Review | Tsubasa and Ichiru “Neo X Lied series vol.2”

SolidS and QUELL Neo X Lied series

SolidS’ Tsubasa and QUELL’s Ichiru showcase impressive teamwork and chemistry in “Arata na COLOR“.

SolidS’ Tsubasa (CV: Soma Saito) and QUELL’s Ichiru (CV: Sho Nogami) team up for this release.

Title: SQ「Neo X Lied」Series vol.2
Label: Lantis
Release date: 27/11/2020
Genre: Minimalistic EDM

Tracklist:

1 - ドラマ「He and I are good rivals」
2 - 新たなCOLOR 
3 - 新たなCOLOR -off vocal-

Track analysis:

2 – Arata na COLOR

A deep bass line, minimalistic synths, a groovy beat and delicate strings paint a beautiful, dreamy soundscape for the listener to bask in.

Arata na COLOR doesn’t shy away from being funky, danceable yet loungy.

The beat is punchy in an old-school fashion, the same can be said about the leading synth in the chorus – that will go almost unnoticed to most listeners for quite a lot of time, until you reach the final 10 seconds of the chorus.

QUELL’s trademark minimalism and ethereal sound shine in this track, with the strings adding dashing accents that take Arata na COLOR to a whole other level.

I’ve said the same about NEO X Lied vol.1 but I have to say it again: what a massive, unique chorus this song has.

Although it is more than obvious that we’re all in for a danceable track, I was not expecting the dynamics to change that much and the song to open that much, creating a wide soundscape that will shine if you’re listening to this song with pretty good headphones.

The soundstage in this track is pretty enjoyable, that much I can tell you.

The song counts with a slowed down break in which dreamy pitch vocals add the last strokes of genius to this track as Sho Nogami goes groovy and flashy and Soma Saito charms his away with a R&B inspired, ad-lib filled performance.

The duo’s bout on the vocals is noticeable how Tsubasa and Ichiru are almost like in fight for control in this song, trying to overcome each other – something that fits perfectly with the “rivals” theme for this track -, quickly shifting parts between each other, leading to a more dynamic performance than your usual “splitting verses into 4, intercalated parts”.

There’s never a dull moment on the vocals side with the insane skillset that both SolidS’ Tsubasa (CV: Soma Saito) and QUELL’s Ichiru (CV: Sho Nogami) bring to the table.

Soma Saito and Sho Nogami are both tenors and I was actually expecting the song to go the ballad route – due to their skills and track record when it comes to using their upper range. But that would have been a pretty dull song.

Thankfully, we weren’t gifted with a ballad and, instead, we got one of the grooviest tracks released this year and a stellar performance by both singers.

A note that, for those less sensitive to what is going on in the vocals, Sho Nogami is performing most of the song in his natural high range and Soma Saito, although also pretty comfortable – his voice tone has gradually turning deeper as he’s gotten older – is performing a couple of keys below Nogami’s tone, even when he’s on the spotlight.

What seems like an irrelevant detail is actually what holds this performance all in a robust, charismatic place. Saito made sure the core of the song is powerful and robust and Sho Nogami showcases the range and flair of both by taking things further with his high notes and ad-libs.

Another nice touch is found in the last 20 seconds of the song: while Sho Nogami goes for insanely high notes on the left side of the headphones, Soma Saito is doing R&B riffs and adlibs on your right side.

This is crystal clear if you’re listening to this song with good headphones and can be “clear” – to some degree – if you blast it on speakers. In normal conditions, that is part of the song that will go under the radar for many listeners due to how many layers of instruments and vocals are on top of it.

All of these are only but small details in a song filled with fancy details in the background that I deeply appreciate.

So what is Arata na COLOR?

An addictive, ethereal, old-school dance pop tune with a lot of groove going on and 2 awesome singers at the helm, delivering a flawless performance that will make you hit that “replay” button again and again.


SQ「Neo X Lied」Series vol.2 is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

SQ "Neo X Lied" / Tsubasa Okui (Soma Saito), Ichiru Kuga (Sho Nogami)
Tsubasa Okui (Soma Saito), Ichiru Kuga (Sho Nogami)

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Arata na COLOR
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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