Shimatani Hitomi [Gate~scena III~] (Third Album)

December 30, 2008

overture ~Perseus
太陽のワナ (Taiyou no Wanna; the sun’s trap)
C’est la vie!
トラキアの女 (Torakia no Onna, Thracian Woman)
赤い砂漠の伝説( (GATE Version) (akai sabaku no densetsu; legend of the red desert)
HARVEST MOON
Mirage ~BOY, I am a girl~
bella flor
Take me home
元気を出して (Genki wo Dashite, Cheer up)
月影のエデンへ (Tsukikage no Eden E, to a moonlit Eden)
J.U.M.P.
いつの日にか・・・(GATE version) (itsu no hi ni ka…, someday)
Perseus (HEAVENS WiRE vs. TRI-HEDGE RMX)

The album starts off with the sweeping overture ~Perseus. No matter how many times I listen to this song, I always think its an intro and then when it goes into the song, it just never fails to blow me away. The arrangement is so lively and fresh, and succeeds in keeping you interested and engaged. Shimatani’s vocals are great, she brought such life and personality to this song. It just gives you such a feeling of being free. This was a really good start to the album.

The next track on the album is the up-tempo 太陽のワナ (Taiyou no Wanna; the sun’s trap). This is such a lively song. The arrangement has such a Spanish flare, and that really makes it stand out, because there’s just so much variety and it stays consistent and up-beat. Shimatani’s vocals were great, I never really have a problem with her voice, and she certainly carried this song. I also loved how she seemed really into it, especially during the chorus.

The next track on the album is the light C’est la vie!. This is a pretty tame song, I actually expected it to be more grandiose than it was, but I think it played just fine. The arrangement was very festive, and fills you with such a good feeling that makes you want to go out and have a good time. Shimatani’s vocals were pretty mild in this song, but she sounded so good, singing this song in such a casual and free way. This was a really nice track.

The next track on the album is the not really down-tempo but somewhere around there, トラキアの女 (Torakia no Onna, Thracian Woman). This song was pretty light, just like the previous track was, but the difference is this song is a lot less interesting. The arrangement is nice, appropriately sparkly but nothing that ‘wow’s’. Shimatani’s vocals are quite pretty. The best part about this song is the chorus, which is really nice on the ears.

The next track on the album is the mid-tempo 赤い砂漠の伝説( (GATE Version) (akai sabaku no densetsu; legend of the red desert). This is another song that has a nice Spanish flare to it. The arrangement isn’t all that interesting but its fitting. Shimatani’s vocals were nice, but she sang this song in such a straight-forward way, and I wish she would have played with it more, or at least sounded like she was enjoying herself. The chorus is the best part, but the verses aren’t bad either.

The next track on the album is the lively HARVEST MOON. This was a pretty fun song. I really liked how quick the arrangement was, and of course like the majority of Shimatani’s music is, very Spanish-flare-y. I also love the variety, there’s so many things going on in the arrangement to keep you interested. Shimatani’s vocals were very light and casual and sounded like she really enjoyed singing this and that certainly bumped the enjoyment factor up. This song can get annoying, and honestly I don’t know why, it just depends on what mood you’re in while listening to it.

The next track on the album is the kick-ass Mirage ~BOY, I am a girl~. I love this song, its my favorite Shimatani song, hands down. The way the song starts an ends was such a nice touch. The arrangement sounds so Western and it made me think of being lost in the desert. Shimatani has such attitude in her voice, and I love when she says: ‘boy! I am a girl!’ At certain points in the song, when her vocals speed up a little, it sounds like she’s singing in Spanish. This song is just the love.

The next track on the album is the up-tempo bella flor. I don’t know why I find myself so indifferent towards this song. Though it could be because I expected in to be more Beauty in the Beast a la Hunchback of Notre Dame-ish. I mean, sweeping, elegant… beautiful. The arrangement is very dramatic in a festive sense, it had a lot going for it and certainly kept my interest. Shimatani’s vocals were fine, I like how she seemed to get into the song during the chorus, but its not a vocal performance from her that particularly stands out. I wish this song would have went a different, more sad ballad or everlasting love type route, but I found that I still quite enjoyed it.

