“from here” offers a variety of music genres, but it also highlights Daiki Yamashita’s hesitance in approaching his music.
Title: from here Release date: 08/03/2023 Label: A-Sketch Genre: Pop-rock/Pop
1 - from here 2 - Akatsuki 3 - Action 4 - Candle 5 - Tail 6 - continue 7 - Gohan 8 - Sakasama 9 - Darekawo 10 - Standing strong
Track by track analysis:
1 – from here (instrumental)
Daiki Yamashita opens the curtains in this album with the cinematic “from here”, intro that gently blows a delicate melody into the listener’s ears.
Delicate, hopeful and warm, the intro expands from its constraints close to the listener to illuminating a wide soundscape around the listener.
And we are ready to kick this album off!
2 – Akatsuki
“Akatsuki” brings a sweet semi-acoustic sound, kicking off with Daiki Yamashita in acapella fashion as fickle piano notes, powerful drums, and electric guitar riffs kick in.
With the tension ramping up from the quiet intro to the strong build-up to the first verse and then back to the quiet and gentleness of the verses, the listener will instantly know that they are going to be in for a ride for this track.
The chorus is intense and passionate, with the acoustic guitars sharing the stage with electric guitars, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere. At the same time, the drums are powerful, contrasting with the delicate piano notes that tip-toe their way into the composition, giving it a dream-like vibe.
The bridge brings to the spotlight an emotional guitar solo that had me wishing it wasn’t as brief as it is. You can feel the tension in there, those deep emotions, later converging on Daiki Yamashita’s vocals leading up to a beautiful last chorus.
Now, on the vocal end, “Akatsuki” is a treat. If you were waiting for Yamashita to showcase his range and technique, this song more than provides that to you. He brings falsetto, head voice and showcases an unreal control in his long notes (some in crescendo) in the outro.
“Akatsuki” instantly enters my top favorite songs of 2023.
3 – Action
Trombones and marching drums open to change the gears in this album bringing “Action” to the spotlight.
This song is groovy right from the start, with the bassline punching its way through the brass-led instrumental.
The verses have a mix between pop, rock, and hip-hop, being melodic, funky, and intense, all in good measure.
The chorus only heightens those elements, with the brass bringing a playful element to this song while the wah-wah guitars add a bit of nostalgia to it, longing for something special.
On the vocal end, this is not a Daiki Yamashita solo track, Youth.K, composer, and solo artist features on it, providing an interesting contrast to Yamashita’s explosive mid-tones and delicate high notes.
My only quip with this collaboration is how the chorus lacks any dynamic on the vocal end due to both voices being mixed in a unison. If there was a sort of back and forth – like in the verses – with a climax in which both voices met, this performance would really be a highlight.
As it is, “Action” is fun, and provides a solid bridge between the rocking “Akatsuki” and the citypop “Candle”, but completely misses a chance to perfectly highlight the vocals of both singers and in such a crucial part as the chorus.
4 – Candle
[As previously reviewed] “Candle” brings a jolly, jazzy sound to the spotlight that is a first for Daiki Yamashita. You’re taken back in time to the 80s with the citypop-inspired instrumental that awaits you.
The verses open the curtains to this bouncy, warm soundscape with the bassy, rich drums setting a comfortable tone and tempo for this song.
Slowly, playful synths join in alongside the blues-style guitar riffs that give this song a summery twist – or at least will have you longing for summer – and that bassline? The bassline is massive. Those low, reverberating notes paint the soundscape, giving it a “feel good” vibe ensuring you that “Candle” has a good bounce, perfect to take you to the dancefloor.
The playful tone in this song carries over seamlessly from verses to the bubbly and catchy chorus in which Daiki Yamashita brings his technicality as a singer to the spotlight.
Yamashita’s performance is a mix of clean singing and slow rapping – almost like talking – in the verses, going technical in the verses with flawless head voice parts on top of his clean singing.
If you’re a sucker for groovy bass and guitar solos – like me -, then let me tell you that this song provides both albeit brief ones that leave you definitely wanting more.
