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Heisei Fuuzoku (平成風俗) Review

February 16, 2007

CD – Heisei Fuuzoku
Released – 2007.02.21
Tracklist:
01 – Gamble
02 – Kuki
03 – Sakuran (TERRA ver.)
04 – Hatsukoi Shoujo
05 – Papaya Mango
06 – Ishiki
07 – Yokushitsu
08 – Meisei
09 – Poltergeist
10 – Karisome Otome (TAMEIKESANNOH ver.)
11 – Oiran
12 – Yume no Ato
13 – Kono Yo no Kagiri

*Like any SR album, first listen must be with good quality headphones or stereo speakers… This album especially.*

Heisei Fuuzoku is not an album in the sense that Muzai Moratorium, Shouso Strip or Kalk Samen Kuri No Hana was. Looking directly at the tracklist, you will notice that the tracks are (shock) not symmetrical. Why? Shiina didn't just "forget" – there is actually a big reason why, and you really won't grasp it until you transition between tracks 12 and 13. This album is the closest thing to creating a mental movie with music that Shiina Ringo, or anyone else for that matter will get. You have to listen to this as if it was a movie. Once, you hit track 13 (Kono Yo no Kagiri) you will say: "Oh! This is where the credits are supposed to go!" This album does contain five covers from her three main studio albums: Kuki, Ishiki, Yokushitsu, Meisei & Poltergeist. Only 2 out of the 5 are effective in making a remake. I'll give you a hint, it's definetly not Yokushitsu that is the "bad" track. So how did Shiina do? Did she succeed? Did this album conduct a successful orchestral remake of songs from her "masterpeice" album?

*************SPOILERS AHEAD*************
*************SPOILERS AHEAD*************

01. Gamble
Que the drums, and, harp? I don't remember THAT in the preview. The crunchy guitar is still there, but the violins are overpowering it. You'll find out later in the song that the guitar dies, and that pretty much symbolizes that this album is no longer the rock Shiina had in her. If you thought Adult wasn't rock, then this is a whole other story. The album focuses on the mood, and pleasures of each note. Try to remember that this is supposed to sound like a movie – it will make your experience better. For Gamble, this is the opening credits, the cast introduction, and the title. Back to the song, the drums form almost a metronome-like trance. Shiina’s vocals are piercing, and raspy like the way she used to rock out. She still does. The guitar dies, and the violins take over. The metronome resumes and it's over.

02. Kuki
This song, along with a few others, uses Saito Neko's arrangement feaured in "Baishou Ecstasy". The instrumentals are almost the exact same from that concert. However, Shiina's vocals are less intense than the single version. Personally, this is 1 of 2 songs on the album that I wish wasn't remade. STEM (Kuki) was been done to death. We've heard it in the single, KSK, Baishou Ecstasy, numerous lives including Electric Mole, and on the Ringohan DVD. What new elements did this have to offer? Not a lot. If you are fan of STEM, you will enjoy this, but nevertheless it's still an old tune that craves something fresh.

03. Sakuran (TERRA ver.)
A Latin song. Or at least, as Latin as a song about a Japanese Oiran can get. This is almost the Kenshou Naoshi of the album, with a few kicks and trumpets to keep the momentum up. This has the whole Shuraba single ver. -> adult ver. connection in the sense that it's more stripped down in vocals. There is no more echoing or buildups. The song seems to go so far into jazz, that you wonder if she has have sang any other genre. She is in her element here.

04. Hatsukoi Shoujo
HUGE shift. The jazz and upbeat orchestration fade, and you are left with an almost Souretsu + Clarinet rendition. Very staccato and distorted. Back to the whole "movie imagery" theme, this is probably the part where the prostitute runs away, or it is raining outside, or she is lighting herself on fire. Something like that. Very experimental, and very cool. The album needs more of this.

05. Papaya Mango
A carbon copy (instrumentals included) from the Ringohan DVD. The French and English sounds crisper than the 2005 concert. It’s a good cover, but I wouldn’t say album worthy. This deserves to be the b-side of a single. The song does flow great, and has replay value, if anything. She still says “nuke” instead of “nook” and it makes me laugh.

06. Ishiki
Another song that sounds pretty much exactly like the Baishou Ecstasy version. There is nothing new to comment on that hasn’t already been discussed. Her vocals do sound deeper than previous version that we have heard. I really dislike adding a track that is the exact same as previous released version, with just new vocals. Again, I am not really sure why it was on the album, unless it was used somewhere in the movie.

07. Yokushitsu
Best remake in the entire album. I would almost argue best song in this album. You really need high quality speakers/headphones to hear every undertone in this song. *Insert another adjective for 'freaking awesome' here.* This song basically "fuses" La Salle de Bain & Yokushitsu into one orgasmic song. Everything is perfect. I am not sure if it a remix of the two versions, of if they actually re-recorded everything. The sadistic and almost creepy Shiina voices in the background with the hint of innocence in her voice make this song complete. The best part is when it transitions from Japanese to English. Flawless.

08. Meisei
Slightly different version from Baishou Ecstasy. Actually, compared to the KSK version, I think both of these go hand in hand. There is also a wicked violin solo at the end, which is pretty appealing. The drums are heavier, and Shiina sings rapidly compared to previous versions. Compared to the other covers of KSK tracks, this one brings something new to the table. There isn’t a whole lot to talk about.

