Boiling randomness

Review: Break Blade OP Single – Fate (and ottocycle’s first post with content)

CD sleeve cover

Approximately four years ago, I was idling on the internet on a lazy Saturday afternoon when the top dog to-be of this little site, mshaydown, poked me on IM with a song recommendation. That song was the credits theme for “Giniro no Kami no Agito” (otherwise known as “Origin – Spirits of the Past” stateside) titled “Ai no Melody”. I instantly was entranced by the song’s beauty and especially the quality of the singing voice, which started me off on my being a KOKIA fan to this day. Fast-forward back to this moment, and here I am drafting my first-ever music review on the internet, and I finally decided on KOKIA’s latest single, titled “Fate”, to be it. One might want to add in extra relevance due to it being a song for a mecha anime as well, if some tongue-in-cheek is in order for this here mecha blog-thing. Anyway, diving into the single itself…

“Fate” starts off with KOKIA’s vocals slowly leading us into a lull, and thereafter a light militaristic theme breaks out, bringing the idyllic scene to an abrupt halt, and becoming somewhat of a forewarning of what is to come.  As the tribulations loom ahead, she sings of the qualities of love and faith, and how people who possess them becoming able to stand up and pierce the heavens to anything fate (:P) throws at them.  The song then starts to become a rallying cry of sorts as the strings become uplifting while it all edges towards the final triumph.

“Fate” is filled with undulations which utilise the bulk of KOKIA’s operatic vocal abilities, making for an attractively ear-catching A-side to the single. The choice of using a regimental percussion beat as the threat looming on the horizon to match her singing also fits Break Blade like a glove, given that it’s a mecha fighting anime with conflicting elements like ideals, bureaucracy and friendship.  (I actually haven’t watched it yet, but that’s what I gather at least.) It seems that KOKIA, having written both the lyrics and the melody to this song, knows what exactly she wants from it, and she isn’t being terribly subtle about it. While the harmony between her singing and the tune is still as good as ever, the tradeoff was that there was a lack of the magic I experienced when listening to her other stuff like “Ai no Melody”, probably due to the rigidity that it inherently had while adhering to the movie’s themes.

The B-side to the single, “Omoi” is a significantly quieter song after the stately end to “Fate”, and seems to be the mellow melancholy side. The cellos create a bleak atmosphere, with KOKIA belting out words of despair interlaced with some hope and simultaneously having the ethereal qualities of her voice being somewhat an oasis of anticipation within the meandering string background. Going into the bridge, I felt a sense of the song steeling itself up with determination, fuelled by the aforementioned beacon to look forward to, and it ends on another uplifting note, just like “Fate”.

“Omoi” provides some needed juxtaposition to all the bombast that “Fate” was pretty much all about, a song of introspection, perhaps. I liked this complementing going on, though it was pretty much in danger of being overshadowed by the A-side. I also felt that the melody wasn’t as fitting to the vocals as much as in “Fate”, in that it wasn’t really using much of KOKIA’s inherent vocal qualities, but I guess that’s more because of the choice to make this song a quieter one. Another possible reason I could think up was that the melody was composed by Itou Masumi (also Nanase Hikaru) instead of KOKIA herself, and that this song was a product of a partnership which was less than seamless. Regardless, “Omoi” is still a pleasant tune to take in as a part of this single, if less than stellar as compared to her previous masterpieces.

Going on to the instrumental versions of the preceding two tracks, I didn’t feel anything extra from the instrumental version of “Fate” really, and having heard the vocal version earlier, I was able to mentally place KOKIA’s voice right back in the song. I think that probably showed that I missed her voice while listening to it. As for that of “Omoi”, I could actually appreciate Itou’s composition unhindered this time, and that while on first listening it may sound boring, but hearing the development towards the bridge made the time worth it in my opinion.

I might have taken an overly harsh tone in the review of this CD, especially as a KOKIA fan, but I’d say that that’s because of me not having the chance to see the film which it was meant to accompany, and context has frequently been a decider in how I grade music before as well. Still I have to clarify that I still think this single is a solid effort from KOKIA and Itou, while not a masterpiece, is still a worthy effort which is able to match the level of work I’ve come to expect from them. 7/10

So that’s it for my first review ever! I guess it was quite wordy for just a review of a small 4-track single, but I hope it is at least an enjoyable read for whoever bothering to visit. Basically there’s much to iron out, and this is only an experiment just to see how it goes. Looking back at the completed article, I really wonder how I came up with something of this length, since all that I’ve posted on the internet so far has been 140-character-long senseless babblings. Now to see what gibberish to post next…


4 responses to “Review: Break Blade OP Single – Fate (and ottocycle’s first post with content)

  1. zzeroparticle July 28, 2010 at 4:31 am

    “Fate” starts out with those ethereal vocals that KOKIA does so well, but then it turns balladic (as in a war ballad) as the piece emphasizes the scope that the story is looking to impart. Like you, I prefer it when KOKIA is dabbing her light touches over the piece like in “Ai no Melody,” but this is a good effort nonetheless.

    With “Omoi,” you can definitely feel the weight of the emotions KOKIA’s trying to express, but somehow, it never strikes me as being beautifully sorrowful that some other songs are able to attain. I think that’s because the melody isn’t emphasized as hard and so, meanders just a bit without being really attention-grabby.

    Anyways, good work! Enjoyed the reading/sample listening =p

    • ottocycle July 29, 2010 at 1:26 am

      Yeah, she really went down hard on the overt portrayal of her desired themes in “Fate” I thought. But it’s a good change from the norm having perform a stirring number for once, and I like the fact that she went out of her musical comfort zone as well.

      I was thinking that KOKIA and Itou were planning on making a complementary pair of songs for this single, just that “Omoi” just kinda backfired and Itou might have overdid the tenderly longing feel she was going for in the tune. Though I’ve got to say that the bridge saved the song for me, really.

      Thanks for the stamp of approval!

  2. ayeecaramba July 31, 2010 at 12:05 am

    hmm. break blade movie out. and I may be talking to myself but man the main char looks like ban-chan from getbackers. and another dude looks like hei from darker than black.

    damn now I miss getbackers.

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