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Shmilly

[Review] DADAROMA - 「スタンチク」(Stanczyk)

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DADAROMA

「スタンチク」(Stanczyk)

 

01 オープニング (Opening)

02 「リズリーサーカス」 (Risley Circus)

03 「最終電車」 (saishuu densha)

04 トレンドアイデンティティ (Trend Identity)

05 融け込めないざらざらな芸術を君が殺してくれないか (tokekomenai zarazara na geijutsu wo kimi ga koroshitekurenai ka)

06 「雨のワルツ」 (ame no waltz)

07 ベルカとストレルカ (Velka & Strelka) (Re recording Ver.)

08 モルヒネ♯1 (Morphine 1)

09 モルヒネ♯2 (Morphine 2)

10 SEX!!

11 「溺れる魚」 (oboreru sakana)

12 MONEY

13 月のうた (tsuki no uta)

14 imitation hero.

15 「ルシッド•ドリーム」 (Lucid Dream)

<16 KURT (piano Ver.)>

 

 

Before we begin I’d like to note that I picked up both versions of this album at the band’s tour final last week, so it’s already had plenty of spins for me to base my opinion on. Now that the rest of you guys can hear it, I figured it's a good time to post my thoughts.

 

 

So here we are at last – a full album release from one of the fastest growing bands in recent memory, DADAROMA. Led by frontman Yoshiatsu, who also has the talent of knowing exactly how to market his band to maximise interest, these guys appeared on the scene last January with nothing but a music video for their first song, ‘oboreru sakana’. The heavy but dramatic introduction to this mysterious new band drew the interest of many both within and without the visual kei community. However, unluckily for even national fans, their first mini album was and remained limited to sales at lives: a strategy that undoubtedly helped the young group take off by tempting fans to head on over to their lives and pick up a copy, but equally alienated those who couldn’t attend, especially foreign fans with no way to acquire this rare debut release.

 

But of course, this is the age of the internet, and it wasn’t too long before ‘dadaism 1’ was available to all to hear free of charge, if not exactly legally. And this is my main cause of disappointment, not in ‘Stanczyk’ and DADAROMA’s decision to include that entire first release, which is itself commendable to please their ever-growing fanbase, but in the community which lessened the value of it, and by extension of this so-called ‘best album’ that is unfortunately fairly packed with tracks we’ve heard before.

 

 

The album opens with a short introduction that sets up lead track ‘Risley Circus’, named for 19th century performer Richard Risley Carlisle, who pioneered the act of juggling with feet rather than hands. Indeed, Yoshiatsu packs many intriguing cultural references into DADAROMA’s songs, with the album itself a nod to the possibly mythical Polish jester Stanczyk and a generally pierrot-inspired theme running through both the band’s visual stylings and the lyrics of several songs. Risley displays some experimentation with electronic sounds and vocal distortion which may divide fans, but it’s undeniable that the catchy chorus will stay with you even after the track ends.

 

Next comes single track ‘saishuu densha’ (Last Train), which is notorious for its highly erotic promotional video being removed from YouTube not once but twice, despite the band’s efforts to pixelate offensive material. DADAROMA have dabbled in jazz a fair amount, but this is in my opinion one of their best attempts (see also: the sensual ‘urei libido’ from the ‘ame no waltz’ single). Once again a catchy chorus and a steady pace held by the percussion parts make for a memorable track.

 

‘Trend Identity’ is the shortest track the band have produced to date. It recalls ‘kusatta mikan no houteishiki’ with the heavy riff matched with synth stylings, and was clearly made for live performance, but it sets itself apart a little with Yoshiatsu’s first attempt at something approaching a rap. Not particularly memorable itself, but it was fun at the tour final last week.

 

Next we have a ridiculously long title that I can’t be bothered to type out again, but which is important to the album as a whole because it relates to the theme of art (Yoshiatsu’s final screams ‘kore wa geijutsu/this is art’ adorn the album’s obi strip). The bell-like motif immediately creates an interesting atmosphere as Yoshiatsu whispers his way through the verses, and from there the song builds into a powerful chorus. While initially the verse portions didn’t do a great deal for me, I do really enjoy said chorus and this track has grown on me a lot with repeat listens.

 

Single number two, the red herring ‘ame no waltz’ that, quite unlike a waltz, breaks out of the soft music box and raindrop opening into a brutal chugging guitar riff, fits pretty well here after the raw scream that ended the last track. Somehow this song made its way onto a Japanese TV drama as the ending theme, which is somewhat of a mystery to me but I appreciate it nevertheless as the sole DADAROMA song that actually appears at karaoke. I have an ambivalent relationship with this track – it’s a good song, but sometimes I just want to skip it and get on to something else. YMMV but at any rate it's another song we've heard before.

