Review | Loulou*di “THINK OF ME: NOTHING”

Loulou*di

In “NOTHING”, Loulou*di delivers haunting yet alluring performances that linger with you long after the music ends.

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.

Review

Loulou*di "THINK OF ME: NOTHING"
Title: THINK OF ME: NOTHING
Release date: 28/07/2023
Label: AIЯRIDE RECORDS. / Movic
Genre: Minimalistic electronica

Tracklist:

1 - Project Archive: L 3-11
2 - Project Archive: L 3-12
3 - Project Archive: L 3-13
4 - Project Archive: L 3-14
5 - Project Archive: L 3-15
6 - Intro: NOTHING 
7 - Dead Sea Note
8 - Growing Nightmare

Track by track analysis:

6 – Intro: NOTHING 

Seagulls screech in the background as the wind howls. Slowly and distortedly, piano notes make their entrance, leaving an eerie trail behind.

Strings and atmospheric synths add the final touches to what is a dark entry in Loulou*do’s repertoire.

The clock continues to tick. And we’re off to “Dead sea note”.

7 – Dead Sea Note

Legato strings fade in and out in the intro, connecting the instrumental to this song.

What is left in the background as those fade away is an echo-y piano melody, hi-hat-driven percussion, and the main synth in the intro.

You will notice that the verses this time around are almost completely empty despite having those elements as the backdrop.

And that is primarily by how wide the soundscape for this song was crafted. Carrying over from the intro, the soundscape that you have in front of you appears to not have an end. 

Most of the instruments have a drone effect, moving close and far away from you as the piano has reverb and the vocals also echo in the background (minus during the pre-chorus and chorus).

The soundscape is limitless and, as such, no matter how many instruments you pack this song with, it will always sound like there is still a lot of space to fill in.

I love how particularly dramatic this song is while keeping things as minimalistic as they are.

At the same time, there is a lot of movement in the composition however it feels at the same time that nothing is moving, only sinking or struggling in the same place. 

But the cogs start moving when the chorus arrives and suddenly the vocals are close (at least closer) to you and the clock starts ticking again in the background (notice it as the 1st chorus wraps up).

From that point on, guitar licks add a bit of color to the composition but quickly leave it, leaving in the spotlight only the hi-hat and the vocals.

And speaking of the vocals, Loulou*di may not have an extremely technical performance like in previous releases but this is sure to leave quite the impression due to the echo added to the vocals mix.

That echo gives a grandiose vibe to the vocals but also makes them far easier to focus on individually. And this is something they had never done before – much due to the fact that the opportunity had never presented itself vocals mixing-wise.

This is, of course, me geeking on this specific detail and that’s because I love the clarity and technicality of the group’s vocals. With this echo, you don’t get flat vocals but larger-than-life ones that make a bigger impact than ever before. And you get to pay closer attention to all the little details in the breathing and emotion of each of the members.

It is also worth mentioning that this song leaves you purposely hanging, hoping for it to come to an end as Toshiyuki Toyonaga goes for those high notes with a bit of riffing. You will be left thinking “Is that it? Where’s the end?”.

While frustrating in terms of what our brains do when we listen to music (our brains tend to “autocomplete” songs based on our previous exposure to music of similar tone or by memorizing a melody within a song) and in this case you can’t even autocomplete it as the song wraps up in an odd moment. 

This is genius from a composition end but I believe really messed up for those listening to the song and wishing it had a satisfactory end.

Geeking aside, “dead sea note” has a unique feeling of lack of movement and vastness that stays with you. It is suffocating but also liberating, creating interesting contradictions while keeping one of the simplest and tightest instrumentals the group has delivered so far.

8 – Growing Nightmare

And wrapping up this CD is “Growing Nightmare”.

A slow-paced clap track and pounding bassy bass drum open the curtains to a song that is pitch black and yet quite addictive.

The song grabs your hand and slowly brings you down and you will not even notice it.