09. Poltergeist
I like the voice filter at the beginning. It really is just a cheap trick though. The song is pretty much the exact same as either the KSK or Baishou Ecstasy version, which brings a total of four songs that didn’t really go through any arrangement changes throughout the album. I would almost have the album without these four tracks (with just the 9 in total).

10. Karisome Otome (TAMEIKESANNOH ver.)
The best version out of all three. The violin is sharp and cunning, almost suicidal in harmony. Shiina's English is nasal here, but effective and harmonic. Very fresh and purposeful in the orchestration. I really enjoy this. You really have to pretend the movie is going on while listening to this. I am sure that was the intention. I predict this is the part of the movie where someone dies, or the women have some liberation moment, judging by the lyrics. “What women want is some simple pleasures, to feel special. We don’t need you forever. But I fell for your trap. Girls, we fall like that. I was floating on a breeze.”

11. Oiran
I don't even know how to explain this song. This sounds like creepy trance music? Shiina Ringo had never touched anything like this before. The other songs in this album at least have a hint of her overall progression, but not this one. Sounds very si-fi. Imagine a more electronic version of "Hatsukoi Shoujo", with constant distortion and voice modifications. Bits of noises and jabs from synth and computer generated noises. Very cool. Like Hatsukoi Shoujo, I wouldn't mind hearing more of this. The ending becomes very noisy and delicious and then, fades away. Clearly, this was the climax of the movie. One of the better songs on the album.

12. Yume no Ato
The resolution of the movie. Maybe the cameras are panning over a city, or the weather is still ultramarine. Stronger vocals than the album version in Kyouiku. This is pretty much the conclusion to the whole orchestra. I dig the vocals, they the best I’ve heard. I can almost hear her raising up her hand and doing the crazy eyes in the recording studio. She screams. The trumpets burst. The music climaxes, and it fades in to silence.

13. Kono Yo no Kagiri
This is the whole “Oh, the credits must be rolling!” part. A good conclusion to the album, even though I never really liked this song myself. I feel like I should stand up now, leave my popcorn here for the ushers to pick up, and walk away. It was a good movie.

So what’s the verdict? I think the album succeeded itself in providing a solid image album / soundtrack for Sakuran. This isn’t a brand new Shiina Ringo album. There are a few fresh songs that are amazing, but that is exactly the problem. We know she is capable of making this amazing new songs, so why cover old stuff? We are tried of hearing Shiina Ringo cover the same content over and over. Imagine how many times Kuki was covered in Ringo’s career? Think of all the albums and DVDs it was on. It did not need to be in one more. I think Shiina’s motivation for including this on the album will be a mystery to me. However, the fresh content makes you want to hear more. But ultimately, I think anyone thinking this album was anything more than a soundtrack will be disappointed. This was a good side project, but ultimately, completely underwhelming considering the constant hype it was getting. Stop reliving old glory, Shiina Ringo – move on to something new! I am sure you are pissing off your older fans, and not attracting any new ones.

The plus side is that you are getting 9 solid compositions, but are paying for the addition of 4 mediocre ones [to fans who have already heard her material, anyway]. In fact, I would say all 9 of the 13 tracks (the missing ones are Kuki, Meisei, Ishiki and Poltergeist) are great, and very listenable and something to look forward to. This album clearly redefines the current era of music, and is a valuable addition to any music collection.

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5 comments

  1. I believe you’re seriously flawed in the writing of this review. Im absolutely positive there’ll be people who’ll listen to this album who havent heard any of SR or TJ’s previous work.

    The fact that you include biased for the remade tracks serves as knowledge not needed. You have to listen to the songs as they are… even if they’re remakes, or just copies off Baishou Ecstasy, they themselves are not only fabulous songs, but they work as a whole in the flow of the album, and probably the movie.

    These tracks should probably be considered (especially when revieweing), as new. You base your opinion off the other versions of the songs, and when reviewing an album, you should never base them off other versions, as it’s like comparing one song to a completely different song.

    Im not disagreeing with you about using the Baishou Ecstasy versions etc for the album, because I was a tad disappointed, but when you review in the manner presented, you have to put that aside and think of them as songs you havent heard before.


  2. I have to agree. Your development about the feel of the album as imagery in the mind produced from the music really undermines yourself when you state that they are old or previous releases.

    I listened to this at 3am in the morning siting in bed with my eyes closed. It was bliss…”sonicly” entertaining.

    I won’t say that this is the most amazing thing in music, but it was certainly a great 50minutes of enjoyment.

    I really enjoy jazz in various forms as well as the use of more electronically infused elements.

    You do have your points but as we thought Otona was a maturing of style, Heisei Fuuzoku certainly extents further in that matter and makes Shiina more reachable to a older audience, while hopefully introducing her younger fan base to music that has lost a lot of influence in our generation. Great musicians will always go back to the great stuff!


  3. Hello, I will rate this album 3/5, I really loved Kyouiku of TJ.
    Concerning Papaye Mango, I am French, and I nearly understand nothing from her accent…
    They should have called me :]


  4. […] out Shiina Ringo’s solo career hasn’t ended after all: February 21 brings us Heisei Fuuzoku, featuring mostly orchestral rearrangements of tunes from Kalk Samen Kuri No Kana as well as other […]


  5. great review and I agree with most of it!

    I remember when kuki started I sort of rolled my eyes and thought to myself- again?!

    I do love the new songs, though. Papaye Mango is total bleh but that’s not her original, anyway.



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