Etsuko Yakushimaru – X Jigen e Youkoso/Zettai Monsieur Sei

x jigen

Tracklist:

  1. X Jigen e Youkoso
  2. Zettai Monsieur Sei
  3. X Jigen e Youkoso (off vocal)
  4. Zettai Monsieur Sei (off vocal)
  5. X Jigen e Youkoso (TV size)

***

X Jigen e Youkoso opens with retro synths that would not be out of place in an old-school alien shooter game.  As the song moves into the verse, more synths bounce and fizz, and together with guitars under heavy wah-wah, the outer space feel is set up. Along with the synth deluge, terse violins and short, chaotic saxophone bursts add tension to the mix. With the unique, catchy arrangement, it’s a good choice that the percussion is simple and unobtrusive. While I love the verse synths and violin, my favourite part of the arrangement is the sultry wails of the saxophone in the bridge and later sections of the track. There’s also a clever part where the lyrics match the music, in the second verse after the first chorus. When Etsuko says “biito” (i.e. beat), the other instruments go silent, except for the bass drum’s beat.

Etsuko’s vocals are acceptable, but no more than that. She has a conversational, playful air in the verse, with normal singing in the chorus. While her vocals do suit the song, I am frustrated by her utter lack of power. To sum up, the arrangement is spectacular, the vocals average.

Moving on to the second track, Zettai Monsieur Sei has a more basic arrangement, centred around subdued keyboards and the drums. This arrangement isn’t complicated, but it’s still attractive. However, the main problem is the vocals. Sometimes, the notes Etsuko sings sit poorly against the backing material. At other times, I can’t tell whether it’s an odd choice of notes or she’s just flat. Either way, the vocals are off-putting, and while (in the case of the odd choice of notes) this may have been intended, I can’t say I’m too keen on it.

Lastly, the song ends with a loud, messy guitar solo which sounds like it was lifted straight from a Rage Against the Machine track. It’s an interesting move, but a massive contrast to the relaxed vibe from the rest of the song, and I don’t think it fits well.

Both X Jigen e Youkoso and Zettai Monsieur Sei are creative tracks, and the composers and arrangers should be commended. Unfortunately, the vocals are the main flaw. They work, but it’s annoying how weak they are (I have a similar issues with Etsuko’s Penguindrum works). Still, I there’s a lot of good in this release, and I recommend that people give the single a listen.

***

Rating: 3.5 stars

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7 Responses to Etsuko Yakushimaru – X Jigen e Youkoso/Zettai Monsieur Sei

  1. That’s something that I find bad about Etsuko. Her vocals are her main problem because she doesn’t have the power needed for many songs she tries to do, but thankfully certain verses make her sound good.

    I found that same problem on some other releases she made, most easily found over RADIO ONSEN EUTOPIA.

    And regarding the song, I really liked the A-side and stands out in her discography.

    • Alex says:

      I’ll take your word on it, I haven’t heard any Etsuko except for this single and her Penguindrum single.

      • I heard her before becoming a solo with the band soutaiseiron, and it was the same. And with songs of her album, I faced the same issue. That’s why I don’t expect much of her vocals🙂
        But I expect weird but awesome arrangements from her.

  2. Victoire Rozen says:

    I think her voice is just fine for these songs. They need the airiness and subtleness of her vocals. I don’t think they would have as much an impact with a louder or stronger voice.

  3. Pietro says:

    i really enjoyed this single

  4. e giant says:

    your hearing or listening is what’s weak. clearly, you don’t comprehend her sophisticated vocal styling. what you wrongly perceive as flawed, is artfully performed as intended. a well placed whisper is as dramatic as a scream, perhaps more so.

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