Key Sounds Label
August 10, 2001
Buy Used Copy
Inspired by the success of the game and soundtrack releases for Air and Kanon, Key Sounds Label was established during 2001. Their debut release was actually an original album Humanity… featuring music performed by the short-lived Japanese band WORKS-S. It features seven original vocal themes, two instrumental interludes, and a cover of Air.
Key emphasises the rock focus of the release with “Again”. From the backdrop of some catchy 80s-influenced guitar riffs, Hidetsuna Fujita offers a charismatic vocal performance. Fans of classic J-rock are likely to smile to this one, but a lot of others will find it too dated for their tastes. Aside from its rhythmically compelling riff, it’s also a little bland melodically and starved for ideas. “Summer Wind” highlights a different sound with its funk riffs and raw performance. It’ll also be too dated to have widespread appeal, but reflects the talent and versatility of the vocalist. The instrumentalists also offer an authentic and clean performance.
Shifting from the rock emphasis, Shinji Orito’s “Run” is one of the softest additions to the addition. Fujita demonstrates a different sort of lyricism with his smooth performance here, though the lyrics sometimes sound clumsy. “Love is Eternal” is also a gentler addition — a rock ballad of sorts, and a rather cheesy one at that. Sadly, female vocalist Mina Minomo fails to captivate listeners in the same way “The Summer Path Continues” with her mild-mannered and sometimes immature performance. She does considerably better on the faster-paced rock anthem “Wrist”, held up by some over-the-top electric guitar solos. However, the album may have been more satisfying if it solely focused on Fujita, a clearly more experienced vocalist.
A couple of instrumentals break up the release. Clearly inspired by Japan’s jazz fusion movement, “Highway Passing” combines edgy rhythms with exuberant semi-acoustic guitar solos by Yasushi Tanno. Though the track is a little thin on ideas in places, all the solos and improvisations make up for it. “Shadow of Silence” is a moodier track featuring some beautiful guitar tones; it’s another drifter, but has a solid place on the album regardless. The album closes with Shinji Orito’s bossa-nova arrangement of Air‘s popular theme song “Bird’s Poem”. It’s a major shift from the original, with its soft guitar-focused palette and bouncy vocal performance from Minomo. It’s nevertheless highly enjoyable for different reasons, just like a good cover should be.
This release has a lot of problems: dated cheesy stylings, a weak secondary vocalist, slightly laborous interludes, and little stylistic cohesion. Key’s sound team tend to offer the most memorable songs here, while the outsourced ones are terribly generic. The Air tie-in is pleasant, but not substantial enough to be worthwhile. This album is clearly targeted for fans of classic J-Rrock, not Key’s visual novels.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.