Konami Digital Entertainment
February 27, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
Crevice is the third album by Naoyuki Sato under his NekomataMaster alias. As with his other albums, this album features a few original tracks amongst extensions of his work from BEMANI games. This album features more vocal tracks than his previous albums, here comprising more than half of the album. Although there isn’t much in the way of growth of Sato’s unique folk electronica style, the album for the most part presents more of what makes his NekomataMaster work great.
As usual, Sato opens and closes the album with new tracks. “dawn” is the introduction, a slow and pleasant piece with all of the staple NekomataMaster sounds with a couple of new synths mixed in. There isn’t too much in the way of melody here, but it is quite atmospheric, which is something that Sato keeps for many of the other tracks on the album. The closing “Unequal” has some meditative piano work with some percussion and sound effects throughout. It’s a lovely closer, though not quite as strong as some of his past ones. One of the other new instrumental tracks is the interlude “Not Going Anywhere”. This one is unfortunately not too remarkable other than its dreamy and spacious atmosphere, but it does work fine in the context of the album. A bit better is the new “Sajin Kagerou” (later added to pop’n music Sunny Park), a full-length piece that opens up with some bells and chiptune elements before giving way to the usual NekomataMaster fare. I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed that the track’s great opening didn’t give way to something more epic, but its still a fine track.
The other three instrumental tracks all come from various BEMANI games, though unfortunately they don’t offer much that is new for Sato. “CALL” is lovely track that sounds like it could have been a vocal Elebits theme, having a very lyrical melody and similar instrumentation. As such, the concept does feel a bit worn. “A Moon of Karal” is another track that has a very promising, atmospheric opening that leads to more typical NekomataMaster fare. “Last Hometown” has a bit more electronica, but also feels too familiar. These are not bad tracks, but we’ve heard it all before on the previous two NekomataMaster albums.
The vocal tracks fare much better. Many of the tracks are also extended from their BEMANI games, getting a second verse or bridge but not a full re-arrangement. “WORLD COLOR” is one I didn’t like as much at first, largely due to Hayashi Momoko’s cutesy J-Pop vocal, which is a strong contrast to Sato’s previous, more mature works. The arrangement is also more lighthearted than his past work. However, once I got used to this, the track grew on me and is now one of the highlights on the album. The track is catchy, and its party sound is infectious. “connective” and “Clumsy thoughts” are similarly styled, though this time with the vocals of *spiLa*. These vocals are even more cutesy, but they suit their tracks well. “connective” isn’t as remarkable, but “Clumsy Thoughts” has a great melodies and a more energetic arrangement that helps it standout on the album. Momoko returns for the new track “Rainbow after snow”, which starts with a bit of retro-styled electronica and some NekomataMaster+ influences. It may feel a times a bit more like typical J-Pop fare, but Sato’s unique instrumentation is still present, elevating the track. These tracks are quite different from Sato’s past vocal work, but it’s all fun stuff and distinctly NekomataMaster.
The remaining vocal tracks are a bit more serious in their atmospheres. Yu Tokiwa sings for two songs in her native Japanese (which is a great improvement over her previous English output!). “REcorrection” slows things down with a quiet introduction featuring spacious, lightly echoing elements. It eventually comes out as one of Sato’s light electronica pop tracks, and Tokiwa’s half-whispered vocal does well with Sato’s great melodies. “REcollect” is similarly very good, taking the electronica influence even further. Although Tokiwa sings in a fairly cutesy voice for both, something about the songs gives it an air of maturity as well.
More mature sounding though are two tracks sung by Maki Nagayama, who appeared on Sato’s previous album. Here she sings the new “Watari Kusaso”, a more wistful electronica track with a wonderful chorus. Sato also fits in a heavier electronica emphasis here. Nagayama’s other song is “Flowing into the darkness”, an arrangement of a track from FRONTIER GATE. This arrangement (which appeared on FRONTIER GATE+) brings more instruments in with the original piano and vocal. It’s the softest track on the album, very meditative, and quite beautiful with its instruments and Nagayama’s soothing delivery. A lot of this is similar to Sato’s previous output, but they’re still great tracks that stand on their own and add to his strong body of vocal works.
Crevice is another solid NekomataMaster album from Naoyuki Sato. The instrumental tracks are a bit too similar to his previous work, but it’s still rather nice and fills in the spots between the stronger tracks. Sato’s new vocalists suit his style well, even if they have a bit more typical J-Pop sound than his past collaborators. The positive energy works well with the catchiness of the tracks, and it’s all very fun to listen to. This slower vocal tracks are as strong as his previous works, and it’s great to hear Maki Nagayama working more with Sato. Although his still sound hasn’t evolved much, the album is still a fine entry in Sato’s repertoire that’s enjoyable and pleasant.
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Posted on May 24, 2015 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on May 29, 2015.