Since I’m free, I decided to do a post on my feelings towards Kalafina’s latest album because I kinda like it. A lot. While I’m at it, I’ll do some comparisons with their other albums. Do note that these are thoughts of someone who is NOT a professional critic in any way and all expressions are my personal opinions. Yup.
Kalafina’s 4th album occurs to me as a hybrid between their previous albums. The new songs have elements of fantasy from their Red Moon album, while retaining some melancholy and realism from their After Eden album.
Everytime I get a new album, I like to listen to the songs according to the tracklist so that I kinda get the “fullness” of the album.
The first song is Al Fine. Its soothing tune introduces to us the contents of the album. I like how this track clearly tells listeners, “hey, this album is different from the others!” One thing I really adore about Kalafina’s albums is that all four of them start off with different emotions. Seventh Heaven broke out with the pleasant beats of Overture. Red Moon had a dark and gothic melody and Eden had a very contrasting joyful mood to it. Al Fine is soothing ballad that reminds us of Overture and has a tune familiar to songs from Kalafina’s Kara No Kyoukai days. In music theory, the term ‘Al Fine’ directs the performer to continue to the end of a certain section; in this case it actually makes sense how Al Fine is a extract of particular lyrics from the other songs in the album. The last sung line is actually “consolation”, which got me perked up to listen to the next track, Consolation.
When I first got a listen of the radio cut of Consolation, it wasn’t really what I had expected. From its name, I had predicted it to be lighter and slightly solemn. The strong beats really caught me by surprise.
But after getting over the initial shock, I have to say that I’m starting to really love it, especially after watching Kalafina’s Nico live performance of it. I think this song shows off the best ability of Kalafina, with Hikaru’s strong and sultry vocals, Keiko’s deep and flawless harmony and Wakana’s rich and high vocal range.
With the album named after it, we pretty much get a hint of how the next tracks are like: lots of dynamic backing vocals with high-strung Kajiuran lyrics.
Then comes the very contrasting tones of Moonfesta. When it was first released it didn’t sit well with me as something Kalafina would normally sing, especially after their single To The Beginning. But hey, it’s for Minna No Uta and Hikaru brought the song to a good start with her signature sweet vocals, so I’m not really complaining. Now, it’s one of those songs that pop up in my head that just make me feel like springing around.
The next song: Door. This piece is yet another ballad that displays the best vocal performances of Kalafina. I really like how Wakana leads in this song; her thick and sorrowful vocals fit the lyrics perfectly, with Keiko’s mellow harmony and Hikaru’s soft expressions.
The slight music adds on to accentuate the lonely and fairytale-like mood of the whole song. After I started reading the English translations of the lyrics, I was like, “dang, this is really, really awesome!” Listening to the whole melody makes you feel as if you’re exploring a story book. You’ll have to go listen to it for yourself to know what I mean. 😀
After the sad masterpiece comes one with more positive energy in it: Mirai. For those who don’t know, this is a cover of one of Madoka’s OSTs, Credens Justitiam, which in the series, is a theme song for Mami. Mirai was used as her theme song in the Madoka movie, not to long before her infamous decapitation. 😀
Hey hey! It’s still a happy song okay! I read somewhere that some had interpreted it to be a collection of thoughts from the main characters in the anime franchise. Fair enough, that makes sense to me.
I’m a huge fan of Mami, so when I had first heard that Mirai would be a vocal cover of her theme song, I was literally jumping for joy. Needless to say, I think the vocals are perfectly fitting. What I adore the most is the line “hitori ja janai”, where the Uta-himes do a three-vocal harmony there. It’s probably not a coincidence that was one of Mami’s last lines and that it was given such a prominent melody in the song. It is her theme song, afterall.
The starting melody of Hanataba is played by an accordion, an instrument that I don’t remember ever listening to before in any Kalafina soundtracks. Nevertheless, its distinctive opening instrumental sets the stage for sad bitterness. While it reminds me of Sandpiper from After Eden, it also comes across as a song carrying a softer emotion that’s not as sorrowful as the latter.
On a side note, I really feel that this song fits flawlessly into the album; I’ve always thought of the accordion as an instrument used in earlier music and the cover for Consolation strongly reminded me of past Shanghai ladies that I’ve learnt from the TV screen. 😀
Then Signal rolls around and breaks us out of the ballad mode. It’s interesting to note that along these energetic beats, the lyrics appear to me as words somebody a lot less energetic would say when he’s trying to get his act together.
My favourite part (no! The whole song’s my fav!) is somewhere in the middle, where Keiko sings lead along these lines “sora no ao ga sono mama umi he ochiteyuku”. For a moment, I actually imagined it really happening in front of me. Don’t ask me how it was like though. There was the nice touch of the accordion in this song too and I like how it blended in really well with the electric guitar and drums.
