Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Review: Nightmare - blur

Hello everyone- Taka here with another review on Project: Lixx!

I'm majorly excited to bring this to you because it's on a release from a very special band for me. Nightmare was my first ever Japanese rock experience when I was 13. It started with Alumina, then exploded to me finding as much of their discography as was available at that time on YouTube (which also lead to "recommended artists" and me finding all of the favourites I hold dear today).

On January 7, Nightmare released their 24th single [blur], about 2 and a half months before their most recent album, [Carpe Diem] (released March 25). I have yet to get my hands on Carpe Diem but the title track of this single does appear again on it.
The three tracks for this single are:

1. blur
2. Buddies
3. Such A Nonsense System

It's been awhile since I listened to a full new single from Nightmare. I admittedly haven't been keeping up with them in the past 3 years, but I'm always open and excited to jump back into this band's amazing music to see how they're doing. Without further adieu, my review on each track of this single!

1) blur
The title of the single, of course, so it is expected to be pretty darn good. I've come to notice that title tracks tend to be the favourite off of singles, but that is not always the case- for me, this song isn't my favourite, but it is not my least favourite. It starts out with a really nice and 'airy' feeling guitar riff and synthesizer glissando effect, inviting you into a pretty medium tempo song. The first thing I want to point out is Ni~ya's bass line; it really sticks out and drives the song- it helps that it is one of the main supports behind Yomi's vocals during the start of the first verse. During my first listen, I felt so comfortable listening to Yomi's voice once again; it was a familiar feeling that did not disappoint throughout the song. The pulse of this song is by far my favourite part- it really accentuates the off beats leading into the chorus and the chorus lyrics further help focus on the tempo and rhythmic composition as the highlight of the song.

Then it brings you into a tempo and even a motif change within the bridge- speeding up the pulse with the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar to support the Sakito's amazing guitar solo. All the while, keeping very soft synthetic elements glittering in the background.

The lyrics in this song speak of a relationship ending from the other person's doing. The other in the relationship seems to have not cared from the start or at least didn't have any hope for their relationship to last forever- not believing in eternity. It's a fight between wanting to remember love, but also not wanting to remember the time wasted on someone who didn't have the same romanticized idea about it.

2) Buddies
Another easy tempo, calm listening type of song- similar to blur. Sakito's guitar part sits lovely on top of the rest of the group to introduce you into the song. I find I enjoy Yomi's smooth vocals more in this song compared to blur. His sustained notes are so strong and well supported that I just feel entranced. Sometimes, I'd appreciate less vibrato since his straight notes are gorgeous but, most of the time, the choice to use vibrato is appropriately placed. Sakito's guitar part is constantly placed gently over the rest of the group- not drowning anyone out but just adding the right amount of musical colour to the song. At the 2 minute mark, Ni~ya comes in with a quick bass riff that, at first, seems misplaced, but once I listened through the song a few more times, I found this little break as essential to the song as the only Yomi parts. The song leads out with a wonderful and solid support line with Sakito's guitar still gracing the top ever so gently. I have yet to mention how well kept the support is with this song and it relies mostly on Hitsugi- his rhythm guitar part follows nicely with Sakito's. A soft steady piano part soon takes over as they fade out and finish the song.

While blur spoke of a love that was between what could be interpreted as a lover, this song rings more about friendship (as if the title isn't enough to give that to you). It suggests that, when friends grow apart, it's not necessarily hate that drives them away, just life. It is full of the good memories of being friends and the hope to reunite, but also not forcing it to happen so soon since the space between them may be rather recent.

3) Such A Nonsense System
Here is the harder style of Nightmare I was looking for- the one I am most familiar with. Though, in comparison to the rest of the single, it seems so misplaced. Even after a few listens, I don't know how I feel about the distorted intro with Yomi's vocals- on one hand, I enjoy it and find it an interesting start to the song but, on the other hand, I find the feedback on the distort is too monotonous and I'd like to have some diction in it to understand exactly what Yomi is saying. The pre-chorus leading into the chorus itself reminds me of a similar approach they used in their song, Dirty (which is one of my favourites). The chorus pulse is similar to blur and allows me to feel more solid on its placement on the single in terms of a composition relevance. I'm also rather proud of Yomi's English improving.

Now... the lyrics. I already had a strong sense of favouritism for this song from the sound alone, but the lyrics helped solidify that. It's a typical criticism of today's online culture and how obsessed people are with it. It seems to mainly be directed to social media such as Facebook. If you want to read all of the lyrics for this single, go to JpopAsia's tracklisting for blur.

Overall, I'd give this single a B-. Granted, I haven't been following Nightmare as closely as I used to, but regardless, this single is calming and fresh with the first two tracks and then brings me back to what I love most from the band with the third song. Nightmare never disappoints me, even if they don't enthrall me as much as they used to. I'm very grateful to have gotten a chance to diagnose a recent single for the band that pulled me into this music in the first place.