Neon Genesis Evangelion: Piano Burst -Kakusei-

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Piano Burst -Kakusei- Album Title:
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Piano Burst -Kakusei-
Record Label:
BM.3
Catalog No.:
LECR-1008
Release Date:
October 5, 2011
Purchase:
Buy at CDJapan

Overview

Piano Burst -Kakusei- is Noriyuki Kamikura’s first solo work upon his departure from Basiscape earlier in 2011. It’s an intriguing album, featuring big band jazz arrangements of crucial themes in the Neon Genesis Evangelion series. As the name suggests, the album emphasises piano parts — performed by Kamikura himself — and definitely offers a very upbeat tone. When it comes to Noriyuki Kamikura, the two things I immediately thing of when it comes to his preferred styles are rock and jazz, primarily due to his original works for the former and his arrangements for the latter. When it comes to this album, Kamikura arranges opening and ending themes from the series, as well as some pivotal themes from that anime that come from previous eras in its musical history.

Body

The album opens with “Soul’s Refrain,” the theme song for the first film in the franchise. Starting off with romantic strings and piano, it lulls the listener into a false sense of calm, as the majority of the track features an upbeat pace with a ton of elements going for it. The absence of the original’s vocals is not a problem, since the big band arrangement is so rich. I love the sultry strings accompaniment, giving off a bit of an espionage atmosphere. Also effective are the random DJ scratching elements, the big brass sounds, and, of course, the highly enjoyable jazzy piano improvisations. The piano parts, in particular, for, the emotional core of the arrangement and expand considerably on the original melody.

“Tentou Mushi no Samba,” as the name implies, is an upbeat piano piece that definitely has an upbeat, playful tone to it and a bit of a samba influence. I really like this theme as well as it provides a nice mix of atmospheres, at times very romantic and enticing, particularly when the tempo slows and the piano is the focus, and as mentioned, the jovial nature of the piece, both when it comes to the big band brass accompaniments and electric keyboard improvisations. “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” offers many of the same components in terms of progression, however, I find the piano improvisations and overall melody of this one more similar to “Tentou Mushi no Samba.” It’s a fine adaptation of the fan favourite.

One of the most striking pieces, compared to many of the other themes on the album, is “Tsubasa wo Kudasai.” While featuring that core big band jazz sound, there’s definitely rustic element associated with the adaptation, thanks to the harmonica passages. These passages work very well with the brass and piano accompaniments and help give the theme a bit of a personal touch. “Shuuketsu no Sono he” also has a bit of a latin vibe to it, and offers another upbeat take on the themes. The piano in this theme is definitely the highlight of the track and really manages to entice the listener. The closing theme on the album, “Kyou no Hi wa Sayonara,” has a gospel/jazz approach to it that really manages to stand out amongst some of the offerings. The piano and electric organ really makes up the core of what makes the track successful, but the romantic strings and woodwinds do help offer that warm, cozy feeling as well.

There are also some very interesting popular themes used on the album, some more shocking than others. The first one, “Fly Me to the Moon,” is an interesting interpretation of the original. There is a bit of a 70’s funk in the accompaniment that works nicely with the piano melody and strings harmony. Of course, the piano solo is probably my favorite aspect of the whole piece and really makes the theme that much more enjoyable. Otherwise, it would come off as a fairly standard arrangement. Another theme “Beautiful World,” originally sung by Hikaru Utada, features an upbeat jazz arrangement with some electric keyboard work in addition to the standard piano/brass affair. While very nice, I think this is my least favorite of the arrangements on the album. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but nothing really grabs my attention, like the others.

The last two arrangements come from Evangelion music sourced from the classical music era. As such, they may be considered sacrilegious to the classical music purists out there, but I think that Kamikura did something nice with each of them. The first, Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9, Fourth Movement,” popularly known as “Ode to Joy,” is a fun take on the original. I really think the jazz style works extremely well with this theme and the incorporation of the organ, although subtle and not really a focus, gives it a nice contrast. The saxophone and jazzy piano improvisations may offend fans of the original the most, but it really manages to stand out among the arrangements with its in-your-face approach. Of course, there are still romantic aspects to the piece, but they aren’t as pronounced.

The second classical piece on the album is Bach’s “Air on the G String,” which is probably my preferred arrangement on the album. The opening features a seductive take on the original, elaborating on the melody, and giving it a more airy sound. It combines well with the subtle organ work and the jazz rhythms. As the track progresses, however, it stays more true to the original than his take on Beethoven’s work. The second half of the track features the organ taking the forefront with piano and jazzy drums acting as harmony as support. It may not be as creative as some of the other arrangements on the album, but it is certainly one of the most enjoyable pieces on the album.

Summary

In the end, I think that Noriyuki Kamikura’s first solo work upon leaving Basiscape is a successful. Although the entire album focuses on big band jazz sounds, there are enough surprises to keep the album from sounding the same, thanks to the superb track selection. Some arrangements work better than others, but in each of them, Kamikura’s bubbly personality is definitely on display. For fans of the Neon Genesis Evangelion series and big band jazz, this is a no brainer, as I find it to be one of Kamikura’s more effective styles. I definitely look forward to seeing what else is on the plate for Kamikura in the future, as I feel he is a rising star in the soundtrack world and can tackle a variety of styles.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Piano Burst -Kakusei- Don Kotowski

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.


About the Author

Currently residing in New York, I spend my days working in antibody therapeutics and dedicate some of my spare time in the evening to the vast world of video game music, both reviewing soundtracks as well as maintaining relationships with composers overseas in Europe and in Japan.



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