Nana Mizuki – SUPERNAL LIBERTY

SUPERNAL LIBERY REGULAR

Tracklist:

  1. VIRGIN CODE
  2. GUILTY
  3. Appassionato
  4. Egao no Yukue
  5. Antique Nachtmusik
  6. Fun Fun★People
  7. FATE
  8. Vitalization -Aufwachen Form-
  9. Aishuu Twilight
  10. Setsuna Capacity
  11. Ladyspiker
  12. Rock You Baby!
  13. Million Ways=One Destination
  14. Bokura no Mirai
  15. Ai no Hoshi -two hearts-

***

Nana Mizuki’s tenth album SUPERNAL LIBERTY is a wild ride through a range of moods, tempos and styles. Some tracks sparkle and some are dull, and while I’m not as happy with her voice as I’ve been in the past, the album is an overall positive experience.

SUPERNAL LIBERTY opens with VIRGIN CODE, a bright and rather complex anison/rock/orchestral hybrid. Right behind is the pop-dance track GUILTY, and following that is yet another change in style, the symphonic metal piece Appassionato. The album continues in this way, radically switching styles from track to track without any links in between. There’s no coherence in SUPERNAL LIBERTY. Now, I don’t actually find this a problem, but it may put off people who do care.

I’m not thrilled with her vocals this time around. However, it’s not Nana who has changed, it’s me. My standards and tolerances have shifted, and Nana doesn’t do it for me any more. Her range is still impressively large, she gets high notes well, she has consistent vibrato and her head voice is above average, but I dislike her delivery. She hits her notes lazily, often sliding instead of getting them properly (sheesh, I’m sure I say this every second review…). Apart from that, she sometimes sings with broken phrasing, and can get piercing or nasal (especially on high notes). Vocal-wise, the most problematic song is the album closer Ai no Hoshi -two stars-. Not only is she piercing, a little strained and sliding everywhere you look, but her voice is totally exposed against the harp, making her flaws even more glaring.

As for the music, it’s a mixed bag. Some songs are performed well, and some have great ideas. Some are sadly mediocre. I already spoke about Ai no Hoshi, but the other ballad FATE isn’t that flash either. There’s nothing (apart from shitty singing) that brings me out of the ballad mood faster than the emotionless thud of programmed beats. I also think Setsuna Capacity, Million Ways=One Destination and Bokura no Mirai are all disappointingly bland. Appassionato had potential, but comes off as messy. There’s too much going on; fast drumming, crazy guitar/violin lines in the chorus, overly distorted rhythm guitars, random orchestral instruments and an out-of-place classical guitar. I do like that Nana’s venturing into the scary world of metal though!

Vitalization -Aufwachen Form- adds an extra introduction, like Synchrogazer‘s from ROCKBOUND NEIGHBOURS. The new intro is cool, but it doesn’t fit with the rest of the song, and I don’t feel like it adds anything. (But I still think Vitalization is cool.)

I find Antique Nachtmusik the most musically interesting track. The verse, pre-chorus, bridge and instrumentals strongly channel a gothic vibe. This comes from the 5/4 timing (or waltz meter in the bridge), offbeat drumming and chromatic melodies, as well as the shimmering, crescendoing strings. However, I thought there were a few areas which could have been improved. Nana’s vocals are a little bright for the mood, the chorus is a bit… normal, and I’m not sure what the deal is with the deep voice-over (it seems like a really cheap way to get a “dark” feel). Despite this, overall I enjoy the ideas.

I think the two best songs from SUPERNAL LIBERTY are Aishuu Twilight and (surprise surprise) Fun FunPeople. Track nine Aishuu Twilight is a really solid track, a pop song with a heavy dose of jazz. It moves briskly, plays with those smoky jazz chords, and has one of Nana’s better vocal offerings. Fun FunPeople is a funky, feel-good piece whose only goal is to be an infectious pop number. I like this. Some songs from SUPERNAL LIBERTY suffer from an identity crisis, trying to cram too many ideas into one song. Fun FunPeople is not exactly the epitome of creativity, but it knows what it wants to do, and does it well. Plus, I like Nana’s vocals the best on this track. She doesn’t do any of the things which annoy me, and has some gorgeous natural vibrato. ALSO DAT SAX. (By the way, does that clean guitar riff sound familiar to anyone?)

Summing up, SUPERNAL LIBERTY leaves me both pleased and disappointed. Nana’s voice is good on some tracks, and there are some great musical ideas, but there are too many songs which are bland or have poor vocals. The good outweighs the bad, but it’s very close.

***

 Top Tracks:

  • Aishuu Twilight
  • Fun Fun★People
  • Antique Nachtmusik
  • VIRGIN CODE
  • Vitalization -Aufwachen Form-

Rating: 3 stars

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25 Responses to Nana Mizuki – SUPERNAL LIBERTY

  1. Alex says:

    Moira, you get a negative cookie for your crappy guessing.

    • Moira says:

      I wonder what a negative cookie is.

      Hmm… I guess you can’t blame me much either… “My standards and tolerances have shifted.” If this was in the context of how I normally see you as, I would have guessed track one or three. I remember you saying that you only enjoyed some pop, so I thought Fun Fun★People could have gone either way, so I went with those odds (partly because other songs were more iffy in my logic, partly because I just woke up from a nap, so shhh).

