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TRACK LIST: 1. Hi 4:09 2. Gume 3:56 3. Sow 2:55 4. Kokoro 4:08 5. Ai 3:49 6. Tori 3:43 7. Katari 3:47 8. Nan 3:59 9. Irodori 6:06 10. Ame 2:56 11. Sao-ka 7:54 All tracks: by Shizuka. LINE-UP: Taniuchi - bass; vocals Kasai - electric & acoustic guitars; bass Rumi - keyboards; percussion; some vocals
Prolusion. It's vague to me whether "Sho-ka" is the debut album by Shizuka or not.
Synopsis. If not to count the designations of musical instruments and a few of the label-related details, there are no English words in the CD booklet, and yet, it surprisingly turned out that all the vocals on the album are in English. More "yet" and "turned out"::-) After listening to the first two tracks: Hi and Gumi, both of which represent an original, dark, tense, and hypnotic Electronic Rock, I was sure that the entire album consists of such music, and yet, it turned out that I was vastly mistaken in that supposition. The style of Sow (3) is nothing else but Hard Rock with elements of harsh guitar Art-Rock where there are only shades of electronic music, and all the same 'stylistic' story has been repeated on Ame (10), which is the only uninteresting track on the second half of this output. A traditional guitar Art-Rock is in the basis of the music on Kokoro (4), while on Tori (6), is presented a highly unique and innovative electro acoustic guitar Art-Rock with some (wonderful!) ethnic flavors and very diverse and inventive interplay between passages of acoustic guitar and solos of electric guitar, bass, and percussion instruments. A few ritual-like vocals available here from time to time are also astonishing. The remaining five tracks: Ai, Katari, Nan, Irodori, and Sao-ka (5, 7, 8, 9, & 11) are structurally and stylistically close to each other, though above all, they're notable for the really active and manifold application of keyboards and the presence of parts of piano, organ, and string ensemble, and not only those of synthesizer as on most of the other tracks here. Most of them, in addition, feature passages of either acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar interwoven with basic arrangements. Although a blend of Symphonic Art-Rock and Electronic Rock with elements of guitar Art-Rock presented on each of them isn't that complex, it is definitely progressive and is in addition so original and tasteful that I just wonder how these five, and also Tori, could've been included in the same album along with such Hard Rock mediocrities as Sow and Ame, though both of the first tracks on the CD also hardly concern Progressive.
Conclusion. And now, I am inclined to think that "Sho-ka" is the debut of Shizuka. The album lacks maturity and is wildly incoherent, all of which indicates that the band still didn't find their 'final' sound and style. Nevertheless, no less than a half of the tracks here are highly original and inventive, so I believe Shizuka will be able to take into account all these drawbacks and take a solid step forward with their next album.
VM: November 13, 2003
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