Hiroshi Kamiya “Theatre” (Review)


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Hiroshi Kamiya is back with a new mini-album that manages to put him back on track, redeeming himself after a boring release with “Danger Heaven?“, earlier this year. Back and stronger than ever, Kamiya brings us the powerful “Theatre“.

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Mini-album: Theatre
Label: Kiramune
Release date: 24/08/2016
Genre: J-Pop/Rock

Tracklist:

1. Fiction Factor 
2. GRAVITATION 
3. Danger Heaven? 
4. Q.E.D 
5. 影もまた真なり 
6. シアター

Track by track analysis:

1. Fiction Factor 

With a rather unusual intro in which synths stabs blended with pads to make a simple, yet intriguing melody, the song soon evolves into a rock-driven instrumental with powerful drums, a highly noticeable bass that is basically holding every single piece in this instrumental piece together and, of course, the guitars that range from funky riffs to thunderous guitar solos. Kamiya goes all the way for this track in terms of vocal performance. A big chunk of the track is that challenging for him, the chorus demands falsetto and high notes that he tackles them without any issues. His tone sounds incredibly pleasing to listen to on this track as well – it’s somehow smoother. “Fiction Factor” is one hell of a perfect opening track, one of the grooviest and most addictive tracks since “START AGAIN“. 5/5

2. GRAVITATION 

A sweet melody provided by the strings and soothing pads serves as the appetizer for “GRAVITATION“, song that keeps things cosy and melodic with its acoustic-driven sound. Due to it’s acoustic predominance, acoustic guitars, rhodes piano and wah wah guitar effects are in place throughout the the whole track. With such a slow to mid-tempo instrumental, this track could have easily passed as a ballad to some but by listening to the lyrics, and paying attention to the tracks’ arrangement, this is only a feel good track, one that is incredibly consistent and actually a joy to listen to. The only thing lacking is the vocal performance. Of course we’re not expecting nothing over-the-top vocally but still it was a boring performance that didn’t really show much despite the fact that the focus was all the time on the vocals. 4/5

3. Danger Heaven? 

[As previously reviewed] In a mix between oldschool rock and jazz, “Danger Heaven?” showcases a playful side to Kamiya‘s music. Brass elements, jazzy drums, rhodes piano and melodic guitar parts make this instrumental smell like the 50’s. Although this song is clearly different from what we found on his two previous releases, it is actually an incredibly fun track to listen to and will make you dance along to it. Vocally this track is challenging. With loads of high notes and mid ones that require a little more of technique, Kamiya is found often sharpening the notes in order to reach them. Putting that aside and taking into account the entertainment value of this track, we’re still quite satisfied with it. Who said that classic and simple isn’t enjoyable? 4/5

4. Q.E.D 

Q.E.D is a mid-tempo pop-rock track in which strings, orchestral hits and guitar solos take the spotlight right off the bat. We might be risking too much by saying this but Q.E.D is quite possibly the best song Kamiya has released this year. It has so much potential in the verses in which the synthetic drums carefully set the tempo for the emotional strings in the background, building up tension to the ear catching classy chorus – we won’t dive into much detail regarding this impressive chorus because you really need to experience this with a clean slate. This is a golden track and this chorus is one of the best since “START AGAIN“. Vocally, this song was a lot more challenging than the previous one, there were a lot of high notes, tempo shifts and build up moments and Kamiya impressively was up to the task. The best we’ve heard from him this year. 5/5

5. 影もまた真なり 

Brass, funky contrabass, splashy jazzy drums, dandy guitar riffs and a loungy piano melody lead the way in a track worthy to be played at a jazz bar or lounge. The classy, vintage feel we get from this song took us back to the 20’s / 30’s, and we don’t regret it even one bit. It’s impossible to say that this song isn’t entertaining. Both Kamiya‘s energetic vocal performance and the laidback instrumental make this track all the more enjoyable. A good treat for his fans. 4.5/5

6. シアター

At the curtain call we have シアター (Theatre), the title track that, strangely enough, closes the curtain on this release instead of opening it. Slowing down the tempo set with the previous track, this song takes things slowly, carefully building up its emotion to make the chorus a sweet experience to the listener. Strings are once again one of the main elements in the instrumental, setting the mood with its gentle touches. Kamiya sounds smooth, overflowing with emotion, even presenting the listeners to a showcase of his trained falsetto. “Theatre” completes this mini-album on a sweet note. 4.5/5

Final rating:4.5 stars

If we compare this release with the previous one, we have way too much to say. “Danger Heaven?” was by no means a fantastic single, at least one we’d be proud of or one that we could say – it’s amazing -, those were the kinds of thoughts that left our mind with both “START AGAIN” and “Hareroku“, two releases that seem like a distant thing to us but they still rank as his best to date. The momentum created by both of them was lost with “Danger Heaven?” and its way too consistent but ultimately boring release. Then “Theatre” makes its entrance and changes things around again.

Theatre” is a far superior release – even if we need to talk about the last singles’ title track being featured on it.

This mini-album is comprised of several mid-tempo tracks that are lengthy (between 3 to 6 minutes of duration), leaving more time to develop plus convey the lyrics and present the listeners with matured instrumental pieces. Listening to this mini-album was certainly a good experience. It was thoroughly entertaining and showcased correctly Kamiya‘s constant growth vocally. He’s smoother than ever and even more stable when he needs to tackle a higher registry. He’s also showcased his falsetto – technique that gets its “debut” with this mini-album – and we couldn’t be more excited to have it evolve into a top technique Kamiya can use at will without sounding a bit strained (like it does right now) in the future.

Q.E.D is the major highlight in this release. Of course we’ve listened before to Kamiya‘s pop-rock tracks, so the music genre isn’t all that new to him or us. Still, Q.E.D was able to leave us wanting to put it on repeat. The whole arrangement, its composition, the simple yet powerful way in which the chorus was delivered instrumentally and executed vocally. This track is by far one of the best released by Kamiya up until now. We’d even dare to say that this track is quite possibly his best so far.

If you’re up for funky loungy tracks in which elegance is a must, or if you fancy pop-rock tracks with catchy hooks and simple yet addictive instrumentals and vocal performances to match, then this release is the thing for you. Kamiya has certainly redeemed himself with “Theatre“and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s to be released in the future.

Theatre” is available for purchase on CDJapan for all overseas fans.

Theater / Hiroshi Kamiya
Hiroshi Kamiya
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