Maaya Sakamoto [Kazeyomi (かぜよみ, Wind Reading)] (Sixth Album)

March 31, 2009

Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition (風待ちジェット~; Jet Waiting for a Good Wind)
Ame ga Furu (雨が降る, Falling Rain)
Get No Satisfaction!
Ao no Ether (蒼のエーテル, Blue Ether)
Shitsuren Cafe (失恋カフェ, Heartbreak Cafe)
Peanuts (ピーナッツ)
Saigo no Kajitsu (さいごの果実, The Last Fruit)
Kazamidori (カザミドリ, Weather Cock)
Guitar Hiki ni Naritai na (ギター弾きになりたいな, I Want to Be a Guitar Player)*

The album starts off with the intro Vento. A gorgeous melody occupies most of this just over one minute track; I’m not sure if it was the piano, but the sound was nice. Maaya comes in with some high yet light vocals as well.

The next track on the album is the up-tempo Triangler. I was almost tempted to say spastic, but it never really gets to that point. I really hate when songs just start off with the artist singing it has always irritated me, because I’m not prepared and when the song started with Maaya singing in a high-pitched voice it scared the shit out of me. I think I liked this song better on the single, because I don’t too much like it on the album, though there doesn’t appear to be any sort of difference. The arrangement has a lot of variety, its very light, fun with a serious undercurrent and it stays at least somewhat consistent if not a little all over the place. Maaya’s vocals in this I didn’t too much care for, though they didn’t sound half-bad. Hmm? I don’t know, I just didn’t like this, this time around.

The next track on the album brings the pace back down with Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition (風待ちジェット~; Jet Waiting for a Good Wind). Ah, this is quite a change from the quick-paced original. Maaya decided to slow it way down and its rather nice, though a bit weird. I still enjoyed it despite the slow pace and Maaya’s vocals seemed better as well. I do prefer the original though.

The next track keeps the down-tempo’s coming with Remedy. This is quite the gorgeous song and one of my new favorites. I didn’t expect to get so absorbed in this track, but the beautiful, soft plucking of the guitar and Maaya’s light and lovely vocals really just sold me. I honestly wish this had been released as a single. I also can’t believe this is the second ending to that godawful anime, ‘linebarrel’s of iron’

The next track on the album is Ame ga Furu (雨が降る, Falling Rain). I still like this song, though not as much. Maaya’s vocals are still wonderful, but I never noticed how semi aggressive the chorus was when I was reviewing the single.

The next track on the album is Get No Satisfaction!. I’ll admit, I was a little worried after I read the title, but honestly this is a pretty good song. The arrangement is typically sparkly, but in a sense it fits. Maaya’s vocals are light and she seems to be very into the song, I especially like when she says: ‘get no satisfaction!’ Though I did enjoy this song, I kind of wish she would have went for a more experimental approach in regards to it, maybe a little rock and edge element, the pure poppy-ness of this track just does nothing for me.

The next track on the album is the quiet Ao no Ether (蒼のエーテル, Blue Ether). This song doesn’t jump out at you and after a while it does become a bit boring, because it doesn’t really do much and can come across as very uninteresting. The arrangement is more on the acoustic side with Maaya singing alongside a slow churning piano. Maaya’s vocal performance was nice, but I felt it could have been better. I do like this song though, its all right.

The next track on the album is the half and half Shitsuren Cafe (失恋カフェ, Heartbreak Cafe). I really like the title and I actually expected this song to be more down-tempo than it was. The arrangement is the best part, it sounds so lounge and though it got a bit messy towards the end, I still thought it stood out, more than Maaya’s vocals anyway. Her vocal performance was very weak and that really put me off the song, I also noted some strain-age. I didn’t like the random break-down part as well either, it just came across as very pointless to me. This isn’t a bad track, so I guess like ‘triangler’ this a grow on me… maybe.

The next track on the album is the mild SONIC BOOM. I’m not surprised that a song called ‘sonic boom’ is on an Maaya album, I am however surprised that it wasn’t an up-tempo mass of frenzied-ness, though I’m not sure why that is, especially considering how calm a singer Maaya is. The arrangement was rather pretty and Maaya’s vocals complimented said arrangement perfectly, the chorus I like the most. This is a nice track.

The next track on the album is the light-hearted Peanuts (ピーナッツ). I was unsure on whether or not I was going to like this song, but I guess after giving it a second listen it grew on me pretty quickly. The arrangement makes me think of an innocent yet coy love and Maaya’s vocals seem to reflect that. And speaking of Maaya’s vocals, I liked them quite a bit in this song. I mean this is a song that can come across as quite weird and its a bit off-putting, but its still an interesting listen.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo Saigo no Kajitsu (さいごの果実, The Last Fruit). I’m not sure why Maaya decided to come out with this as a single, it plays more like an album track or a b-side. It doesn’t really jump out at you in an obvious way, but in a very subtle way. The arrangement is pretty interesting, I really like the water sounds throughout, well I only really heard them at one point, but I always like hearing the sound of water. Maaya gave a good vocal performance, soft during the verses and a bit high during the chorus. This is a song that’s always a nice listen, but not one that is particularly memorable.

The next track on the album is the airy Colors. This song really sounds like a windy day and that makes it quite the interesting listen. The arrangement is just very natural and seemingly spiritual in a way or maybe that’s just me. Maaya’s vocals were really gorgeous in this, but I can’t help thinking she sounded like someone whose name I just can’t put a finger on. It’ll come to me eventually, I think. Nice listen.

The second to last track on the album is Kazamidori (カザミドリ, Weather Cock). I’m not sure what a weather cock is or maybe I do know and am having one of my slow moments. The arrangement was gorgeous nice use of the violins? And drums. Maaya’s vocals were also quite lovely, put me in such a relaxed mood. Just a really nice and calming listen.

The last track on the album is Guitar Hiki ni Naritai na (ギター弾きになりたいな, I Want to Be a Guitar Player). I really like the title, gives off such a feeling of nostalgia and dreams. This song went pretty much the way I expected it to, driven by the guitar it gives the song a very acoustic vibe. Maaya’s vocals are nice and fitting. Its short a bit under three minutes, but its a nice listen and a pretty good track to end the album on.

Rating: **1/2 stars

Maaya Sakamoto’s sixth album Kazeyomi was a pretty good album. I’m not really surprised, I always find that I rather enjoy Maaya’s albums, if only for their uniqueness and her voice. Its been a while since Maaya last released an album, the last Yūnagi Loop having been released way back in 2005. Is this better than Yūnagi Loop? I kind a think so, but I’ll give said album another listen before I pass judgment, because her most stand-out album to me is Shōnen Alice. I was kind a anticipating this album, if only because I was getting sick of all the singles preceding it. I thought it was pretty much worth the wait and the album only tracks played a bit better than the singles and I definitely took note of that. I mean who would have thunk I’d end up liking ‘sonic boom?’ Not me that’s for sure. I was pleased that she included ‘kazemachi jet’ since that was released back in ’06 and I actually thought it was going to be a single only release, I still like the original more, though the new version isn’t bad, it just doesn’t give me that free fall feeling that the original does. Kazeyomi is a good album, probably one of her best.


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