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Friday, March 25, 2005

Reviews (4) HALCALREMIX



Listening to this album was a bit like watching the new Star Wars films. The first time there's an uncomfortable atmosphere of something so familiar being twisted around into something new. It's only after listening a few times that you move on from "this guy's jumping all over my favorite song!" to "this guy's doing something interesting with my favorite song!". I'd say that counts for a large chunk of the songs on this album, which i'm happy and a bit surprised to say that I liked a lot more than I thought I would. It really kicks out the fun stuff again, we're back to the full on pop of Halcali Bacon and it shows at the very least that most of these remixers have a better idea of what makes Halcali good than Halcali did themselves on the last album. The Halfby remix of Giri Giri Surf Rider is the crowning moment. Halfby is clever and inventive enough to pick out the catchiest moments of the song, revving them up and looping the vocals to brilliant effect. For the 4th time in my life, I might have found a remix that beats the original. Yuka Hondas remix of Tandem is equally smart, turning the song is something resembling electro-clash while keeping the giddy spirit of the original.

With 10 people contributing, there's an inevitable quality dip here and there, although it's not as pronounced as I was expecting. DJ Mitsu the Beats' effort misses the point of Peak-a-Boo completely, producing something drab and forgettable. Equally boring is Takkyu Ishino's idea of turning Electric Sensei into some ho-hum techno. I'd like to ask him not only what kind of DJ he thinks would play this, but also who on earth would want to dance to it?

Elsewhere it's likely that your opinion will be divided, but whatever you think of adding wah wah guitar to Strawberry Chips, at least Yasuyuki Okamura was sticking his neck out a little bit further than most. It's the ending of that song that upsets me the most though. It starts with these sweeping, vaguely P5-esque strings, only to fade out and end 5 seconds later! More confidant and adventurous is the last track (alright, there's a Halfby cut and paste job of a bunch of Halcali songs as the official last track, but it says BONUS TRACK so i'm not counting it), a ska remix of Baby Blue! by YOUR SONG IS GOOD, who as well as having the best name of any remixer here, are also the only remixers on the album to add their own vocal track. The result sounds distinctive enough that you can clearly hear the remixers' own input (it's louder here than anywhere else) but familiar enough so that it still sounds like Halcali. It's a shame the other remixers didn't take their opportunity as far as this.

At any rate, this album goes well beyond the 'for completests only' tag that I thought i'd end up giving it, and it's fun enough to take the bad taste left by Ongaku's more leaden tracks away. Only a great third album can banish that entirely though. The sooner they get that out, the better.

TRACKS

1. Yuka Honda- Tandem
2. Takkyu Ishino- Electric Sensei (this song was also included on the Halcali Day by Day DVD)
3. Yasuyuki Okamura- Strawberry Chips
4. HALFBY- Giri Giri Surf Rider
5. FORCE OF NATURE- Nifuku Hoshi (2 Lucky Stars. From the Strawberry Chips single)
6. K.U.D.O- Marching March
7. KOHEI JAPAN (MELLOW YELLOW)- Ai (This song is a remix of Halcali's contribution to the Magokoro covers album)
8. DJ Mitsu the Beats (GAGLE)- Peek-A-Boo
9. Hiroshi Kawanabe (TOKYO NO.1 SOUL SET)- Styley Styley
10. YOUR SONG IS GOOD- Baby Blue!
11. [BONUS TRACK] Halfby- Halcali Beat Edition (this was included with Day by Day as a bonus CD)

Amazon.co.jp
YesAsia.com

Thursday, March 10, 2005

HALCALREMIX (more details on)

The official site has finally put up details of the new release, out 16th of March like I said. I can't say i'm terribly exicted about it, all remixes usually do with me is make me want to listen to the original version again, but new stuff is new stuff. It's out soon enough after Ongaku so that it doesn't feel like a stopgap filler at least.

From the website:

Including all the singles from both Halcali Bacon and Ongaku No Susume and bringing together the best Halcali songs, from a bunch of remixers here's the nicest and the happiest brand new remix album!!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Interview (part 2)


So it was as a result of that then? Your voices gradually improved and you became more talented?

Y Only at rap though. I enjoy other genres like R'n'B but I don't think I can sing like that.
H Besides, there's already a lot of singers around like that, and no-one thats really like us.
Y I felt like I wanted to try something new. Take the photoshoot we did today for example, I don't think theres anyone around with their hair like that, in that kind of make-up in a kimono or whatever.

You wanted to try to do things that people had never seen before, and that had never been done before. How do you feel about the people who are composing for you?

H I just really want to thank them. My family is always telling me how this great stuff is just wasted on me. Like they'd say "why did they choose you?"
Y Maybe it would've been better if real singers would've performed them. They really are great songs. At the stage when we were getting the demos I kept thinking "God, we've got another good one". I was really happy.

So from that you started to try harder too?

Y Yeah. When we were recording this album we had nothing but geniuses all around us though, so it was kind of a problem.

What about Halcali though?

Y Of course we arn't geniuses. Totally the opposite, we're just normal.

But to take those things that were created for you and to turn them into something uniquely your own could be described as a kind of 'genius' in itself. Do you enjoy the music you play?

H I think it's great that we were able to create something. If I wasn't doing this I suppose that i'd still be going to dance classes and taking auditions and appearing in the occasional show like before.
Y We really caught hold of good luck. But I often wonder what would have happened if other people had got through that audition instead of us. I suppose it wouldn't be called Halcali for a start.

How did the name come about?

H It's too hard to say isn't it? 'Haruka and Yukari'
Y Then it was just like, "so let's shorten it to Halcali". Before we made our debut, we were in one of Rip Slyme's gigs and on the dressing room door was a sign that said 'Halcali (tentative)'*1 (laughs)

You two really look like you're enjoying yourselves, and the song that you contributed your first lyrics to (Wakusa Dance) is a really fun song too.

H I'm happy you think that. That was really the point of the song.

So does it make you happy to think that you're making other people happy?

Y It's more like we'll have a good time, and if other people do too then that's great. It's not like we're intentionally going out of out way to put on happy faces or anything.

During photoshoots you always seem to intentionally pull strange faces, you never smile like the typical Idol.*2

H We can't do that, we aren't Idols.
Y Nobody decides what we should do for us, so if we don't feel like smiling we won't.

You often say that don't you.

Y Well that's because it's true! There's a lot of other cute girls out there, we want to do our own thing and not let people decide for us.

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1. In Japanese the word 'tentative' (or 'temporary' or whatever) is 'cali'. So the sign on the door would have read 'Halcali-cali'

2. In this context I think the word deserves a nice capital letter. For those not in the know, there is a whole mass of celebrities, including a bunch of mayfly pop starlets collectively referred to as Idols. As a general rule they are cloying, vacuous, light, bland, boring and very UN-HALCALI, who are wise to distance themselves.

Apologies for the poor quality of the pictures.