Maon Kurosaki – X-Encounter

X Encounter Cover Is So Awesome

Tracklist:

  1. X-Encounter
  2. Unchain
  3. X-Encounter (Instrumental)
  4. Unchain (Instrumental)

———————————

1. X-Encounter

Continuing with the industrial rock feel from her last single UNDER/SHAFT, Maon Kurosaki’s new track X-Encounter amps up the synths, yet manages to capture some darkness in the arrangement. A multi-synth introduction starts off the track, along with distorted background guitars and thumping electronic beats. The verse vocals are at first filtered, then sung without effects, revealing a nice, clear tone. I’m enjoying the experience of seeing her vocals improve with each release. The chorus performance is also a good effort, mostly lacking the strained sound that some of her earlier pieces had. However, I am slightly concerned about how the verse and chorus don’t have much to distinguish themselves from each other. It’s also a bit on the long side for this type of song. On the whole, I like X-Encounter’s semi-electronic style, and the problems I had with it don’t severely affect the experience.

2. Unchain

For some reason, this song reminds me of a heavier version of Emergence! from her first album. The instrumentation here is fairly standard Maon stuff, with synths and digital percussion, but this time has a little more guitars than X-Encounter, with a few lead guitar lines in the track. The verses begin with a plain arrangement, and I approve of how they use a big, space-filling bass guitar sound, even if the bassline itself isn’t that interesting. Maon’s vocal delivery in the chorus is pretty solid again, and the high notes in her lower register don’t show straining. On the other hand, the high notes in her upper register could be stronger.  It’s great to push your limits, but I think she’s bitten off a bit more than she can chew with those really high notes in the chorus. The softer chorus after the bridge brings out both the good and the bad  in her vocals. The good is she employs a soft tone at the beginning which sounds great. The bad is one rather stressed-out note and the slightly uncomfortable head voice at the end. It’s still a pretty decent track though.

Maon Kurosaki has started her new era with a great new single. While it could be shorter, X-Encounter was a good industrial-rock-anison blend, and Unchain was a respectable coupling track. While her vocals could use work in some areas, she has improved and I’m looking forward to whatever she does next. Which is hopefully rock.

Rating: 4 stars

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12 Responses to Maon Kurosaki – X-Encounter

  1. “However, I am slightly concerned about how the verse and chorus don’t have much to distinguish themselves from each other.” I completely agree! That’s what I thought the first time I listened to it. Oh, and, yes, it’s quite a long song. I had a look at the lengths of tracks from H.O.T.D., Butterfly Effect and VERTICAL HORIZON, and X-encounter is the longest, wooo. Also, Interesting comparison between unchain. and Emergence! Yeah, I kinda hear it xD

    By the way, I love the covers too. I use the limited edition (CD+DVD) one. ^.^

    • 123 says:

      Sometimes I wonder if I write things just for the sake of having something to write. Well I’m glad I wasn’t just imagining things then. Yay! The only song from Maon’s discography that I can remember is longer than this is Crimson Roses, at 6:30. The comparison with Emergence… yeah that was mostly the drum bit and synths at the beginning. Not heaps similar but w/e haha.

      I COULDN”T DECIDE WHICH COVER TO USE!!!! In the end I went with this one because of the nice close-up🙂

      • I think Crimson Roses is her longest, actually. I just checked her mini album, and none matched up to the 6:30 length. So I guess X-encounter is her second longest! Good to know, lol.

        The deciding factor for me with the covers was that the LE (CD+DVD) had the text over the moon, and I thought that looked cool, hehe. But that’s about it! xD

    • If it sounds like Emergence! then I need to listen the song xD

  2. Yuki Nagato says:

    I don’t know if you’ve seen it already, but X-encounter was produced by I’ve sound’s composers (Kotoko, Mami Kawada, Mell, etc.) which are pretty close to Maon’s label, so that accounts for two things; both the length and the techno arrangement.
    Anyways, I really really liked the song, it’s maybe the 4th or 5th on my top Maon list :3

    • 123 says:

      Ah, I didn’t realise that when I was writing the review, but now that you mention it I do recall seeing something like that while stumbling around on VGMdb. Makes sense then I suppose.
      I’m not that surprised you’re a big fan, given how you much like that techno-with-some-rock genre. Waiting for your review now!