      Simply put, who would’ve guessed you went for the uber jazz and pop songs instead of a symphonic metal track or the rock/orchestral hybrid? xD

      Can I get a positive cookie for explaining my logic now :):):)


      The question on everyone’s (well, it could be just mine… cough) mind: ROCKBOUND NEIGHBOURS or SUPERNAL LIBERTY?

      • Alex says:

        Simply put, who would’ve guessed you went for the uber jazz and pop songs instead of a symphonic metal track or the rock/orchestral hybrid? xD

        Yeah, me weird >.< 'Twas a pretty legit guess though haha. Okay I'll give you one!

        ROCKBOUND NEIGHBOURS for me I reckon. I thought there were more standout songs like Avalon no Oukan and Synchrogazer, and less average songs like Darling Plastic. Probably would have given it 4 stars or so.

        Okay, lemme try and guess your favourite song (guaranteed to end in failure). Um… Ai no Hoshi -two hearts-? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  2. Mack says:

    I haven’t recieved my copy of the album so I can’t do the review yet😦
    My guess was similar to moira, except that I thought that fun fun people could be a possibility.

  3. You already know I disagree with the final rating, but a good review nonetheless. I see your point about the vocals, though I think in the case of the album closer it actually adds to the song. The rough, imperfect nature of the vocals makes it feel like it was recorded in one go, to focus on the emotion rather than perfection – and as such I find it perfect for the toned-down arrangement. And I’m not sure any form of metal is the correct descriptor for Apassionato. That was my first impression as well, to call it a Power Metal/Pop track, but after a while I noticed that the melody – and the entire composition really – is very much rooted in Pop and Folk, which is why I categorized it as Post-Rock rather than any form of metal. It used typical Rock/Metal instruments and is as heavy as a Pop song could ever be, but I don’t think it actually has a Metal influence as much as it simply uses the same instruments.

    • Alex says:

      Thanks for your comment🙂 I see what you mean about the album closer, but I think in this situation it’s a case of us having different musical priorities, where I value “technical execution” stuff more than emotional qualities. (I’m hopefully going to make a post about my musical biases and stuff so people can have a bit more of an idea how my reviewing process works.)

      There’s definitely a lot of pop and folk influences in Appassionato, and I find myself agreeing with you about it “uses the same instruments” as metal. The thing with genres though, they’re so broad and ill-defined that it’s hard to argue “this is pop” or “this is metal”. I think Appassionato roughly fits in with Wikipedia’s description of symphonic metal,

      Symphonic metal is metal music that has symphonic elements; that is, elements that are borrowed from other music genres (i.e., classical music, progressive rock) but usually with more keyboards or acoustic guitars and typically an operatic female lead vocalist.

      but honestly, I think genres should be more taken as a vague guide than a defining quality of the song.

      • Definitely agree on the genre front, I’m just a fan of categorizing things.🙂 But hell, half of the time when talking about genres I’m too unfamiliar to add anything of substance, anyways.

        If you like fantastic vocalists, you should check out Monica Naranjo, particularly her Tarantula album. Operatic electro-sympho-rock would be the closest description of that album I could think of. Now that I think about, similar genre mix to a lot of Anison, but she executes it SO well.

    • Mack says:

      That comment about the recording in one go is possible, considering first her time (as she’s busy with all the presentations, promotions, etc). And also because she’s more involved in the album and likes to do that, I think (this is since Hybrid Universe). Other note, Appassionato is a song written and composed by her, so this is a good thing as she tries a different style than the previous one which is STAR ROAD.

      • Weren’t SEVEN and Albireo also her compositions? I may be mixing up information here, but those songs are masterpieces. I really need to review some of her older albums on my blog(I’ve only done Ultimate Diamond and Supernal Liberty so far), so much great stuff in her discography – ever since Hybrid Universe, pretty much.

        • Mack says:

          Yes, they are. But the one before Appassionato was STAR ROAD, that was what I was trying to say xD.
          In this case her compositions are:
          Super Generation
          Violetta
          SEVEN
          Yume no Tsuzuki
          Albireo
          Appassionato

          You should do the other reviews. In this case I’ve only done since Hybrid until now, but they are amazing albums😀

          • Oh, I know what you meant, sorry if my response was confusing. My mind just wandered.🙂

            Her compositions are a very mixed bunch for me, I either love them or just don’t really care either way. I’d love to see an album completely made up of her own compositions and lyrics some day.

            I got another review request to do more Nana albums today so I think I’ll get to that soon. xD I’ve been rediscovering her discography lately, anyways.

          • Mack says:

            I really hope so too.
            But because of ther time, is quite difficult.
            In my case until now my favorite composition from her would be STAR ROAD or SEVEN (can’t decide).
            Wish she could return when she made 2 compositions per album.

          • BTW, thanks a lot for following my blog. If you want to keep up with the reviews, you gotta look at my new blog http://day1day2day3.wordpress.com though, the old one you followed is inactive.

            …I should probably make that more clear somewhere…

          • Mack says:

            That’s what I noticed when you said you made the review of Nana xD.

            Thanks, let me follow the other one and include you at my blogroll😛

          • Wow, thanks a lot!🙂 I guess I’ll start a blogroll soon. With my blog being so new I didn’t expect to do so anytime soon.

  4. shinitakashi says:

    All of this talk about Nana Mizuki makes me feel like I need to check out her music!

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