Eri Nobuchika – hands

July 5, 2009 at 11:18 PM | Posted in Eri Nobuchika | Leave a comment
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hands is Eri Nobuchika’s 1st mini-album and it was released on June 3, 2009. The mini-album failed to make an appearance on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

♦ ♦ ♦

We can all celebrate that Eri Nobuchika is finally back but let’s take a look at the new material that she has given us. After such a long wait, my expectations were pretty high.

The first track also happens to be my personal favorite on this mini-album. Instantly starting with Nobuchika’s radiant vocals, Melody is a good representation of what her new musical style is like. Showcasing a mellow and more organic based sound, this song is very pleasant to the ears. It’s good to know that Nobuchika’s voice is still in top form after all these years too.

At least she is still dabbling a little bit in jazz! Like some of the simpler tracks on her debut album, Kimi Nanda is relaxing but still has a catchy hook. You hear this hook as a lyric in the chorus but also through the playful piano chords and background vocals. It tends to get repeated a lot near the end as well.

The next track has some variety in its arrangement. In Tashika na Mono, there is an uptempo beat next to the ambient organ and acoustic guitar. This song is also more enthusiastic than the last 2 tracks so at least we aren’t getting an entire mini-album filled with laid back material.

I wasn’t sure what to make of calling you. The song is offbeat since it has a constant, shuffling percussion rhythm alongside a steady piano. Nobuchika’s vocals remain pretty steadfast and seem unaware of what is going in the music. Everything just seemed to clash but the music didn’t sound all that messy to me. In addition, this is one of the more unique songs on the mini-album.

A soft acoustic ballad follows. I honestly get folkish country music vibes from Seseragi and it’s probably because of that specific string plucking. Anyway, I didn’t think this song was anything special. Imagine Hidamari (the last track on her debut album) but slightly better.

Adding upon that folky sound heard in the previous track is Tsunagu Mirai. It’s also calm and acoustic based but with added instruments; the strings being the most welcome addition. At best, this was another pleasant song.

Here is something radically different! Featuring an Hispanic inspired arrangement, STEP comes in with upbeat acoustic guitar, constant clapping, and a wild flute. Think of it as Voice but without the electronic elements. That being said, this is the most energetic song on the mini-album and it shows Nobuchika with a little more flair in her vocals. I was quite fond of the adlibbing too.

Ending the mini-album is DEEP BLUE, another mellow song. I liked the relaxing piano but that was pretty much it. The transition from the verses to the chorus seemed disjointed and the vocals sounded a little off at times. I just wasn’t feeling this track and ironically like on her debut album, it closes with a dud.

WHOO-HOO! ERI NOBUCHIKA IS BACK! LET’S PARTY! =DDD
Now that we got that out of the way, it’s time for the hangover! First of all, hands is not a bad mini-album. It’s smooth, collected, but also quite boring at times. For those of us who have been fans of Nobuchika since the very beginning, we know about the amazing music she did back when she was produced by Shinichi Osawa (I still think nobuchikaeri is one of the best J-pop albums EVER). That’s over and done with, but I would like to see her doing electronic based songs again since she really shined while performing them. With hands, she has taken a simpler, more organic approach to music. The song themselves are nice to listen to, but they are missing a certain spark and energy. Perhaps she will step it up with her next release? I certainly hope so.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Melody
2. Kimi Nanda (きみなんだ)
3. Tashika na Mono (タシカナモノ)
4. calling you
5. Seseragi (せせらぎ)
6. Tsunagu Mirai (つなぐみらい)
7. STEP
8. DEEP BLUE

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Eri Nobuchika – nobuchikaeri

November 3, 2007 at 10:37 AM | Posted in Eri Nobuchika | 2 Comments
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nobuchikaeri is Eri Nobuchika’s debut album and it was released on December 21, 2005. The album reached #65 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,055 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

The album opens with the short instrumental Forest of Dreams (Intro). The music is surreal and quite ambient even though it is mainly composed of synth.

Lights, her debut single, is the track that really sets the stage for the album’s unique and harmonic sound. It’s an amazing song that combines so many musical elements that range from dance to even classical thanks to an explosive chorus and beautiful bridge.

Out of all the new tracks on the album, SING A SONG sounds the most electronic. It opens with some gentle synth and a nice beat that gradually flares up when the chorus arrives. This is where the song becomes much more aggressive as the synth gets louder and stronger. Nobuchika’s vocals are layered to match the music too.

