Lagrange Point make an astounding debut with “Catastrophe“. An incisive, refreshing mix of rock and pop and two powerful vocals create one of the best CDs of the year.
Single: Catastrophe Label: Rejet Release date: 14/08/14 Genre: J-Pop
1 - カタストロフィ 2 - 1/f(エフぶんのいち)の揺らぎ 3 - Message Bottle 4 - Dear Princess 5 - カタストロフィ -off vocal- 6 - 1/f(エフぶんのいち)の揺らぎ -off vocal- 7 - Message Bottle -off vocal- 8 - Dear Princess -off vocal-
Track by track analysis:
1 – カタストロフィ
Stormy intro to one of the most upbeat tracks in this single. Catastrophe is an aggressive pop-rock track resorting to the strings as the starting line for this track. This track has everything done right from the very beginning.
The build-up is slow but steady, building enough momentum to a mid-tempo chorus with rough guitar riffs and stiff drums.
Synths are a big part of this track be it in the background putting all the pieces together or even adding spice to this track manipulating the vocal parts. It’s not excessive so it doesn’t bother the listener, on the contrary, it only adds to the track.
Besides all of the previous things said about the instrumental piece, what really stands out are the guitars and the bass that, besides going almost unnoticed in the track, it’s in full bloom in the background providing a rich instrumental piece, giving the sufficient amount of aggressiveness to the track.
The vocal track that is the main focus, since these guys are debuting as a unit is perfectly performed. Toyonaga and Genki deliver a powerful performance matching well with the effusive, high-voltage instrumental piece. What a way to kick off this single!
2 – 1/f(エフぶんのいち)の揺らぎ
A pop-rock track resorting more to electronic elements than the previous one. The piano is a big part of this instrumental piece, providing the perfect stage for Toyonaga and Genki to shine.
The guitars aren’t as aggressive as in Catastrophe, sounding more melodic and lively without upping the tempo. The bass once again plays quietly in the background leading the way and blending the Latin percussion together with the rest of the instruments, turning it into this addictive track. The outro is refreshing with an electronic pop feel but still giving room for the guitars to shine with a solo.
The vocal track provided by this amazing duo is energetic from the very first second and the slightly more danceable track really proved out to be a nice one to showcase Toyonaga and Genki‘s vocal skills.
Toyonaga gets to used his vibrato to embellish the track, Genki goes bouncing between mid-toned and the slightly high-pitched notes to deliver a bit more variety in this track and that doesn’t fail at all. An addictive track with a solid vocal performance from both sides.
3 – Message Bottle
Message bottle is a power ballad in its very definition. It’s sweet with an explosive intro but quickly turning towards a slower, quieter track with the piano being the main focus making the perfect ramp for Toyonaga and Genki really shine with this flawless performance.
With the drums, guitar, and bass gradually joining the piano in its journey, we really hear this track slowly building up its momentum. The guitar is melodic providing a beautiful solo in the outro.
It’s a simple track but that doesn’t even take away the fact that this is a beautiful, mesmerizing, emotional track and one of the best ballad performances I’ve heard so far. Toyonaga and Genki really exceeded themselves in this track with a gentle, sweet performance that won’t be easily forgotten.
4 – Dear Princess
Picking up the pace, Dear Princess is an up-tempo track that goes straight to business. It kicks off with the chorus which is a completely different structure than on the previous tracks, a breath of fresh air in this single.
For those missing the fan service provided by Marginal#4, you’ve got some throughout the track (you know what I mean).
The instrumental stays simple resorting to the guitars, bass, drums, and occasionally strings to enrich the sound without making it overwhelming. In the outro, we have a quick guitar solo leading towards the last chorus for the day.
The vocal performance is top-notch with Toyonaga and Genki not missing a beat, delivering verse after verse with the same energy as the instrumental. There’s some vocal manipulation here and there but, since it’s almost unnoticeable, it really doesn’t bother the listener or ruin the whole track.
A perfect rating for a debut release is something else! What we’re seeing here is a brand new seiyuu unit full of potential to be explored. Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Genki Okawa show us that they can be on par with Marginal #4 without any problems.
Once again we have Rejet opting for choosing mid-toned voices for their seiyuu units. It’s the safest route that will, without a doubt, provide the best results.
Even better when the mid-toned voices are provided by experienced singers who manage to excel in singing or being well versed to juggle between stage acting and singing (like Genki). Toshiyuki Toyonaga is no stranger when it comes to singing. He’s got his solo project going on for several years and each and every time he impresses with his performances.
His natural vibrato and overall amazing talent for singing have blown a lot of people away. A beautiful, crystalline, angelic, sometimes rough voice that fits this unit like a glove. On the other side, we have Genki Okawa, known for being a stage actor in many musicals throughout the years. He debuted as a solo artist in 2009 with the mini-album “RISE” but that initial attention towards his music soon disappeared (the same happened to Marginal #4 member Yuto Suzuki).
He may not be that known in the music or even in the seiyuu business but that doesn’t stop him from delivering solid performances in this single. He knows what he does and he does it well.
Of course, we can’t talk about Lagrange Point without talking about Marginal #4. These two units are connected: be it for the record company (Rejet), be it for the upcoming game where they are featured “Marginal #4 – Idol of Supernova” or even for the fact of taking into the equation that whole “seniority” thing going on between these two units.
In-game context Lagrange is the senior group while Marginal #4 are the juniors but in reality, it’s the inverse. Either way, these two units are way too different in terms of musical approach which makes it easy to distinguish between them, and fortunately, they don’t really sound exactly the same.
One thing they do have in common is MIKOTO behind the guitars (once again). That is easily spotted since his trademark guitar work gives away his presence in this single. Besides that, almost nothing’s the same between them.
Lagrange Point approach the tracks in a melancholic way, sometimes in an aggressive way, overall they are sweet, with a little bit of roughness on top in contrast with the over sweetness provided by M#4. The lyrics have more depth in comparison with M#4‘s.
And the voices are completely distinct: M#4 has way more vibrato users (practically everyone besides Toshiki Masuda), has more high-toned singers (Yuto and Naozumi), on the other side, Lagrange Point turned out to be completely homogeneous. Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Genki Okawa are both mid-toned singers, baritones, they don’t particularly have high-pitched vocals as their main vocal tone so you could say that their voices are as normal as when talking. Even then, these guys manage to be on par with M#4 without any major, over-the-top vocal talents. Putting aside the comparison Marginal #4 – Lagrange Point we direct our focus towards the instrumental piece.
The instrumentals are rich in variety and quality. Strings, Latin percussion, synths, the rock “triad” (guitar, bass, drums), piano, and a whole lot of small elements only audible if listening to the instrumental track only, make this release one that won’t bore the listener. It’s a safe formula not being overwhelming for the listener, choosing wisely the mixes between the instruments.
It’s nice for a change for a Rejet seiyuu unit release to have so few synths and, in the end, it turned out to give a slightly rougher edge to Lagrange Point‘s music, a big plus for this unit.
All in all, this is a release that doesn’t lack in hype, excitement, energy, and sweetness. It’s a solid formula that makes me crave more. It’s that good so I’m expecting big things from their second single. The hype for the next release is big and the bar is set really high, let’s see how it turns out in the end. Good job Lagrange Point.
CATASTROPHE is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.