Around the Nation - regeneration
A rare glimpse at IBUKI’s non-metallic side.
Whichever way you first heard singer-songwriter IBUKI’s voice, be it with Disqualia or one of her many guest appearances, it was almost definitely in a metal context. Despite only coming to the genre when she was recruited by CROSS VEIN, her discography consists of little else. Thus far, the only exception has been Around the Nation.
IBUKI started the band in 2012, and it was the first project where she exerted full creative control. Originally a quartet featuring her old CROSS VEIN colleague (and future Octaviagrace bassist) youske and ex-21g drummer Act., guitarist Shinji Hori was the only constant member besides IBUKI.
As for the name, it would appear Around the Nation was partly chosen because it could be abbreviated to “Athena”. For proof, look no further than the self-portrait of IBUKI dressed as the Greek goddess in the booklet of their debut album regeneration. The album in question was released in June 2014.
regeneration begins with the aptly-titled ~the beginning~, a glossy synthesized overture that leads straight into Rising!. This song opens with a hearty roar from IBUKI, promptly followed by a barrage of swirling synths. This combo has since become a hallmark of her solo output to such an extent, she could re-release this track under her own name tomorrow without changing a thing.
The same brand of high-energy synth-rock crops up twice more: halfway through with I am You and on the closing track ExBrave (not to be confused with ExMyself). Meanwhile, the gaps in between are filled by an amalgam of songs, ranging from the ho-hum ballad scar to dreams come true, a peppy pop-rock number IBUKI wrote aged fourteen.
One song in particular, namely Liar Dance, stands out in the singer’s discography almost as starkly as Moulin Rouge does in KAMIJO’s. Kicking off with IBUKI’s breathy impersonation of a sultry lounge singer, this jazzy detour benefits hugely from Act.’s live drumming and a cameo by ex-Octaviagrace keyboardist (and IBUKI's future NATSUMETAL bandmate) Reanne on piano.
Speaking of Octaviagrace, it won’t shock fans of that band to learn youske’s bass is often as audible as Shinji’s Stratocaster. In the moments they aren’t both being drowned by synths, at any rate. Around the Nation’s decidedly non-metallic identity is further underlined by the subdued nature of Shinji’s solos.
In case you hadn’t guessed, regeneration was a one-and-done for Around the Nation. Between a runaway rhythm section - youske and Act. had both left by the time of the album’s release – and IBUKI’s other commitments, including a support gig with DESTROSE which ultimately gave rise to Disqualia, nothing more was heard from the project. Shinji would later feature on IBUKI’s 2018 solo album ExMyself.
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