Shikata Akiko - Byakuya no mayu ~Ricordando il passato~

review - 12.09.2011 10:01

A stunning female singer with an impressive vocal range offers a new selection of work in her latest maxi-single.

With a stunning soprano range, Shikata Akiko sings largely in Italian, with some works in Japanese and could be compared to new-age artist Enya. Shikata is a member of and releases her work through the doujin circle VAGRANCY. Additionally, she has contributed vocals to several insert songs to anime and game soundtracks. June 8, 2011 saw Shikata’s release to tie in with 07th Expansion’s popular game "Umineko naku koro ni". The five songs included on the maxi-single fuse epic orchestral strings, violin and piercing soprano vocals with light Celtic themes.

Right from the beginning, the listener can imagine almost anything as soon as they close their eyes. In Pitalacta ~Hizuki no mai~, it's an image of anthropomorphic creatures dancing in crowds at dusk, just as the nightlife appears.

The following track eases back on the intense, soprano vocals heard in the opening track. After a short intro in Pantalea, there is a dramatic key change which forces listeners to pay attention. The song, with such key changes, seems fragile and easily broken.

Gensou rin rubs an oriental-turned-Celtic feeling into the listener. The track however is an overwhelming mix of everything: the vocals are everywhere, which makes the song simply stunning. The extra alto voice sounds like it's trapped under a sound barrier, and from there, the song largely focuses on the uplifting vocals with minimal background instruments. Towards the end of the track, the intense vocals cool down, as if nothing happened.

Dare ga tame no sekai is rather dramatic and matches with Kalafina’s realm of work, without their iconic mature vocals. Whether on purpose or accidental, Shikata’s vocals sound brighter. Dare ga tame no sekai is sung in Japanese as opposed to Italian, which might add some variety to the maxi-single.

The final track, Byakuya no mayu ~Ricordando il passato~, is undoubtedly beautiful. Sung in Italian, the song evokes an image of a mystical world, just before dawn. A feeling of cold turning into warmth lingers and listeners can find themselves pacing through stalks of grass that open to a vast field. As Shikata’s soprano voice soars effortlessly between high notes, she gradually builds up to the chorus. It feels like the listener is prancing lightly over the grass and running towards the crest of a hill. With a slam of violin and cymbal in the background, the person reaches the crest and stops to look. The opening notes of the chorus are like the first hint of the sun hitting them at the crest of the hill. As the name suggests, the brightness of the chorus is like the opening of a cocoon.

Byakuya no mayu ~Ricordando il passato~ has been used as an insert song for 07th Expansion’s "Umineko naku koro ni" Episode 8.

The sincerity and delicateness throughout the tracks on Byakuya no mayu ~Ricordando il passato~ will affect listeners deeply and is a beautiful way to end the maxi-single. While Shikata could be compared to Enya, mixed with a rather mature Charlotte Church, when singing soprano, her work takes these similarities and goes the extra mile.
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