FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
SuperSweep has published a lot of crazy electronic releases, but this one decided to make a slight change. First off, this album wasn't touched by the SuperSweep team in composition at all. Second, it loses the electronic sound and replaces it with a jazzy theme. Some great people step up to compose this one as well. Under the direction of Hiroshi Okubo, several talented Namco employees such as Junichi Nakatsuru, Ryuichi Takada, and Keiki Kobayashi take the stand, having worked on such things as the Soul Caliber series and the other NanoSweep albums. How well does this change of pace live up to the expectations this line of works has set forth? You'll just have to read on and find out!
We start off with a lounge jazz piece by Nakatsuru. There really only is one word to describe this piece, and that is "cool". He manages to pull off a very smooth track here by fusing synth with heavy bass and a hopping percussive line. His other contribution here is quite different. It is the definition of smooth jazz, to the point it could have easily been composed by Kenny G. "Starry Night" is by far my favorite composition on here. The mix of the beautiful saxophone melody with the strong bass harmony and piano will almost bring you to tears. This was meant to be a love song I believe, and If it was, it works flawlessly.
Keiki Kobayashi takes the fusion jazz approach with both of his tracks. "CHEERS!" has a prominent funky sound to it, not unlike something heard from Japanese jazz legend Keiko Matsui. This is enhanced by the stunning saxophone work and jazzy piano in the second half of the piece. "Limit on Grip" took a very similar approach. This time however, the track focuses more on the bass guitar and synth electric piano. It is a bit more repetitive than his other addition, but that is really the only flaw I can find. Both pieces present outstanding sound quality and a marksmanship that places Kobayashi in his already well earned top spot in the world of jazz and electronic music.
I had a very hard time making the decision to not name this next track as my favorite on the album. Ryuichi Takada takes a totally different approach with "500 miles far from embarrassing". The track begins with some electronic sounds, which give way to a very airy lead-in to the shocker section of the entire album. Somehow, Takada incorporates an invigorating violin melody that seems to float right on top of the smooth percussion. A piano takes over the melody for the entire midsection, leading us back to a much more epic revision of the violin melody to close the piece.
"Quantum Notes" has a nice way of tricking you into thinking Takada is incorporating the style of the rest of the album. While that is somewhat true, he creates the most unique take on jazz presented in this collection. An acoustic guitar carries the majority of the track, while the piano gets most of the spotlight. This track is much calmer and "cooler" than the other additions, and I really think it helps in breaking the standard we have seen so far. Ryuichi Takada may not have presented my favorite track on here, but he takes the cake for the best overall contributor.
My opinion of jazz is really somewhat weak. I have a hard time taking in the overabundance of string bass and saxophone that are synonymous with typical jazz. That is not the case here at all. This trio of composers has totally converted me into a follower of the genre. Bringing these guys together was a wonderful idea, and their styles work flawlessly when integrated together. I know smooth jzz is somewhat of a clichéd genre, but given the chance I think you will find each contributor did the best they could to bring something different to the table. For that, this album will receive the highest praise I can give it without deeming it perfection.
1. Midnight Circle / music: Junichi Nakatsuru
2. CHEERS! / music: Keiki Kobayashi
3. 500 miles far from embarrassing / music: Ryuichi Takada
4. quantum notes / music: Ryuichi Takada
5. LIMIT ON GRIP / music: Keiki Kobayashi flute: Midori Kobayashi
6. Starry Night / music: Junichi Nakatsuru
Producer / Hiroshi Okubo (nanosounds)
mastering Engineer / Junichi Nakatsuru
Design / Kazutoki Kono (CULT CLUT)
500 miles far from embarrassing
LIMIT ON GRIP