Remembering Daisuke: Shikkoku no Hikari Review

Review

by Leela McMullen, posted May 9, 2011

Sinful rain continues to fall; the drenching of the world has begun. Seeming lonely, seeming pained, you discard your umbrella. Greedy flames continue to burn, the world burnt down. Desolate, regretting, I stand amid the ashes. -"Gu No Shoumetsu," Shikkoku no Hikari

For those expecting an album so full of Daisuke that it feels like he’s still around, Shikkoku no Hikari will be a disappointment, but for those hoping for a fitting tribute and a little more of the beloved vocalist, it will be an irreplaceable addition to your CD collection. Daisuke’s vocals are featured on seven of the twelve tracks, three of which are brand new and on the eighth track, Daisuke returns to his drummer days. The album is composed entirely by the late vocalist and even the tracks performed by other artists are touching; Some of Daisuke’s closest friends including Tatsurou from MUCC, Gaara from MERRY and Kyou from DIR EN GREY lend their voices, along with Wataru from 12012, and Haru from Dog in the Parallel World Orchestra. The identities of several groups of Daisuke’s mysterious Black Hermits are revealed, countless guest musicians involved in the project prior to and after  Daisuke’s death. Members of his previous bands Kagerou and The Studs make an appearance, as well as other well known names from across the genre.

The dissonant tolling bells and squeaking gate in the opening track, “Shikkoku no Hikari,” conjure up the image of a graveyard. The connotations of death are blown away by the exciting guitar of “Iya,” (courtesy of Lynch.’s Reo,) reminding us that Daisuke won’t stand for any of that emotional crap. The subtle jolt of the hard, frantic number is all that’s needed to set the tone and launch the album perfectly. Then comes the first guest piece.

Sung by Wataru of 12012, “Greed” is disappointing. The vocalist is not particularly flawed, but his performance fails to live up to the standard expected of Daisuke and is a huge letdown as the introduction to guest vocals on the album. The clever guitar solo provided by Yu of MERRY is more promising and imaginative, and one can almost hear Daisuke in the strains of the chorus. “Pierce” is a far more successful with Ryo of Kannivalism who shadows Daisuke’s partially recorded vocals and turns the number into a duet. Once again, the song is well composed and all Daisuke from the abundant repetition to the flatter lines of the verse and the catchy chorus tune.

“Gu no shoumetsu.” No matter how many times I listen, this song only grows more beautiful. In fact, it remains one of the loveliest songs I’ve ever heard, equally demonstrating the gentler tones and the power of Daisuke’s voice. The lyrics are as fascinating as the melody, illustrating the story of a woman desolately throwing away an umbrella amidst a sinful downpour as a man watches on in frustration, swallowed up by the flames of greed and standing still amid the ashes. Just as he realizes how important she is to him, she disappears before his very eyes. As difficult as it is to convey the poetry of the Japanese lyrics, the sad story of love lost can be heard as clearly in the sweetly falling melody as in the words themselves.

“Chikadou ni Nagareru. Aru Hitori no Otoko “Hitsuu na sakebi” ni mo Nita Melody,” sung by Gara of MERRY sounds out of place on an album written by Daisuke. In fact, the song fits the replacement vocalist so well it could have been composed for him. The melancholy of the melody combined with Gara’s smooth, smoky voice places the listener in limbo, gypsy-like guitar by Yusuke, ex-12012. The sweeter ballad, “Hisou”, opens into Daisuke’s clear tones, enticing a powerful reaction anywhere from bittersweet tears to a deep, accepting breath. The gentle, hesitant verse opens into a beautiful chorus aided by harmony from Dog in the Parallel World Orchestra’s Haru and the skillful drumming of Tooru, also from 12012.

“Hounrou” was Daisuke’s first solo hit and remains a highlight of the album.The sudden key change from the previous song creates a clever distinction between the positive yet sadly reflective tones of the new song and the fun, catchy melody and guitar of the old favorite. The cute spirit of the number breathes life into the album in a way that no other track could match.

