August 6, 20030
Buy at CDJapan
Released in 2003, Yuki Kajiura’s first solo album, Fiction, collected and rearranged some of the composer’s greatest pieces, as well as displayed a host of new compositions. Do the arrangements offer enough variation and are the original pieces compelling enough to warrant a purchase?
Over half of the tracks are arrangements, starting with the very first track, “Key of the Twilight,” from .hack//SIGN. The sound offered on the piece is fierce, with an attractive guitar providing a beat and augmenting the melody, supplied by multiple voices and a violin. The melody is superb and the piece serves as an excellent opening. “Open Your Heart,” also taken from .hack//SIGN, is a softer piece, reflecting a different aspect of the anime’s nature. The track features some quirky synth creating a sort of scattering effect, and the uilleann pipes offers a nice nostalgic touch. “Fake wings” is the last piece taken from this series, and very deftly shows Kajiura’s skill at building the various instruments, between the strings, guitar and mandolin.
Aquarian Age gets only two of its tracks rearranged, but they are both quite spectacular. “Zodiacal Sign” develops a very grungy, mechanical sound brimming with complexity. The vocals in this piece chant meaningless phrases, but their droning repetition, combined with the emotional impact of the strings’ melody in the background, creates a fantastically evocative soundscape. Near the end, the lyrics are less repetitious and, mixed with the chanting from before, lead to an exciting finale. “Awaking” features an oud and bouzouki, which, along with more chanting lyrics, create a gentle piece with an emotionally thick melody.
Noir as well receives arrangement of three of its most memorable pieces, starting with “Canta Per Me.” The piece develops a similar sound instrumentally to “Key of the Twilight,” though the vocals are operatic in nature, lending an entirely different overall feel to the track. “Salva Nos,” perhaps one of the composer’s most well known and recognizable pieces, receives an absolutely superb arrangement here. A thick melody on the strings introduces the piece along with some vocals, which melds into a curiously appealing metallic sound on the electric guitars. Soon the melody proper starts, given an extra oomph from expertly composed string sections. A new, excellent variation on the melody is introduced around the track’s halfway point, helping to cement this version of the piece as definitive. The last of the three Noir tracks is also one of three tracks to only be released on the Japanese version of the album. The ever beautiful “Lullaby” receives a bit of a jazz influence in this arrangement, thanks to the acoustic bass and piano, though the influence is only slightly felt at best.
“Red Rose” is another Japanese exclusive, though this piece is wholly original to this album. The piece offers a somewhat different sound than is typical for the composer thanks to the uilleann pipes and sitar, but the sound is deliciously attractive and well developed. “Winter” is another fantastic original composition, thanks to a particularly enjoyable melody. The accordion is a perfect fit for the piece as well. “Cynical World” sounds unimpressive at first, but builds in complexity around its halfway mark to create a rather stirring composition. Overall though, the track feels somewhat incomplete.
“Vanity,” by contrast, features an attractive opening with the vocals and piano. The melody slowly builds to a satisfying complexity as the rest of the ensemble joins in for a rousing piece that doesn’t let up until it concludes. The album’s title track, “Fiction,” features rather creative use of an electric guitar and bass during its opening, soon exploding rather dramatically into a melodic wonder. The strings only add to the complexity when the melody repeats, creating a piece truly worth naming the album over. The album ends with the final Japanese exclusive piece, “Echo,” and it is truly that, closing off the CD with a curious little idea on the piano, that, while pretty, lacks any true focus. It works as an ending, though it’s nothing to get excited over.
Free of the repetitiveness of her longer works, this compilation is a perfect introduction to the composer’s vast library for the uninitiated, as well as a solid purchase for those inclined to Yuki Kajiura’s style. Those unimpressed with her other works will find nothing particularly of interest here however, as while this is certainly one of her best, it rarely deviates from her traditional, heavily melodic and at times experimental style. While not a perfect album, this work is exemplary and should not be missed.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.