{album} Rurutia – R°

April 6, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Music, Rurutia | Leave a comment

rurutia - r
Rurutia – R°
ルルティア – アール

(released March 6th, 2002)

1. エレメンツ [Elements]
2. 知恵の実 [Chie no Mi]
3. 愛し子よ [Itoshigo yo]
4. ロスト バタフライ [Lost Butterfly]
5. 赤いろうそく [Akai Rousoku]
6. 雨の果て [Ame no Hate]
7. 僕の宇宙 君の海 [Boku no Uchuu, Kimi no Umi]
8. 僕らの箱庭 [Bokura no Hakoniwa]
9. 銀の炎 [Gin no Honoo]
10. ハートダンス [Heart Dance]

Rurutia’s 1st album. This album contains the singles Itoshigo yo and Lost Butterfly. R° utilizes a nicely balanced blend of acoustic-pop sound and electronic influences. Floating above it all is Rurutia’s mesmerizing, wispy, siren-like voice.

*some songs have already been reviewed, and are linked to their reviews

Elements is a longer version of Elements (Lode Star Melody) (which is found on the Lost Butterfly single) and has lyrics. I mentioned previously that the LSM version sounded a bit like a tribal forest ritual. This version further solidifies that image in my mind because of the wild, meandering melody and the repeated percussion (it now reminds me of a tribal rain dance). Rurutia’s own backing vocals are used more often than the choir vocals, which I liked. This version is much more stronger than the LSM one.

*Chie no Mi seems like an appropriate Track 2 after the strong album-opener. It’s markedly calmer and more “tamed” but does not lose the raw energy of Elements.

*Itoshigo yo – I don’t know how fond I am of sticking this song right here. Chie no Mi was Itoshigo yo’s B-side, and I’ve already heard them in close conjunction many times on the single.

*Lost Butterfly – it might seem awkward to pile the two singles’ title tracks together, but I like it this way, since it shows the contrasting styles and moods used in the two songs.

Akai Rousoku is what I’d call an “atmospheric” song. Instead of having the vocals as the focus, they blend with the background music in a way that allows you to “sink into” the song. The melody reminds me a bit of Bokura no Hakoniwa, but composition-wise Akai Rousoku sounds gentler and less bare. This track would make a perfect lullaby; I’m not saying that it’ll bore you, but the song’s mixing creates a soft, entrancing atmosphere that will wash over you and calm you down. Rurutia even sounds like she’s trying to sing you to sleep.

Ame no Hate is what you get when you mix Itoshigo yo, Chie no Mi, and a rainy day together. I really love Rurutia’s lower register; though nowhere near the sinister Itoshigo yo, the verses have this dark tone that sends a shiver down my spine (not from being scared, though). She uses her edgy voice during the chorus but it doesn’t stick out too much and still flows smoothly. The instrumentals are what give the song the “rainy day” image (the percussion reminds me of falling rain). Plus, the lyrics are about two lovers in the rain.

Boku no Uchuu, Kimi no Umi is a calm, minimalist song. The vocals are light and plain compared to all the other songs on the album, and the accompaniment is just piano enhanced by an electronic background, with sparse percussion. Even Rurutia’s backing vocals aren’t present that much and when they are, there’s just a simple “oooh” instead of the harmonies she usually does. The melody has no peak, even during the chorus – it just floats serenely throughout the song. The image this track conjures up is a feather drifting slowly in the sky.

*Bokura no Hakoniwa – here’s Lost Butterfly’s B-side. It was probably put right here as a transition song, since is has similar accompaniment as the previous track but with more energy and emotion.

Gin no Honoo makes use of Rurutia’s cuter, more playful side – which isn’t surprising, since the lyrics tell of a woman coaxing her lover to come closer. The melody dances back and forth lightly, flickering like the title, which means “silver flame.” You also get to hear her use her head voice more in this song. The accompaniment is a strange but beautiful mixture – I can’t discern all the instruments used. The acoustic guitar and percussion dominate, but I’m pretty sure I heard a harp somewhere. The best part is the music box as it gives this song its sparkling sound.

Heart Dance sounds more or less the same as its Heart Voice counterpart on the Itoshigo yo single, albeit a little faster-moving once the lyrics are added in. The length didn’t change much, though. Although it’s fitting to have this song play the epilogue role it did on the single, I had hoped that the Heart Voice version would end up on this album as an interlude; Rurutia’s vocalizing would make perfect material for one. Still, the opener and closer idea (i.e., Elements & Heart Dance) is great, and I hope she uses it in future albums.

Final Thoughts: While R° did not blow me away, it was a very solid debut album and shows that Rurutia can put out quality album-originals, unlike a lot of other singers (I won’t mention names). She’s got the voice, she can compose, and she’s a brilliant lyricist. I say it’s still too early for her to really get noticed in the J-Pop world, but that’s okay – her appeal lies in her non-mainstream style.

Favorite Track(s): I still think that the singles’ lead tracks are the strongest musically, but from the new album tracks, I would pick Akai Rousoku and Gin no Honoo.

Overall Grade: B+

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