review - 04.23.2008 08:00

miyavi finally defines exactly what Japanese Kabuki Rock is.

The eagerly anticipated album by miyavi is titled THIS IZ THE JAPANESE KABUKI ROCK. The title discloses the exact identity of the release. A manifesto of his new musical direction, the album answers the questions that have been forming since the release of Sakihokoru Hana no Yo ni / Kabuki BOIZ in the best possible way.

Traditional Japanese instruments and the trademark MYV giggles start the album off. JPN Pride, the first track, sets the lively pace right off the bat. The song is a textbook example of Japanese Kabuki rock, with traditional Japanese instruments blending in with the funky electronic sound of the KAVKI BOIZ. The real surprise however, is the elaborate roughness of miyavi's voice, which produces results that have never been displayed before. The short, rap flavored main melody and the charming chanting at the opening and ending makes it a track that one cannot possibly ignore.

On to 21st Century Tokyo Blues, where the beat gets considerably muted. The guitar has an opportunity to shine alongside the voices of Tyko and miyavi. This strange but lovely mixture of rock and blues is enchanting, and the moment the song is over Kavki Boiz kicks in to bring things back up to speed. Simply amusing, it flows in a powerful nonstop fashion, with softer and stronger beats weaving together with the attractive melodies. And though not the grandest display of miyavi's guitar and vocal skills, this song would be great at any dance club.

Following is Boom-Hah-Boom-Hah-Hah. Sadly, energy is all that it has to offer. Best case scenario, you will just drift away and stop paying attention to the annoying fluctuations of the pitch, but at more than four minutes of randomly placed giggles, "boom-hahas" and unrelenting scratching, the average human would probably skip this track.

To those who made it through Boom-Hah-Boom-Hah-Hah, the reward is Memories Of BUSHIDO. A short but bold instrumental with a foreboding atmosphere, it almost serves as an intro to NOW HEREGOD. In this song, the pure Japanese feeling of the short instrumental gets severely westernized, but a meaningful, perhaps mystical connection remains. NOW HEREGOD is one of the brighter moments of the high-standard album with the extra glamour of a guitar solo at the end.

Up next is another previously released single, Hi no Hikari Sae Todokanai Kono Basho de feat. SUGIZO. A very melodic and rich track, it shows off both miyavi's and SUGIZO's impressive guitar skills. Featuring miyavi's new sound and reminiscent of his old one, it forms a bridge between his past and future, and perhaps even acts as a tribute to his dark rock past. The nostalgia gets even stronger with the first strains of Sakihokoru Hana no Yo ni -Neo Visualism-. However, the song takes off in a roller coaster ride of blissful energy. The beat builds up powerfully, and the melodies are instantly endearing, justifying the strong impressions this song created when it was released as a single.

Undeniably entertaining is Subarashiki ka na, kono sekai - WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD -. It storms in with distinctive guitar lines and a very intense vocal performance from the artist. It makes for such an enjoyable song that even the tap dancing sections are appealing. Just before the end, we are treated to Tsurezure naru hibi naredo, a ballad. Free from any KAVKI BOIZ influence, it really shows miyavi's maturity. The patterns of the rhythm build up and then fade while your attention doesn't. The honeyed vocals invoke images of a slow summer evening by the sandy seaside. Indeed, it is a great way to wind down and still keep the interest alive.

The album closes with an adorable little acoustic song. The need to sigh, even if just a little, is compelled by the raw emotion behind the simple words and the modest guitar melody. With the last breathy notes of Thanx Givin' Day, the journey through the new world of miyavi's creation is regretfully over, but only until the next time you push the play button.

The lucky ones that ordered the limited edition should be thrilled with the lengthy video clips and the new version of Hi no Hikari Sae Todokanai Kono Basho de feat. SUGIZO -Guitar Battle Mix-.

THIS IZ THE JAPANESE KABUKI ROCK is quite possibly one of the finest releases of miyavi to date. It goes far beyond just a couple of catchy songs and is a solid, powerful release. The concept is thoroughly thought out, and the presentation is simply stunning.
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