September 11, 2010
Buy at Amazon Japan
Brightness is a solo album released by Nobuyoshi Sano featuring a variety of electronic themes. Most of the themes are new compositions, though some have appeared on other albums he has done, such as Sanodg Works and Sampling Masters 2. The album was set to photography and artwork by his DS-10 Trio partner Yasunori Mitsuda. How does the album turn out?
The opening track, “Your Bells,” has a very cheerful soundscape. Through the prominent use of bell tones and ethereal synth in the melody line, especially in the opening, a laid-back flavor to the music is definitely. There is a nice dance rhythm featured as well and I particularly enjoy the spacey synth in the melody as well. “Tokyo Café,” although not previous released in album form, is the opening theme for a show on the French Channel “Nolife” in Japan. This is a very unique theme, in my opinion. It combines some bubbly electronic synthesizer manipulations, vocoder, and some clear Asian influences to create a wonderful soundscape. At the same time, it’s also quite entrancing.
“Amplitude” has been featured on two previous albums, Sanodg Works and Sampling Masters 2. There is a very relaxed sound to this electronic mix, particularly thanks to the jazzy percussion elements. I also really like the futuristic spacey soundscape that the synth manages to bring to the melody line. Overall, it’s a very affecting theme with some great rhythm and a beautiful melody. “You Got Colours,” the other theme from Sanodg Works, has a very jazzy nature to it as well. There is a fantastic rhythm in the electronic beats that dominate this track. I also really like the playful synth manipulation and the use of vocoder to create a very bubbly atmosphere. It’s definitely my favorite of the two previously released themes.
Returning to the original tracks, “Horizon” is another fantastic track on the album and is probably my second favorite on the album. A nice house beat and playful synth dominate the early portions of the track. As it progresses, some jazzy xylophonic tones and a stunning synth melody line are added into the mix and, in a way, give the track a tropical vibe. I’m not sure if this was Sano’s intended atmosphere, but that’s what it was reminiscent of to me. “Aqua Block,” on the other hand, incorporates a heavy house beat with more focus on that, rather than the melody. It isn’t absent, of course, but it does tend to take the back seat to some of the other elements in the mix, like the jazzy percussion, the trance atmosphere, and the incorporation of some quirky synth elements. It’s still an enjoyable listen, but I find it to be one of the weaker themes on the album.
“The Light Lines” reminds me of the Ridge Racer series. There is a sense of exhilaration and movement in this theme. The opening trance elements, before the incorporation of a beat, really helps accentuate this feeling of movement. Once the beat begins though, it definitely feels much more like a racing tune. A solid melody and fantastic synth manipulation really helps keep this track varied and I can definitely imagine myself driving down a race track to this music. “Happy High Speed” is an interesting theme as well. Focusing more on ethereal synth in the melody lines and some unique rhythms in the bass line, it manages to be one of the most relaxed themes on the album. Going by the title, I expected some very upbeat music, but instead, I was treated to a fairly regular tempo theme that really manages to capture a beautifully calming mood.
The last track on the album, “Our Car,” is easily my favorite on the album. If there is one song on the album that I think captures the essence of the title, it is definitely this theme. It’s an extremely bright theme with some beautifully crystalline synth accompaniment, a steady, happy beat, and some vocoder work singing a song in the melody. It’s so soothing that I can’t help but smile when I listen to this theme. The chorus is particularly intoxicating and really manages to bring the most brightness to the track itself.
In the end, I really think Sano was able to capture the title of his album quite well. The music has a very happy sound to it; however, before that scares you away, it’s not like the hyper happy electronic themes you may hear in certain game soundtracks. It’s a very tasteful electronic theme with an overall atmosphere that should at least make you look up into the sky and smile. If you are a fan of Nobuyoshi Sano, this is definitely a must.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 11, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 11, 2014.