A late Christmas gift from L’arc~en~ciel…

…and that being because I purchased this single so late! How I wish that I had known of this release sooner as it would have made a very nice addition to my holiday song mix this year.

I own only a modest number of L'arc~en~ciel releases comprised of 4 albums & 7 singles and the last release that I own from them dates back to '99. While I've fallen out of touch with their music recently it seems that solo works have been released by some members in the years since and I wonder if the group had been on hiatus for a period although admittedly I haven't followed their history recently. Maybe someone more familiar could shed some light on this. I was originally attracted to their music through a friend's suggestion while working at a music store and at the time groups such as Luna Sea, Glay, and X Japan were favorites that made L'arc~en~ciel fit in perfectly. While the 3 aforementioned groups are certainly unique in their own right, L'arc~en~ciel somehow just seems more apart in style as they are truly their own "animal." Each of these "J-Rock" groups have produced a hard edged sound as well as ventured into other genres including the occasional ballad and sometimes something quite unexpected at times. L'arc~en~ciel can roll with the heaviest of them and lead vocalist Hyde possesses a voice that can be as sharp as a razor while yet being smooth as silk in an instant showing phenomenal vocal control. It's this great versatility along with a deepness in his voice and a character that is just sublime that truly attracts you to L'arc~en~ciel's sound! 🙂 And when it comes to musicianship each member is accomplished on multiple instruments while of course excelling on their main ones but what it all comes down to is their ability to write incredible songs and with Hyde and Tetsu leading the way their catalog is as impressive as it is diverse.

Happily some of my favorite L'arc~en~ciel songs have been uploaded and I'd have to start off with…

…"winter fall" as this song showcases many of the elements that make L'arc~en~ciel so great. The melody is explosive, Hyde' vocals deep and heartfelt, guitars & bass intricate with every hook, drums amazing, and along with the primary instruments the enhancement of horns and keyboards adds a perfect touch to this J-Pop masterpiece. This song also contains simply one of my favorite guitar solos as it flows beautifully, complimenting the melody and song structure perfectly with a subtle jazz tone as this song is somewhat a hybrid of sorts floating between rock and contemporary jazz in a subtle yet evident form.

Another favorite song would be…

… "Dive to Blue" which was also released as a single. This is actually the first song that I heard by them via their pv!  While not as intricate an arrangement as "winter fall", "Dive to Blue" is also impressive involving incredible guitar work and a melody that captures the listener from its very first notes. Again Hyde's vocals are just amazing as he projects both gentleness and power in a seamless manner throughout the song all the while delivering each note with conviction.

One last favorite to share before getting to their 2007 Christmas release would be…

…"Heaven's Drive." Here a much edgier L'arc~en~ciel can be heard as this powerfully driven rock song opens with a cutting guitar intro and never lifts. But even with a more "straightforward" arrangement like this one, L'arc~en~ciel still manages to add a nice touch of grandeur which is evident in the middle break.

Now to open their latest release "Hurry Xmas"…

…and included in this mini box set are along with the main CD, a DVD containing 2 pvs for both main tracks, a nice fold out group photo, and the first thing you see is…

…a Christmas reindeer which is constructed similarly to a puzzle piece, only thicker and sturdier. At first I mistook it for an ornament but on its reverse side a "Dear" and "From" tag is printed. I think it's the largest and thickest gift tag that I've ever seen!

The title track "Hurry Xmas" is a swinging Jazz wonderland with an amazing arrangement! A modern approach blends perfectly with swing time jazz as guitar, bass, and drums are complimented nicely with light orchestration in the form of a big band presentation and the melody is an absolute gem!! I just love walking bass lines! Hyde's vocals are as beautiful as ever and it truly reels you in upon first listen!  The pv for "Hurry Xmas" is incredibly amusing as it's a club full of Santa's everywhere and as L'arc~en~ciel perform the Santa's are in full Christmas eve party mode! 🙂 And as the night goes on…more of them keep arriving! :O A cute touch with the jacket photos are each member's shadow being that of a reindeer!

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The pv also includes some great old fashioned stop motion capture animation reminiscent of those Rudolf and Frosty the Snowman programs. 

Track 2 presents the group in a much different light as an alternate "personality" performing under the name "P'UNK~EN~CIEL." Each band member has now taken over another member's primary instrument as Hyde is now on guitar, Tetsu on lead vocals, Yukihiro on bass, and Ken on drums! "I Wish 2007" begins as a sweeping lullaby then quickly builds into a punk rock frenzy all the while remaining melodic and soothing with Tetsu's smooth vocals and as strange as that sounds somehow it's true! The pv is a nicely shot "live" pv setting frenzy!

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Track 3 is an instrumental titled "Hurry Xmas-Silent Night version-" which nicely emphasizes the jazz arrangement and it's composition is very different from the title track while track 4 and 5 are instrumental versions of the 2 main songs and are amusingly titled "Hydeless version" and "TETSU P'UNK'less version" instead of karaoke versions. 🙂 If you enjoyed any of these songs hopefully you'll feel inspired to purchase some L'arc~en~ciel albums and be on your way to discovering some really great music! 🙂 Thank you for listening! 

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About MorningBerryz

Lover and free spirit who's interests in Japanese culture and the like are insatiable. I am of pure Japanese/Okinawan descent, love my cats, sleep and am a bit naughty at times :).
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8 Responses to A late Christmas gift from L’arc~en~ciel…

  1. HarimaKenji says:

    L'arc did go on hiatus, in fact, they did it twice already. First when the old drummer Sakura was arrested for drugs possession back in 1997, they had a hit single in the time cancelled (The Fourth Avenue Cafe, it was opening theme to Rurouni Kenshin, a famous anime at the time, that had to revert to its previous theme song) and disappeared from the media for some months, until they came back wit their Ressurrection 97 tour and sold out Tokyo Dome (56k) in four minutes =P Then after 2000, they silently went on hiatus… They didn't release anything new as a band until 2003, when they camewith a tour (Shibuya Seven Days) and started releasing new things the year after. It looks like L'arc is a cyclical band, because they released two albums and then didn't do much 2005-06, but now they're back with a bunch of new things lately… Three new singles and a recent album this year.

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  2. strawberrie says:

    The cover reminds me of Bambi…now I feel like watching a Disney movie

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  3. HarimaKenji thank you for explaining their strange disappearances! It was like they had fallen off of the edge of the world for awhile but I was never quite sure. This band is so talented and it's a shame that they go through these disruptive cycles. They sold out Tokyo Dome in four minutes?!! :O With such a fan base I guess they can always come back! I absolutely love this new single and even though it's a Christmas song I think I'll listen to it all year long! It was a really nice surprise to find that it came with 2 pvs too and these are actually the first 2 that I actually own. A friend had taped some of their other music videos on VHS but I really need to buy their pv collection(s) if they're available on DVD.

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  4. Hahah 'Bambi!'…I love Disney movies too! 🙂

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  5. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!i love L'arc~en~Ciel!!!:D*____________________________*is a great j-rock band..

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  6. Daishi Arashi i'm so happy to hear that you're also a big fan of L'arc~en~ciel!!! They have so many great songs and Hyde's voice is so unique and amazing! 😀

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  7. yey!!they are so cool!i love all songs!!omg.. hydes's voice!!!*_____*<3

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  8. Hmmm…wer'e both Arashi and L'arc~en~ciel fans!! I can't say enough about Hyde's voice as I'm always moved by it so much. Now if only they would stop disappearing! 🙂

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