TK from Ling Tosite Sigure – White Noise [Album Review]

White Noise is the third full-length album by TK from Ling Tosite Sigure.
Was it a solid release? That’s what we’re about to find out.

*This section contain general impression. If you want to know my personal view of the album, check the individual track review.
Overall Impression
A techno-acoustic piano driven album accompanied by the unique voice of TK. A bit more poppy than usual. There’s hint of  a very subtle jazz in the piano, and a bit of alternative rock in particular track. If you enjoy Secret Sensation, you’ll love this album, maybe even more.
Sound
Guitar: TK mainly uses acoustic as the sound template. Unfortunately, in White Noise, I’m a bit disappointed with TK in the guitar department. I do truly respect his preference, but the guitar is usually what makes each TK’s track a delicate journey in Flowering and Fantastic Magic. So when I got the impression of the guitar being left out as background fodder in White Noise, I felt betrayed. While most of the tracks contain guitar, it never stands out like how it used to be on Flowering and Fantastic Magic. There is a noticeable laziness in how TK manage the guitar. I get it TK, you’re madly in love with Techno right now :’)
  • Bass: No killer bass tracks, if you ever wondering for one in White Noise. Unlike his older solo releases where the bass sounds dominant and had its solo part, here it got nearly, if not more worse than the guitar. In most tracks, it is swamped by other instruments. TK uses more of the techno sound that feel like replacing the bass place. And yes, this is not a complaint, but I’m just describing how it sounds in my ears.
  • Drum: I’ve always been a fan of the drum in TK’s works, be it solo or band, and here the drum never really do any justice to add a new flavor to the tracks, except for a few tracks where it does shine for a while.
  • Techno: TK loves techno, and it becomes more prominent in this album. The techno helps emphasizing TK’s focus on the pop sound. The techno is my problem with this album. I really appreciate its use in any track, but it started to annoy me as soon I realized that its use overshadowed other instrument. I could forgive that, but TK’s generic chorus bugged my ignorance. So the techno topped with the generic chorus becomes my main obstacle in enjoying the full album. There are some tracks that I doubt whether to skip it or continue. It’s those tracks that I love and hate at the same time.
  • Violin & Piano: I put this in one go, because I never really pay attention to both instruments, but I simply know that they’re always there when I listen to the track. They blend so well with other instrument, but not well enough for me to highlight its use. Both instruments certainly add the solo flavor to TK’s sound, which is quite cool.
  • Vocal: Gentle, consistent, and sometimes hazy… This is the quality I’ve always expected from TK. And he did deliver it with class. All of TK’s solo albums are filled with delightful vocal, and it gets just better with each releases.
Now to the tracks review.
  • Signal: The build-up to the chorus is smooth and satisfying. The instruments work together to create a dreamy-rock atmosphere. There’s a subtle sadness to this track. It makes you feel like you’re holding your tears while still trying to laugh. The strongest track in the album. A
 
  • Wonder Pallete: The techno intro sets the atmosphere into a more pop territory. TK’s vocal is colliding with the reverb effect there. There is some part where guitar is showery, and this is my first time hearing TK use a generic guitar sound. Other than the showery part, most of the time the guitar sounds amazing, like how TK uses it on his older solo albums. It’s a shame that the instruments sound unclear and fuzzy during the chorus. I notice this problem on some of the tracks. TK’s lower singing voice in some parts makes the track sound a bit different from other techo-dominant track. In the chorus, for a moment I thought it was 345 singing. Weak chorus. B
 
  • dead end complex: Finally, where the shy bass reveal itself into exposure. The track is a Tremolo+A-esque breed with the vocal in JPOP Xfile. The violin and piano is awesome here, blending well with the acoustic and the drum. Also, the drum had its spotlight here, sounding a bit different from your usual TK track. Weak chorus. B
 
  • Addictive Dancer: Spotted that generic guitar sound again in the intro, yay. We’re entering a techno track again.. finally. It’s a catchy track and makes you fee like dancing around in your bedroom. B
 
  • white out: Another Spiral Parade breed on this album. I’m loving the subtle techno use in this track. This is the kind of techno sound I really crave for in a TK track. Unfortunately, it seems like TK prefer over-the-top techno rather than the subtle one. I don’t know why, but his music is more suited to a softer and subtler approach to the techno sound. When he made the techno become too ambitious, it becomes Secret Sensation and Sublime, which I cannot enjoy as much. A-
  • Secret Sensation: My least favorite in the album, I skip this track all the time. My problem is the amount of techno and its usage in the instrumental that cringed me. E
  • Showcase Reflection: Just wow. Didn’t expect a pure rock track here, although a bit restrained. Not my favorite, but still, TK nails it. B
 
  • like there is tomorrow: Skipped. There’s not much here to listen for me. I’m not into the kind of ballad in this track. E
  • 罪の宝石: What a peaceful track after that head banging in previous track. This is such a poppy tune I usually despise it, but when TK manage to create the best atmosphere for such tune, it definitely wins my heart. B
  • invalid phrase: Another track with a nice built-up… until the chorus. The switching doesn’t feel natural as it always been with TK’s track, but the overall the sound of this track is amazing, plus, TK screams here. So I forgive the generic chorus. A-
 UPDATE:
That review above was me on my first listen on the album. Well, you can see how hateful I were, right? After a handful of listen, I’m starting to enjoy the album as a whole. I accepted it as it is. It’s a pretty solid album, I must say. You get the rock, pop, and techno in one package, albeit mostly pop and techno.
The balance of instruments is neatly done, but the recording wasn’t, because the instrumental in chorus on some tracks sound cramped and muted. In other words, they don’t sound very clear and loud, except the vocal. Oh.. and the vocal. TK, I really love your vocal here. He’s amazing here. Never in any of the tracks that he overused his vocal. It’s just perfect in the most imperfect sense.
Compared to Fantastic Magic,  White Noise is more rock-esque in its pop world, with more variations in the genre. White Noise is far from Flowering. Each tracks of Flowering offers a strong impression. In White Noise, most of the track aren’t memorable enough, but still offer a very enjoyable listening experience. Flowering tells you a story, while White Noise tells you a visual of distorted colors. That’s the impression I get from the two album.
I recommended this album, as a fan of Ling Tosite Sigure, this album has its own appeal to me. The tracks in individual might give less impact, but when you listen to all the tracks as a whole, it will draw you a pleasant conclusion and that is… White Noise!
FINAL GRADE: B+
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