The 69 of 2014


by Leela McMullen, chi.yow, Aki, Amy, posted January 1, 2015



Stylizing his name as KNZ after departing AYABIE for activities like his solo project BVCCI HAYNES as well as his drumming in GREMLINS, drummer-turned-soloist Kenzo presents a new style for visual kei fans to process as he exhibits his own take on comfortable style of music. His second single release titled Squall presents yet a small but intriguing window into what KNZ has in store for the music world. There are four songs, each of which creates a vastly different atmosphere for listeners to appreciate.

Instead of a full-on title track, the jarringly short “Squall” serves more like a fast-paced and powerful intro into a promising single. The combination of KNZ’s slightly altered vocals, heavy guitars, and pounding drums doesn’t quite reach the two minute mark. It touches down, much like the high-energy thunderstorm of its namesake, in a hard and swift manner before sweeping away.

In the wake of that tumultuous opening, “Tsuioku no ao” is composed of a calming and melodic blend of warbled vocals colored by its digital effects and an application of acoustic guitar. It harbors an interesting style of expression with a touch of violins in the background that feels more like a regular rainstorm wandering through the sky at a leisurely and steady pace. While distorted by effects, KNZ’s vocals ring with a sincerity and grace that boldly contrasts with the previous track. “Here I am” tells yet another story, interestingly narrated mostly in English, much like “Squall.” This track is a unique exploration of modern communication, specifically the mobile phone epidemic. Once more, KNZ changes up the musical style to one that resembles Western progressive rock with steady guitar melodies and clearer vocals that are only digitized in the lines leading up to the chorus. A choir of children’s voices is also thrown into the mix, adding a layer of innocence to the controversial composition.

INORI ~Salvation~” closes the single on a somber note, once more restructuring the atmosphere with the use of female vocals singing an unknown language woven with high strings and steady drums. With a strong middle-eastern atmosphere, it’s a unique ending piece, bringing to mind the calm after the storm, both misty and mysterious.

In the new visual age, many veterans of the industry have started to experiment with different styles to break away from past impressions, fueled with a desire to create and to inspire. KNZ is certainly on his way to doing so with a unique approach firmly based in a Western style usually only brought to VK in the occasional B-side. This is a promising project and Squall is just one morsel of the 2014 spread, though a delectable one.

 Limited edition: 3 track CD + DVD (“Squall” music video)

Track list

  1. Squall
  2. Tsuioku no ao
  3. INORI ~Salvation~

 Regular edition: 4 track CD

Track list

  1. Squall
  2. Tsuioku no ao
  3. Here I Am
  4. INORI ~Salvation~

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!!/LeelaInTokyo

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

Aki is an adventurous soul and an artistic jack of all trades who has followed her heart and dreams to Japan. Here she has found a way to combine her deeply rooted love for rock and metal with her ever growing love for artistic expression. She has long since confessed to being a helpless music addict with a strong preference for Japanese visual rock and metal, and writing for Rokkyuu has become another way for her to share what she loves with the world.

Amy happened across Dir en grey on a used computer and became enamored by the aesthetics and androgyny of visual kei. Amy studied Japanese at university, including a year studying abroad in Tokyo. Interests include anime and manga, reading, learning languages, playing guitar, and holding on to the futile dream of one day meeting Johnny Depp. Amy hopes to bring the overseas fans closer to the bands they love by translating material related to them.

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