While the focus was on having a melancholic, emotional sound, part of the execution in Ayumu Tachibana’s “aquamarine×pearl” leaves a lot to be desired.
ROCK DOWN consists of Yukitoshi Kikuchi (leader), Yoshiaki Hasegawa, Takuya Sato, Taito Ban,Takuya Masumoto, Keisuke Koumoto.
Title: 立花 歩-aquamarine×pearl- Label: Tsukipro/Movic Release date: 24/09/2021 Genre: Ballad/Indie-rock
1 - ドラマ「ほしかったもの」 2 - ドラマ「ないものねだり」 3 - 忘れる。 (Ayumu Tachibana solo track) 4 - 人生桜花 (Ayumu & Kira duet track) 5 - 忘れる。 -off vocal- 6 - 人生桜花 -off vocal-
Track by track analysis:
3 – 忘れる。
An emotional acoustic guitar melody and delicate piano melody paint a gentle, nostalgic soundscape for “Wasureru”.
The verses ride on that acoustic guitar and piano combo, with a minimalistic beat – comprised mainly of finger snaps and a washy snare + bass kick – in the background, adding depth to the instrumental that settles comfortably on top of wide, breathy atmospheric synths.
The bassline kicks in in the latter part of the verse, leading the listener to the emotional chorus.
One thing I absolutely love about this song, and I’d love to find more in the VAZZROCK franchise, is that acoustic guitar work, minimalistic, heartfelt, adding a classy touch to, in this case, “Wasureru”. From the main melody to the solo, the acoustic guitar shone beyond anything I was expecting.
And Taito Ban goes for an equally emotional performance, relying on his robust mid-toned vocals, adding a little bit of vibrato while tapping a bit into his lower range.
His consistency and control shine in this performance. But what impresses the most is his emotional range, with every word carrying weight, making the listener invested in the performance (and thus, the song itself).
4 – 人生桜花
“Jinsei Oka” wraps up this release, bringing overdriven guitars and muffled bass-driven drums in its intro.
Slowly, the listener is introduced to a mid-tempo indie-rock-inspired tune. The verses have a comfortable mid-tempo with the whole instrumental being subdued and simplistic, giving the spotlight to the vocals.
In the chorus, there’s something unexpected joining in the simple rock instrumental: a tambourine. Unexpected, as it is not an instrument commonly used in the VAZZROCK franchise as percussion.
Yet again, this song is all about its carefree, even slightly youthful vibe and when it comes to putting those feelings into indie-rock, a tambourine is an interesting touch to add more color to the percussion, especially one that was fairly simple up until the chorus kicks in.
With the instrumental being simplistic, the vocals went the same direction. There’s barely anything exciting about Taito Ban and Yusuke Kobayashi’s performance, which is underwhelming. There was potential for the duo to impress with their unique colors as singers, instead, listeners get a bland performance.
Ayumu Tachibana’s “aquamarine×pearl” is all about its nostalgic, downtempo sound.
The songs in this release are meant to be enjoyed quietly more so that to jump, shout or headbang along, something that arrives as refreshing within the 3rd season of the bi-color CD series.
What’s missing is the execution of such feelings and sound.
For starters, “Wasureru” stands out as the best song on this CD, shining for its heartfelt tone, stellar work on the acoustic guitar – easily among the best guitar work in the VAZZROCK franchise, so far – and Taito Ban’s performance.
One thing I’ve been enjoying a whole lot having following VAZZROCK since its inception is how much Taito Ban has grown as a singer. He was not that confident when he started and lacked consistency across his performances.
Now in the 3rd season of the bi-color CD series, Taito Ban arrives with a lot of control, delivering a set of consistent performances without any mistakes or subpar delivery.
That, paired up with his mellower, lower vocal range and polished vibrato sure impressed me a whole lot in “Wasureru”, leaving me pretty curious about what he can pull off next.
The issues with the execution of feelings such as “nostalgia” arrive with the b-side track “Jinsei Oka”.
Indie-rock is not meant to be exciting. All about the “indie” approach to music is focused on being as simplistic as possible in the composition, or even of trying new things. So, no problems here. The song is, indeed, simplistic.
But its execution makes the song a bit of drag o finish listening to. The instrumental is pretty toned down until the chorus, the vocals are equal toned down, without much emotion.
It feels like the song is dragging itself to the finish line when it should be running enthusiastically, especially when it has an underlying “youthful” tone. Looking at how Taito Ban impressed on the vocal end in “Wasureru” and then comparing it to his performance in “Jinsei Oka” is… frustrating.
The same can be said when Yusuke Kobayashi – which usually is a wonderful voice to have in duets – arrives and doesn’t do much to enrich the performance or even to stand out for himself.
I feel like Ban and Kobayashi’s vocals didn’t click because of the vocal direction more so than because of incompatible voice tones.
All in all, Ayumu Tachibana’s “aquamarine×pearl” is all about its emotional side, with plenty of ups and downs in quality that doesn’t do justice to how much Taito Ban has grown as a singer and add little quality to Tachibana’s solo work in the VAZZROCK franchise.
aquamarine×pearl is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.