Loulou*di’s “Pensée” brings forth not only the most complex compositions but also the most technical performances so far (in their repertoire) in what is a hauntingly beautiful CD.
Title: INCOMPLICA:I/F~Pensée~ Release date: 04/02/2022 Label: Movic Genre: Orchestral/EDM
1 - Project Archive: L 2-12 2 - Project Archive: L 2-13 3 - Project Archive: L 2-14 4 - Project Archive: L 2-15 5 - Project Archive: L 2-16 6 - Intro: Pensée 7 - Immortal Tale 8 - Black Pulse
Track by track analysis:
6 – Intro: Pensée
A solemn, emotional piano melody slowly trails its way through this magical intro. Each note is simultaneously delicate and violent.
The song changes dynamics midway through with legato strings, plucked harpsichord melodies, and backward guitar melodies – heavily processed – join in, quickly leaving the scene to let the clock tick.
The scene is set. Time to sit back and enjoy the first act.
7 – Immortal Tale
As the clock ticks, a beautiful arpeggio on the harp paints the soundscape. Subtly, a glitchy synth adds an electronica touch to this song, making this dream sound a bit more “real”.
The verses are slow-tempo and mostly devoid of distractions, leaving a lot in the open as to how the chorus will work out.
The pre-chorus is surprisingly intense, taking the listener to a crazy fast chorus in which live drums and electric guitars make a stance as Loulou*di’s vocals go insanely fast in what is a tricky section.
And peace yet again. The intermission is big on its gorgeous strings ensemble and chamber music elements. Once again, a harp plays in the background alongside the piano, both adding depth and a layer of beauty to this song.
The 2nd verse welcomes legato strings carrying drama, heightening the tension in the instrumental as the beat goes off tempo, throwing you off.
The bridge is clean and fast-paced, with overdriven guitars muffled in the background as drums power their way through the curtain of dramatic cello melodies.
Then silence. The piano takes over with fast melodies. And then silence again as more instruments leave the scene, leaving the stage open for Toshiyuki Toyonaga to deliver a spine-chilling head voice high note, rising the tension even more.
The vocals are quite interesting for this song.
High notes or natural tenor ranges are not the main focus here.
As such, Toshiyuki Toyonaga is performing in a key slightly lower than his – I dare say an octave lower – and Daiki Yamashita is mostly performing in a comfortable faux baritone range as Shunsuke Takeuchi holds the fort with his powerful bass vocals.
This different twist to the vocals – how they sound as a whole – ends up complementing the instrumental that, for the most part, and due to the piano and/or harp (depending on the section) melodies, is in a higher key.
There is a perfect balance between vocals and instrumental, with both never overlapping and, instead, complementing each other.
From its setting to the unexpected composition and performances, “Immortal Tale” arrives to shake things up.
8 – Black Pulse
Wrapping up this release comes “Black Pulse”, a song that starts on quite the dramatic note, with the group performing in a choir.
The clock continues to tick but now a heart also beats in the background, with the pounding bass beat taking over from the sound effect at the start of this song.
The verses are elegant and slow-paced, having an interesting duality to them. The first part is delicate, mostly embracing chamber music elements by bringing in piccolo melodies, glockenspiel accents, and legato strings.
Then, the latter part of the verse, leading up to the chorus, takes those instruments away and leaves you with the soundscape almost empty, only with a bass-drum beat and looping piano melody in the background.
Serving as an intermission is the addition of middle eastern wind instruments, those adding a dreamy twist to this song.
Continuing the surprising trend in the composition and vocals progression in this song, the chorus isn’t the climax and, instead, it is incredibly dark, with that darkness rising as the song progresses.
By the time you arrive at the bridge, the song is pitch black, with the bass elements pulsing in the background as a trombone and tuba add a solemn touch to the instrumental.
The song’s climax arrives in the bridge, however, while most would expect that to be pulled off by the instrumental… that is left to the vocals to achieve.
And Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Daiki Yamashita, and Shunsuke Takeuchi delivered a chilling, extremely technical performance in that part, showcasing their vocal prowess individually.
The outro is a thing of beauty on the vocal end.
The way the members harmonize with each other continues to be mesmerizing. The 3 voices harmonize as 1 but also you can tell them all apart clearly. Then arrives the long notes with vibrato and head voice in an almost modulated – extremely controlled – way. This is an insanely hard song to sing, that’s for sure.
The heart stops beating, leaving the strings screaming in the background as Toyonaga wraps up the song in a dramatic fashion.
Loulou*di continues to be that group that makes me listen to their songs, again and again, trying to find new things in the composition or spot little details on the vocals. And with each CD it gets increasingly harder to describe the otherworldly things going on in those songs.
In “Pensée” that is no different.
This time around while there are still complex, layered songs aplenty, there’s a slight change in the tone in those that changed its compositions. As such, this is quite an unpredictable CD.
When in the past the tone was dramatic but the songs were grandiose, this time around the performances are grandiose and the tone of the songs is dramatic. And while that shift may not mean anything to some of you, that is, actually, what makes this whole CD sound refreshing (also, more intense than usual).
There is beauty in darkness. Time is extremely important. And life is attached to that passing of time.
This is a simple, albeit vague (for those that have yet to listen to this CD), way to describe this set of songs.
The overall theme is, undoubtedly, time. Time passing. Life hanging by a thread.
All 3 songs give off those vibes to me.
The clock ticks from start to finish of this album, what seems like a heart starts beating as it wraps up. For sure there is a dark, dramatic story at the core of this CD that you can further explore in its drama tracks (if you purchased the physical edition).
As for my thoughts on the songs in this CD… I’m certainly at a loss for words, at least when it comes to trying to describe what I just heard.
“Intro: Pensée” is so sad as an intro. Each time Takeshi Hama hits a key on the piano, it arrives with a melancholy and sadness that seeps through. The choice of chamber music instruments for this song was perfect, with a balance between harpsichord, harp, and piano standing out to me.
“Immortal Tale” welcomed rock elements to Loulou*di’s songs. These arrived as a way to crank up the tension and add a layer of violence to the song, something that serves as a contrast with the beauty in those strings and harp melodies.
This is a song structured in 2 acts, with jaw-droppingly beautiful intermissions and an instrumentalization that, carrying over from “Intro: Pensée” is all about the perfect balance between darkness and light in the choice of instruments for it. The urgency in this song is striking, with the piano and rock elements fleshing that out in a way that makes you want to listen to more, and more.
The clock still ticks when you reach “Black Pulse” however, one thing you’ll immediately notice is that this song is less busy than the others, leaving a lot of space in the soundscape open for exploration.
This composition is full of empty sections which are impressive. Ask any composer and they will tell you that “empty” or “silent” parts in songs are usually the most difficult to compose. You’re limiting yourself in terms of the composition and moving it forward is up to the vocals – if there are any – or little environmental details that add some “life” in the background. You can also rely on the listener’s expectations but that’s… you need to be a genuinely good composer to make a song “click” with everyone making it obvious that the song is moving forward within that silence. I know this sounds a bit weird but this is actually the easiest way I can explain how this whole section works (and its alternatives).
In this case, that task of moving the song forward was left to the vocals of Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Shunsuke Takeuchi, and Daiki Yamashita and they more than filled those with life.
While the songs in Loulou*di’s “Pensée” are less flashy or elegant than in previous CD releases, I find this CD to be the most complex in terms of composition and most certainly, one of the most technical on the vocal end. Once again, Loulou*di takes the listener through a fantasy-filled world, lets you sit down, take in the soundscape and slowly submerge you in deep, pitch-black music with outstanding emotional vocals on top.
It’s haunting and strangely beautiful at the same time.
INCOMPLICA:IT ~Pensée~ is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“Pensée” is available for streaming on Spotify.
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