Archive for November, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: Mika Nakashima – ‘Oborozukiyo ~ Inori’ (2004)

November 11, 2009
Picture temporarily removed…sorry 😦

Oborozukiyo~Inori (A Hazy Moonlight Evening ~ Prayer) is Mika Nakashima’s 2nd mini-album and 4th album overall. Released in September 2004, it peaked at #3 on the Oricon 200 Album Chart and sold 110,000 copies (10,000 more than its limited press of 100,000 copies).

The success of Mika’s first two proper albums (True and Love) was a highly unusual achievement anywhere in the music industry in that the debut (True) sold over a million, and its proper sequel (Love) sold better than it. Oborozukiyo~Inori plays as more of the follow-up to Love than to Resistance, but it more properly belongs in the “mini-album” category. The mini-album is a 7-track limited release that leans toward traditional Asian and Middle Eastern styles, and focuses on a moon theme.

The title track leads off the album with a gorgeous koto solo, and glides into a techno-laced waltz with a lavish violin solo by Taro Hakase, who produced the album. The whole song takes on a New Age mood while Mika gives a pristine vocal performance, taking care not to strain her notes. Meanwhile, Taro’s violin solos are shown with greatest prominence during the instrumental section, just as it did when he recorded the mega-hit “To Love You More” with Canadian ultra-star Céline Dion in 1995.

The next two songs, “Sara” and “Tsuki no Sabaku” (Desert Moon), further reach into Middle Eastern/Asian influences. “Sara” is more of a Middle Eastern dance track with the string section and the drums capturing the style and sensuality of Middle Eastern music. “Tsuki no Sabaku” is very long, but places great emphasis on the arrangement and the vocals.

True to its title, “Yuki no Hana (Silent Version)” is a rehash of one of Mika’s career-defining singles, using only the piano and Taro’s violin solos as backup. The original version is the best, but Taro and Mika prove that they should have collaborated on the original version to begin with. Meanwhile, “Oborozukiyo~Inori (Acoustic Mix)” blends a wonderful guitar solo with Taro’s violin solos to create an atmospheric tribute to the original song, but doesn’t top the original.

“Sara (Jazztronik Remix)” is somewhat uncalled for; it has a great jazz-dance groove but doesn’t quite cut it as a remix. The original version is fine enough. Finally, “Oborozukiyo~Inori” (Instrumental Version) is just that: an Instrumental Version of Track 1. It works well as background music, but who wouldn’t love to have the vocals?

Pros: Great arrangement and style selection; wonderful vocals; gorgeous violin solos.

Cons: This album would’ve been better off without Track 6.

Bottom Line: Superb work on this album. Check eBay for it because all versions are out of print!

Final Grade: A-.