Anime, Japanese, Reviews

Kalafina’s Debut Album: Seventh Heaven (Review)

August 7, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Kalafina’s Debut Album: Seventh Heaven (Review)on Twitter

For those of you who don’t know, Kalafina is one of Yuki Kajiura’s many vocal projects. Consisting of Keiko, Wakana, and Hikaru, of which the first two are also part of other Kajiura projects, such as FictionJunction. Kajiura’s style is definitely in a world of its own, featuring lyrics in a made-up language and a musical style that fuses rock, classical, and electronic elements. Their first full length album debuted in March and is entitled Seventh Heaven. Having already covered their debut performance in the United States at Anime Boston 2009 and having sat down and discussed their work, I figured it was time to tackle the album.

How do I find the album? You’ll just have to check out the writeup after the jump!

The album opens with a short overture that features soft harp passages accompanied by ethereal vocals and various soothing sound effects. It also serves as a way to introduce what follows, which is a beautiful blend of all the singers and a variety of different sounds. Following the opening, the music seamlessly transitions into “oblivious,” which was their first single. This was the first song I had heard from Kalafina and what made me check out more of them. It’s a fantastic blend of electronica and rock elements. I also think that all three singers do a fantastic job, whether it is in supporting roles or as the lead. There are also quite a few other energetic themes that are scattered throughout the album. “love come down” manages to fuse Middle Eastern influences with electronica and some beautiful violin passages while “Ongaku,” Keiko’s favorite to sing and perform, is a pulsating electronica theme with tinges of rock and some beautiful harmonization between the vocalists. “sprinter” is another fantastic theme that definitely features more of a rock focus with orchestral accompaniments spread throughout the song. Of course, my favorite theme, “Kizuato,” also one of Wakana’s favorites, is the highlight of the album. Featuring beautiful violin passages, subtle acoustic guitar passages, and strong vocal performances, it’s a very emotional ride, especially when Kajiura, on the piano, seems to take center stage.

However, a lot of the album is also much slower in tempo. “fairytale” has a very mysterious atmosphere. The instrumentation is quite simple with strings being the main driving force for the album, with a particular focus on the cello for most of the song. It also relies quite heavily on the vocalists to exude a strong melody. “serenato,” one of Hikaru’s favorites, features some fantastic percussion work and the acoustic guitar, at times, reminds me of something you’d hear in a spaghetti western movie. It also features some ethnic influences, particularly through the use of the sitar, and as with many of the more subtle themes, fantastic vocal harmonization. “Ashita no Keshiki” is another beautiful piece that gradually builds as it progresses. Ranging from simplistic chime-like accompaniment to full-blown string work, it provides an exquisite range of emotion. I’m particularly fond of the chime and acoustic guitar combination myself. Lastly, I’ll mention “Natsu no Ringo.” This is definitely one of the highlights for the moderate to slow paced themes. It has a very Celtic folk soundscape with some beautiful flute passages and some exotic percussion. Combine that with some heavenly voices, wonderful acoustic guitar, and you have yourself a winner in my book!

I definitely recommend this album for fans of other Yuki Kajiura vocal projects. The vocal style is quite different than that found in FictionJunction, relying more on choral-like harmonization between the vocalists rather than having each vocalist sing a different section of the song. It features a variety of styles, ranging from almost purely electronic themes to more worldly music and a bit in-between.  It’s available at both CD Japan and Play Asia.

Have you listened to Seventh Heaven yet? Are you looking forward to Kalafina’s next single? What other Kajiura projects are you a fan of?

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