Ayumi Hamasaki - Kanariya

review - 05.30.2009 17:45

Oldies are not always goodies as Kanariya proves.

Nearly a decade ago, Ayumi Hamasaki released the single Kanariya, one of her earliest works. With eleven versions of the song Kanariya and two new tracks, the CD looked to be promising.

The original mix of Kanariya is one of the last tracks on the CD, giving the listener opportunity to listen to ten remixed versions before hearing where it all began. However, all remixes aside, Kanariya proves that the original is always the best. A soft R&B track, the song begins with Ayumi and the background singers sighing before she goes into the first stanza. Each stanza is accented with a male background singer in English and a filter of sparkles which is sprinkled throughout the lines. Kanariya lacks a chorus and stays consistent instrumentally, making the end almost abrupt.

While it contains a consistent sound much like the original mix, the Kanariya vocal mix seems to be a great addition to the CD and really shakes up the release with its catchy electronic sound. The techno is well done, and Ayumi's vocals really add to the song. However, mid-song, the experimental flaws put an end to the enjoyability of this song quickly. From terribly muffled echoes that make Ayumi sound like she is singing across a giant canyon to stuttering and echoing her voice for an entire stanza, the latter half of the song is full of musical no-no's which destroy the atmosphere the first half of the song created. But, If one can look over these experimental flaws, the song can still be appreciated.

The Kanariya vocal track is even more soulful than the original mix. There are no instruments in this version, with Ayumi singing a capella and her background vocalists sighing behind her, serving as the music. Yet, without the instruments, the song is dull and greatly lacking.

The other nine versions of Kanariya range from techno, futuristic pop, industrial and even rock. The best of the nine is the fifth track, kanariya (Dub's Energy Mix), which is catchy, danceable and full of intense energy. One of the hardest to listen to is kanariya (SPAZM Mix). Between its background laser noises and random hard style mix, it is the noisiest and roughest of all the remixes and especially hard on the ears.

Two of us (HAL's MIX) is the first new song added to the release, and it is the sixth in line to be heard. It's a sexy R&B track with a smooth opening of piano and drums which speeds up in sound, jumping between speakers. Ayumi's voice is muffled and distant, giving the song a very unique sound. The keyboard continues to sound behind Ayumi, leaping between speakers; this can be distracting if focused upon, but adds to the overall sound. As the song continues, Ayumi's voice begins to get clearer and is perfect during the chorus. Additional interesting sound effects give the song a very mysterious feel.

from your letter (pandart sasanooha Mix) is track eight, and it would have been a nice change from the Kanariya remixes, except the song is mostly cacophonous noise. Wild drums and a whinnying horse in the background don't do much for a very squeaky Ayumi who sounds rather off key. Mid-song, there is an inserted speech interlude which does nothing to add to the overall song. At nearly six minutes, from your letter's unpolished sound will make you want to turn it off well before the end.

Out of ten years of releases, Kanariya is one that can be overlooked from Ayumi's discography. For fans of remixes, it is a great release - however, if you want substantial music with variety and professionalism, you should look elsewhere.
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