Mami Kawada – Linkage – 4/5
I mentioned already that I found it rather odd that whilst the new “Accept” release is still shelved, the moment I found this release I had it spinning and its been that way for a while now, but there we have it. One of the infamous “I've Sound” artists; it was her last release “SAVIA” that was met with rave reviews despite having only a few tracks that truly stood out from the crowd, and it would seem that this is thus far her follow up is not faring so well. I do wonder if the quite unexpected cover image is partly to blame, the duo of artists responsible for song writing duties notably choosing older and more experienced vocalists who perhaps aren't exactly known for being the prettiest starlets to choose from, but more capable. Now admittedly, they have definitely they have definitely caught her good side (compared to here:) but nonetheless it still feels somewhat out of place and a cheap 'sex sells' gimmick to try to boost sales.
It probably isn't helped too much by the fact that ultimately this release feels quite different from the last; her vocals are still present and as delicate as before, the use of vocoder kept untastefully high so as to create that addictive perfume-like pitch-perfect melody which will make many loath its processed and electronic tone. There's little to say about any emotion running through her delivery, but that is nothing unexpected given that the intention is far more intent on the melodies. Consistently performing in an upbeat tone, her abilities as a vocalist often feel rather inconsequential to the album at hand; there's nothing particularly awful about the delivery, but they're always sung in the same manner to the extent that more variation comes from the vocoder than her, and its treated very much like a constant instrument to maintain the flow of the piece, and in this is its only major success.
Instead, the main highlight comes from the backing which has morphed from the more hard hitting techno of her last to what I would only describe as a sort of “trance;” too upbeat to really be called “Dark” but too aggressive to fit in with most of the genre, and yet somehow inexplicably more-ish. It's greatest strength unquestionably in its consistency; there are no knock-out sensations but no jarring dips in quality either. The entire album comfortably flows from end to end and whilst may often fade into the background, when the attention resumes its none the worse for it. It's easy listening without being boring; upbeat without being too nauseatingly fluffy, and between the cute and the chaotic I can't help but think that this is far more of a success for the backing work than for the artist in question. Maybe we'll eventually hear her voice free of effects and her emotions can come through her delivery, as she has proven in rare tracks here to be able to do, but for now just enjoy the ever improving trance stylings of the “I've Sound” boys.
Highlights: TOY, masterpiece, Linkage, All in Good Time