 

At this point we enter the cluster of tracks that is just ‘dadaism 1’ in a different order. While I appreciate that now fans who couldn’t get hold of that first live limited release (ie most fans) can now hear all those songs they’ve been playing for 18 months, it’s a little disappointing that they didn’t try and blend them more into the tracklist rather than just dumping them all together. For this reason long-time fans such as myself may be tempted to skip through this portion of the album, at least to the songs they like the most. This unfortunate situation is compounded by the fact that in this day and age it’s impossible to keep that limited CD from appearing on the internet sooner or later, diminishing the novelty of finally hearing these songs for the first time for many.

 

DADAROMA have made some attempt to change things up a bit though. The most obvious of these is the re-recording of ‘Velka & Strelka’, one of my personal favourite songs the band has released so far. However, for me the original is still the superior as it takes more vocal talent to reach and hold those notes at the end than the re-recording, which is easier on Yoshiatsu’s highs (and fair enough; if you’ve seen him live, he can struggle with them on a rough night). This retake of the vocal track is just slightly lazier, and ultimately it seems as though little other than the clean vocals has actually been re-recorded.

 

There are subtle changes in the other ‘dadaism 1’ tracks though. All of them have seen some editing at the mixing desk that brings the production more in line with the new tracks – the guitar is slightly less crisp at times and more distorted in the style of ‘Risley Circus’, but on the other hand the bass is more prominent, including a couple of additional samples Tomo seems to have recorded for this album, especially the final note of ‘Morphine 1’ that was particularly conspicuous. As to which version of each track is better, YMMV; ‘oboreru sakana’ and ‘SEX!!’ benefit somewhat from the changes in mixing, but I personally like the cleaner guitar in ‘MONEY’ much better on ‘dadaism 1’.

 

We return to new material with one of my favourite tracks on ‘Stanczyk’, ‘tsuki no uta’. It’s an emotional ballad that retains its energy through the steady drum beats and powerful chords that support Yoshiatsu’s gorgeous vocals in the chorus. Despite lyrically presenting itself as a ballad, it’s a surprisingly short track that lends itself well to repeat listens. As an aside, I think this was the only new song the band didn’t play at their tour final; I look forward to the opportunity to hear it live some time in the future.

 

‘imitation hero.’ didn’t quite capture my attention in the same way as ‘tsuki no uta’, but it’s also an accomplished ballad in its own right. For me this is a rare case of the composition in the verse being far stronger and more enjoyable than the chorus. The always present piano is a welcome change to the common electronic elements in the rest of the album, and Yusuke’s confident drumming is one of the song’s strongest parts.

 

DADAROMA’s first full album draws to a close with the dramatic masterpiece that is ‘Lucid Dream’. Easily one of my favourite tracks from the young group, the balance of head banging downtuned guitar chugs and a powerful chorus makes this a stellar composition in my eyes. It also wonderfully displays Yoshiatsu’s vocal prowess in both cleans and screams, comprising a wide range in the former and a variety of styles of the latter. Despite the surprising lack of pretty much any kind of audience participation at the band’s recent one man, it was a truly amazing ending to the main set when the band left the stage in awed silence as the last of the fake snow drifted to the ground.

 

 

Of course, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the bonus track on the regular edition of the album. The piano verison of ‘KURT’ amplifies the emotion in Yoshiatsu’s clear voice, while retaining the best of the instrumental support in a beautiful piano arrangement. I would actually love to hear a purely instrumental piano solo of this track at some point. It’s a fitting, end-credits-style addition to round off DADAROMA’s ‘best’ album.

 

 

Ultimately I’m divided when it comes to giving this release some kind of score. On the one hand, there’s a lot of old material in here, but none of it is just there to pad out the run time, and in any case it’s all great material. As someone who has been a fan of DADAROMA since the very beginning, and also bought all of their releases and listened to them countless times over, it’s easy to act like we deserved more new material with ‘Stanczyk’. It wouldn’t even be unreasonable to be disappointed that live limited songs like ‘neji’ didn’t make the cut (although to be fair there’s still copies of that sitting on the goods stand at their concerts). However, if I were to imagine this album as my introduction to DADAROMA, this is easily a contender for album of the year.

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Tsuki No Uta really gives me Neji Vibes. I feel like this track could've been included right next to it on Neji's single. Will write a full review later, so far i'm loving it, they can't do any wrong to me so I'm down for anything DADAROMA releases.

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Thank you for the review @Shmilly!
I was finally able to give a few listen on the new tracks and in the re-recording version for ベルカとストレルカ.