On a side note, I didn’t realise that some of the lines were actually English until I read the lyrics…
In every Kalafina album (with exception to Seventh Heaven, because I consider it as a showcase of Kara no Kyoukai’s melodies), I always get this feeling that there are two main songs that decide the overall tone of the album. In Red Moon they were Hoshi No Utai and Yami No Uta, which contributed to the overpowering feeling. For After Eden, Neverending and Kotonoha characterized the album’s earthly emotions (mostly of lovers, whether star-crossed or brokenhearted). In my opinion, Consolation’s mixed image of the created utopia from Seventh Heaven and Red Moon and the doleful mood from After Eden is represented by Hanataba and Obbligato (if that even makes any sense).
Obbligato is your typical Kajiura song with its share Kajiuran lyrics, fantastic instrumental parts, unusual arrangement and astounding backing chorus. Of course, without each of the Kalafina uta-himes, the harmonies would’ve turned out very differently.
I like how this song transits from the starting Kajiuran to the drums and electric guitar taking the main stage, then eventually to Keiko as the stanza begins. The harmony between Keiko and Wakana sound really melodious to me in this song. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing it being performed live, especially the opening lyrics!
I have to admit, the first few days after I got the album, I couldn’t remember the name of this song until Wakana sang her first line, “Kiichigo no shigemi ni“. Translated, the title is “in the raspberry bushes”. This song is probably one of the happiest and simplest ballad in all of Kalafina history, or at least it seems to me this way after I read the lyrics. With only a piano and a cello as instruments, it’s a refreshing contrast to the many songs with quick electric guitar and heavy drum beats.
I have this tendency to mentally classify Kalafina’s singles into “before Magia’s time” and “after Magia’s time”. I can’t really find the words to explain my reasoning now, but who knows, it might just become future post content. 😉
Back to the album review.
The next track’s my all-time favourite B-side song from “after Magia’s time”, Manten! After several melodies with down-to-earth lyrics, our ears are treated to poem-like piece. The dramatic strings and drums also added to the extreme story being painted out by the words. It’s really fitting, how it was used as an ending theme to the Fate/Zero episodes that revealed Kiritsugu’s past. Heck, maybe Manten was actually made to fit him and his tragic, tragic history.
This song just has an awesome composition, especially how Keiko’s low accompaniment is like the foundation of the song itself. Just imagine, this song just won’t sound as full without her vocals at all.
And my favourite single soundtrack from “after Magia’s time”, to the beginning! Actually that’s my favourite single. Everything, from the cover and their outfits, to the songs and PV. EVERYTHING WAS SO AWESOME.
Back from sidetracking. The opening kajiuran definitely caught my attention positively. About the short violin solo, I thought it was only me but I soon found out from forums that quite a few people thought this way also: it’s highly similar to Parallel Hearts by FictionJunction. Both songs also have Wakana singing lead at the choruses, hah.
When this first came out as a single, I enthusiastically looped it so many times that when Consolation came out, I could literally hear the live band playing single single note in my mind HAHA. No comments on this song, except that it has a lot of depth and that I like it a lot, both the melody and the lyrics. Nuff said.
Hikari Furu is a song that really tugs at my heartstrings, especially at the climax. By putting this track after to the beginning, the album seems like its saying, “okay, now that we’re come to an end soon, let’s all just take a seat, close our eyes and clam down for a while.” In my opinion the way the vocal are arranged gave all three uta-himes fair chances of displaying their distinct voice evenly. And do I even have to mention, the use of instruments, just wraps up the whole melody so perfectly, from the keyboard solo to the blending of the strings and drums and others afterwards, before ending with the keyboard again.
But I don’t think everybody can get used to listening to this immediately. Afterall, Kalafina doesn’t really sing a lot of symphonious “happy ending” ballads.
And last but not least, Yume No Daichi. Before the album came out, there were some rumors on how this would be the leading song of the list. Maybe twas because their outfit this PV was used on the album cover, or because the PV was included in the DVD. But either way, its gives a good conclusion to Consolation. It really reminds me of Symphonia, which is not anything surprising, since both soundtrack were written for Rekishi Hiwa Historia.
I have to say, while Wakana’s lead in this song sounds really rich, the backup vocal by Hikaru and Keiko really help the song sound fuller (as usual HAHA) and more cheery. Listening to the coined Kajiurago phrases at the climax actually make my hair stand at times. For a good reason.
I have to say, this album is really filled with a myriad of elements, from nostalgic ballads to upbeat joyful melodies and to mystical strong beats. The previous albums seemed to lean towards distinct traits and were either magical (Seventh Heaven), powerful (Red Moon) or emotional (After Eden). Consolation just showcases a bunch of different tempos and moods that have been previously displayed in Kalafina’s existing tracks already. Either way, I feel that the album is really soulful and I’ll probably not get tired of replaying it on loop any time soon.
And with that, it’s the end of my review on Consolation!