Review | Loulou*di “ARK”

Loulou*di‘s “ARK” is a complex and unusual entry focused on destruction and desolation with surprising compositions and impressive performances.

What is Loulou*di?

Loulou*di is a group part of the Hana-Doll franchise and it features vocals by Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Shunsuke Takeuchi, and Daiki Yamashita.


Title: THINK OF ME: ARK
Release date: 31/03/2023
Label: AIЯRIDE RECORDS. / Movic
Genre: Orchestral/Rock

Tracklist:

1 - Project Archive: L 3-6
2 - Project Archive: L 3-7
3 - Project Archive: L 3-8
4 - Project Archive: L 3-9
5 - Project Archive: L 3-10
6 - Intro: ARK
7 - Hopeless Ark
8 - Dying Matter

Track by track analysis:

6 – Intro: ARK

Dark, ominous atmospheric synths slowly force open the doors in “ARK”, setting the tone for what is one of the most violent and visceral releases by the talented trio.

7 – Hopeless Ark

Delicate piano melodies and strings fade in. Slowly, those high strings in the background add a layer of drama to “Hopeless Ark”. Atmospheric synths confer it with a dreamy undertone, further adding to the ethereal vibe of this song.

Now, what you wouldn’t probably be expecting from Loulou*di is distorted, glitchy bassy synths in the background, especially used as accents only in the pre-chorus.

Those may arrive as a surprise but aren’t, in any way, sounding out of place in the composition.

If you pay closer attention, the clock is still clicking in the background, carrying over the urgency and, in a way, the concept from previous releases into this one.

The chorus is unreal in that it is not conventional. 

While most choruses are all about unleashing the tension that the verses build up, it feels more like this chorus is the one building up the tension but it never gets unleashed throughout this song. Actually, this song doesn’t have any tension going on, which is odd.

Vocally, “Hopeless Ark” is also a quirky one. There is no tension in the vocals. It feels like the trio could continue singing to no end and there would be no climax, no conclusion to this song. But if you talk about technicality, there is plenty going on in this performance. 

As this song wraps up, I can’t decide whether it is a genius composition + performance or if this song is so different that it feels strange in comparison to what the group has released so far.

It is this complex. 

8 – Dying Matter

A choir opens the curtains for “Dying Matter” as the clock ticks and a harp adds a layer of beauty to this song.

However, as Toshiyuki Toyonaga’s vocals enter the stage, all elements fade away and leave him in acapella. Solemnly, Toyonaga carries this song into its first verse. And this is where you will start noticing the differences in the group’s sound and vibe.

If their music had been tragic up until now, it doesn’t even compare to how destructive and pitch black “Dying Matter” is.

The verses carry a lot of nostalgia and longing, with the drums and bassline being quite impactful, contrasting with the desperate legato strings in the background and dreamy piano melodies.

Those bottled emotions explode in the powerful, toms-driven drums sound in the chorus. It is destructive yet the soundscape is filled with desperation and desolation. Nothing, there is nothing in this soundscape that has survived the destruction it went through.

This sense of desperation is heightened by how melodic the vocals are for this performance and just how clean and beautiful the mixing is. The last part of this song is, hands down, the best I’ve heard from Loulou*di.

It is spine-chilling on the vocal end as Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Shunsuke Takeuchi, and Daiki Yamashita follow a singing style – and structure – that is impossible to explain in written form. In a way, it is lyrical, in other it is dramatic. In a way, their performances, screaming at the top of their lungs, are so beautiful that they hurt. The riffing, the crescendos, the power in the chorus, the emotional range. All is in check in this performance.

When “Dying Matter” comes to a close, you’ll feel strangely empty yet mesmerized by how beautiful the song is.


Final considerations

Loulou*di always has the most unique songs and this time around it is no different. For “ARK”, the talented trio went darker and darker for its sound, unearthing songs that have peculiar structures or that do not have any tension whatsoever.

Much in its tone, “Hopeless Ark” has a performance that I was not expecting. The vocals don’t carry any tension but are incredibly emotional. The instrumental is long yet the choruses are ridiculously short. Heavy, distorted synths arrive in the pre-chorus to signal that something has gone wrong.

When you stop listening to “Hopeless Ark”, you will have conflicting feelings. I can safely say for myself that I still am not sure if this song is genius or a bit lackluster in comparison to previous songs released by the group. 

It seems that there is much more going on in this song than what the instrumental or lyrics tell us. This may be one of the heaviest songs in their repertoire, a song that is closely influenced by the story Loulou*di’s members are going through.

Dying Matter” wraps up this album in the most dramatic way you can imagine. 

The soundscape is devoid of life, only destruction is left behind. I love the stylistic approach in this composition. Instead of going orchestral – usually a more delicate, rich, and beautiful music genre -, to illustrate desolation Takeshi Hama opted for bringing an explosive rock sound starting from the toms-driven drums (replacing the orchestral timpani). 

As such, the song feels intense and dark due to the increased bass range in it. To contrast with that incessant search for something, the instrumental brings high, legato strings and piano melodies that play in the far back, serving as a reminder that once there was life in this destroyed soundscape.

Then, there is the vocals direction in this song. From the unique way they have each sentence set to be performed, to the way those vocals explode in tension in ways I was not expecting even down to how low everyone is performing, I can’t help but to be in awe at this song.

Just what has happened in here?

All in all, “ARK” is a really unusual and complex entry in Loulou*di’s repertoire, one that is all about destruction and desolation and the despair that comes with wanting to revert something prior to its annihilation.

It is dramatic at all times, has plenty of surprises going on in the compositions – this time not as orchestral as some of you would expect – and one of the most impressive performances by the group so far in “Dying Matter”.

If you can, do check Loulou*di’s “Dying Matter” because it is mind-blowingly beautiful.


THINK OF ME: ARK is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


ARK” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support Loulou*di by streaming via official outlets.

Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Hopeless Ark
Dying Matter

SUMMARY

Loulou*di's latest album "ARK" showcases their unique and darker sound, with songs that have peculiar structures and that, at times, lack tension. The vocals in "Hopeless Ark" are emotional but don't carry tension, while the instrumental features heavy synths in the pre-chorus. "Dying Matter" ends the album with an explosive rock sound and intense vocals, contrasting with the high, legato strings and piano melodies. Overall, "ARK" is a complex and unusual entry in Loulou*di's repertoire - yes, even by their already high standards -, focused on destruction and desolation with surprising compositions and impressive performances that will make you crave for more.

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Loulou*di's latest album "ARK" showcases their unique and darker sound, with songs that have peculiar structures and that, at times, lack tension. The vocals in "Hopeless Ark" are emotional but don't carry tension, while the instrumental features heavy synths in the pre-chorus. "Dying Matter" ends the album with an explosive rock sound and intense vocals, contrasting with the high, legato strings and piano melodies. Overall, "ARK" is a complex and unusual entry in Loulou*di's repertoire - yes, even by their already high standards -, focused on destruction and desolation with surprising compositions and impressive performances that will make you crave for more.Review | Loulou*di "ARK"