QUARTET NIGHT & Starish “Setsugetsuka” (Review)

Quartet Night and Starish‘s collaboration “Setsugetsuka” is all but brimming with symbolic references to an idiom referring to the “beauty of the four seasons”. This release calls for the attentive listener as the instrumental piece reveals to have more layers of meaning than it may give off.

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Title: Setsugetsuka
Release date: 21/11/2018
Label: Broccoli
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

1 - 雪月花
2 - 雪月花 (off vocal)

Track analysis:

1 – 雪月花

Setsugetsuka is more than just a mere name chosen randomly. This track has been named after an idiom whose kanji mean “beauty of the four seasons”. Adapted from an old Chinese poem titled “A Poem Sent to Yin Xielu”, Setsugetsuka is precisely about the different seasons and consequently about the different elements associated to them, snow (Winter), moon (Fall), flower (Spring). With that in mind, it is hard to miss the melancholy and traditional instruments incorporated in this track.

Combining the piano with a traditional japanese instrumental piece laid down the fundamental ambiance we will get in this track. The intro has perfectly incorporated the violin, bass and the percussion into this rather eclectic instrumental piece. Though it seems that perhaps the violin was not the best choice to deliver the same emotion as the rest of the instrumental piece as at times it draws the attention to it in negative and excessive way. Setsugetsuka’s vocal performance is a prime example of a good pairing of the members of both units, taking the example of having Tomoaki and Suzumura singing in a dramatic yet heartfelt manner, and escaping the ever so often taken path of crowded vocal performance. Unlike the recent releases of both units, this track does not necessarily give away its characteristic bright aura in Starish‘s case or powerful instrumental pieces in Quartet Night‘s case. The incorporation of traditional instruments in this track such as the dizi, a chinese traditional flute that for some may sound like a shakuhachi and then the biwa add a certain melancholy to Setsugetsuka  and end up incorporating elements from both the country from which the poem is originated from and the country that liked it so much that translated it.

It seems as thought the theme behind the track’s instrumental piece was equally well delivered, as it is not hard to listen to it and uncover the different layers it has, such is its richness that it becomes extremely enjoyable as one breaks them down and discovers something new with each time one listens to the track. Aside from the traditional and melancholic instrumental piece, Setsugetsuka almost feels like some sort of a traditional japanese play is taking place for the listener and in that case it is up to oneself to indulge in the experience, which brings us back to the fact that everything in this track being symbolic.

Final rating: 

Setsugetsuka” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

Author: Nadine Silva

Reviewer and News editor at The Hand That Feeds HQ since 2012. Based in Portugal. Translation graduate. Hobbyist piano player.

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