I was very excited to hear Kurt's piano version and during the preview video from the new album I could already notice two songs that catch up my attention, 月のうた and imitation hero.
After listen to all of them I found myself in love for imitation hero, others I like are Kurt's piano, 月のうた and リズリーサーカス.
On the other hand I got very disappointed with トレンドアイデンティティ and 融け込めないざらざらな芸術を君が殺してくれないか.


As a big from Yoshiatsu, I'm really happy to see him making a bigger use of his piano skills on this release than on others one. I hope this continue on the future.

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This was my first real contact with DADAROMA and... I'm far from being impressed. There are some great moments here and there and potential great songs that ALMOST deliver, but fizzle.

 

For exemple, 最終電車 had the potential to be insanely great if DADAROMA only knew the meaning of the word "restraint". It's supposed to be this sexy number but ends up becoming almost like a parody. That first minute is so good (sultry, mysterious), but then, of course, they throw it all away when they decided to imitate the worst moments of Janne Da Arc's quasi-shuffle numbers like BLACK JACK.

 

Also, what's up with their shitty horn section (trumpet, mainly) sample? And why on earth they weren't able to find some better sounding stuff to include on モルヒネ#1, モルヒネ#2 and 最終電車? It drives me up the wall! Fuck that shitty, cheap-ass early 90s CASIO keyboard sound! 

 

Good moments: The Manson-esque SEX!!, some parts of ルシッド・ドリーム and some parts of 溺れる魚, I guess. There's not much here that interests me. Yeah, it's one of those albums that almost hits the right spot but fails to deliver, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Sorry, I guess these guys just aren't for me.

 

 

Edited by r...

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I've checked out a few videos and random songs (notably their first mini album and single) from DADAROMA before, but wasn't too thrilled by what I heard there. Thought I'd give this huge album a try, maybe there are some cool bits in there. Well... I'm still unimpressed.

 

How should I put this? The songs have some really cool parts now and then, or a certain groovy sound that pops up during a section or two, but as actual songs they feel too samey and safe. There's literally nothing that stuck in my head afterwards (if not the fact that most tracks are a minute or two longer than they should be). It's music played with style, the execution sounds good enough (even if most 'heavy' stylings come as the dumbed-down versions of something otherwise cool-sounding), the vocalist and the instrumentalists clearly know what they're doing, but what they're doing isn't too exciting. After a few tracks I really struggled not to zone out completely. Next thing I remember is I'm already at the last track... I noticed cuz the cringey wailing next to the piano was a new element, lol. I guess in the end it served a good purpose as 'whatever background music'. Sadly, I didn't find much catchiness or replay value in it.

 

:_5.5/10_: | it was okay to listen to it once, but never again. 

Edited by Jigsaw9

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8 minutes ago, Jigsaw9 said:

Thought I'd give this huge album a try, maybe there are some cool bits in there. Well... I'm still unimpressed.

 

This is another important point. TOO. MANY. SONGS. This is one of the problems of CD releases. Not just in Japan (who is a big offender) but with music in general. Just because you have up to 70 mins. to use, it doesn't mean that you HAVE to use it. And, with a band like DADAROMA, it just means that you're stuck with a bunch of songs that sound too much alike.

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2 hours ago, r... said:

 

This is another important point. TOO. MANY. SONGS. This is one of the problems of CD releases. Not just in Japan (who is a big offender) but with music in general. Just because you have up to 70 mins. to use, it doesn't mean that you HAVE to use it. And, with a band like DADAROMA, it just means that you're stuck with a bunch of songs that sound too much alike.

 This release is a best-album so that's why there's a lot of songs, and they added few new ones. A best-album with only like 10 songs would have been kinda weird (well to me.) 

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On 6/16/2016 at 6:13 AM, r... said:

 

This is another important point. TOO. MANY. SONGS. This is one of the problems of CD releases. Not just in Japan (who is a big offender) but with music in general. Just because you have up to 70 mins. to use, it doesn't mean that you HAVE to use it. And, with a band like DADAROMA, it just means that you're stuck with a bunch of songs that sound too much alike.

 

I can see both sides of this argument. On the one hand, it's a so-called 'best album' so it's not surprising that the tracklist leans toward the longer side. In addition, most of the returning tracks were previously only available on a sold out live-limited release, so this gives many fans their first opportunity to buy/hear them. On the other hand, I can see how first time listeners might get a little tired; perhaps it's exactly because I've listened to 'dadaism 1' endless times myself that the familiarity of old material makes it more tolerable on a lengthy album.

 

For what it's worth, when you take out the opening SE and the piano version of 'KURT' which is only on one edition, you're left with 14 tracks, which is not too unreasonable for a full album release.

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