After the abrupt ending of SING A SONG, the jazzy piano chords of Sketch for Summer begin. This is probably the first track on the album where Nobuchika really showcases that stellar voice of hers in a slower paced song. The music is quite a change from the electronic sound of the 2 previous tracks.

Kutsu wo Narasou is also a unique addition to the album. The song features Nobuchika accompanied by only a gentle electric guitar in the background, once again showing off her impressive vocals. The song is rather simple, but still very pleasing to the ears.

Remember the short instrumental that opened the album? It’s actually from the beginning of the next track, Inner Glow. The most astonishing aspect of this song is that it’s performed entirely in English. Nobuchika’s English singing skills are surprisingly good for someone who doesn’t have any knowledge of the language (from what I’ve heard). Plus, the lyrics are gorgeous and extremely descriptive: Take me to the river where the mountains grow so I can walk to the edge of waterfalls.

An improved version of I hear the music in my soul appears on the album (even though it’s not labeled as a new mix). When I mean by ‘improved’, it’s SHORTER. 2 minutes have been cut off from the original mix so it doesn’t sound as repetitive. This track originally appeared as the B-side on the Lights single.

Next up is Voice, the mesmerizing song that combined the Spanish guitar with heavy electronic synth. The song is literally a musical powerhouse because it is LOUD, especially during the song’s insane bridge section.

Kodou is the other jazz inspired song on the album. Its structure is similar to that of Sketch for Summer’s as it doesn’t get interesting until further into the song.

Desert of Dreams (Interlude) definitely marks a change in the album’s sound. What is presented is a strange mix of R&B beats and acoustic guitar with some muffled strings in the background.

What makes Yume no Kakera quite different from the rest album is that it’s inspired by Arabian music. The song’s intro is reminiscent of ethnic Arabian sounds and you will hear them throughout the entire song. Plus, a nice R&B beat is present along with rhythmic piano chords. Nobuchika’s vocals are gorgeous, especially when she sings the elongated notes of the chorus. It’s also the longest track on the album, but those 8 minutes just seem to fly by.

I thought the album’s final track, Hidamari, was a little underwhelming. It’s a simple acoustic song with the occasional strings that feature higher pitched vocals from Nobuchika. I guess you could say that I was expecting more from this song, since it followed the amazing Yume no Kakera. It’s an okay song, but nothing extremely special.

nobuchikaeri is definitely one of the most unique J-pop albums out there. You won’t see a fusion of various musical genres in your ordinary J-pop album like on this one. Eri Nobuchika dabbles into a different genre with almost each track and with that fantastic voice of hers, she’s definitely more than capable to handle anything. Even though this album was released back in the winter of 2005, it still sounds very fresh. I highly recommend it for ANY J-pop fan.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. Forest of Dreams (Intro)
2. Lights
3. SING A SONG
4. Sketch for Summer
5. Kutsu wo Narasou (靴を鳴らそう)
6. Inner Glow
7. I hear the music in my soul
8. Voice
9. Kodou (鼓動)
10. Desert of Dreams (Interlude)
11. Yume no Kakera (夢のかけら)
12. Hidamari (陽だまり)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Eri Nobuchika – Kodou

October 18, 2007 at 10:35 AM | Posted in Eri Nobuchika | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Kodou (鼓動)
2. Kodou (INCOGNITO DÉJÀ VU MIX)
3. Sketch for Summer (G.RINA REMIXX)
4. Kodou (KARAOKE)

This is Eri Nobuchika’s 4th single and it was released on December 7, 2005. The single failed to make an appearance on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

Kodou follows the same direction that Eri Nobuchika’s previous single Sketch for Summer did. The song opens with simple low keyed piano chords, but doesn’t really get interesting until the lead-in to the chorus. The piano chords get faster and are followed by quick percussion which then lead to extremely powerful vocals from Nobuchika. At this point, steady drums and brass appear in the chorus and the song instantly becomes something else.

The next track is the excellent INCOGNITO DEJA VU MIX of Kodou. It adds even more elements to the jazzy arrangement of the original by adding bass beats and strings. Also, Nobuchika’s vocals aren’t accompanied by any background voices in the remix as well. The singing portion ends about 5 minutes through and the rest of the track is an extremely jazzy instrumental piece that is different from the beginning because it becomes more upbeat and includes the flute.

