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Friday, Aug. 7, 2009

LISTENING POST

CD REVIEW

Nobuaki Kaneko "Orca"


Best known as the drummer from Japanese rap-rock band Rize, but also having made a name for himself as an actor, Nobuaki Kaneko delivers his first solo album caught between his position as a relative newcomer as a musical mastermind and a celebrity status that demands a certain degree of profesionalism from the get go.

Rather than going for a predictable mix of crunchy nu-metal chords with a bit of rapping over the top, "Orca" draws on a series of laid back electronic and R&B influenced grooves, while at the same time occasionally glancing back with some Led Zeppelin influenced rock riffs. The former are most in evidence on "I Love You and I Feel Bad," with its autotuned vocals backed by a trip hop influenced soundscape, while the latter style shows its face most strongly on "Fool Fool," where Kaneko indulges his best John Bonham fantasies with some almost comically overblown drum pounding.

Throughout the album there is an unusual tension between the raw, almost lo-fi sound of Kaneko's drums and the clean, often rather bland musical textures that overlay it. The way the album repeats the opening track's melodic theme in the coda gives one the impression that with "Orca" Kaneko is aiming for a Radiohead style semiconceptual work where progressive ideas are channeled through a fusion of electronic and rock styles. That it fails to achieve those heights need not reflect badly on what is essentially still Kaneko's debut album, although it is tempting to suggest that less attention spent on the slick production, might have led to a song-based minialbum and a more rewarding first step as a solo artist.



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