May 20, 2011
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One of Masashi Hamauzu’s most interest projects after going freelance was Imeruat. A collaboration with vocalist Mina, the group explores Ainu culture while incorporating contemporary stylings. The group debuted with live concerts in Krakow and Paris during 2011. At the event, the band also released the single Imeruat, featuring three tracks that define their unique sound. It has since been released digitally worldwide.
“Imeruat” is a worthy debut track to define the group’s sound. The opening with the strings is simply enchanting. The piano and guitar just give me goose bumps as the violin soars over them. The vocal work is solid and although I did not know it was in English, it is quite magical. Imeruat means “flash of light” or in essence it means “lightning” in Ainu. The whole piece sounds organic like it could be set to the Gapra Whitewood in Final Fantasy XIII. Compositionally, there is a lot going on in this one: eighth notes in the guitar, fluttering in the piano, as well as some standard Hamauzu chords, busy percussion, the enchanting tonkori, soaring strings, and a deep resonant bass line. It is busy, but it isn’t too busy.
“Cirotto” goes for trademark Hamauzu. This composition incorporates various acoustic instruments such as piano, violin, cello, and an Ainu plucked instrument (similar to the koto) known as the tonkori. The piano starts the piece in a blur of lush chords going from dissonant to consonant. Hazy is what comes to mind when I hear this. It is so relaxing and contemplative. The violin and cello enter with a droning passage which further adds to the dream-like effect as the visions in my head start to clear. The next section is the best couple minutes due to the fact that the violin and cello exchange the melody between them. Combine this with Mina’s beautiful vocals and this song is simply sublime.
Featuring piano and flute along with some interesting sound effects, “Haru no Kasumi” inspires imagery of rainy morning. Once again perfectly emulating the instruments, Mina’s voice is soft and represents spring rains. I am blown away at how she can sing in so many styles and to achieve the effect of rain through her voice is outstanding! This song may sound repetitive, but when you listen deeper and take in the sound effects you will find enough to not be bored.
With Imeruat, Hamauzu has upped the ante from his past achievements and has provided some melodic, evocative, and harmonically lush music. I am quite impressed by how Mina’s voice and versatility too. But while Imeruat is a fine debut single, it has been superseded by the full album Black Ocean, featuring remastered versions of these tracks and ten others. The full release comes highly recommended.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Josh Barron. Last modified on August 1, 2012.