Jinkaku Radio - Gakubuchi

review - 12.05.2006 07:00

Review of the band's long awaited new single.

Gakubuchi (translation: picture frame) is Jinkaku Radio’s first single in little less than one year. It's been a long wait for this new release and while fans would've been happier to see a second album, at least it's something!

The cover is quite unexpected; instead of the dark, sometimes monochrome booklets fans have come to expect, it’s colorful and looks like a water color painting. The booklet informs that Naoki, the bassist, was involved with in the art work.

The single starts off with the title-track, Gakubuchi. This song starts with piano and acoustic guitar, the guitar halting for a moment and only the piano continues with vocalist Yuuki joining in and starting the first verse. His voice is colored with emotion and it floats through the song lamenting, albeit strongly. A few moments later, the guitar returns and together with Naoki’s bass and the drums, the calm, almost soothing verse builds up to the powerful chorus, followed by a guitar solo. The guitar solo is magnificent with fingers flying over strings at an amazing speed. There's a short interlude with the piano playing in much the same fashion as the guitar solo, quickly and elegantly. The song is ended with the same melody from the introduction, together with the strumming of a guitar.

Shiiku Hako follows. For this song, Jinkaku Radio decided to use the koto, a traditional Japanese instrument. The song starts with the koto and then the other instruments join in with the guitar playing a pointy, staccato riff. The whole song seems to consist of these sharp sounds and the koto, which sounded a bit blunt on its own, fits in perfectly.

The guitar is almost waltzing in the interludes and the playful bass joining it sounds just as melodic. If one pays close attention to the bass, you’ll find that it flutters everywhere, playing very melodic bass-lines instead of the boring one-tone bass you can find in so many rock songs. The guitar solo is somewhat close to the one in Gakubuchi; very quick and very skillfully played although this one is a bit rougher, thundering together with the pounding drums. Unfortunately, this will be the last time we’ll hear such a solo in their songs as the support guitarist, Rai, will leave Jinkaku Radio soon.

Gakubuchi was definitely worth the wait; it seems that their sound gets a bit more mature and deeper with every release. Hopefully Jinkaku Radio will release an album soon with more of these great songs!
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