Sakanaction – Natsukashii Tsuki wa Atarashii Tsuki – Coupling & Remix works – COMPILATION REVIEW

Sakanaction-tsuki

Release Date: August 5th
Formats: 2CDs / 2CDs + DVD / 2CDs + Blu-Ray
Number of Editions (3): Regular Edition, Limited Edition w/DVD, Limited Edition w/Blu-Ray


One of the main reasons why I instantly loved Japanese music the day I discovered it was the innovation and the open minded attitude many artists have towards this medium, delivering unique and characterful compositions hardly comparable to what overseas markets can offer, especially in the mainstream scene. Five years have passed since that day, and the convinction that the music coming from the land of the rising sun has something special is still vivid in my mind, strengthen by even more bands that made their debut in the industry showcasing interesting concepts and improbable combination of genres that have proved to be not only successful, but also genuinely good.

One of the first bands that surprised me the most under this aspect was, and still is, Sakanaction, a five members group mixing accessible rock sonorities with deeper and complex electronic elements spacing from melodic synth-pop, ambient and even a classy touch of Dance elements, all of this in a masterful balance of sounds brought by the band’s main songwriter and art director Ichiro Yamaguchi and the extremely talented musicians that compose this band’s particular and unique sound. Now, after several nationwide tours, countless live releases, and six valuable albums under the belt, Sakanaction celebrate their ten years anniversary with a new release to add to their valid discography, a B-side and remix collection also featuring unreleased tracks named Natsukashii Tsuki wa Atarashii Tsuki – Coupling & Remix works – .

While most of the bands out there fall back on the more accessible but not always convincing “Best of” releases, the five guys from Sapporo decided to bring a compilation that tries to satisfy first and foremost the fans by showcasing their sound through the less common (but not less valid) compositions, enriched by a vast number of remixes from various artists the band already collaborated with in various occasions; Not an easy task to accomplish, and definitely not something every band out there can actually achieve, but the attention for details that permeates every release of this band is reflected here as well, which is a quality guarantee by itself. The compilation, divided into two CDs (one for the B-sides and unreleased tracks, one for the remixes, plus a DVD filled with bonus footage) boasts an impressive 26-songs tracklist, enough material to make all the fans satisfied until the next record of the bands drop, and the newcomers to feel… kinda lost.

But it’s only a matter of time until everyone gets familiar with the bands’ sound, which is a goal well achieved by the first CD of the compilation mainly dedicated to the B-sides: From the “twin” track Ame (A) and its unforgettable melodies and pleasant rhythmic flow, to the synth-tastic Slow Motion that merges electronic elements and classic guitar riffs creating a unique atmosphere, the listener gets immediately familiar with such a various and layered sound from the first half of the album, reaching the top in tracks like the revolutionary-sounding and soothing multiple exposure, a six-minutes long composition that entertains and delivers feelings in the classic Sakana way, pleasing the fans and genuinely surprising those who are taking the first step into these complex sounds, recognizing the style of every single musician in the band: Emi’s charismatic synths and melodies, the punching, almost jazzy bass lines brought by Ami, the trademark drumming of Keiichi, and the delicate guitars of Motoharu and Ichiro all fit perfectly on each other like a puzzle, creating the unique, masterfully layered sound that led the band to success during the years.

Unreleased tracks and B-sides also translates into more experimental sounds, provided here by tracks like Modokashii Hibi, that brutally puts everything the band can in a track that’s an extreme representation of the band’s formula, to the point of sounding voluntarily messy and chaotic in certain sections, shifting from regular J-rock sonorities to pure club music; Eiga (Conté 2012/11/16 17:24), an alternate version of the track included in the band’s self-titled album, brings different samples and a slightly different structure in what is an almost genial (and kinda Pink Floyd-esque) mix of random sounds and piano notes. It’s also curious to see how, despite being a good showcase of the general sound of the band, this first CD slightly weighs more on the softer and soothing side of the band’s identity, mainly thanks to the atmospheric and ambient-influenced opener Holy Dance, whose recent Music Video graced the eyes of many people, and Years, an initially melancholic and painful track that blossoms into a relaxing electronic piece with great delicacy, to then move on to Neptunus, where Ichiro Yamaguchi’s interpretation reaches amazing levels. The electronic instrumental montage closes the circle of the B-sides of the first CD, in a maze of sounds that defines the attitude and the personality of this whole compilation, which is the complete freedom of composing, experimenting and simply jamming in the way passionated and professional musicians love, free of any imposition or commercial limit, an attitude clearly represented in these ten tracks and in the few remix and the 2006 version of GO TO THE FUTURE that close the first part of this compilation: It’s the pure Sakana sound people love, and it’s just pleasantly enjoyable.

The second CD dedicated to the remixes made by other artists, despite being particularly aimed at hardcore fans, brings some interesting reinterpretations of some of the band’s classics, with the amazing NEXT WORLD remix of Goodbye as one of the highlights, immediately followed by the club-ish Ame(B) -Sakanatribe x ATM version- and the delicate and wonderful remix of Music by Shibuya Kei pioneer Cornelius, which is pure gold. All in all, these mixes will find the fans jamming to the renewed sound of their favorite tracks, and despite the presence of a couple of mixes who actually break the mood of the tracklist with doubtful sounds and influences, this is an overall nice compilation that works greatly and fully represents Sakanaction’s music and all the enthralling details that compose it.


Verdict

Natsukashii Tsuki wa Atarashii Tsuki – Coupling & Remix works – does what every compilations of B-sides and unreleased tracks should do: To showcase the sound of a band in every detail while unveiling the most spontaneous and genuine side of it. The tracks on the first CD are all very valid, while the remixes will be a pleasant listen to those who already loved the classic tracks from this band, with some incredibly good reinterpretations that are just love at first listen. While the newcomers may want to check out the band’sDocumentaLy and Sakanaction albums as ideal starting points to get into this band’s music, here the fans will find everything they would expect from a Sakanaction compilation: Quality compositions and fantastically enjoyable music.

Vote: 8 / 10

Tracklist

[CD 1 – Tsuki no Namigata: Coupling & Unreleased Works]

01. Holy Dance
02. Ame(A)
03. multiple exposure
04. Years
05. Eiga (Conté 2012/11/16 17:24)
06. Slow Motion
07. Modokashii Hibi
08. Spoon to Ase
09. Neptunus
10. montage
11. Night Fishing is good (Iw_remix)
12. Music (Ej_remix)
13. Identity (Ks_remix)
14. GO TO THE FUTURE (2006 acoustic ver.)

[CD 2 – Tsuki no Hen’yō: Remix Works]

01. Goodbye (Next World remix)
02. Ame(B) (Sakanatribe x ATM version)
03. Rookie (Takkyu Ishino remix)
04. Mikazuki Sunset (FPM Everlust Mix)
05. Light Dance YSST Remix 2015 (Remixed by Yoshinori Sunahara)
06. Eiga (Aoki Takamasa Remix)
07. Sample (Cosmic Version)
08. Sayonara wa Emotion (Qrion Remix)
09. Yes No (Aoki Takamasa Remix)
10. Yoru no Odoriko (Agraph Remix)
11. Music (Cornelius remix)
12. Native Dancer (Rei Harakami Heppoko Re-Arrange)

[DVD / Blu-Ray – Tsuki no Keshiki]

01. Documentary of “GO TO THE FUTURE 2006 ver.”
02. GO TO THE FUTURE 2006 ver.
03. Years (Music Video)
04. Slow Motion (Music Video)
05. Holy Dance (Music Video)
06. Eureka (Minimal Demo)

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