August 12, 2019
Buy at Sweep Record
Like many of Hiroto Saitoh’s original albums, TUNED SCAPE features a mix of instrumental tunes of varying styles and more vocaloid heavy tunes using the vocaloid program Miku Hatsune. How does his most recent album turn out?
The album opens up with “Monochrome rain”, a jazzy tune that blends piano with atmospheric synth that complements the emotional weight of the piano. The synth utilized is dreamy and as the piece progresses and it becomes more upbeat in nature, the bouncy piano, strings, and electronic elements make for an engaging listen that, at times, is reminiscent of some of Masashi Hamauzu’s work. One of my favorite pieces on the album is “Equation & emotion,” again blending piano and electronica, although a bit more intense and on the trance side of things with some gritty electronic textures as well. Miku Hatsune vocals add an ethereal element to the piece and the progression, as well as melody, are ace. “Time is past” is another interesting tune full of glitchy drum work, jazzy piano, and warm bell-like synthesizer. There is also a great retro vibe in the bass line and in the overall tune as it progresses into a more drum n’ bass influence. Elements of the piece also have an old school R&B sound, resulting in a smooth tune and the saxophone helps cement some of the jazzier elements. Icy synth and more glitchy drum work are present in “Freezing imagination,” as well as some more Miku Hatsune vocals, mostly used as a more textural element rather than lyrical content. The end result truly gives off a feeling of an icy landscape with a beautiful piano melody that strengthens the more ethereal aspects of the piece.
“Sweet bounce” is a bubbly synth tune that incorporates some jazzy piano as well. The melody is fun, the rhythm is engaging, and the tempo shifts and retro chiptune elements make for a great progression throughout the tune. The titular piece, “Tuned scape” also blends piano, jazz, some light drum n’ bass elements, and 8-bit sounds, adding a retro feel, that complements the more organic elements of the piece. The ethereal synthesizer in the piece in the accompaniment provides a beautiful support. The end result is outstanding and engaging and captures the various elements heard throughout the album extremely well. More rooted in traditional instrumentation is “Moments of Groove (2005),” a piece that blends piano, plucked bass, flute, brass, and saxophone alongside drums makes for a tune with a great melody and a distinctly jazz vibe. Lastly, “Underground highway” has a warmth to it, thanks to the keyboard usage that contrasts nicely with the colder, electronic elements, such as the glitch effects or the more underground techno influence, reminiscent, at times of Prodigy. It’s a super interesting tune to close the album and manages to succeed at creating an engaging listen.
Hiroto Saitoh’s TUNED SCAPE is a highly successful album that blends jazz and electronic music to great effect. Unlike other solo albums, this one doesn’t rely as heavily on Miku Hatsune and her usage, mostly for a more textural element to the music, makes for a less polarizing listen. Fans of Hiroto Saitoh’s works will certainly find something to enjoy with this release.
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Posted on January 31, 2020 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 31, 2020.