rest are pretty plain. It might not be a bad album for newcomers to start off with, but those already well versed with RURUTIA’s sound might be disappointed.