Haruto Kujikawa “sapphire” (Review)

ROCK DOWN‘s Haruto Kujikawa brings to the VAZZROCK franchise, and this bi-color series, the beauty and grandiosity of traditional Japanese music.

Updated intro to this series with some spoilers in the mix:

VAZZROCK is the newest 2.5D project by Tsukipro. The cast includes 12 characters split into 2 bands: Vazzy and Rock Down. Those 12 characters represent different precious stones. Besides this and in regards to the interactions between this series and others under Tsukipro, it is mentioned that VAZZROCK‘s members are on good terms (some even friends) with some members of SQ and ALIVE. VAZZROCKSQ and ALIVE all share the same dormitory. Vazzy and Rock Down‘s leaders were once part of the same group with SolidS‘ Shiki Takamura and QUELL‘s Shu Izumi.

Title: 久慈川悠人-sapphire-
Label: Tsukipro/Movic
Release date: 28/09/2018
Genre: Rock

Tracklist:

1 - DRAMA「直往邁進な、その男」
2 - いろはに想ひ唄
3 - Answer (duet)
4 - いろはに想ひ唄 -off vocal-
5 - Answer -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

2 – いろはに想ひ唄 (Iroha ni so hi uta)

For the first time in the VAZZROCK franchise, we have a song that embraces the beauty of traditional Japanese instrumentalization. This instrumental plays well with the contrast between the edgy, fast paced rock elements and the slow paced, delicate traditional elements. On one side, we have a longing shamisen melody and delicate piano melody whereas on the other, we have a sense of urgency that the rock elements, mainly the electric guitars, added to this song. All these elements were incorporated in a way that the listener won’t help but to be amazed with the beautiful traditional soundscape created. The instrumental counts as well with a noticeable bass line – one of the best so far in the bi-color series – and fast paced, bass drum drive drums that added another layer of depth to Iroha ni so hi uta‘s rich instrumental.

On the vocal end we’re surprised by Yoshiaki Hasegawa‘s powerful performance. He covered all ends of the spectrum, delivering an astounding performance that made the best of his versatile mid-tones and clean falsetto. His performance captured perfectly the song’s traditional, melancholic tone. Flawless performance. 5/5

3 – Answer

The tone completely changes for “Answer“. There’s a freedom and fun unique to this instrumental that makes it the polar opposite to the previous track. This instrumental embraces an addictive acoustic rock sound bringing to the table funky guitar licks, a groovy bass line and simple, hi-hat drums that create this freeing and laidback sound. Brass and rhodes piano added a slight touch of jazz to the already incredibly rich funk-rock instrumental.

This duet counts with Yoshiyaki Hasegawa and Takuya Sato on vocal duty. Their voice colors although different, matched perfectly for this song, with Sato‘s sweet mid-to-low tones complementing Hasegawa‘s soothing mid-tones, enhancing the song’s feel good vibe. 5/5

Final rating:

ROCK DOWN‘s Haruto Kujikawa brings to the VAZZROCK franchise, and this bi-color series, the beauty and grandiosity of traditional Japanese music.

Iroha ni so hi uta” completely stole the show with its mix of traditional instrumentalization and rock music. While this isn’t the most unique formula in the music industry and much less within Tsukipro itself (Solid’s “Oka Ranman” quickly comes to mind when talking about traditional music mixed with rock), it’s impossible to not mention just how beautiful is the song’s soundscape. On top of this memorable instrumental is one of the best performances so far in the bi-color series. Yoshiaki Hasegawa sounded like a different person after what had been a lukewarm duet performance in the 7th bi-color release. This time around he not only covered both ends of the spectrum, but also impressed with his falsetto and sweet mid-tones, reasons enough to commend his performance and make him one of the names in ROCK DOWN to look out for.

On the other side, Answer proved to be a contrasting song that made the best of its funky sound to bring out two great voice colors, Yoshiaki Hasegawa and Takuya Sato‘s. The duo performed this duet in synchronicity and complemented each others’ tones. Both showcased their control and skill in what is one of the best duet performances in the bi-color series.

Yoshiaki Hasegawa showed his singing skills with this release. He’s extremely versatile, fitting perfectly with a more traditional, lyrical approach to his singing in “Iroha ni so hi uta“, as well as with the complete opposite, a funkier, more laidback performance in Answer. His soothing singing tone and clear falsetto two other things that shone in both his performances.

As a whole, Haruto Kujikawa‘s “sapphire” is a must listen release, the best so far from ROCK DOWN‘s side (that started with the 7th release).

VAZZROCK” bi-color Series (8) Kujikawa Haruto – sapphire – is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

"VAZZROCK" bi-color Series / Haruto Kujikawa (Yoshiaki Hasegawa) & Reiji Amaha (Takuya Sato)
Haruto Kujikawa (Yoshiaki Hasegawa) & Reiji Amaha (Takuya Sato)

 

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