The soundscape is eerie and devoid of much beyond what is close to the listener. Behind you, on your right ear, there is a scratching sound, almost like something scratching on a plastic. And far behind you there is, what seems to be, Middle Eastern percussion (with reverb, echoing in the background) and wind instruments.

The addition of those elements was more than enough to add an air of mystery and danger to this song at the same time making it impossible to not feel drawn into it.

With this mix of danger, the growing nightmare that takes over, and its slightly enticing vibe coming from the slow beat and Middle Eastern instruments make “Growing Nightmare” the highlight of this CD.

Now, on the vocal end, I absolutely love the vocal direction. It starts with the way each member adds a lot of drama to a particular word in each of their lines leading up to the chorus.

And as the song progresses, the vocals get increasingly technical. You have a lyrical touch in what you’d call the bridge in this song. But what is quite impressive is how low the vocals, culminating in Toshiyuki Toyonaga’s clear high, long note. 

And the last 15 seconds of this song are a thing of beauty with riffing by each member leading to the song’s ending.

If this is a nightmare, I honestly don’t want to wake up from it. Eerie and unbelievably technical on the vocal end, this is the highlight of this CD.


Final considerations

Just look at it, Loulou*di is back with dark music but this time changing the tables completely. If you were expecting an orchestral, grandiose set of compositions, oh boy, are you in for quite the surprise in this CD.

“NOTHING” is quite the broad concept and, even worse, quite abstract to put into the format of music that has to be “SOMETHING”.

Takeshi Hama went for a set of compositions that are extremely eerie, and have soundscapes far and wide with no end on the horizon to illustrate the sense of nothingness and dread that this CD has at its core.

As a result, “Dead Sea Note” and “Growing Nightmare” are big on not having deeply layered compositions, instead creating an eery yet strangely appealing set of soundscapes you will feel conflicted for being so into them when they are all about doom and darkness.

There are hits and bits in the composition that stand out to me quite a lot. For example, “Dead Sea Note” never gets a satisfactory ending, leaving the listener hanging. Or how “Growing Nightmare” is supposed to be a dangerous song but it is strangely alluring, inviting the listener to fall into their doom.

The little details in the performances – especially the vocal direction – in both songs are also a massive treat, inviting you to listen to all songs at least more than once to catch all those.

So while the concept of “NOTHING” is ridiculously abstract, in reality, it comes to life in a set of those songs that will leave a weird aftertaste yet will make you come back for more.

And when it comes to the performances, especially in soundscapes as devoid of life as these ones, you’re in for a treat. With little happening, the performances are really close to being in acapella (although they aren’t). And that is absolutely masterful as in the middle of nothingness, only 3 voices resonate, creating “beautiful” nightmares in the middle of all the darkness.

All in all, I love how different yet as dark as ever this CD is. “NOTHING” arrives with a really difficult concept to flesh out and ends up leaving a trail of destruction in the middle of what is the most haunting set of performances by the talented trio.


THINK OF ME: NOTHING is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


NOTHING” 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

Dead Sea Note
Growing Nightmare

SUMMARY

Despite the abstract nature of the concept, "NOTHING" comes to life through a collection of songs that leave a unique impression and beckon listeners to return for more. The performances, particularly in these desolate soundscapes, are exceptional. With minimal elements at play, the trio's voices stand out, crafting "beautiful" nightmares amidst the darkness. "NOTHING" is a distinct and dark CD that successfully tackles a challenging concept. Loulou*di delivers haunting performances that linger with the listener long after the music ends.

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Despite the abstract nature of the concept, "NOTHING" comes to life through a collection of songs that leave a unique impression and beckon listeners to return for more. The performances, particularly in these desolate soundscapes, are exceptional. With minimal elements at play, the trio's voices stand out, crafting "beautiful" nightmares amidst the darkness. "NOTHING" is a distinct and dark CD that successfully tackles a challenging concept. Loulou*di delivers haunting performances that linger with the listener long after the music ends.Review | Loulou*di "THINK OF ME: NOTHING"