Prism (Regular Edition)
Prism (Regular Edition)
Columbia Music Entertainment
April 8, 2009
Buy at CDJapan
Prism is Hoshino Kanako’s second album (first album on a major label), compiling extended versions and remixes of a number of her songs from various Bemani games alongside a couple of new tracks. Much of the album is made up of electronic J-Pop, with compositions from various Bemani artists. Although she is one of Bemani’s better regular vocalists, the compositions and arrangements for her songs tend to vary in quality, and this album is no different in that regard.
The album opens with a J-Pop song, “Ningyou”, which was later added to jubeat plus. The track starts with some bright and agreeable instrumentation like an acoustic guitar, shakers, and a bit of synth. It’s pleasant enough as it gets going, but it’s pretty generic fare as far as light J-Pop goes. It might have been helped by a catchy hook, but neither the verses nor the chorus particularly impress, so the track just feels like fluff (with some awkward key changes). Following are the similar “Hey! Boys & Girls” and “never…” (the former also a new track later added to jubeat plus). These tracks have have the detriment of Kanako’s awkward and overly nasal English pronunciation all throughout, which hamper any entertainment they would have provided. Even looking past that, the arrangements aren’t anything special either, and “never…” is actually less interesting (though a bit cleaner) than it’s original IIDX 14 GOLD counterpart, having better synths but losing dj TAKA’s prominent piano lines. The only strong bright J-Pop track comes later in the form of “MAX LOVE”, which is more upbeat and reasonably catchy. Kanako walks a fine line between overly cute and a proper singing tone, and while the synths have also received a makeover from the original, the only real change I have a problem with is a changing up of the instrumental bridge, which is minor. It’s a fun track, and the album would have benefitted from one or two more like it in place of the lacklustre opening three songs.
The more serious sounding but still synth-heavy tracks include “Mahoroba”, which adds some older oriental influences into its dance front. The chorus melody isn’t too strong, but the arrangement is interesting enough to make up for it, and the extension of the song works just fine. Then there is the Euro influenced “TAIYO”, but this arrangement is identical to the one found on Kanako’s first album, EIGHT ELEMENTS OF THE STAR (which is quite solid). The new track by Yasuhiro Abe “Hachigatsu no Kaze” has an upbeat chorus with some more rock thrown in, contrasting with a greatly reduced pace for the verses. This sort of contrast can work for some songs, but it didn’t seem to work too well for this song, and the transitions were awkward. Better is the fast-paced “Hoshi wo kono te ni”, which isn’t changed up too much from its original. Although Yoshitaka Nishimura’s composition and arrangement is quite good here with a strong drive, I wish the song was perhaps pitched a bit higher so that Kanako’s voice would be pushed a bit more at the chorus. As it is, her delivery seems too easy for her and lacks energy. Still, this set of tracks is overall solid and enjoyable.
There are also a couple of ballads included on the album. The new track “Aitakute” by Nana Takahashi starts off with just piano before bringing some other light power-ballad instruments. The instrumentation does sound a bit cheap (particularly with the piano and strings), but the track has a decent composition and the deliberate pace works well for it. I also would have liked to see this track pitched up a bit to force Kanako’s delivery a bit more, but it’s decent as it is. The cheap sound unfortunately continues in “Gekkou (Acoustic Ver)” which only features the empty-sounding piano and strings, and the piano almost only ever does pulses of block chords throughout. It would have been nice to see more influence from Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” worked in as with the Euro original, and that oversight seems like some wasted potential. The track otherwise works as a ballad, with Kanako recording new vocals for the occasion, but a better quality accompaniment and arrangement could have made it so much stronger.
The highlights of the album for me are easily the final two songs. “SPARK!” finally gets a proper long version after a few remixes on other albums, and while it doesn’t add much new to the track other than another verse, it was already such a fun and catchy song that it didn’t need much else. It stands out stylistically from the rest of the tracks, feeling refreshing and more natural for Kanako’s voice than many of the other songs. The closer “STARPOP” is a fairly long new track composed by nKm. It starts off intriguingly with a beat, light tinkling, and a few sound effects. As the track builds it brings in more straightforward pop elements, but it never loses that intriguing atmosphere. While keeping the arrangement relatively sparse, the track becomes a bright and positive song with some strong melodies and a great pace. It’s a fine closer for the album, and it almost makes up for everything that came before it.
Prism is overall a mediocre experience, even for fans of Kanako’s Bemani work. The full versions of existing tracks are alright, mostly just adding another verse and bridge with some clean-up of the arrangement, but they aren’t anything special as far as the genre goes. The new tracks are mostly also generic and unimpressive, showing that the big label shift did little for the creative aspect of the album. Only a few tracks have any lasting appeal, but even those alone are hard to justify the cost of the album. Fans may find a bit more in the limited edition with a second disc of remixes, but this standalone should probably be skipped unless you already have a strong affinity for the tracks.
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Posted on August 4, 2015 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on August 8, 2015.