January 1, 2006
Buy Used Copy
When most people hear the name Akira Yamaoka, the first thing that probably comes to their mind is Silent Hill. The staple behind the atmosphere and mood within the Silent Hill series, Yamaoka is probably most known for crafting tense and suspenseful soundtracks for the series. However, most people might not realize that he also has other talents in musical creation besides those heard most often. iFUTURELIST is a personal album full of music you wouldn’t normally expect from the man behind Silent Hill’s musical accomplishments.
The album opens with a speech in German proclaiming Akira Yamaoka as President of the iFuturelist party. I don’t really find it necessary, but I guess he’s just setting the mood.
The next two tracks, “LOVE ME DO” and “iFUTURELIST”, are two of my favorites on the entire album. While both focus on the incorporation of electronica and rock, they both take entirely different approaches with similar effects used in each. The steady rhythm of the guitar and percussion in “LOVE ME DO” really helps to set the tempo of the piece. Over top the accompanying rock, the focus in the melody line relies a lot on contrasting electronica sounds and effects, ranging from the use of vocoder to synth-warping effects. The female vocalist, riewo, has a voice that adds a bit of color to the mix, as if the composition wasn’t colorful enough. It’s a fantastic piece.
Interestingly enough, “LOVE ME DO” and “iFUTURELIST” are seamlessly integrated into one another. As one ends, the other picks off where it left off. “iFUTURELIST” has a very 80s feel to it. The composition is much more rock-oriented with the synth use less prominent and adding to the overall atmosphere of the piece. Following suit with other composers, such as Koji Hayama and Tenpei Sato, Yamaoka also enjoys singing on this album. Sure, in this song, it’s a little overdramatic, but I think that’s the point. It’s a very enjoyable piece of music and the synth solo at the end works quite well.
Continuing along with the album, “tant pis pour toi” is an interesting blend of French spoken word and electronica. It’s fairly straightforward and isn’t one of the standout pieces on the album, but it has its moments. Like the former two songs, this also integrates into the next song “INJECTION OF LOVE” seamlessly. This song is another one of my favorites. It has a very Eurobeat sound to it. The electronica focus is definitely quite appealing here, even if the vocalist Sanae Shintani isn’t the best in the bunch. There is just this overall catchy sound to the entire song. From the awesome use of electronica, especially in the solo, to the inclusion of some rather risqué spoken interludes, it’s definitely one that is energetic and, ultimately, tons of fun.
“Maria” is a piece that takes an extreme departure from the overall sound of this album. Arranged by Norihiko Hibino of Metal Gear Solid, the soft sounds of the piano and strings is a very nice contrast to the rock/electronica focus of the album as a whole. The vocalist, Sanae Shintani, surprises here as her performance is much better than in “INJECTION OF LOVE.” It adds another layer of beauty to the entire piece. Hibino also arranges, at least in part, another song on the album. In “bitmania,” he is responsible for the string sections of this piece. While the introduction is quite slow to start, comprising of morse code-like sound effects and whisps of wind blowing, once the meat of the song gets going, it’s a much more interesting experience. It’s another electronica-focused piece with the inclusion of vocoder and piano over an infectious beat. However, the string work is something that just adds another dynamic to the entire piece. Mostly pizzicato work, it works well with the piano and electronica tones present throughout the song. It’s another decent song with a bit of jazz influences as well.
Unfortunately, there are also some songs on here that I don’t enjoy. These belong to “Lion Friend” and “Lion Lover.” These two also feature the integration present in a lot of the songs on the album. “Lion Friend” is fairly repetitive fairly quickly. The techno beat with the gibberish from the male vocals, try to create an urban feel, but it ends up falling short of anything enjoyable. “Lion Lover” is a bit better, but at the same time, it’s another one that just seems to meander along. The vocals, done by Yamaoka, improve the song for the better, but the beat is fairly linear and, although there are some nice instrumental inclusions, such as brass, it fails in captivating me. It might impress others though.
Lastly, I’ll end with one of the bonus tracks, “Showa-era Corporate Warrior Section Chief Arayama LOLITA ON BREAKS MIX.” This is another one of my favorites on the soundtrack. The electronica beats are varied throughout the song and it makes for a wonderfully refreshing experience, as this song is seven minutes long. Perhaps the most magical experience, to me, is the vocals. Quirky and fun, they just seem to add so much energy to the mix. Heck, parts of it remind me a lot of Koji Hayama. Overall, this is a very energetic piece of music and shouldn’t be missed. Although the vocals may annoy some people, the music behind them is much more engaging.
Personally, this is my favorite Yamaoka work. As I’m not the biggest fan of ambient music, it comes to no surprise that I would enjoy this soundtrack more than his Silent Hill works. Full of energy, with the occasional laid back piece, it’s an exhilarating experience. Sure, it has the occasional bad piece, but for the most part, it’s very good. I recommend it for any fan of Yamaoka or fan of electronica.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.