When the song wraps with a jazzy piano in the background, you hear clapping from just one person. It is you. You were taken to this awesome soundscape, joining in the fun and not leaving until the song wrapped up.
In a way, I was left wanting to hear more yet, for the second time, Daiki Yamashita leaves a song with an open ending, hinting at more or leaving that story to be filled in by your thoughts.
After listening to “Candle”, you’ll be left with a massive grin on your face, a lot of nostalgia for the 80s (even if you weren’t born back then), and want to hear more music by Daiki Yamashita.
5 – Tail
[As previously reviewed] This track brings big orchestral elements to the spotlight. It has a grandiose vibe thanks to the strings quartet and timpani however, that changes dramatically for the rest of the song.
You still have the call-and-response chants raising the tension – and quite possibly make you want to sing your heart out along to it – but you also have a hip-hop beat leading the way in the verses and a contrasting, rock-driven chorus.
When it comes to listening to “Tail” it’s best to expect the unexpected given how many different influences are encompassed in this instrumental. I, for one, love the focus on making the song sound epic with those pounding, echo-y timpani setting the tone.
That, with those chants, leaves a mark. I’m not so sure what was the focus with hip-hop and rock each taking their spot in different parts of the song. It doesn’t sound bad but I felt like the transitions weren’t as smooth as intended with the composition.
As far as vocals go, Daiki Yamashita delivered chants for you to sing along and a comfortable performance riding on mid-tones.
6 – continue
And bright pop-rock is back with “continue”. This tune kicks off intensely, with electric guitars blasting their way through the piano and bass-painted soundscape.
The drums syncopate their way through the composition, ripping through the guitar riffs to create a sound that may feel a bit overwhelming in the first seconds into it.
As the song flows, the mid-tempo is comfortably led by the drums as Daiki Yamashita’s vocals gently carry over those emotions in a more palpable and touching way that connects with the listener.
The song provides a cool – albeit brief – guitar solo that is complemented in the background by the acoustic guitars and the bright piano, which goes dramatic in that specific part.
This song demands a bit more from Daiki Yamashita’s vocals, not necessarily because it is ridiculously technical but because of its tempo and intensity. He more than delivers on this end and you can feel the tension rising up with each word he says, culminating in a powerful display in the last chorus.
7 – Gohan
Things quiet down a little bit for “Gohan”, laidback tune that arrives with a cozy sound ready to make you feel at ease.
The verses bring a mysterious electric guitar riff in its intro, slowly fading into the background, leaving the stage for the playful acoustic guitar.
Daiki Yamashita slowly and technically performs this tune, bringing a sweet mix of falsetto, and warm mid-tones, gives fans a glimpse of his high notes, and goes all in for those ad-libs that make this song feel like an impromptu moment at the bonfire.
Simplicity takes over and this stripped-down approach to “Gohan” makes this song stand out for its groovy vibe while putting the spotlight on Daiki Yamashita’s vocals.
When “Gohan” wraps up, you’re ready for another round.
8 – Sakasama
Time for a pop-rock tune that winks at ballads with “Sakasama”. The song kicks off with screaming guitars in a wide, dreamy soundscape.
Emotions overflow in the chorus. The guitars scream, the piano goes all dramatic on you, and the drums splash their way in the horizon while Daiki Yamashita screams his first words into the chorus, later settling in for a much warmer and clean vocal register.
Now, about this chorus, I’ve got my reservations. The mixing sounds muddy, with a lot of things happening at the same time and no clear “clarity” in it. The vocals, piano, and guitars are all sharing similar sound levels with the only thing setting them apart being the location of those elements in the soundscape.
Daiki Yamashita’s voice is front and center to you but he’s not as close or as clear as you’d expect – with that clarity only arriving in the bridge when he is left to acapella his way through to the last chorus.
This lack of clarity frustrates me a bit. This intensity could be achieved in a way in which Yamashita wouldn’t be fighting for the spotlight in the chorus, being almost swallowed by the guitars and drums.
It seems like this is a stylistic approach to this song but one that clearly strays away from the clarity and near-perfect mixing of all other songs in this album.