The next track on the album slows things down with Take me home. I really adore this song. I love how it started of f with the birds chirping, it gave off such a peaceful air. It goes into the rather sorrowful guitar arrangement, that gives you a feeling of adept loneliness–that feeling of isolation that comes from the arrangement and Shimatani’s wistful vocal performance really gives you the feeling of wanting to go home. ‘Take me home, take me home’ when Shimatani sings that, I find that I can really connect with her, because she puts the right amount of emotion into her voice to make you feel what she is saying. Underrated track (like most of the songs on here). I love how it ends with the piano.

The next track on the album is  元気を出して (Genki wo Dashite, Cheer up). This isn’t an overtly interesting song, but I think I just like the way Shimatani chose to sing this song. The arrangement is rather fitting, and I kind of liked the horn? solo towards the middle of the song. I thought it was a saxophone at first, but it wasn’t. Shimatani’s vocals are nice, she sung this song in a casual ‘get happy’ type way, and it really made the song stand out in a sense, even if does intend to become a little draggy as it goes along.

The next track on the album is the atmospheric 月影のエデンへ (Tsukikage no Eden E, to a moonlit Eden). I really got a ‘moonlit’ vibe from this song, if that makes any sense. I mean I can just picture Shimatani singing this with her back to the moonlight, it makes for some gorgeous imagery. The arrangement is pretty interesting, quick in a sense but consistent and fitting. Shimatani’s vocals were nice, she sung this song in a very sure way and it gave me the impression of someone singing lead in a play or opera. I didn’t too much like this song at first, though I thought it was good. I’m still not very sure, but I’m almost certain it’ll grow on me.

The next track on the album is the up-tempo J.U.M.P.. This song is really quite annoying. The arrangement is very fast-paced, which based on the title, isn’t really all that surprising, but its so frenzied that it makes you feel like you’re on some sort of acid-trip. Then when it doesn’t sound wonky, its grating to the point of making your ears bleed. Shimatani’s vocals are fine, they’re actually the best part of this song, but its just all so contrived, and at points Shimatani sounded a bit uncertain. Her voice just doesn’t suit sugar-high songs like this.

The second to last track on the album is the festive いつの日にか・・・(GATE version) (itsu no hi ni ka…, someday). This song sounds a bit airy, and has the tendency to become annoying, but I think its a decent song. The arrangement is interesting in a bland kind of way, and seems very loud to me for some reason. Shimatani’s vocals were good, though I just found her voice to be a bit much. This song is good in its own right, but I find that I can’t really be bothered with it. I listened to this song three times, and not once did it manage to hold my attention.

The last track on the album is the annoyingly pointless Perseus (HEAVENS WiRE vs. TRI-HEDGE RMX). This remix was so unnecessary and messed up the whole flow–terrible way to end such a good album.

-GRADE: A
Rating: *** stars

Shimatani Hitomi’s third album Gate~scena III~ is quite possibly my favorite Shimatani album. I’ve loved it from the first time I ever listened to it, and I still love it now. Shimatani is one of those rare artists who always come out with top-notch albums. I mean not one album from her has disappointed me, well Flare was a pretty downer of an album. It just seemed like her heart wasn’t in it, which was a shame, because that could have been a good album. This album made me think of a Western, I mean the whole vibe of this album was Old West, and it was just such a good listen. Shimatani has some incredible and epic songs under her belt, so it just blows my mind that she’s not a good seller. It just reinserts my belief that people just don’t appreciate good music. I loved the majority of the songs on here. It started on a strong note, and unfortunately ended on a pretty weak and forgettable one. Gate~scena III~ is a great album and the only reason why I didn’t give it an A+ is because its a little on the safe side. Shimatani usually comes more grandiose than this, but in all truth she has some great up-tempo, mid-tempo and down-tempo songs, stand out being Mirage ~BOY, I am a girl~. This (and Shimatani in general) is for those who like to hear something a little different every once in a while.

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