A carefree pop sound that hides a striking duality, a clash of identities. Towa and Mirai’s entry in the Tokyo Color Sonic!! is incredibly fascinating and well worth checking out.
Tokyo Color Sonic is the name of the mixed-media franchise created by sprout and counting with character designs by the popular illustrator Ryo Fujiwara.
This franchise counts with an 8 character cast, with characters split into 4 different “buddy” units of singer + songwriter.
Tokyo Color Sonic counts with drama + music in its CDs.
To know more about this project, make sure to check THTFHQ’s quick guide to it.
Team 3 features Towa Sebumi (CV: Gakuto Kajiwara) and Mirai Zaizen (CV: Ryohei Kimura).
Title: Tokyo Color Sonic!! Unit.3 TOWA×MIRAI Label: sprout/COLORATION Release date: 24/09/2021 Genre: Pop
1 - VOICE
1 – VOICE
Dreamy atmospheric synths paint the soundscape in the intro to “VOICE” however, what is waiting there for the listener is something slightly different.
Really, expect the unexpected because this song is a mixed bag of treats for music fans and, although it can be tagged as “pop”, it has so many music genres mixed that makes it more than just a “pop” song.
“VOICE” kicks off pretty dreamily, giving off the idea that we’d be in for a smooth, laidback tune heavily focused on atmospheric synths. However, funk and hip-hop are actually the two predominant music genres, with Gakuto Kajiwara adding “pop” to the mix with his performance.
With these 3 music genres sharing the stage what do you get?
A song with funky, mid-tempo verses that bring the good vibes of hip-hop with the beat (those triplets are massive), some marimba details on top – although these may not that easy to spot -, the chorus brings in guitars and big synths, giving way for a pop climax that is a perfect transition from the quiet, almost laidback vibe in the verses.
The bridge has a beautiful – albeit brief – piano solo that adds another unexpected twist to this song.
As I see it, the song has two halves, most likely illustrating the 2 personalities in the unit (the vocal and the composer buddy team).
The calm and slightly carefree verses illustrate Towa’s personality and the loud, excited synths and guitars in the chorus complement him, thus illustrating Mirai’s personality.
Of course, I’m saying this having prior knowledge that this project has “buddy teams” but if you check the previous entries in this franchise, none of the songs focused on highlighting both members of the buddy team.
One highlighted the composer more so than the vocalist (team 1) the other focused on making the vocalist shine, putting the composer in the background (team 2).
Team 3 highlights both personalities within it although only Towa (CV: Gakuto Kajiwara) performs the song.
This duality is interesting and shows – even without checking any drama tracks – the interesting (clashing) dynamic this buddy team has.
Gakuto Kajiwara’s performance stands out to me for how refreshing and delicate it sounds.
Knowing the background for Towa I was expecting a quiet performance but not something this delicate. Kajiwara ended up showing everyone he can deliver this type of sweet and emotional performance, which is another plus.
Now, a topic I’ve been talking about for the previous 3 songs released in the franchise is the “mixing”.
Up until Iori’s “Measly”, the mixing created weird dynamics to songs that had the potential to impress. That whole “putting the instrumentals at the same loudness levels as the vocals” gimmick hindered all songs released prior to this one.
Yes. You read it well.
There are no mixing issues in this song.
“VOICE” has the sound levels well sorted out. It may have been because this song is fairly simple and uncluttered in comparison to previous ones – being much easier to not make any instruments clash with the vocals – or because it was effectively corrected and this time around (and hopefully from now on), the mixing will be more balanced or at least, more balanced towards making the vocals shine.
Imagine the mixing in the previous songs on top of Kajiwara’s soft vocals in this song.
Yeah. Thankfully the mixing is good, otherwise, no one could hear loud and clear Kajiwara’s beautiful performance.
All this goes to show that even if a song is fundamentally good and the vocals are outstanding, mixing can make or break a song. Well, mixing can even cover for a “weaker” singer and make them sound like an angel.
When it is balanced, mixing can make the whole composition and vocals shine. When it’s not, it’s an absolute nightmare, with the song ending up tiring everyone.
The little details do matter in music production. Mixing is often overlooked but it is quite possibly the most important task next to mastering. Glad to find that sorted out in this song.
As you can tell, Towa’s “VOICE” is a gentle song with a carefree vibe, a good focus on sounding unique in its composition (everything worked at the end, which is impressive), beautiful vocals, and a balanced mixing.
Tokyo Color Sonic!! Unit.3 TOWA×MIRAI is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“Tokyo Color Sonic!! Unit.3 TOWA×MIRAI” is available for streaming on Spotify.