Japanese, Reviews

Lots of Catching Up To Do: Mika Nakashima’s Over Load Single (Review)

January 16, 2010 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Lots of Catching Up To Do: Mika Nakashima’s Over Load Single (Review)on Twitter

I hadn’t heard of Mika Nakashima before checking out her Over Load single from earlier this year, but she’s apparently been around for awhile. She has an interesting story, skipping both high school and college to pursue modeling and singing from an early age, and landing her big break at age 17. She’s gone on to release 6 studio albums and 30 singles, so I guess she’s somebody that J-pop fans should be familiar with.

The Over Load single in particular was released earlier in 2009 while Nakashima was on tour. “Over Load” and the B-side, “No Answer,” sport a surprisingly heavy electronic sound that I was immediately attracted to, and based on her extensive discography it seems I have a lot of catching up to do!

In the meantime, hit the jump for our impressions of her Over Load single.

“Over Load” opens with these dancey synth chords that almost sound piano-like, creating a really unique sound. Hard-hitting electronic percussion and a killer synth bass join the mix to create a heavier sound that I’m used to hearing from J-pop artists. Nakashima’s voice and the occasional epic string progression are light and organic, contrasting nicely with the synthesized foundation of the track. It definitely had me interested in hearing more, and even the “Instrumental” version is enjoyable as a groovy electronic track.

From there, it’s on to the B-side, “No Answer.” As is always the case with me, I actually like this track better! It opens with a descending string progression tinged with emotion with its heavy use of vibrato. Nakashima’s voice enters with some techno percussion and pretty piano and guitar accents that again features this electronic versus organic theme. There’s this quality of Nakashima’s voice that is indescribable, yet incredible pleasing; perhaps it has something to do with how it rhythmically weaves in between the 4/4 drum beat and drawn-out strings, but I’m not sure.

The last official track (as in not an “instrumental” version) is actually a remix of “Over Load” by Kenmochi Hidefumi. It looks like he picked up on the electronic/organic conflict in the previous tracks, and sided with the organic side, working solely with acoustic guitar, piano, and some tasteful clapping percussion. There’s an amazing bridge section where the guitar gets some time in the spotlight, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of some of Yasunori Mitsuda’s work on Chrono Cross, but just for a second. It’s certainly a worthy remix, ending the set on a chilled out note.

While the Over Load single was released in May 2009, Nakashima has already released two more since then, so even more catching up to do! I was impressed with what I heard this time around. If you want to check her out, you can pick up Over Load at Play-Asia.

Are you familiar with Mika Nakashima’s music? Have any favorites that other readers and myself should hit up first?

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