Review | Toshiyuki Toyonaga “Oyozuregoto”

Toshiyuki Toyonaga

Rock and traditional Japanese music in perfect harmony make Toshiyuki Toyonaga‘s Oyozuregoto a unique listen.

Toshiyuki Toyonaga Yogen

Title: 妖言 (Oyozuregoto)
Label: T's MUSIC
Release date: 01/04/2020 
Genre: Pop-Rock/Ballad

Tracklist:

1 - 妖言
2 - サクラノタヨリ

Track by track analysis:

1 – 妖言

Oyozuregoto brings out a clean pop-rock sound, riding on simple guitar riffs and a deep bass sound.

The pacing is comfortable in the verses, with guitars, drums and bass slowly taking the listener to the emotional chorus. In the chorus, strings make their entrance, enhancing the instrumental, adding that emotional edge I mentioned before.

One interesting thing about the instrumental is the fact that we all can notice the shamisen in the instrumental, with it being an accent to the instrumental for the majority of the track. That is, until we get to the bridge and we are greeted by a fancy shamisen solo – alongside a neat piano melody.

After that, the shamisen plays a bigger role in raising the tension in this track, going hand-in-hand with the traditional and melancholic shakuhachi melody that joins the track later on.

On the vocal end, Toshiyuki Toyonaga goes all out with his vibrato and falsetto, delivering a couple of chilling notes in the chorus.

There are traces of enka in his performance, especially noticeable in the chorus but, for the most part, Toyonaga went with a trademark clean performance that fits like a glove into this style of track in which rock meets pop (lyrics in this case) and traditional Japanese music.

It has that emotional edge and his performance gets increasingly emotional as the track progresses, leading to a fantastic climax in the last chorus. Top marks for this track.

2 – サクラノタヨリ

Overdriven guitars and a dramatic piano melody make the honors for this power ballad.

Sakura no Tayori introduces koto melodies alongside slow paced, bass-driven drums, a noticeable bass line and slow, ballad inspired guitar riffs. It is emotional. It sinks in in a way that you’ll want to hit that replay button quickly after listening to it. I found the quietness in the first verse to be rather soothing, putting the focus on the vocals, preparing the listener for the emotional performance we get in this song.

The mix between traditional Japanese music and rock has been done before but on a power ballad? If I am not mistaken, this is the first time I listen to something like this coming from a male seiyuu. It works out pretty well, mainly because none of the elements was exaggerated.

You can notice the harmony between the beauty of traditional Japanese music and the edge in those fancy guitar riffs – this is a masterful composition and equally good arrangement.

Toshiyuki Toyonaga powers his way through this song with a consistent, controlled performance riding in the emotions he pours in more so than on fancy flourishes like in Oyozuregoto.

There is still that trademark Toyonaga falsetto, but it is far from being the selling point for this song. The performance as a whole, overflowing with emotion, instantly connecting with the listener is. This is the kind of track that I will have on repeat for quite a long time.

Final considerations

It has been a while since I’ve last reviewed music from Toshiyuki Toyonaga yet, it doesn’t feel like much has changed, as Toyonaga continues to showcase his musical genius by composing insanely clever melodies alongside relevant lyrics that connect with the listener.

Oyozuregoto includes 2 tracks, with both being featured in the otome game, DAIROKU:AYAKASHIMORI. Sakuranota Yori.

Now, we all have to agree that when music is created solely to be featured in otome games, it usually tends to be too dry of plain in its delivery.

Toyonaga changes things a little bit as both tracks end up sounding refreshingly different from what you could expect in an otome game. Worth noting that these songs have such a high quality – arrangement and mixing were outstanding for this release – that I can’t help but geek about the mic quality. The vocals are crisp!

Toyonaga’s vocals really do sound incredibly clear and clean. I found it interesting that there is not much wet in his vocals, which naturally adds to that crystal clear sound we get coming from him. I found this to be a nice touch, a touch that enhances the listener’s experience and makes this release stand out in my books.

Even though I mentioned that the tracks featured in this single are refreshing, it is worth noting that Oyozuregoto is a predictable track, something that is not common coming from Toyonaga.

It has a simple progression and, taking into account the song is featured in a game – its theme -, it was to be expected traditional Japanese instruments to make the cut. This does not break the experience but makes it a different type of song coming from Toyonaga – that usually goes the unpredictable route to surprise the listener.

Oyozuregoto is still a pretty enjoyable song that gets better with each listen. Vocally, the story is different, as Toyonaga delivered a fancy performance that stays with you for the emotion it packs.

Sakura no Tayori is exactly the type of song that I love and that there aren’t enough in the seiyuu industry – among seiyuu that have debuted solo, in bands or just 2D idol groups/bands -, a power ballad. I love these because of the emotion they pack in such a contained melody and slow pacing. These kinds of songs need to be well executed to deliver an emotional blow to the listener – otherwise they will sound lackluster to begin with.

Toyonaga has shown before that he can tackle ballads, those kinds of ballads that will put you on the verge of tears. This time around however, this is not that kind of ballad. It is emotional, it is melancholic and it connects with the listener, just not on that level.

Emptiness.

And that is why I love Sakura no Tayori. That emptiness is heart-wrenching. You don’t need fancy notes, flourishes or a piano with a fickle, emotional voice on top. Toyonaga goes for the kill with a slow paced, seamlessly emotional tone that you can’t ignore. When you notice, you’re already in too deep. And that’s why it leaves such a feeling of emptiness. That bittersweet aftertaste is exactly what a power ballad is about.

All in all, Oyozuregoto is a robust release. Instrumental wise it is crafty in the way traditional Japanese instruments were incorporated and vocal wise is just masterful, Toyonaga really shows that he does not need to be fancy in his performances to leave a deep, lasting mark.

And that makes Oyozuregoto a release you must not miss.

妖言 (Oyozuregoto) was released on streaming platforms.

Comment