Hito oto is Hotaru’s first - and also last - mini-album. Released in June 2004, it is one of the last CDs that came out before the quartet's disbandment in November of the same year.
The mini-album seems to be a small compilation, seeing as out of the total of six songs, there are only two new ones, and the other four are previously released songs. However, the four older songs have all been re-arranged and recorded unplugged.
Starting off with Takaramono, which used to be an upbeat rock song, it immediately becomes clear that the songs have been reworked a lot. The song features some humming synthesized sounds, an acoustic guitar and of course, vocalist Shinichiro. Although it’s definitely a great re-make, it’s a tad slower than the original track and because of that, it seems to fail to hold one’s attention for long.
Norainu no Uta is a little richer instrument-wise. With acoustic guitar plucking, a deep bass at the background and acoustic percussion, the song seems to be much more intense than the original, even though it’s also slower. Shinichiro’s voice sounds threatening and sometimes a little desperate, and it’s hard to believe that this serious sound comes from the easy-going man who is often seen roaring with laughter in the band’s videos. Overall, the song has a great atmosphere: melancholic, intense and incredibly emotional.
One of the band’s first released songs, Miren, is up next. The moderately-paced song itself seems to be very suitable for an acoustic version and has a very melancholic atmosphere as well. The drums take on an even more prominent spot in the song this time; a snare drum is played with brushes and sometimes a little cymbal is added. Also, the synthesizer is back again, this time producing the sound of strings, which play throughout the song.
The final unplugged remake is Shinitagari to Sora, which is a complete 180 degree turn from the original. Whereas the normal version is an angry, frustrated sounding upbeat rock song with some great guitar riffs, the unplugged version is incredibly jazzy with a piano playing a groovy rhythm and a jazz guitar strumming rhythmically. It seems to be a surprising take on the original, but it works out excellently. Hotaru not only does a great job with creating an unplugged version of this song, they also show their ability to transform into a jazz quartet with ease.
Tsumiki is the first original song of the mini-album, and it also has a bit of an acoustic vibe because of the instruments used. The song is very atmospheric, which is caused by the differences in the dynamics and occasionally features parts where it’s just Shinichiro singing with only a little acoustic guitar and the sound of fingers moving over the strings. Also responsible for the atmosphere are the electronic touches: synthesized strings and other small sounds are added throughout the song. Despite the acoustic vibe, it’s full of tension and simply a great song.
The last song, Hello!, is completely different from Tsumiki and seems like an unplugged recording as well. It has a bit of a 'campfire' feeling to it as it’s mostly just Shinichiro singing with an acoustic guitar accompanying him, strumming very quickly. The chorus is uncomplicated and very merry, simply "haro, haro, haro." The title of the song seems a little out of place though, being that the song is a 'goodbye' rather than a 'hello' for Hotaru.
Overall, Hito oto has four really great remakes which show what the band is worth without loud noises and effects. They are just as enjoyable to listen to as their original versions. From the new songs, it seems a pity Tsumiki was only released on this mini-album and not as a single on it’s own. Overall, the mini-album is definitely a must-listen for both long time fans and curious people that have never listened to the band before.
It’s definitely a pity that Hotaru disbanded, but currently both Shinichiro and guitarist Ryota can be found in the band Jully, which has a number of points in common with Hotaru.
Hotaru - Hito oto
review - 07.15.2008 08:00
Four unplugged remakes + two new songs = a small Hotaru best-of.