9 – Darekawo
[As previously reviewed] Wrapping up this mini-album is “Darekawo”. And this is where things get incredibly interesting.
The intro has Yamashita and a piano at center stage. Nothing else around them. Slowly, that cold, empty venue starts to be complemented by a sweet bassline, emotional strings, and hard-hitting, slow-paced drums.
The chorus is both rich in and deprived of color. The contrast between the full instrumental and slow pianissimo of the instrumental, putting aside all other instruments, and reverting to the stripped-down piano accompaniment is something that will put you on a rollercoaster ride.
Then, as the song bids you goodbye, the outro goes bonkers in its intensity. That was kind of weird – in a good way – perhaps hinting that this CD has a continuation.
This is the kind of song in which you can fully understand how good of a singer Daiki Yamashita is. He starts with barely any support in the instrumental and steadily builds up a performance that will make you want to hear more.
The performance does have some quirks and little details that will make you feel something may be off. Worth noting that all increases made to the tension of this song came from his performance alone, not the instrumental. So, although the performance may sound off – not in key, just the overall vibe -, Yamashita is doing quite a solid job to make this song come to life.
10 – Standing strong
Urgent strings and a pacing beat open the doors to “Standing Strong”. Now, this is a song with no match in this album.
While orchestral music has its moments of spotlight in this album, in “Standing Strong”, it is not a gimmick but the reason the song is here, this impactful and passionate as it is.
This song has a motivational undertone while boasting its power and refined orchestral sound however, what has left me with my jaw dropped in awe is the performance by Daiki Yamashita.
He goes all out in his dramatic register, sounding a bit operatic at times – how much do I wish we all could listen to Yamashita’s opera-style of singing -, delivers ridiculously technical long notes in one powerful breath, and goes high on his vocal range for pristine head voice notes.
His performance is ethereal yet, at the same time, so powerful that it will render you speechless as those strings staccato their way into the instrumental.
What an end to this album!
Daiki Yamashita arrives with “from here”, a long-awaited album that delivers a lot that was missing in previous entries but still leaves fans begging for more.
Starting off cinematically, the album goes on to embrace a wide variety of music genres, once again highlighting Daiki Yamashita’s versatility as a singer.
“Akatsuki” brings powerful, tasteful semi-acoustic rock to the spotlight, “Candle” is all about citypop”, and “Tail” and “Action” play around with hip-hop while embracing orchestral and pop music, respectively.
“Gohan” brings a stripped-down acoustic sound to the spotlight while “Dareka o” brings the only ballad into this release and “Standing Strong” is all about orchestral music mixed with soft rock.
The highlights in this album lie in “Akatsuki” and “Standing Strong”. These two songs serve similar purposes in this album, with “Akatsuki” being in charge of opening the album for you and causing an impact while “Standing Strong” focuses on finishing this album strongly and coming full circle.
These two songs are impressive in and of themselves, boasting powerful performances – at times peering into Daiki Yamashita’s true talents as a singer – and made me wish “from here” – the album – was more of this and less trying to do a bit of everything at the same time.
When it comes to the vocals, fans start to see and hear glimpses of what Yamashita has shown in 2D music projects – his vocal prowess and technique – but still, there were very few instances in which he used those amazing skills of his, instead opting for playing it safe with controlled, mostly mid-toned led performances with barely any usage of vibrato, falsetto or even head voice.
His sound doesn’t follow a specific direction, something that can either be because he aims at being a versatile solo artist not tied to a specific music genre or because he has yet to find a sound that is “his”.
The same thing can be said about his singing style. While Yamashita is slowly getting comfortable as a solo artist, he’s still very far from the quality we all know him for.
By the end of it all, fans get variety in this album but you can also notice just how shyly Daiki Yamashita is approaching his music, still looking for a direction sound-wise as well as a voice of his own as a solo artist.
With time those two pieces will fall into place but, as it is, “from here” is an album that while covering much that was missing in previous releases, is far from being a massive upgrade in terms of quality.
“from here” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“from here” is available for streaming on Spotify.
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