  3. mk03 says:

    This may be a late reply, but let it be known: I. LOVE. THIS. SONG. IT. IS. AMAZING. And because of that and ClariS’ Tokyo Zepp fiasco, Maon is now my 4th favorite Japanese singer (and she’s such a cutie pie as well!).

    While I’m happy at how good the song came out and how well it did on the charts (it’s Maon’s best-performing single to date), I can’t help but feel bad for her best friend Mami. For some time, it seems that Maon’s popularity has overtaken Mami. Even with Break a spell coming up (will you review it?), it seems that Mami’s career is in its twilight (;_;) and soon she’ll be relegated to minor releases and lyrics-writing, whereas Maon’s career is starting to really take off. Maybe it’s because NBC Universal (formerly Geneon)’s been giving more attention to Maon and their other acts (Ray, Nagi, etc.)?

    • Alex says:

      You love it? Great!

      Now, time for some nitpicking.

      “For some time, it seems that Maon’s popularity has overtaken Mami. ”
      May I ask, how do you define and judge this popularity?

      “Even with Break a spell coming up (will you review it?), it seems that Mami’s career is in its twilight”
      Are you saying this because she hasn’t released music in a while? There could be personal reasons why she hasn’t been singing or something.

      I just don’t know if you can infer the things you said from the fact that she hasn’t been active recently. Sometimes artists just go on breaks and stuff.

      • mk03 says:

        Responses:
        >May I ask, how do you define and judge this popularity?
        For one thing, her name recognition has gone down a lot lately. I have asked a number of Japanese fans, and while they like Mami, they’ve said that she’s not so famous in Japan and that not a lot of people know her, moreso now. Oh, and generally her sales and chart positions have gone down. Finally, while this isn’t a good indicator of popularity, the page views of her Japanese Wikipedia article have gone down to (for me) *unacceptable levels* (even Maon and Ray get more page views than her, but again, this could be attributed to a lack of tie-ups, but still it’s gone down)

        >Are you saying this because she hasn’t released music in a while? There could be personal reasons why she hasn’t been singing or something.
        What I was referring to is that it seems unlikely for her to get as many anime tie-ups than before. While Break a spell is most certainly welcome, she hasn’t been getting much else. It’s normal for her to not release anything for as long as a year, but essentially, after Tokyo Ravens, I’m a bit pessimistic about her future.

        • Alex says:

          While asking Japanese fans may give some idea, it’s probably not a representative sample. By her sales have gone down, is that referring to a trend in releases, or her current sales over the last X months? Because if it’s the second, that could be because she hasn’t released anything in a year. Similarly, for Wikipedia views, I would that’ve thought that spikes in views would coincide with releases of new music.

          I don’t think I have anything useful to say about the second point.

          • mk03 says:

            Just a quick reply:
            The trend is pretty much lower sales. Except for her best album BIRTH, her releases starting with Serment have generally sold less than her previous releases.

            As for her Wikipedia page views, I checked: there was a spike when it was announced that she would do Break a spell, and again when it debuted as the ED for Tokyo Ravens. Based on patterns it will most definitely peak again on the 26th and after, but nevertheless, since around August, her Japanese Wikipedia article’s page views have gone way way down (from as high as 17589 views in February 2013 to just 8474 views in January 2014, with that number being inflated with higher-than-average page views fron the 21st to the 26th; by comparison, Maon’s article had only 7260 views in February 2013 but 11319 views in January 2014, and that was without any upcoming tie-ups [Get 4 Real doesn’t count, since traffic would be directed to ALTIMA’s Japanese page rather than Maon’s])

            While I agree with what you said about my informal survey of some Japanese people I talked to, I admit that in general, her name recognition in Japan is relatively low (once, a Japanese dance master had a program in my school; when I asked him in Japanese if he knew Mami, he said he didn’t), and according to a Filipino Twitter friend of mine who’s now based in Japan, Mami’s songs get little airplay on the radio.

          • Alex says:

            I still don’t think you can say “in general”, given that you’ve only spoken to some people on Twitter and one Japanese person who visited you, who probably isn’t even the target audience for Mami’s music. Neither can I say it’s surprising that her songs don’t get airplay much anymore, because radio tends to focus on recent music, and her last single was year ago.

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