Monday, July 16, 2007

Hitohira OP/ED

Hitohira is indeed a gem, but you don't need me to tell you that. I am once more behind the curve, but the OP and ED tracks are so refreshing to listen to that I am compelled to mention them.

* * *

Part of the reason why opinions on songs can be so subjective is that I as a listener have a memory. Call it baggage, if you will, which stems from the atmosphere, emotions, even memories, invoked by whatever is loaded into WinAmp. Since I have this high tendency to loop single tracks for hours and days at a time, those sentiments are highly reinforced.

Having most recently had the dignified composition and performance of Yuki Kajiura and Yuuka Nanri ingrained in my mind, the effect of Yume, Hitohira and Smile is not unlike stepping out of a darkened concert hall and into a breezy mid-afternoon day with clear skies, as if attending a lunchtime concert was not unusual on its own.

Both tracks are distinctly relaxed, which is an odd thing to say of the much faster ED. Yet both draw inspiration from the days of a more spontaneous sound, where people were mostly comfortable with blues but there was still treasure to be found.

Yume, Hitohira [full length, washy audio] recalls a time when it was perfectly acceptable, even expected, to have a string ensemble in a pop song, of casual conversations with an enameled piano. The whole thing smacks of jazz, from the odd (but cool!) sounding intervals in the melody, to the trumpet interjections that punctuate the chorus. The only thing I didn't much like was chorus, which sounded a bit washy. I don't know if it was from the strings being a little too loud, possible pedal in the piano, ringing that didn't fade fast enough in the bells (xylophones) in the final chorus, or some combination thereof.

I am even more taken by Smile. It hits the ground running and never lets up. The short passage that is the intro and outro borrows a page from hyper-active Broadway musical numbers. It's in the same vein as nowhere and Silly-Go-Round — high energy, tight vocal lines — but it's not as dire as nowhere and it's not as reserved as Silly-Go-Round. The piano that audibly keeps pace with the vocalist throughout is a joy to listen to. Sunny synthesizers are, well, sunny synthesizers.

I was surprised that the vocalist for Smile is a mere 15 years old. This was a performance on par with Tamaki Nami, who debuted in her mid-teens as well. Mai Mizuhashi's style seems distinctly retro, judging from Smile and Yumemiru Otome, the Doujin Work ED. Her collaboration in the Kamisama Kazoku ED, a classic rock song, just reinforces this stylistic image, although the OP for the above is an exception.


lu-k said...

What I prefer about Yume, Hitohira is the intro and piano patterns. Can't tell which one is my favorite, since I love both OP & ED :)
I'm surprised Mai Mizuhashi's only 15 O_o
She doesn't sounds 15 at all, but older IMO. Anyway, a great voice, and I looking forward her next preforms!