The G.RINA REMIXX of Sketch for Summer is pretty interesting. It uses more ambient, soothing sounds when it first starts, but then features a fast beat. The music has a rather surreal feeling to it, and the added echo effect to the vocals was a nice touch.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Eri Nobuchika – Sketch for Summer

October 1, 2007 at 10:32 AM | Posted in Eri Nobuchika | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Sketch for Summer
2. Sketch for Summer (Live @ Sony Music Studio)
3. Voice (Bob Sinclar Voiceless Remix)
4. Sketch for Summer (Karaoke)

This is Eri Nobuchika’s 3rd single and it was released on June 29, 2005. The single reached #175 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 825 copies.

Compared to her first two singles, Sketch for Summer is quite the departure. The song is a completely different genre of music and it can be classified as a jazzy ballad. The piano intro is very calming and lasts until the beginning of the 2nd verse when percussion, strings, and brass come in. This is where the song really begins to shine and show its true colors. Nobuchika’s vocals are absolutely amazing as well and her voice suits the music perfectly.

Next up is a fantastic live version of Sketch for Summer. The overall arrangement of the song has been slightly tweaked and it gives the music a smoky, jazz club atmosphere. Nobuchika’s vocals also compliment this change, as she sings in a more upbeat and playful manner.

Track 3 is an 8 minute long remix of her previous single Voice. Like the title of this remix implies, it does not feature any vocals from Nobuchika besides the acapella sequence from the bridge of the original version. This is a nice dance remix that focuses more on the added beats, synth, and repetitve piano chords.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Eri Nobuchika – Voice

September 5, 2007 at 10:30 AM | Posted in Eri Nobuchika | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Voice
2. Voice (Live @Crescente Studio)
3. I hear the music in my soul
    (Solid Groove Remix)
4. Voice (Karaoke)

This is Eri Nobuchika’s 2nd single and it was released on April 5, 2005. The single reached #94 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,316 copies. 

This is a great follow-up single after Eri Nobuchika’s stellar debut single Lights. However, Voice is quite different from Lights in terms of musical style. The Spanish guitar is a huge part of the song’s verses and along with the song’s electronic dance vibes, there is an ethnic flavor added. The song is almost more consistant than Lights since it never lets up and always stays very upbeat as well. My favorite thing about this song is the amazing vocal sequence during the bridge. Even though the vocals are electronically enhanced, the way they give power to Nobuchika’s voice to make it sound stronger and more powerful is astounding.

Track 2 is an fantastic live of Voice. Just the like the acoustic version of Lights, all of the dance elements have been removed and you get a full blown Spanish guitar arrangement along with castanets in the background. I was so impressed with Nobuchika’s voice in this live because it’s damn near perfect to that of the original studio recording, if not better.

The next track is an awful remix of I hear the music in my soul, the B-side from the Lights single. I wasn’t really a big fan of the original so I wasn’t really looking forward to much. The remix is incredibly sloppy and it’s just a bunch of jumbled sounds all thrown in together. Plus, it’s almost 7 minutes long and very boring. This track should be avoided at all costs.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Eri Nobuchika – Lights

August 17, 2007 at 10:20 AM | Posted in Eri Nobuchika | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Lights
2. I hear the music in my soul
3. Lights (Acoustic)
4. Lights (Karaoke)

This is Eri Nobuchika’s debut single and it was released on December 8, 2004. The single reached #78 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 7,172 copies. The title track was featured in the video game Lumines and was also the theme song for the movie Shinku.

Here it is, the debut single of one of the most underrated artists EVER. To be honest, I was kind of bored when I first heard the opening piano chords of Lights, but I was blown away by the explosive chorus. This is a song that slowly builds up and totally surprises the listener. The chorus is absolutely amazing because it mixes classical strings and techno dance beats. The bridge also features dazzling strings. Eri Nobuchika’s deep, powerful vocals give the song life and she can really belt it out.

The B-side is I hear the music in my soul, an 8 minute instrumental track. It hardly features any vocals and the only line that Nobuchika sings in the song is I hear the music in my soul (this happens about 3 and a half minutes into the song). She sings this line multiple times with some electronic distortions in her voice every now and then. This track definitely relies on the music because it never lets up or slows down too much. It’s a great dance track if you’re into that kind of stuff.

The acoustic version of Lights is a wonderful bonus on this single. The piano arrangement of the original is replaced by one that is more jazzy. This version is a great way to hear Nobuchika sing the chorus without any background vocals as well, and it really shows her true vocal talent. Also, the techno elements of the original have been removed and it gives the song a whole different sound.

Overall Rating

5 stars

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