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Akiko Shikata – Ar tonelico III Image CD Utau Oka ~Ar=Ciel Ar=Dor~

October 7, 2010

I apologize for my long bout of inactivity. It’s that time between seasons when anime singles (which are by far the quickest and easiest material to review) aren’t coming out anymore, and I’m too busy/lazy to review a full-length album. There really just hasn’t been anything too interesting that’s been coming out lately, and school has been eating up a lot of my time. However, I’m about to rectify that (the interesting part, not the school part sadly).

Taking up the metaphorical pen once more to review this sex in the form of music, I am about review Akiko Shikata’s newest work. This album ties into the Ar Tonelico series and expands on the mythos of Ar Ciel by relating the legends of the planet through both Hymmnos and Japanese vocals, with each song telling a story to expand the universe of Ar Tonelico. However, I can’t understand either of those languages, so I’ll just have to settle for pure ear-sex in the form of Shikata’s voice. Quite possibly the last Ar Tonelico work Shikata will work on (with the series being over and all), here’s to hoping that she goes out with a bang (either that or continuing making Ar Tonelico songs regardless of the series being over).

Album: Ar Tonelico III Image CD Utau Oka ~Ar=Ciel Ar=Dor~
Artist/Circle: Akiko Shikata
Release Type: Commerical mini-album release
Release Date: 09/29/2010

  1. Singing Hills ~This World, This Land~
    The album starts off with a delightful rearrangement of all of the previous iterations of Singing Hills. With this song being more of a nostalgia trip than anything else, it still manages to stand out by itself by not being too reliant on the original melody of Singing Hills. An excellent blend of the older melodies and her new ones, even adding in some nice electronic beats uncommon of Shikata, this opener is sure to bring back memories of times previously spent on Ar Ciel. Towards the end the tone suddenly shifts to a melancholic one with a slower tempo, signifying the ending journey through the hills or Ar tonelico. The result is a mesmerizing trip through the towers of Ar Ciel.
  2. The Era of the Raging Lion ~Emperor of Wailing Thunder~
    The second track is one that starts off slowly, but suddenly picks up the pace and turns into something resembling a trance track. Yes, Shikata doing trance music. As incredibly strange as that sounds, it actually works out incredibly well. The energy of the trance backing combined with Shikata’s dreamlike vocals and choruses blend in spectacularly. The tone of this track makes me picture a dramatic struggle between two opposing forces in a last-ditch effort to do…something. Anyways, if I’ve ever thought that Shikata and trance would never mix, this track proves me wrong in an incredibly delightful way.
  3. The Forest of Shelanoire
    From the energetic atmosphere of the previous track we lead into a more mysterious one. The music certainly brings to mind the image of verdant forests, with the vast mysteries accumulated with its age being hidden behind the gnarled barks of its trees. Or something like that, I don’t really know. Shikata uses her higher pitch and tone, much like the one used on EXEC.EP_NOVA/. Except it’s not ridiculously cute and retains a mysterious tone. Although a cute Shikata is fine too.
  4. Infelious Rhaplanca. Heavenly Prayers ~Rhaplanca~ Earthly Atonement ~Maoh~
    By god I’m going to miss the Rhaplanca songs. ;__;  The final installment of the epic of Rhaplanca (or so I heard), this track is much like every other Rhaplance track Shikata has ever come out with. Read as: Incredibly multilayered and amazingly awesome. Seriously, nothing I write here will be enough to express the full scope of my feelings for this song. Like, ever. It’s just that amazing. It also has multiple parts with shifting tones, so a general catch-all statement for this song isn’t really possible. Anyways, this song serves to remind me why I love Shikata so damn much.
  5. Afezeria HARVESTASYA.
    A more traditional sounding Shikata song, with lots of strange traditional instruments along with her always amazing vocal skills. It has a good amount of tonal shifts, going from lighthearted and airy, to dark and dramatic. The shifts in tone are very natural, and while it may catch the listener off-guard at times, it just contributes to the overall charm of the song. It’s once again the complexity of Shikata’s vocals that make this track what it is, although that’s not really saying much since her vocal work is just as complex as in every other thing that she does.
  6. Ec Tisia ~Tarifa~
    Closing off this mini-album is a shorter version/rearrange of Ec Tisia, the ending song for Ar Tonelico 3. It’s fairly calming and simple, consisting of nothing much other than Shikata’s voice and some string instrument. It’s certainly very dreamlike, and is a good representative of the fantasy style that Shikata frequently employs. Yet despite the simplicity, it still manages to carry the emotional strength of the original song, thanks to the power of Shikata’s voice. It’s a beautiful track to close off on, and at it’s the perfect song to bit farewell to the lands or Ar Ciel. Even though I wouldn’t mind staying on Ar Ciel forever if it meant Shikata would continue her Ar Tonelico work. ;___;

Rating: Biased 10/10 (Because Shikata and beautiful music.)

Recommended Tracks: All of them.

Download

Hopefully the next post won’t take an eternity to come out. >___>

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5 comments

  1. Is this FLAC or mp3?


    • Virkelig velfortjent med god omtale, du er kjempe flink og disse hofeiotdngene er såå sjarmerende, husker sÃ¥ godt at min eldste tegnet helt makne nÃ¥r han var liten ;) har lyst til Ã¥ kopiere dem over pÃ¥ putetrekk eller ramme dem inn :)Ha en god ny uke!Klem


    • Arminius, wat iemand zegt moet in een rechtbank bewezen worden. Dat is geen kwestie van de een geloven en de ander niet. En dan kan het gebeuren dat iemand wordt vrijgesproken.


    • Hiding the outrageous-censorship-upgrade blog with a gratuitous-design-update blog? Smart move, Google, smart move.Good riddance, though, as far as bulletins are concerned. They were an awful pest.


    • · Oh MaryAnn, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. !!! I loved reading your comment and feel so encouraged by the way you are pointing to truth and faith even in the midst of what is hard. May God continue to draw you to voices of comfort and love and may He grant me the same faith that presses into Him.



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