My personal favorite of the guest pieces, “Dokusaisha no Namida” is a song on the dark side, with an angry silver lining split in half with the intrusion of a cheerful little jazz piano solo. Not to be overlooked is the massive cast chanting “Heil” throughout awesome guitar riffs by Karyu of D’espairs Ray and Junjun of DOG in the Parallel World Orchestra. Tatsurou of MUCC vocalizes “Dokusaisha no Namida” in such a way that you can hear how much fun he had playing around with Daisuke’s vocal style. He snarls where Daisuke might snarl, allowing his voice to soar where Daisuke’s might soar. The detail extends from such Daisuke-specific vocal techniques right down to an amusing wheeze to bring off the finishing touch. The playfulness continues in “Sacher” in which the masochist in Daisuke begs to be tied up so tight he bruises, bleeds, and is bitten so hard the scars won’t fade. A final scream of raw rage is ruined by an obviously intentional cough that has simply got to make you grin.

DIR EN GREY’s Kyo once more does tribute to Daisuke in “Sousou,” the vast difference in his rasp and shriek still somehow invoking the Daisuke at the heart of the number. He sings, wails, and screeches the rhythmic repetitions of “on sunny days, rainy days, snowy days and stormy days, too” with absolute passion as if every word is dedicated to his old friend. The final track offers one last brand new taste of Daisuke and yet so much more. The recording was made with Yuana, Kazu and Shizumi of Kagerou and Aie of The Studs, bringing the album home as Daisuke returns to his roots, a touching finish with a relaxing verse. Unlike most albums, Shikkoku no Hikaru is topped off with a nice piece that holds meaning and yet is not a show stopper. The choice leaves behind a positive impression, ensuring that the listener won’t linger on the tragedy and loss inherent in the powerful pieces of the album.

Truly a tribute, Daisuke’s final works are well presented by some of his closest friends and peers, the pedigree of artists a testament to his impact on the visual kei world: an impact forever consolidated in Shikkoku no Hikari. Daisuke’s voice, message, and music live on.

Regular Edition (12 Track CD.)

Limited Edition (12 Track CD + DVD with two music videos.)

Track List

  1. Shikkoku no Hikari
  2. Iya – Vocal: Daisuke, Gt: Reo(lynch.,) Gt: Nakayama takashi, Ba: Kazu (ex-KAGEROU,) Dr Atsuhito.
  3. Greed – Vocal: Miyazaki Wataru (12012,) Gt: Yu (MERRY,) Ba: Kazu (ex-KAGEROU,) Dr: Sasabuchi Hiroshi (Cuccko.)
  4. Pierce – Vocal: Daisuke and Ryo (kannivalism,) Gt: Kei (kannivalism,) Ba: Shuse (TRICK, ex-La’cryma Christi,) Dr: Kawauchi Tooru (12012.)
  5. Gu no shoumetsu – Vocal: Daisuke, Gt: Nakayama Takashi, Gt: Sae , Ba: Bansaku (boogieman,) Dr: MANJ゛ (Sel’m.)
  6. Chikadou ni Nagareru. Aru Hitori no Otoko “Hitsuu na sakebi” ni mo Nita Melody – Vocal: Gara (MERRY,) Gt: Suga Yusuke (ex-12012,) Ba: kazu (ex-Kagerou,) Dr: Sasabuchi Hiroshi (Cuccko.)
  7. Hisou – Vocal: Daisuke, Gt: Fujimoto Taiji (TRICK, ex-d.p.s, ex-DTR,) Ba: Yuchi (kannivalism,) Dr: Kawauchi Tooru (12012,) Chorus: Haru (DOG In The Parallel World Orchestra.)
  8. Honrou – Vocal: Daisuke, Gt: Kenichi (MERRY,) Gt: Nakayama Takashi, Ba: Shu (girugamesh,) Dr: Kashiyama Kei (TRICK, ex-MOON CHILD.)
  9. Dokusaisha no Namida – Vocal: Tatsuro (MUCC,) Gt: Karyu (D’espairsRay,) Gt: Junjun (DOG In The Parallel World Orchestra,) Ba: Lay (ex-Fatima,) Dr: Daisuke.
  10. Sacher – Vocal: Daisuke, Gt: Tsubaki (Sel’m,) Gt: Nakayama Takashi, Ba: kazu (ex-KAGEROU,) Dr: Atsuhito.
  11. Sousou – Vocal: Kyo (DIR EN GREY,) Gt: Kenichi (MERRY,) Gt: Nakayama Takashi, Ba: kazu (ex-KAGEROU,) Dr: Atsuhito.
  12. Uso to Meiro – Vocal: Daisuke, Gt: Yuana (boogieman, ex-KAGEROU,) Gt: aie (the studs,) Ba: kazu (ex-KAGEROU,) Dr: Shizumi (ex-KAGEROU.)

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

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